On the edge of the Massif des Maures in the department of the Var, the hilltop village of Grimaud is situated 10 kilometres from Saint Tropez and a few kilometres from the sea.
Overlooking the azure waters of the Gulf of Saint Tropez, Grimaud is a medieval village worthy of the most beautiful of postcards. A bunch of houses around a small church cling to the side of a hill dominated by the evocative ruins of its 11th century castle. In fact, up until the 17th century, Grimaud controlled the whole surrounding region; the gulf was even called the Gulf of Grimaud until the 19th century.
It's difficult to imagine such a mighty past as you stroll around this peaceful and flowering village with its profusion of bougainvillea and oleander. The small streets are lined with old houses, some in stone, some in the pastel colours of Provence, all beautifully restored. On the Rue des Arcades, you can admire the Templars' House, a beautiful Renaissance style building from the 16th century with three gothic arches.
Here and there, you will find the typical shops: a grocery store, bakeries, a butcher's as well as art galleries.
Panoramic view over the gulf of Saint-Tropez
Grimaud - Church Square
Place des Remparts
The Tourist Office provides a brochure for a walking tour of Grimaud with corresponding plaques along the way. That way you can't miss the 12th century Saint-Michel Church in Romanesque style with its square bell tower. Or the little White Penitents Chapel built in 1482. Without forgetting the water pump with double fountain dating from 1886, the small squares and the passageways, some vaulted others so very narrow. There is also a small Museum of Arts and Traditions in Grimaud.
And for those who hate the idea of walking up those steep little streets, Grimaud has thought of everything: an ornate glass and iron elevator takes you from the main street at the bottom of the village to the square by the mayor's office higher up.
Saint Michel Church in Grimaud
The Chapel of Penitents of Grimaud
The Château de Grimaud was built in the 11th century then altered in the 15th before being demolished by Richelieu during the Wars of Religion. It originally had four round towers at each corner. Today, we can still see the high walls, the arrow slits, the gates and windows, the underground passages and the cisterns.
The ruins are surrounded by a long stretch of crenellated ramparts, 7 metres high. Once part of a triple fortification, these ramparts remain magnificent. In summer, they serve as the backdrop for an open-air theatre, with the terraces rising up to the castle providing the seating.
From the castle, the views over the surrounding countryside and the gulf are breathtaking. You can see the 17th century Saint Roch Windmill on a small hill right near the village. Restored by the Compagnons du Tour de France in 1990, you can almost imagine it still grinding flour today as it did in the Middle Ages. Another mill, the Moulin de La Roque Troucade with its water channel carved right into the rock can be found on the right bank of the La Garde river.
You can also admire the pretty Pont des Fées, an arched bridge crossing La Garde. Dating from the 15th century, it served as an aqueduct for the village of Grimaud.
At the end of you visit, you can take “Le Petit Train” to head down to Port Grimaud, the Venice of the Var, passing all the main sites along the way.
Unless you want to spend some more time and taste the wines from one of the vineyards or the wine cooperative. Grimaud produces white, red and rosé AOC Côtes-de-Provence wines.
The Chateau of Grimaud in the Var
Outdoor theater - Castle of Grimaud
Saint Roch Windmill in Grimaud
Grimaud citywalls and panorama