A short history of Ampus

The origin of the word “Ampus” is the Latin word “emporium” – a market.  In Roman times there was an important fair at Ampus.


Ampus, a feudal town

“The feudal castle of Ampus (the mound on which the Stations of the cross was built) was razed in 1590 on the orders of the "Duc d’Epernon", Governor of Provence.  This punishment was a consequence of the Wars of Religion:
“On the 13th May 1590, the little town of Barjols was the victim of bloody clashes.  Catholic troops of the League, led by the lord of Ampus, treacherously massacred the royalist garrison which had laid down its arms on the promise of freedom.  After the demolition, the lordly family lived at what is now the Town Hall Square.”

(Marcel FAURE, 2000, p. 7).



Canal de Fontigon

The "Canal de Fontigon", 7.2 kilometres long, links the spring of the same name with the Ampus Nartuby river.  It serves a number of farms and plays an important role in irrigation. It was begun in 1497 by the Lords of Ampus.  It has played an important role for the five following centuries.
Notably it has:
Driven flour mills, olive oil mills, grinders, and watered the 27 washplaces along its route
Provided the village’s water until 1803
Watered fields and gardens
In 1906 the canal was used to generate the first electricity for street lighting and for some houses.  The canal has been cleaned on a number of occasions in 1985,1986,1996 and in 1997, its 500th anniversary, when a special ceremony took place to mark the occasion.




Races up the hill to Ampus

If Ampus is famous throughout Europe it is above all thanks to the races up its hill.  The first one took place in 1921.  It rapidly became one of the most important of the European championships.  Its reputation is undoubtedly due to the features of the course, with a gradient similar to that of "Mont Ventoux" and 153 bends over 6.8 kilometers.

In Formula 2, the record is held by the Frenchman Marc Sourd who, in 1981, covered the distance from the Draguignan crossroads to the Col de la Grange in just 2 minutes and 50 seconds.  To do this he reached 240 kph on the straight after the Flayosquet bend…but  don’t try it yourself.

The last “classic” race took place in 1985.  Two “new formula” races took place in 1990 and 1991, over the upper part of the course from the Flayosquet bend to the "Col de la Grange".
Ampus saw the 2001 Tour Auto and each year witnesses the  Criterium 83.




Some dates

1835        Last cholera epidemic (46 deaths)

1852        First oil street lamp

1872        Construction of the Ratton bridge 

1909        Telephone network installed

1921        First Ampus Hill Race

1944        Maquis from Aups sabotage the Ratton bridge

1995        Remodelling of the Town Hall Square

   2002        Ampus joins the Community of the conurbation of Draguignan (Communauté d’Agglomeration Dracenoise).  Launch of a major programme of heritage restoration