Around Frejus: Roman aqueduct
Best Beach: Plage de Cabasson

The ruins of the Hyères Castle

When I asked a man by the Place St Paul in Hyères for the most shaded path up to the castle, he looked inquisitive. Walk under the olive trees, he said. but you know, it's nothing special. The views are spectacular, yes, he continued, but the old castle is just ruins.

From the Place St Paul up the winding road, by old homes that bulge over the street, by the silver coins of olive trees, I reach the castle. It dominates the city with layers of thick stone walls that circle the hill of Castéou. First built in the eleventh century by the Lords of Fos, the castle was enhanced and expanded through the years until demolished in 1620 by order of King Louis XIII.

At the highest point, two viewing tables in painted ceramic (designed by Patrick Conzett) describe the sites from the Maures to the north to the sea, to the Giens Peninsula, the Hyères islands, the Fenouillet mountain, the limestone hills by Cuers. From the top of Castéou, there are no plush villas, no grand hotels, no exotic gardens or swaying palm trees. The city of Hyères breathes below the old stones all the way to the sea. It's worth the half hour climb from downtown to see the ruins anew.
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