Between Frejus and Hyeres, the coast bulges out and up again to form the steep rolling heels and arcadian amphitheatres of the ancient massif des Maures. This mountain range is a geological oddball; The name Maures is derived from maouro, Provencal for black describing its dark deep forests of umbrella and Aleppo pines ( pines native to the Mediterranean region), chesnuts and cork. For a few centuries the latter two trees provided the main source of income of the few inland villages.
If you take a drive in the morning.
You will start in the village of Grimaud and take the D558 up to La Garde-Freinet . Continue 4 miles before turning left before Gonfaron and make a stop at the Village des Tortues to see the very rare Hermann tortoise ( Quartier plaine – Open 9am – 7pm daily and 6pm ( December – February). After that take D39 towards Collobrieres At the col des Fourches head up to Notre-Dame -des-Anges , The Maures ‘s highest point. There is an amazing chapel with outstanding views. Two miles before Collobrieres you will make a turn left ( D14) to the Chartreuse de la Verne , a Carthusian monastery of local stone ( Quartier Verne, 11 am -5pm ; Wednesday-Monday) . Then head back to Collobrieres . There is a place called La petite Fontaine, stop by for a drink or dinner, try the soupe au pistou or game in season , no thrills regional cooking. Place de la Republique. No credit cards – $$
If you take an afternoon drive.
Leave towards Pierrefeu, 1 mile later you will make a turn left towards Bormes Les Mimosas. This is a dramatic drive , between wooded slopes and plunging valleys will take you over the Col de Babao to the N98. You will have to make a turn left towards La Mole, make a stop at the arboretum de Gratteloup , a forest garden with 50 tree varieties.
Then you will continue to La Mole and make a turn right to the Col du Canadel and stop at the domaine du Rayol gardens. Upon return to Grimaud , enjoy a wonderful dinner at Le Coteau Fleuri , Place des Penitents. $$
Anne Suire / http://www.luxurytravelconsultant2.com