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Castellane - A travel report by Jeanette
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Castellane,  France - flag France -  Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
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flygirl's travel reports

Castellane - a Sheep & Goat Festival to Remember

  8 votes
It’s mid-June, you’ve been in Nice for a few days and want to get off the beaten track and see a bit of the rustic Provence. A 1.5 hour bus ride in the morning will take you to the charming village of Castellane.

View of Castellane
View of Castellane
Castellane is in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department, located in the Grand Canyon du Verdon. There is a stone chapel, Nôtre-Dame-du-Roc, built in 1703, which is perched high above Castellane on the site of a Roman fort and the ancient Roman town of Petra Castellana. The Fête de la Transhumance is the biannual transferring of livestock (in the case of Castellane, the livestock is comprised of sheep and goats) between the lowland pastures and the alpine meadows. In the summer, moving livestock into the mountains starts in June, traditionally around Saint-Jean's day (June 24). Later in October, the flocks are brought back down to the lowland winter pastures. Castellane is one of many Provençal villages that celebrate this livestock transfer. The benefit to the traveller in Nice in June is that you can get to Castellane in the morning and return at night on the one bus route that travels from Nice via Grasse to Castellane in the AM and back in the reverse around 6 PM. Just don’t miss the bus or you’ll be stuck in Castellane for the night. They have hotels but in the summer they are full, so good luck with that if you are stuck. The Verdon Gorge that passes through town has some comfortable rocks you can probably sleep on undisturbed if you should get stuck. The festival happens over a period of 3 days, but the final day is the most “fun” day in that you get to see a sort of sheep and goat version of the Pamplona running of the bulls around the village square.

Favourite spots:
Sheep and goats running past my table
Sheep and goats running past my table
Find a café overlooking one of the streets that circle the main village square, settle down with a cold drink, and wait for the sheep and goats to run past. There are some nice rocks for sunbathing on by the sides of the gorge that runs by the town. On this special occasion, the tourist office was giving out free drinks and goat cheese samples. There is also a small village market set up, selling all the traditional things you would expect in a Provençal market.

What's really great:
Gorgeous view on the walking path
Gorgeous view on the walking path
This is a small village and not much goes on for most of the year. The population is normally 1500, and in mid-summer it can go up to 20,000 with visitors using it as a base for exploring the Gorges du Verdon region. In the middle of the Marcel Sauvaire square, before the running of the livestock, there were sheep-shearing demonstrations. When the livestock-running was over and the market and village streets had lost their appeal, I went for a hike around the big rock/cliff that overlooks Castellane and it took me into a silent, almost remote-feeling place gave me a sense of peace after the raucous square. So Castellane has something for every mood – noise, silence, great food, cold drinks, a cliff, an old chapel built on the cliff, good people, and a bus that takes you right back to Nice when it’s all over.

Visit the stone chapel, Nôtre-Dame-du-Roc, perched on top of Castellane for a beautiful view.

Colorful dancing
Colorful dancing
Hanging out by the festival entertainment near the square.

Fruity bounty in the market
Fruity bounty in the market
There are many little places to eat and drink along the village square, and a few steps into the side streets will bring you to a few restaurants, which all look amazing and serve typical food of the region.

Other recommendations:
Quite tasty, really
Quite tasty, really
Try out some of the tasty snacks in the market square.

Published on Sunday July 25th, 2010

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Wed, Aug 18 2010 - 08:50 AM rating by eirekay

What a terrific report! And the pictures are really charming!

Sun, Jul 25 2010 - 03:50 PM rating by pesu

Good report about this special event, nice pics also! Thanks for sharing! :)

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