If you are a racing fan, the small village of Le Castellet is perhaps most famous for being the home of the Paul Ricard Race circuit. But as a village, Le Castellet is so beautiful, it has been labelled one of the plus beaux village de France, meaning “most beautiful villages in France”.
This stunning hilltop village in Provence is located just a few miles away from the coastline of the French Riviera, overlooking the beautiful countryside all around it. It is officially in the Var department, and part of the Saint-Cyr-sur-mer canton.
This stretch of the Mediterranean counts several popular towns including Bandol, Cassis, La Ciotat, and La Seyne-sur-mer, all right next to each other.
Previously called Castellum, the oldest known archives referring to Le Castellet date from the 12th century. Will some of its old rampart walls still standing, the village was initially built here for defensive purposes.
It grew into a thriving village because of the rich agricultural lands around it, but today is most known for its preserved beauty which attracts a lot of tourism to the area. So let’s have a look at the top things to see and do in Le Castellet, shall we? Allons-y!
Things to do in Le Castellet
1. The Village, Shops and Restaurants
Le Castellet is a beautifully preserved chocolate box village, which attracts a lot of visitors. Hence, there are a number of art galleries, jewellery shops, souvenir shops, and restaurants all over town.
If you enjoy shopping, you can spend hours wandering around the village’s tiny pedestrianized streets taking photos and browsing the shops.
There are also a good handful of restaurants with everything from high-end French cuisine to crêpes, as well as bars to serve a drink or two. Enjoy a lazy lunch in the sun to make the most of your trip.
2. Eglise Saint-Sauveur
A lovely landmark in Le Castellet is the Church of the Transfiguration of the Saint Savior.
The original chapel here dated back to the 7th century. The current building dates back however to the 12th century, with a major addition taking place in the 18th century. It is dedicated to Saint Clair, the patron saint of seamstresses and patron saint of the blind.
3. Market days
There is a weekly market in Le Castellet every Saturday at the Place Herrischried.
The farmers’ and producers’ marché is held between 8am and 1pm, selling everything from provencal souvenirs to wine and lavender. It does get crowded in the summer time, so head there early.
4. Circuit Paul Ricard
If you are a racing fan, about 5 miles (8 km) away from the center of Le Castellet, is the racing circuit Paul Ricard.
It is named after Paul Ricard, a famous entrepreneur in the south of France, who was responsible for commercializing Pastis de Marseille and several other liquers. The Ricard family have funded and own several properties along the French Riviera, including the îles Paul Ricard just off of nearby Sanary-sur-mer (20 minutes away).
The Paul Ricard circuit was built in 1969, and has since hosted a series of races including from the Formula 1. (Typically however, Formula 1 races are held in nearby Monaco which is 2h30 drive away.
How to get to Le Castellet?
The hilltop village of Le Castellet is only accessible by car. The easiest way to get to Le Castellet is to arrive in Marseille which is about 27 miles (45 km) from La Castellet and drive from there. Marseille has both a high-speed TGV train service as well as international airport with connections across Europe and the world.
How easy is it getting around?
The center of Le Castellet is very walkable, although it is hilly so good shoes are recommended. Cars are not allowed in the center of Castellet, and the parking for visitors is at the bottom of the hill.
How many days should you spend?
It takes about a day to visit around Le Castellet, but you may want to stay a few days longer to the small village feel and provençal way of life in this part of France.
Where should you stay?
There are some wonderful gîtes and other accommodation within 5 miles of Le Castellet:
- €€€ – La Bastide des Sources
- €€€€ – Mas du Brulat
If you enjoyed that article, you may like to read more about traveling around Provence. A bientôt!