It is one of those countries that do not require long hours of travel, no time difference or endless health constraints, and yet hold the promise of a change of scenery and oh so refreshing ... For good reason, it is located here, in the heart of our beautiful Hexagon, perhaps even close to home, without you ever having had the opportunity or the curiosity to discover it. This territory? The Pays de Fayence, a land of nature nestled in the Var hinterland, between Draguignan and Grasse. A few dozen kilometres from the Mediterranean, which you can contemplate from the heights of the nine villages that make up the region, this little corner of Provence is an obvious playground for lovers of hiking, cycling and wide open spaces.
Nine villages perched between sea, lakes and hills
The environment alone promises a holiday dedicated to outdoor sports! To the south, the Mediterranean and the Estérel massif provide a backdrop of azure seas and sumptuous red rocks; water sports, climbing and gliding can be the occasion for a beautiful day out. To the north, Mount Lachens, the "roof of the Var" at an altitude of 1,714 metres, is located in the commune of Mons, one of the nine communes of the Pays de Fayence. From its summit, the panorama of the Sainte-Baume and Mercantour massifs, and even Corsica on a clear day, is a pure delight! The opportunities for hiking and biking are already looking great...
And it is between the sea and the hills, in the immediate vicinity of the A8 motorway leading to the highly coveted seaside resorts of Cannes and Nice, that the Saint-Cassien lake awaits you, in complete peace and quiet. Stretching over a length of 5 km between the communes of Montauroux, Tanneron and Callian, it is the perfect place to refresh yourself in a calm and preserved setting, away from the tourist hordes of the seaside beaches. The nautical bases installed on its banks are moreover entirely reserved for non-motorized leisure activities. As for the five other villages - Fayence, Tourrettes, Seillans, Saint-Paul-en-Forêt and Bagnols-en-Forêt - they will each reveal their own unique charms to the visitors who come to explore them. An open-air museum, another among the "most beautiful villages of France", another one that gives pride of place to glassmaking craftsmanship; in short, so many "heritage" opportunities to punctuate your sporting excursions!
A hiking paradise
One of the major assets of the Pays de Fayence is its countless hiking trails! Walkers of all levels will be spoilt for choice among the fourteen PR® (Promenades et Randonnées) itineraries in the area, three of which are suitable for Nordic walking. On the programme: a discovery of the diversity of the local heritage, with chapels, dolmens, castles and picturesque villages, and a plunge into the Provençal flora where mimosas, pines, cork oaks and olive trees reign supreme.
No less than twenty-seven very accessible walking routes complete this already extensive offer, and will take the less sporty along a river, in the forest or in the heart of the countryside. Finally, the territory is crossed by the GR® de Pays itinerary "Villages perchés de Haute-Siagne", with a 50 km loop in three to five stages starting in Seillans.
A fabulous area for cycling
If walkers have found their paradise, cyclists need not worry: they are not outdone! Indeed, the famousEuro Vélo 8 itinerary, a cycle route which will eventually link eleven European countries from Spain to Greece, then Cyprus, passes through the Pays de Fayence! Thus, out of the 5,888 km of the final route, the region can already boast 26 of them. Following the old Meyrargues-Grasse railway line, it offers cyclists a discovery of the villages of Seillans, Fayence, Tourrettes, Callian and finally Montauroux. As for the Saint-Cassien lake, it is also a great invitation to pedal; between beautiful views, swimming opportunities and other water activities, remember to bring your bathing suit to enjoy all its assets! The icing on the cake is that a certain number of accommodation facilities in the area have the "Accueil Vélo" label, making it easy to envisage a touring stay in Pays de Fayence. And if you are not a hiker or a cyclist, you can always choose between horse riding, canyoning, rowing, paragliding and even golf!
When can you go? All year round, although hiking and cycling are best in spring and autumn. In summer, due to the heat, these activities are not ideal. But that's no problem! You can also take advantage of the opportunity to visit the artists' studios and music festivals in the nine villages of the Pays de Fayence.
Getting there. Head for the Var hinterland, between Draguignan and Grasse. By plane, Nice, Toulon or Marseille airports. By train, Saint-Raphaël Valescure station.
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How long does it take? A few days' getaway, a week's holiday or a long stay; although the area is relatively small, its richness, diversity and proximity to other major sites on the Côte d'Azur and in Provence will keep you there
Budget. Good news for the wallet: we stay in France! And if the coveted Côte d'Azur is close by, prices in the Pays de Fayence remain affordable.
Public. Lovers of nature, fresh air and picturesque villages! Young and old, Sunday athletes or hardcore sportsmen: there is something for everyone, and for all levels! Are you more of a relaxation enthusiast? Head for the two excellent spas at the Hôtel Terre Blanches and the Domaine de Fayence.
The advantages. A preserved environment, 73% of which is forest; a territory sheltered from mass tourism, where gites and B&Bs are king; immediate proximity to the Mediterranean, the Pre-Alps, the main roads and the TGV stations.
The minuses. Fragile massifs not very frequented in the middle of summer; high temperatures in August (but like everywhere in Provence); the irresistible desire to return there as soon as the stay is over
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