Castellar, Alpes-Maritimes tourism & sightseeing

Photo of Castellar in Cote d'Azur (Provence region)

Visit Castellar (Provence, France)

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Castellar is a small village in the hills to the north of Menton, a short distance east of Sainte-Agnes. While most perched villages are on the side of a steep hill, Castellar is along a high ridge so you get great views from both sides of the village.

Explore Castellar

France This Way comment: Castellar is not a major destination but merits a stroll when you are passing: visitors will usually explore the village while touring the perched villages in the southern Alpes-Maritimes department such as Sainte-Agnes, Gorbio and Peille

One of the first highlights of a visit is the view of Castellar from the road if you go beyond the village towards the north-east, along the Chemin des Ganges de Saint-Paul, with the village stretched out along a hilltop and steep hills behind as a dramatic backdrop.

Church Saint-Pierre in Castellar village

The parking is on the east side of Castellar. Inside the village it is easy to explore: there are four roads that are parallel to each other, and most of the sites of interest are along these roads. One of them, Rue Arson, is pedestrianised.

The layout of Castellar is more organised than most medieval villages. This is because the original village was in a very inhospitable location to escape pirate attacks, and when these ceased to be a problem the entire village was transferred after 1435 to this new location.

The centre of Castellar is quite picturesque with numerous small features to discover such as vaulted passages, fountains and staircases It doesn't take very long to visit, so we recommend you stroll along each of the four streets in the centre.

The most important monument in the village is the Church of Saint-Pierre, to the north of the centre. The church has stood here as long as the village although the church we see today includes an orange and yellow belltower in the baroque style that was added in the 18th century as well as substantial renovation work carried out in the 19th century after a fire damaged the building: hence the church is now in the neoclassical style.

Across the road from the church you can see the Palais des Comtes de Vintimille, although it is in rather poor condition.

Another noteworthy monument in Castellar is the Palais Lascaris. This building also has its origins in the 15th century, although it was rebuilt in the 17th century after being damaged in an earthquake. The most interesting part of the palace is the entrance, which is surmounted by a small tower and a dome that has been covered with colourful tiles.

Other religious monuments in Castellar include:

  • the Chapel of Penitents Blancs, 17th century, with a carved stone lintel depicting two penitents and a dove that represents Saint-Esprit
  • The Chapel of Penitents Noirs, with a baroque style belfry
  • The Chapel of Saint-Sebastian, in the cemetery and built around the 13th century, has retained its original roman style architecture such as the two arches in the belfry separated by a column

You will also see two towers that remain from the ramparts that once protected the village, one in Rue Arson and one in the square next to the town hall (now a restaurant), a gateway through the ramparts, and a traditional washhouse.

You can follow the road out of Castellar towards the north to see the ancient oil mill.

lintel of the Chapel of Penitents Blancs in Castellar

Attractions nearby

About one hour walk from the village you can see the ruins of the original village, now called Vieux Castellar.

Other villages you will enjoy visiting near Castellar include Sainte-Agnes and Gorbio. On the coast south of here, the town of Menton is a very lovely port town on the border with Italy.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Alpes-Maritimes guide and the Provence guide.

See also:

Map of Castellar and places nearby

Visit near Castellar with France This Way reviews

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Alpes-Maritimes

Address: Castellar, Menton-Est, Nice, Provence, 6500, France || GPS: latitude 43.80444, longitude 7.497222

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Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Sainte-Agnes: most beautiful village (3 km)
  • Palais Carnol├Ęs: remarkable garden (3 km)
  • Serre de la Madone: remarkable garden (3 km)
  • La citronneraie: remarkable garden (3 km)
  • Menton: secteur sauvegarde (3 km)
  • Trophy of Augustus: national monument (10 km)
  • Tete de Chien: site of natural beauty (11 km)
  • Coaraze: most beautiful village (18 km)
  • Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild: remarkable garden (18 km)
  • Parc zoologique du Cap Ferrat: zoo or wildlife park (19 km)
  • Cascade de Gairaut: site of natural beauty (20 km)
  • Saorge Monastery: national monument (21 km)

The French version of this page is at Castellar (Francais)