Discreet on the hill
Ramatuelle is a village apart, cradled by nature. Its characteristic spiral shape seems to have been protecting it forever from the chaos of the outside world. As you enter the medieval heart of the village, the cobbled streets curve round as if to imitate the stronghold of a bygone era coiled around its chateau. Jasmine, bougainvillea and honeysuckle are nearly everywhere in this village, where the view stretches away to the sea or up to the hills and windmills of the Paillas mill. On Thursdays and Sundays Place de l’Ormeau and its charmingly authentic café comes alive with a colourful Provencal market. The attractive stone houses open their pastel shutters onto covered stalls of local crafts, produce and fine art galleries - enough to survive should the Barbary pirates return !
An incomparable coastline
It is hard to imagine so many wonderful sights so close together! First a real gem, just 20 minutes on the coastal path from the picturesque Escalet coves, Cap Taillat which is a listed site protected by the Conservatoire du Littoral. Then a little detour of 100m via the Briande dolmen, proof that humans were here in Neolithic times, before the path to the Camarat lighthouse opposite bird island, home to colonies of gulls and cormorants. Then we have Bonne Terrasse bay, the final rampart before the legendary four-kilometres of sand that is Pampelonne. And what a beach! Forget the movie images with Brigitte Bardot or Louis de Funes, this nature area is one of the most beautiful beaches in Europe: a paradise for those who just want to laze on the sand or in the water. It is an economic force for the town with 25 beach establishments, all with the same history yet each with their own identity. And finally, how can we describe the infinite blue horizons that fulfil our dreams of the sea.
A land of festivals and entertainment
Ramatuelle is the inner sanctum of numerous artists; we know for example that Gérard Philipe lived here. In 1985 the Brialy Festival was launched, named after its instigator Jean-Claude Brialy. Now called Festival de Théâtre et Variété, it welcomes artists who attract thousands of loyal fans every summer. The same goes for the Jazz Festival, film shows and world or classic music soirées. From April to October, the balmy days and nights have something new to offer: exhibitions, evening markets, concerts, nature walks or children’s games – nobody is forgotten, not even the scarecrows which come out in June! In every corner, this exemplary village manages to reconcile excellent events with an enviable quality of life and strong community spirit.
A little history
The Ramatuelle area has been inhabited by Man since Prehistoric times, as the carved flints, polished axes and pottery fragments unearthed by the archaeologists testify. The origin of the name Ramatuelle remains a mystery although some believe it may be Arabic. The village is mentioned for the first time in the 11th century in a Saint-Victor de Marseille Abbey charter. It has retained its structure and medieval walls. In the Middle Ages, the parish church which at the time was called Notre-Dame du Pin was more or less where the town hall is today. The current church was built at the end of the 16th century backing onto the ramparts. A 14th century watchtower was adopted as the bell tower. On 15 August 1944, Pampelonne beach played a role in the Provence Landings.
Notre-Dame church (serpentine door, etc.); the manor house (village centre) with bronze door-knocker and wooden fireplace, arched doorways, fortifications; the Saracens doorway (hinges and portcullis slots); strolling round the alleyways (doorways and windows, some dating back to the 15th century); Rue du Clocher: prison cells from the Napoleon III era (a roof-less white building of round shapes). On the plain: 750 hectares of vineyards and their estates. On the coast: Pampelonne and Escalet beaches; the coastal path; Cap Taillat and Cap Camarat
From the Paillas windmills (active up to the 19th century - one was restored in 2002 and can be visited): panoramic view from an altitude of 325m of Cavalaire bay/La Croix Valmer on one side and Pampelonne beach on the other. Col de Collebasse: a picturesque route to La Croix-Valmer through a lovely forest of oaks and parasol pines. Above the village, view of town hall and Boulevard du 8 mai 1945. Rue Victor-Léon: orientation tableau with view of village, Cap Camarat, the Estérel hills and the foothills of the Alps. The lighthouse route
A stroll in the village
From Place de l'Ormeau (named after an elm planted in Henri IV’s time to mark peace and his conversion to Catholicism), since replaced by an olive tree; to Notre-Dame Church; then under the arch to the old village; stroll up the narrow winding streets enclosed within the walls of the old ramparts. You come to Place Gabriel Péri, formerly Place du Château, a stately home altered in the 18th century by the noble Audibert family. Rue Victor Léon and the Saracens doorway. Walk up that road then down Avenue Clemenceau to the ASSDN memorial; then to the Sainte-Anne chapel (16th century) and cemetery where the actor Gérard Philipe is buried. Return to the village centre