France // The Côte d’Azur //

La Garde-Freinet

The peaceful village of La Garde-Freinet, set in forested hills 10km northwest of Grimaud, was founded in the late twelfth century by people from the nearby villages of Saint Clément and Miremer. The original fortified settlement sat further up the hillside, and the foundations of the fortress are still visible above the village beside the ruins of a fifteenth-century castle (take the path from La Planette car park at the northwestern end of the village). The medieval charm, easy walks to stunning panoramas and twice weekly market (Wed and Sun) make it an alluring spot, and many ex-pats have bought property here. Happily, though, attempts to “do a St-Tropez” by making it trendy and expensive seem – thus far – doomed to failure.