Tourves is a town of the Var, in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur region, 48 km north of Toulon, between the towns of Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume and Brignoles.
Crossed by the famous Nationale 7 and the river Caramy, culminating at 542 m altitude, the vast territory of the locality (65 km²) belongs to the natural region of Provence Verte, in a logically green setting, to the east chains of Sainte-Baume and Sainte-Victoire.
Already inhabited during Prehistory and Antiquity because located on a Roman road, the village really grows in the Middle Ages with the establishment of a first church and a rescue (refuge) by the Archbishop of Aix in the 11th and the fief of Tourves is attached to the royal domain in the 15th. Protestant stronghold during the Wars of Religion, the village is looted in 1562.
In the seventeenth century, depending on the lords of Ventimiglia and Valbelle, Tourves is erected in marquisate. In the eighteenth century, Count Joseph Valbelle, literate and libertine man, friend of the philosophers of the Enlightenment, erected a new castle called "small Versailles Provençal".
From the end of the 19th century to the 1980s, like neighboring localities, Tourves is famous for exploiting one of the largest deposits of bauxite. This industry disappeared, the activity is now focused on viticulture, trade and crafts.
With nearly 5,000 inhabitants, Tourves has preserved an authentic and charming old Provençal center. Its heritage and its environment make it a stage of great interest during a stay in a region which is also rich in tourist sites and an hour from the Mediterranean beaches.
In the heart of a village that has kept a picturesque character, dotted with colorful facades, just like in more recently urbanized areas, the city has a rich heritage.
The most notable is the old castle and especially its park. The "little Versailles" erected by the Count of Valbelle in the eighteenth century on the foundations of a medieval building, there remains only ruins since the Revolution. But his park on the other hand has been preserved. It is dotted with "factories", in keeping with the fashionable English-Chinese gardens (1770s), that is to say, small buildings such as colonnades, obelisk, pyramid and beautiful trees. together presenting a romantic aspect. The park of the castle remains a very pleasant space of walk.
See also, the Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation, built from 1470, with a wrought iron campanile bell tower and one of whose angles was completed by a fountain. Inside, the church houses a superb triptych and two reliquaries. On a religious level, the Saint-Pierre church, whose foundations go back to the 11th century, became a place dedicated to associations, and about 10 chapels and oratories (including the Saint-Probace chapel, built in the 11th century and rebuilt in XVII and the chapel Saint-Maurice, founded in the 11th century) are also worth to appear in a journey of discovery of local heritage.
This circuit will also include the fountains (there are 17 in total) that testify to the rich hydrography of the territory and the quality of the urban development (they are connected by an ingenious network of canals). Among these are the fountain of the place de l'hôtel de ville (1799, classified in 1926), that of the Cheval Blanc (1831) or the fountain of La Poste (1772), which adjoined the residence of the Count of Valbelle.
Finally, the Roman bridge over the Caramy and the remains of a Gallo-Roman villa (farm) are also worth observing.
A map of the city mentioning the main elements of local heritage is available at the town hall or by contacting +33 4 94 37 00 00.
In another register, but highlighting an important part of the history of Tourves, the Museum of Red Gueules is devoted to the history of mining bauxite in the Var. The origin of bauxite, the transformation techniques of this aluminum ore as well as its contemporary uses and the daily life of miners via a reconstituted extraction tunnel are presented via interactive kiosks. Open every day except from mid-December to 31st January and 1st May, 1st and 11th November. Price: 4 and 6 euros. Information on +33 4 94 86 19 63.
Side recreation "nature", the green environment of the town lends itself to beautiful hikes. One of these must include the Caramy Gorge, more than 4 km long, between the "Saut du Cabri" and the Roman Bridge, which are home to decorated caves; another may include an incursion into the wetland of the ponds and its protected natural ecosystem. Other trails follow the vineyard plots... Documentation and information at +33 4 94 72 04 21. It is also possible to join the outings organized by the local club. Contact at +33 6 52 96 49 97 or +33 6 46 08 24 60.
On the cultural level, note that the media library regularly organizes activities (children's stories, workshops, meetings of authors). Information on +33 4 94 78 76 44.