Entrevaux – a Roman town and medieval village among olive groves
Entrevaux lies on a rocky spur on a meander of the River Var, halfway between Digne-les-Bains and Nice. It is classed as a ‘Village et Cité de Caractère’ and is extremely proud of its rich, turbulent, two thousand year old history.
Set among terraced olive groves and limestone polished over the centuries under an ever blue sky, the village is an important historic centre : a Roman town (the diocese of Glandèves), a medieval village, later fortified by Vauban during the reign of Louis XIV and on the border of France until 1860 ! The roaring of cannon ceased long ago but Entrevaux is still reached by a drawbridge and has kept the charm of its past intact : tall, narrow houses, squares and fountains, triple-rowed Genoise tiling and balconies, narrow, winding streets and awkward steps, barracks and watchtowers, bridges and towers, guard houses and arrow slits, stalls and shops…
Just around the corner of this maze of streets stands the 17th century, Gothic fortified cathedral, which is a listed historic building. It has a Baroque chancel, splendid casements of carved walnut, an organ by Eustache and a rich art collection. The rampart walk, also a listed monument, features six drawbridges, two bastions, a redoubt with machicolations, underground passages, ditches and double hornwork. Entry to the village is via the Prison de la Porte Royale and 150m above it stands the Citadel. Uninterrupted views over the valley and the village await stout-hearted visitors who climb the 800m footpath to the Citadel, the only way to reach the fortress surrounded by olive trees.
The Circuit des Moulins is a circular walk punctuated with points of interest including a flour mill and an oil mill. In the village, you would not be surprised to meet a helmeted knight on his trusty steed, instead of which you find yourself in front of the ‘Musée de la Moto’, a museum of 75 motorbikes dating from 1901 onwards and in full working order ! Entrevaux is also a station for the famous Train des Pignes, the railway line which links Digne-les-Bains and Nice, the Alps and the Côte d’Azur.