Bras

Provence Verte, Var

43.473056,5.954444
43°28'23"N 5°57'16"E
Published: March 2010
last updated: June 2011
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The visit

This old templar village is lost in Provence Verte - the very heart of the region. Surrounded by beautiful forests and vineyards, Bras will be a Bras suitable choice for hikers and nature lovers. Local hunters say that the forests around Bras are home to deers, stags and even wild boars. The village itself is built on the hill-top offering a lovely view. To take a walk around the village, leave your car at the bottom of the hill and climb up to the church Notre-Dame de l’Agrenas. This relatively recent building in typical provencal style was built in XVIII century to replace ancient church - l’église des Pénitents. The oldest historical monument of Bras is chapelle Saint-Pierre is situated on the opposite side of the old village. This roman-style chapel is the only vestige of the commandery of Templars order, which existed in Bras from XII century. This chapel and the ruins of the castle is all that rests of the ancient village abandones in XIV-XV century. The village that you can see now is the fruit of somewhat chaotic expansion of the community in XVII-XIX centuries. Yet, in the labirynth of its streets you’ll find some pretty houses, several oratoires (prayer niches) and fountains.

Around Bras take a walk along the river Argens, to the site du Tombereau and its lovely waterfall or to Défens hills (collines du Défens) to enjoy fields blooming with wild-flowers and an amazing view on the surroundings. In general, Bras is too far away from the seaside and from the park of Verdon to attract a significant number of tourists, but the fans of eco-tourism, good vine and the joys of country life may like it.

Bras is also known to have one of the most famous schools of aikido in France - dojo Shumeikan founded by Nobuyoshi Tamura.

History

The old village was built in XI century: a castle, a church and several houses surrounded by ramparts. In XII century Foulques de Bras grants some land to the ordre of Templar knights, who built their commandery on the same hill, facing the village. This commandery had no military importance, rather it was an agricultural community working for the needs of those participating in Crusades.
In XIV-XV centuries the village suffered from the plague and constants marauders’ attacks, the villagers abandoned their houses and moved down to the valley.

Practical information

To come to Bras by car take D560 from Saint-Maximin in the direction Barjols and then right exit (follow the sign Bras). The road to Bras is rather narrow and winding, so drive carefully.

In Bras and around the village you will find several vine caves and farms producing honey and cheese.

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