Bormes-les-Mimosas, a picture-perfect Provencal village, was awarded its mimosa accolade in 1968 because it is here that there is the greatest profusion of the exotic yellow blossom on the Riviera. Mimosa flowers from January to March, its intense perfume carries a scent of the south, and the sight of a spray of the tiny yellow bobbles against a blue sky typifies the region in winter. The plant was brought from Mexico in the 1860s and is now as much a part of the region as the palm trees - you can follow a glorious route des Mimosas all the way from Bormes to Cannes. Bormes is also good place to start the Route des Vins of the Maures.
The old village, perched on a hilltop, is tucked discreetly away from the coast. It is a medieval jewel of covered alleyways, and vaulted passages, bedecked with oleander, bougainvillea as well as mimosa. As you wander the steep streets, look out for some of their bizarre names – Rompi-chou, meaning arse-breaker, or the street of gossips. Up around the castle is a shady walk and gorgeous views out to the Iles d’Hyères.
There is a fine view of the old town from the place Saint-Francoise-de-Paule, and you can visit the 16th chapel erected to the saint who is credited with saving the villagers from the plague in 1482. You can also visit the Eglise Saint-Trophime with its distinctive sundial and newly restored frescoes, and the Musée d’Arts et Histoire with works by local landscape painters, Jean-Charles and Marie Cazin.
Heading down to the coast, Bormes has its own marina at La Favière, and a a truly gorgeous beach at l'Estagnol, with parasol pines fringing a wide bay of turquoise water. From La Favière you can follow the footpath round Cap Benat, a gorgeous quiet walk in winter and spring (though access to beaches can sometimes be tricky in summer). The Cap is the preserve of private estates, culminating in the Fort de Bregancon, a restored military outpost, parts of which date back to the 16th century. It is now one of the official residences of the French president.
Text Copyright © 2011 Rosemary Bailey
Copyright images Informationfrance 2011
Office Municipal de Tourisme
1 Place Gambetta,
83230 Bormes les Mimosas,
04 94 01 38 38