Bormes-les-Mimosas, nestled a few kilometers inland from the stunning Cote d’Azur, is a hidden gem that combines history, natural beauty, and a touch of romance. This picturesque village, located halfway between Toulon and Saint-Tropez, boasts an abundance of flowers, trees, and bushes, including the famous mimosa, which prompted the addition of ‘les Mimosas’ to its name in 1968, emphasizing its natural splendor and inviting tourists to explore its charms.
Discovering the Historic Village
Among the myriad of enchanting villages in Provence, Bormes-les-Mimosas stands out. Stepping into this medieval village feels like entering a fairytale, with ancient streets adorned with colorful plants and flowers, charming parks and gardens, and breathtaking views of the Mediterranean coast. If you find yourself in the vicinity, a visit to Bormes-les-Mimosas is an absolute must!
It’s important to note that Bormes-les-Mimosas comprises two distinct areas. While the larger, more recent part holds less interest for visitors, the medieval village further up the hill is where the true magic lies. Conveniently, there are two spacious car parks with free parking to the east of the town center near Park Gonzalez (the Parking Saint-Francois), making it an ideal starting point for your exploration.
A Stroll Through Time
As you ascend the steep hill, you’ll encounter a castle perched at the top and a labyrinth of narrow streets winding their way down. Along these charming alleyways, adorned with beautiful houses and blooming flowers, you can’t help but fall in love with the village’s timeless appeal. Take your time, relishing the simple pleasure of wandering the streets, soaking in the sights, and catching glimpses of the captivating surrounding landscape.
To begin your journey, depart from the parking lot near the small Chapel of Saint-Francois-de-Paule, a 16th-century structure paying homage to Saint Francois-de-Paule, who saved the village from the ‘black death’ a century earlier. Just past the chapel, in Place Gambetta, you’ll find the Bormes-les-Mimosas tourist office, where you can obtain a map, essential for navigating the village’s labyrinthine alleys.
Two significant historic landmarks await further up the hill. The first is the Church of Saint-Trophyme, an 18th-century marvel that exudes the charm of a much older structure due to its Romanesque style. This church is said to be a favorite of French presidents when they stay in the region.
The second highlight, located at the highest point of the village and accessible via a picturesque path surrounded by lush vegetation, is the ruins of a 12th-century castle. While not open to the public, the path leading to it offers splendid views of the Mediterranean and the Iles d’Hyeres.
For those seeking a more immersive experience, a scenic path continues beyond the castle, leading to the small 13th-century Chapel Notre-Dame de Constance. This approximately 40-minute walk, dotted with several oratories along the way, treats visitors to panoramic views and showcases the beauty of the village’s surroundings. Don’t miss this highly recommended trek!
Descending into the heart of the historic village, prepare to be enchanted by the countless narrow streets and alleys bursting with foliage and flowers. There’s no shortage of hidden corners waiting to be explored, inviting you to lose yourself in their charm. A promising starting point is the Rue des Bougainvilliers, situated between the Church of Saint-Trophyme and the Place Yann Piat.
While weaving your way through the village, make sure to keep an eye out for the twelve fountains scattered throughout its enchanting streets. Additionally, take the time to visit some of the meticulously maintained gardens and parks, such as the Jardin Botanique and the Jardin Lou Pitchounet. Further along Rue Carnot, a broader road in the heart of the village, you’ll discover taller houses, many painted in Provencal pastel colors, as well as numerous shops and restaurants.
For those with an inclination towards arts and culture, a visit to the Museum of Art and History, located at the western end of Rue Carnot, is highly recommended. The impressive building itself serves as a testament to the village’s history, while the art collection it houses, primarily featuring 19th and 20th-century regional artists from the era when “modern art” began to emerge, will captivate art enthusiasts.
Exploring the Surrounding Beauty
Once you’ve thoroughly experienced the delights of the historic village, take the opportunity to explore the ample parks located in the southeastern part of Bormes-les-Mimosas. Adjacent to each other, the Parc Municipal du Cigalou and the Parc Gonzalez offer a leisurely stroll through well-maintained gardens adorned with a vast array of plant species. Finally, this path will lead you back to the car parks, providing a magnificent view across the rooftops of the village.
Attractions Beyond Bormes-les-Mimosas
Should you find yourself with extra time to spare, consider visiting the nearby resort of Le Lavandou, located southeast of Bormes-les-Mimosas. This charming coastal town boasts a delightful harbor and beach waiting to be explored. Don’t miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the sandy shores and refreshing waters of the Cote d’Azur.
Another popular option for nature lovers is to embark on a scenic drive along the Route-du-Mimosa. This picturesque 115-kilometer journey commences in Bormes-les-Mimosas, leading northeast along the coast, passing through Le-Rayol-Canadel, Sainte-Maxime, Saint-Raphael, and culminating in Tanneron, Pegomas, and eventually Grasse. Late January or February is the ideal time to embark on this adventure, as it allows you to witness the mimosas in full bloom, painting the route with vibrant colors.
Lastly, consider a boat trip to explore the Iles d’Hyeres, a group of stunning islands just off the coast. This memorable excursion will allow you to soak up the beauty of the Mediterranean Sea and discover hidden pockets of paradise.
Visit the Ambassadeur Hotel and indulge in the perfect base for your exploration of Bormes-les-Mimosas and its environs. Immerse yourself in the rich history and natural wonders that await in this captivating corner of France.