At Le Diamant Noir, Aups in the Haut Var, we are proud to provide an ideal habitat for many species of insect life that inhabit the Verdon region.
We become the home to many visiting butterflies, which are attracted to our garden by the numerous buddleia bushes.
Continue reading Welcome to The Butterfly Garden!
Less than ten minutes by car from Le Diamant Noir, Aups, in the Haut Var, is the most amazing natural site. The site of Saint Barthélemy, is a magical shaded park, a protected area with incredible wildlife and vegetation- a really beautiful spot.
Ample parking is provided for visitors, and as it is a perfect place for a picnic, tables and benches are provided, under the shade of the mature trees.
This area is home to the spring of the river Bresque , which flows through Salernes, and has played an important part in the production of ceramics and tiles, for which the town is well-known for.
Here in this incredible, enclosed valley, the cool and crystal clear waters of St Bathelemy’s pond lie still, right at the base of huge cliffs, as you enter the park. The vegetations is mirrored in the clear water below. Trees provide shady areas to keep cool on hot summer days.
Then there are large grassy areas edged with beautiful oaks and pines, with plenty of room for families.
Down at the edge of the stream, are the most beautiful dragonflies of varying colours, while the stream is home to fresh water crayfish.
The water can be crossed by purpose made bridges, but much more romantic is the crossing with stepping stones.
A walk through the valley, with paths amid the wildflowers, take a trip to a historic past , close in to the base of the rocky cliffs, where caves have been carved out. Skeletons have been found , providing evidence of pre-historic habitation in these elaborate caves.
Although the wildlife is protected, the park has been made available for recreation, and access into the caves is allowed- what a place for adventurous children!
Another feature of this park, is the presence of a perched chapel , built in the 16th century and then transformed in the 18th century, it has now been totally restored.
The site de St Barthélemy, has its own story:
According to legend, this was the home to woodland nymphs. the gods were jealous of their immense beauty and did not want the mortal princes to be able to reach them. Therefore they carved out this park, leaving the sheer faced rocks . when the knights arrived on horseback, they could go no further but the nymphs disappeared into the depths of the park, plunging their suitors into great despair. the gos then felt sorry for these men and turned them into ppolar trees. Legend has it that the trees multiplied, and this is why there are so many trees along the edges of the park.
If ever there was a home for woodland fairies this is the ideal spot! It is the prefect place for childhood reverie.
Don’t miss Le Diamant Noir BBQ evening
In high season we have a weekly BBQ evening- good food-good wine and above all good company!-
About half an hour from Le Diamant Noir at Aups, you can reach the lavender plateau, where the fields of purple are truly worth the trip. The lavender harvest is now under way, so some of the fields have been stripped of their pharmaceutically, valuable crop.
Not only can you find lavender, but also fields of vivid yellow, where sunflowers turn their heads to worship the sun.
bees on sunflowers-provence
We were lucky enough to capture both provencal jewels in one shot!
Do make sure that if you visit the Lac Sainte Croix that you also visit the plateau on the western side.
Meanwhile on the lake there is plenty of family fun, as the pedal boats make the way up the Gorges du Verdon
Lac Sainte Croix, Gorges du Verdon
family fun Lac Sainte Croix
For those who want a quieter location, the lakeside spot at St Julien du Verdon, near Artignosc, is worth visiting.
Throughout the summer months, various extra provencal markets are set up , in order toattract the tourists, and to provide a market for local producers to sell their goods.
The market today was dedicated to “flea market” treasures and antiques taken from local bastides, and local artisan products to include, local honey, truffle derivatives, various preserves, olive oil, local wines, saffron and lavender products to name a few.
Despite the heat, there was lovely breeze, which made browsing pleasant, while the live music set the atmosphere.
Next Sunday there will be another market for local artisans and on the next three Thursday evenings there will be evening craft markets
Do look out for local notice boards which advertise the summer activities organised in the local villages.
Today marked the 3rd saffron festival at Sillans La Cascade. A selection of stalls welcomed those interested in, not only saffron, but truffles, honey, various preserves and other local products. Bunches of lavender were on sale.
It was a simple little festival, with drinks and snacks on sale. A collection of serious local saffron producers were present to explain their methods of production and various uses of the “red gold” It is one of the most fraudulently reproduced spices in the world, and therefore it is better to purchase entire stamens rather than powder.
Crocus sativus provides the flowers, which are harveted, by hand, in October. Once the flowers have been harvested, the saffron is removed and dried immediately, to maximise its flavour. Le safran du Haut-Var is cultivated traditionally, without herbicides, nor chemical fertilisers, and without irrigation
Brought to Provence by the Greeks, there has been evidence of saffron production in the region util now. In 2006 the Association Safran Provence was founded.
A talk on saffron production was to take place and also a cookery demonstration using local truffles
Unfortunately we could not stay as we had to return to Le Diamant Noir, Aups, to welcome our new guests.
Do visit Sillans La Cascade. It is situated by the river Bresque. There are lovely walks from which the magnificent cascade can be viewed. The village itself boasts good restaurants and is nestled behind the remains of a thirteenth century castle
Not far from Aups in the Haut Var area of Provence, is the start of the Valensole lavender plateau.
While it was still dark, my daughter and I set off on a mission, to see the sun rise over the lavender fields. Driving around Aups, the town was deserted, with most people still asleep. We took the road to Moissac- Bellevue and then on to Baudinard, and then up on to the plateau. It was still difficult to identify the crops on the roadside, but as it started to get lighter it was easy to recognise the rounded bases of the lavender plants.
We watched the sun come up , casting beautiful light across the purple fields, catching the odd wild oats and transforming them into a silvery, feathery, foreground for the dark purple beyond.
The sight was breathtaking. Alone amongst the lavender, in the cool freshness of the morning , it was a privilege to be at peace with nature. As the sun rose higher in the sky, it became noticeable that in reality we weren’t alone. There was a constant hum, as the bee population for miles went to work on the lavender flowers. Lavender honey will always revive memories of this beautiful morning.
How lucky we are to live in such a wonderful area. It was one of those occasions when you have to pinch yourself to be assured that it is not all a dream
The season is well under way at Le Diamant Noir. Already we have welcomed people from all over the world. Last week we had a family from California , a couple from New Zealand and a French couple- a great combination.
This year we have introduced a wine tasting evening, which has proved to be very popular. Another opportunity to meet fellow guests is at our BBQ evening. Over the last few weeks it has seemed like one long party with interesting guests and diverse conversation.
We learn a lot about our local area and further afield from our guests. They all find something different and share their experiences of the area.
We have a couple of weeks left in La Truffière,late August, for anyone who wants to make a late booking.
We are offering discounts in L’amandier for September for occupancy by couples If you are interested do get in touch.