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.