Perched at 600 metres above sea level between Mt Barjaude and Puy de la Sigue, Ampus is a traditional and authentic part of Provence.

 

Time has stopped at Ampus. From the moment you arrive in the little village square you expect Marius, coming straight from Marcel Pagnol’s books, to appear through the bead curtains of a front door.  In Ampus, everything is traditional - even the bread is still cooked in the traditional way in a wood fired oven.

 

In Ampus, you can discover St Michael's Church, restored by the generous Abbé Volpato, who was as enthusiastic about the heritage restoration as he was religious.  The two go together.  Go in and admire the pretty Provençale working crib.  A little higher up, behind the church, go back in time and climb the Stations of the Cross.  Stop and look at the magnificent mosaics fixed to the rocks.  The village is heir to a lively past, and you can still see the clues which lead you to discover prehistoric times, such as the dolmen at marenq.

You will discover one thing after another and find that Ampus has a special way of revealing all her charms, one by one, peacefully with the rhythm of the River Natuby  whose source is nearby.

      

Perched villages are always welcoming, but their prime purpose was defensive.  Ampus is a good illustration of this concept.  The village was fortified by the Counts of Provence and became a refuge for the protestants who threatened Draguignan during the Wars of Religion.  There is evidence of these stories in the stones of Ampus, such as the ruins of the feudal castle and the 11th century gateway.

   

The old houses with cracked walls which lean along the little streets show you an unspoilt part of Provence.  The Saint-Roch Chapel, at the entrance to the village, is evidence of the plague of 1720.  Twenty kilometres north of the village you can see the old headquarters of the Templars of Ruet.

When you have finished your walk in true Provence, go and relax in the cool beside the majestic fountain which graces the tiny shaded village square. Slow down time and enjoy it better.

François NENIN (Le Var - Nice Matin)