Varages continues to be a thriving community; fully-functioning all year round.
Most of the faience industry is long gone but the geographical location of the village has attracted people to settle or visit the area. Families can both live in the heart of the countryside and commute to work in one of the big cities. Holiday makers are well placed to enjoy the Gorge du Verdon, Cote d’Azur or Aix-en-Provence (for more information see Golden Triangle).
A short while ago Varages was chosen as the Head Quarters of a local government association called the Communauté de Communes Provence Verdon. They bought and renovated part of an old faience factory and it now houses 30 odd staff who co-ordinate the various activities of 12 local communities.
The needs of the settled and transient population are catered for by a number of shops and service suppliers who are open all year round (see ‘General Facilities’ below).
Also, other factors contribute to the success of the village …
Varages is still an authentically French place to live – something rare nowadays in the south of France.
The present village population is about 1,200 with just 12 non French registered on the electoral role. As a consequence, the village is far from being ‘invaded’ by ex-pats.
The French language heard in the streets, the customs between friends, the way the village is run, the kinds of village shops ( you wont find a picture postcard or a ‘foreign’ newspaper anywhere!)… it’s all very local French and Mediterranean.
On the other hand, Varages is only 20 minutes drive away from Cotignac, a village double the size in which, for various historical reasons, about a third of residents are non-French. There is a social club organised specifically for the ex-patriat community which is called ‘28+’ to reflect the number of different nationalities who have made the village their all-year-round home. You find an array of foreign language publications in the newsagent there.
Varages has, up until now, resisted the buy-up-and-leave activity that has been the death-knell of so many other villages in the area. These are the places that become a ‘cat and two old ladies’ ghost towns where it is common to visit out of season and remark on how the majority of the properties have their shutters firmly closed. Beautiful old buildings have been bought, renovated and then moth-balled until their distant owners return the following year for their holiday in the sun. The advantage is that money, time and ‘love’ have been invested in the buildings but the disadvantage is that there is negligible year-round custom and the baker, butcher and often even the bar are obliged to close and move away from the village.
Varages has a ‘Departmental’ road running through the heart of the village called the D554 which is the preferred route for many holiday makers and travellers who have chosen to not hurry (or pay the motorway toll) but rather to enjoy their journey on a very picturesque route that meanders through stunning wide-open countryside. They arrive in the village on foot, bicycle, motorbike, as part of a car rally, or even by horse and cart, looking for a respite from their journey.
The authorities are seeking to exploit this traveller preference and are developing a cycle path named the EV8 (EuroVelo8) which will eventually stretch from Spain to Greece. A section of it passes 10 minutes from Varages.
Within 5 minutes walk of ‘La Maison du Faïence’ there is a …
- General store
- Two Bars
- Post office
- Garage for mechanical repairs
- Two Doctors
- Five nurses
- Two physiotherapists
- Large Park with equipped children’s play area, several boles courts and a tennis court
- Football pitch
- Primary school
And within a 10 minutes drive there is a …
- Two builder’s merchants
- Two medium sized supermarkets
- A petrol car-wash garage
- Two mechanical repair garages
- A garden / pet centre
- An ATM/cash machine
- Three banks
- Post office
- Two police stations (Gendarmerie and also Municipal)
- Five restaurants
- Three estate agents
There is an internal garage at the property with ample room for an SUV or Estate car.
There is free and unlimited-duration parking throughout the village with places for 30 vehicles two minutes walk from the property.
Two electric vehicle charging points have recently been installed.
‘La Maison du Faiencier’ enjoys a 4G mobile connection and speedy, reliable internet / wifi connection.