Salernes is a potters’ town, famous for centuries for its wonderful tiles and ceramics. It is located in the Haut Var, on the banks of the river Bresque, benefiting from the combination of abundant streams, fuel from the wood of surrounding forests and local clay soil. It is best known for the manufacture of Provencal tommettes, the small, hexagonal floor tiles still to be seen on the floors of the traditional mas, Provencal farmhouses, throughout the region. The tiles have a particularly rich, earthy russet colour attributed to the local clay with its high iron content.
Although mass production has declined dramatically, traditional tiles are still made, but many of the workshops have now diversified into making more modern tiles, ceramics and pottery. Salernes also has other craftsmen in the village including wrought iron fabricators and glass-blowers. All these products can be found on market days, on Wednesday and Sunday mornings when Place de la Bresque is crammed with stalls, selling not just pottery and crafts but a wealth of fresh regional produce as well.
Apart from market days, Salernes is a peaceful little town where you can wander at will through its maze of winding streets and quiet squares and fountains, such as the Place de la Revolution with its medieval water source. You can see vestiges of the old chateau which once dominated the town, and the 17th church of Notre Dame de Misericorde, with its single nave and two belltowers. You can even bathe in the river, at the little sandy river beach, La Muie.
There are several excursions out of town, three kilometres to the north is the Chapelle Saint-Barthelemy, a 16th century hermitage on a rock overlooking the Bresque river. Or you could head for the Cascade de Sillans, a dramatic waterfall in the river Bresque, which is very popular for canyoning.
Copyright © 2011 Rosemary Bailey
Copyright Images : Informationfrance 2011