One of the most captivating small towns I’ve ever visited was Contignac, a precious gem of a village located in the heart of Provence-Alps-Cote d’Azur, France in a region called the “Haut Var.” This vibrant, colorful yet tranquil village was on the route of my cycling tour with Backroads. It will steal your heart of you let it! It definitely stole mine…think of this place as St. Tropez’s quieter sister. Both are spectacular in their own ways. I will be posting about St. Tropez as well so keep your eyes peeled for that. In the mean time lets talk about Contignac!
As we meandered through Provence and the French Riviera I was smitten with the vineyards, villages and varied landscapes. It felt other worldly pedaling through the fall sunshine for hours and coming up on this village oasis just when I really needed a relaxing break!
As we descended down rolling hills we came across the stone village surrounded by majestic cliffs and medieval towers called “Les Tours Sarrasins.” These towers watch over the quiet town, they look imposing but the village is so very inviting.
My time spent in Contignac was not long enough, I definitely plan on returning some day soon. It’s the kind of place you crave when you want to unwind. You can sit at all day cafes and people watch or maybe read a few novels while you soak in the Provençal sunshine. The town is small enough to get around by foot. If you plan it right you can see it all in a day…but the thought of staying a few days longer (or maybe a lifetime) will beckon. It’s a bit quirky too, for example for quince lovers there’s a festival dedicated to this fruit (the Fete du Coing) where locals dress up as…you guessed it quince! If rosé is more your style don’t worry, they have a festival for that too.
Where to stay
Contignac might be a day trip for you or maybe you have some time to spend a few nights. If that’s the case then here are a few options to consider. As this is a small village there are not many options in town, but quite a few more in surrounding villages to choose from.
Lodging to look at in Contignac:
- Le Clos de l’Ours A beautiful wine grower country guest house located on a family owned vineyard.
- La Bastide des Anges A charming bed & breakfast.
- La Radassiere Two houses surrounded by hundreds of olive trees and climbing roses. One is the guest house and the other for dining and common areas.
Lodging within 10 miles away from Contignac:
- Château de Berne We stayed at this unforgettably beautiful Relais & Chateau property. Located in Lourges on a 1,500 acre private wine estate. Read my post here.
- Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle An Alain Ducasse-owned inn with 14 rooms, vineyards, a pool, gardens and of course, delicous food!
La Route des Vins de Provence: Wine Trail
This region in the South of France is best know for is rosé wines, my favorite pink drink! It’s so well known that you can follow La Route des Vins de Provence and learn all about the 450 domaines in the area. When in Contignac you can sample many great wines but be sure to visit the home of award winning Mirabeau en Provence wines located right in the heart of the village. Here you will be spoiled with delicious vino and fall even more in love with the area. They also have finely curated trinkets that you will want to take home.
You will not be at a loss for great food here. Whether you are tasting the fresh abundance at the street markets, sharing an al fresco picnic or dining at one of the many cafes you will be impressed. Food is fresh, French and seasonal. Stroll around and you are sure to find a menu to suit your mood. Try to dine outside to people watch & take in all the views.
Open Air Markets
You must make time to browse and shop the local markets. Here you will find a dream space for foodies, textile junkies and fashionistas. There is something for everyone whether it be the freshest produce, farm raised meats, fresh seafood, regional cheeses, charcuterie, baked goods and more. You might not even make it to a cafe after perusing the market, there is so much to try there. The local textiles are gorgeous and worth every penny. They are also easy to pack thank goodness!
Strolling the cobblestone streets in Contignac is so delightful. There are surprises around every corner. The stores are locally owned and you can bring home some real goodies. From art to clothing, accessories, pottery and delicious sips and nibbles. You won’t get lost in this town, but try to! That’s when I always find the most interesting boutiques. Most of the shopping is located on the Grand Rue.
Everything is a sight here! This region is filled with history and it’s situated so beautifully among the rocky cliffs. If you have time, tour the Troglodyte Grottos, which were actually refuges. It’s a quick visit and views of the village are epic. There are museums, boutiques and of course great local cafés. You visit here to get away from it all, so don’t expect big box stores please. A picnic in the Sanctuaire Notre-Dame de Graces is well worth your time too. Don’t forget the rosé! The Office de Tourisme de Cotignac is available too should you have any questions at all.