Prehistory and Antiquity: The city of salt traders
The oldest traces of human presence around Castellane dates back to 6,000 yeras B.C. Its first population goes back to Neolithic nomads.
At the time of the Roman conquest (50 years B.C.) the inhabitants stood in the plain and on the banks of the Verdon. The city was called Civitas Saliniensum (the city of salt merchants) because the region is home to numerous salt springs which were used for the salt trade.
Middle Ages: Climb the rock
In the ninth century, the inhabitants moved to the top of the Rock which dominates the valley of the Verdon, to protect against invasions.
Houses were built on mountainside terraces bordering the Roc. The remains of this city, still visible today, are named Petra Castellana.
For practical reasons, residents settled later on at the foot of the Roc in the valley (the present site of Castellane).
It was not until the middle of the fifteenth century that the town in height was totally abandoned in favor of that of the plain.
It was also in the fifteenth century that the bridge over the Verdon was built of stone (even if a bridge is probably here since Roman times). This bridge places Castellane on a busy route between the Mediterranean and the bridge over the Durance of Sisteron, and the toll established on the bridge provided a relative prosperity to the village.
Renaissance : the ceremony of the fire-crackers Pétardiers
In 1586, in the midst Wars of Religion, the Baron of Germany and the Duke of Lesdiguieres tried to take the small town. But a resident of the village, Judith Andrau, scalded the captain who run the operation by pouring a pot of boiling pitch the top of the door of the Annunciation, known weak point of the village. Since then, Castellanais celebrate their heroin every year on the last Sunday of January.
Eighteenth century: tough times
Between famine, invasions and tax increases on the cloth trade, Castellane lived through a difficult eighteenth century. The French Revolution (1789) also will stop the production of coarse wool and salt production.
Nineteenth century: the Napoleon Road
Exiled to the island of Elba, Napoleon Bonaparte decided to retake its place in French politics. On 1 March 1815, he landed at Golfe Juan and left with a handful of faithful to regain his title. He chose to go to Paris via Lyons and Grenoble, by the mountains and avoid the resistance of the Royalist cities.
During this journey, Napoleon stopped for lunch in Castellane with his friend the sub-prefect Francoul on 3 March 1815.
Today the "Route Napoleon" follows the RN85 now renamed RD 4085, on his part that connects Golfe Juan to Grenoble via Grasse, Digne and Gap. In the Alpes de Haute-Provence, in addition to Castellane and Digne it goes through Malijai, Château-Arnoux and Sisteron.
Today: Castellane touristic city
Ideally located between the entrance of the Gorges du Verdon and the dams of Castillon and Chaudanne, Castellane now lives essentially of the summer tourism.
Camping International * * * * * - RD 4085 - 04120 Castellane - France - tel +33 (0)4 92 83 66 67 - fax +33 (0)4 92 83 77 67 - email
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