Seillans

Voted one of "France's most beautiful villages" with its ruined château and ramparts, fountains, flowers, and sunny maze of steeply raked cobblestone streets that suddenly break open over valley views, this is a charming old town that still smacks of yesteryear's Côte d'Azur. Its church—a Renaissance remake of an 11th-century structure—is the best spot from which to admire the panorama; it's worth a pause to take in the musty Latin atmosphere. There are old-style, competitive bakers here, and an active café life on a miniature scale. The French opera composer Gounod and the surrealist Max Ernst were regulars in Seillans; Ernst retired here. Year-round guided tours (€3) of the town start from the tourist office Thursday at 10 but you need to reserve a few days in advance (5 person minimum/tour).

The Festival Musique Cordiale www.musique-cordiale.com takes place over the first two weeks of August at locations such as Chapelle Notre Dame de l’Ormeau and the 11th-century Eglise St-Léger, as well as in neighboring villages.

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