Twenty-five kilometers north of Grasse, Cipières sits on the winding D603 departemental road some 10 kilometers from Gourdon and eight from Gréolières.
The village was built on a promontory at 750m altitude near the base of Gros Pounch mountain, overlooking the Loup Valley and facing the Cheiron. The GR 4 hiking trail crosses through the region surrounding the village, land which stretches from the banks of the Loup to Calern Plateau, a 1400 meter-high karstic plateau with the Côte d’Azur Observatory at its edge and just above the village of Caussols. A number of other way-marked walking trails are planned, as well.
Cipières has a richly-woven history, having first been the property of the Count of Provence in the 13th century, and then being ruled by Romée of Villeneuve, and later falling into the possession of Raibaude of Caussols
The village became a barony, and was sold in 1510 to René of Savoy, Count of tende (Known as the Great Bastard of Savoy, son of Philip II, Duke of Savoy), and survived the wrenching turbulence of the French War of Religion. The castle, an imposing edifice overlooking the village, remains as testimony to this history.
Becoming a center for sheep breeding an crops of corn, lentils and chick-peas, Cipières was long one of the breadbaskets of the Grasse region. Many threshing sites can still be found in the village or the surrounding countryside. The terraced land, once farm by horse and plow, as well as the piles of scree called clapiers (made of stone extracted from the fields) show how hard past generations had labor to tame this unyielding ground such that it would nourish a population.
All along the walking trails, just arround a stone wall or rising up from the fields can be seen the ancient stone huts called bories – the town proudly counts nearly one hundred such structures.
The wild and fragrant Mediterranean vegetation accompanies Sunday strollers and avid hikers at every step.Thyme, then broom, appear in late spring. In summertime, the blue of wild lavender dazzles on our plateaus and hillsides. The clary sage, savory (pebre d’ail in Provencal), and everlasting flower come into bloom, not to mention many varieties of wild orchid. Wild and cultivated lavender and clary sage were once distilled on-site for the Grasse perfumeries.
Animal breeding has remained the village’s primary economic activity, as well as the sale of local products, such as meat, cheese, poultry, and honey ; in the last few years, new lavender field have been sawn, and there is a new saffron crocus plantation.
Arts and crafts are present, too, in the village pottery studio and candle factory. Private hiking lodges and communal lodge facilities are being studied.
In the village streets, visitors can admire many ancient doors with splendid lintel and carved stone sills, as well as loges, passages leading from one street to another which pass under the village houses.
- Monuments :
- St Claude Chapel (17th century) with remarkable wrought-iron gate and baroque chancel
- St Mayeul Church (16th and 17th centuries) which is undergoing restoration, with a bell-tower in colorful glazed tiles, topped by an 18th century, wrought-iron bell-tower (both mentionned in the Route du Baroque)
- The fountain
- The wash houses
- The bridge over the Loup, often called pont romain, or « roman bridge »