A visit to Le Bar sur Loup, built atop a rocky spur some 1050 feet above sea level, plunges sightseers deep into the waters of long ago. An astonishing spectrum of peoples and époques left their mark here: Celtic, Gallic, Ligurian, Roman. To this day, Le Bar sur Loup bears traces of this stream of invaders who forged, through centuries of raids and incursions, the intractable heart of this village. Baous, shelters, the Porte Sarrazine, narrow lanes where the dwellings served as protective ramparts - all provide a fascinating lesson in history to any visitor with a watchful eye and a thirst for the past.
Touring Le Bar sur Loup necessarily leads one to the foot of the castle, whose foundations date from the 13th century, and which was the property of the Counts of Grasse from 1235 until the Revolution. Revolutionary thoughts naturally recall the “Amiral de Grasse,” François Joseph de Grasse, born in the castle in 1722, who grew to become a key figure in America’s struggle for independence. His victory over the English in the naval battles of the Chesapeake and Yorktown ultimately ensured the independence of the United States of America on October 19, 1781.
The town hall was built in 1890 on the site of the former Penitent Noir chapel, and its halls still echo with memories from 1919 through 1928, when it was home to the classes of the internationally-celebrated French pedagogue, Célestin Freinet.
MONUMENTS AND VISITS:
• The St Jacques-le-Majeur parish church is a Gothic-style monument built between the 12th and 15th centuries. It houses two painting masterpieces dating from the 15th century: a Bréa school altarpiece and a strikingly unique painting named “La Danse Macabre.” The carved panels of the main door, in flamboyant Gothic style, are the work of Jacotin Bellot, the artist responsible for the stalls in the Vence cathedral. At the foot of the bell-tower, built into the wall, is an ancient Roman tombstone that was discovered within the town limits.
• The carved doors of the village houses often tell of the trade and social standing of their owners, whether craftsmen, merchants, or peasants. They are decorated in tin, pewter, bronze, or sometimes in more modest iron. One also sees signs that an owner worked with flowers: jasmine, roses, bay trees, poppies, or orange trees are very often represented in the carvings, also symbolizing the village’s primary economy activity. Indeed, cultivation of the Seville orange is what earned Le Bar sur Loup the title “Cité des Orangers” - City of the Orange Tree.
• Cobblestone lanes, small squares with fountains and wash houses - every visitor is likely to fall under the spell of this authentic and charming village. Easter Monday marks the traditional Fête de l’Oranger, the Orange Tree Festival, and the Saint Jean summer solstice festivities take place in late June; both are events not to be missed.
• Hikes along the hillside provide a panoramic view and the Loup the perfect site for a refreshing dip. The variety of pastimes will keep every member of the family content, while bolder spirits can try their skill at hang-gliding or paragliding above this unspoiled village, nestled in the middle mountains and built by the hands of Man and of Time.