When traveling throughout the French Riviera, taking a day to escape the trendy beach clubs, bars, and tourist attractions can impart a local viewpoint. In the Côte d’Azur region of southern France, close to Saint Tropez, are the villages of Grimaud and Port Grimaud. They are two distinct areas connected by their name and a short drive between the two destinations.
When you set out to tour what made the area historically famous — a hillside fortified and now charming medieval enclave perfect for exploring — you can glean a stronger sense of Grimaud. Juxtaposed by the planned town of Port Grimaud, replete with man-made glistening canals and colorful homes, stop and absorb the sunkissed water views.
The charming medieval village of Grimaud is located on a hilltop offering panoramic views of the French Provencal countryside. Wandering the winding cobblestone streets lined with charming storefronts, cafés, and quaint homes takes you back in time to when protective feudal castles were the center of life.
The hilly and hilltop fortress showcases castle ruins, winding cobbled streets, sweet fountain-centered courtyards, and alleyways awaiting exploration. Take a walk, lose your way for a moment, and discover pretty corners of life in Grimaud.
1. Grimaud Castle
The ruins of the Grimaud Castle, perched on the highest spot in the village, is worth a climb up the uneven stone steps. Believed to have been constructed in the 11th century, changing hands throughout the years, the remains of Grimaud Castle allow you to walk through its uncharted history.
The castle’s terraced approach now acts as a setting for outdoor activities. The fortress’ rows make great tiered seating during summer concerts and welcome picnicking tourists to sit and enjoy the view.
The hike up to the Grimaud Castle is steep; a sure-footed approach is required to reach the ruins. However, at the base of the castle, you can wander along the stone walls and get a feel for the fortress without the arduous climb to the top.
2. Donkey Steps
Winding through the village are long, gently sloping stone steps built with a short riser. They require walkers to take time and carefully adjust their stride. Dubbed “donkey steps” these elongated steps were built so the villagers’ donkeys could be led through the streets to the castle. The wide base of each stair gave the four-legged transport space to solidly plant their hooves before defiantly navigating the next step.
You can almost see a young lad tugging a reluctant donkey, loaded down with fresh-pressed olive oil up the cobbled walkways passing outdoor terraces and curious bystanders.
3. Lively Town Square
The picturesque village gracefully retains its Middle Ages, castle-like charm. The central town square is a pleasant way to enjoy a sunny afternoon in the south of France. The plaza is surrounded by medieval buildings repurposed for modern-day commerce and is filled with lively tourists enjoying a glace (classic ice cream) and window shopping.
The small shops selling T-shirts with French sayings and souvenir trinkets capture your attention as you marvel at the ancient stonework.
4. Church Of St. Michael
The Church of St. Michael, the centerpiece of religious worship in Grimaud, was built in the late 12th century. The Romanesque-style church with 19th-century frescoes of St. Michael, St. Peter, and St. Bartholomew impart the church’s history. Additionally, the artist, Jacques Gautier, also designed the stained-glass windows installed in 1975 adding to his eclectic and varied design background. The windows add rich color to the Church’s otherwise dark interior lighting.
An active Catholic parish, the Church of St. Michael is open to respectful visitations.
5. The Views
The road entering the village offers panoramic views without undertaking the arduous climb to the top of Grimaud Castle. Views from the lower sidewalk are beautiful. However, if you cross the street and climb a few steps you will spy even more exceptional views typically associated with medieval Provencal villages.
6. The Cafés
A picture-perfect spot to enjoy a local beverage and engage in people-watching, small cafés and restaurants dot the old village streets. A hub of tourist activity, you can enjoy a glass of wine, a cup of Café au Lait, or a ubiquitous glass of Coke while relaxing at a corner table on an outdoor patio. Pair it with a delicate French pastry and your visit to Grimaud will be complete.
The famous seaside resort of Port Grimaud entices visitors from across Europe and beyond. This charming village is an enclave of waterside residences for big water boat enthusiasts. The French Riviera is your playground when you own or rent a property in Port Grimaud.
Carefully planned and designed by architect François Spoerry, the colorful waterfront homes are straight out of a Côte d’Azur fairytale. Completely opposite of the medieval castle enclave that shares its name, Port Grimaud will fuel your French Riviera seaside dreams.
Stroll along the main avenue, enjoy a spot on the sandy beaches, or float along the canals. Port Grimaud is a charming and peaceful enclave on the Bay of Saint Tropez.
Colorful homes with shared walls line up along the water’s edge — the main reason for living in Port Grimaud. You can rent a waterfront flat that offers spectacular views and is a short walking distance to the beach.
Spend time exploring the streets on foot, then explore the canals by boat — you will be enchanted by this lovely place. Traveling and local artists are charmed by the scenery and everyday life in Port Grimaud; you may see an easel or two along your travels.
With its Venice, Italy, vibe — minus the gondolas — Port Grimaud is filled with boats and is even dubbed “Little Venice.” From small touring boats to luxury yachts, the docks are cheek-by-jowl with all types of floating vessels. A trip through the canals is a must-do when visiting. After an hour or two on the watery byways, you may find yourself investigating prices for a flat with a view and a dock for your boat.
One of the best ways to view a spot is from the water. In Port Grimaud, PrestaMarine offers boat rentals and you can find boat tour kiosks close by.
Float in and out of the canals while oohing and aahing over the lavish boats docked along the way. Snap photos of the colorful homes with lush garden-filled patios and decks. Dream of enjoying your morning coffee with a sunrise over the water.
8. Saint François D’Assise Church
The front of the Saint François D’Assise Church faces the harbor. Churchgoers and visitors enter through a side door to avoid getting their feet wet. Brides, however, love the glamorous water entrance aspect of the front door. Ferried to the church on various vessels, brides float down the canal arriving at the wedding by water. As they reach their destination, they make a grand entrance into the church and waiting attendees.
9. Quaint French Shops
Cute French shops line the small village square. Le Blé en Herbe is a local shop filled with classic French style. Chic and modern with a touch of timelessness, the shop offers an outstanding collection served up in a cozy Provencal atmosphere.
The central square is the spot to enjoy a café or glace and relax on a bench — the perfect way to enjoy a tour break and soak up the local flavor.
10. The Little Train
The Little Train, a 45-minute touring train running between Grimaud and Port Grimaud, is the easiest way to visit the neighboring village. In operation from February to November, you can hop on board and enjoy the Provencal natural environment as you climb your way up to Grimaud.
Park in Port Grimaud, ride the Little Train to Grimaud, and enjoy time exploring. Then ride back down to the seaside village and explore some more. Don’t forget to enjoy a classic pastry — a colorful macaron, a flaky Mille-feuille, or a decadent pain au chocolat. French pastries make a delicious snack any time of day.
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