Do you want to discover a small corner of paradise with many faces, well known to all the people of Var but still wild, so calm and yet tumultuous, so Mediterranean but with an air of Brittany in high winds? All this less than 30 minutes walk from your Au Chant Des Cigalous vacation rental? So follow me to the tip of Brusc, from the village, through the lagoon, to the peninsula of Gaou...
A little history :
I cannot tell you about Gaou without mentioning the Lagoon and the village of Brusc, the three being inseparable. It was in the 3rd century that the counter of Tauroeïs (the Brusc) was built, which was used to supply the ships that anchored in the harbor for their trade between Massilia (Marseille) and Italy. Before the war, the Bruscans evoked their independence during a municipal council of Six-Fours. The village was unsuccessful at the time given the lack of a cemetery. Despite the inauguration of the latter in Courrens at the end of the 19th century, secession was no longer considered but Brusc still claims its authenticity and independence!
It was only at the end of the First World War that we began to speak of Brusc with a nascent tourism, around the family hotel of the Brise des Pins or the Grand Hôtel Beauséjour. At the time, the village was renowned for its very iodized marine climate, beneficial against general fatigue. During the Second World War, Brusc was occupied by the Italians and then the Germans before being bombarded in June 1944. After the war, 48 fishing bosses worked but the activity gradually declined and the Brusc gradually became a tourist spot with its 4 current fishermen! In 1946, the army moved to Brusc with the Center d'Etudes de la Marine and its "laboratory" of underwater acoustics against the detection of submarines. Nearly 200 people worked there until the 2000s. Property of the state, the 37,000 m2 of the site, going towards Mont Salva, are still not sold... Several hundred workers also worked at La Coudoulière, in the Romain Boyer tile factory until 1967, before large tourist complexes were created there! However, there still remains from this past the "swan house" which is still an important cultural and landscape center in Six-Fours. In 1958, Paul Ricard (with his famous pastis!), bought the island of Embiez. The saltworks will be definitively abandoned, and the island will be transformed until 1963 into a tourist center with its own port. Thus, you will have understood it, if the Brusc and its surroundings preserves its soul of a typical fishing village, it has resolutely turned towards tourism over time and jealously guards its last wild places preserved with the Lagoon, classified Natura 2000, and the Gaou. The lagoon :
To get to Le Gaou from your Au Chant Des Cigalous rental, all you have to do is go down to the village and continue in the extension of the port to reach this vast expanse of water of more than 500 hectares, protected to the south by the island of Gaou. and to the west by the island of Embiez. With less than one meter deep, this lagoon is doubly protected by the Coastal Conservatory and classified as a Natura 2000 site since 2014. It is notably home to Posidonia meadows. The latter, called lungs of the Mediterranean, contribute to the oxygenation of the water and serve as a nursery for the reproduction of many species of fish. Note that it is indeed an aquatic plant and not an algae that we will be able to find once dead on the edge of the beach after a gust of wind, with the appearance of a tint brownish. Any navigation by motor, on foot, or anchoring is prohibited. Only paddles and canoes are tolerated to preserve the ecosystem of this little paradise. Along the lagoon you will discover some shimmering colored pointed trees, panels indicative of the local fauna and flora but also, being careful, stakes from the old mussel park from the 1940s. An educational shellfish farm project is also under study. The Gaou peninsula: A few hundred meters further, you will reach the Gaou. A small, highly coveted paying car park is available before arriving, but it is better to park in the port car park if you are using your car! This is a natural park open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. only for pedestrians and bicycles on the first island. On your right, you will find the Vénus du Gaou restaurant, very popular in summer for its breathtaking view of the sea and its 100% homemade burgers!
Crossing the footbridge called "petit pas du coq", a stone statue stands in the distance which opens the way to this island called Petit Gaou. It was the scientist Robert Forrer, physicist and sculptor, who made it in 1961. We cannot guess it, but it is placed on an old blockhouse. He thus left a memory to his adopted city of Brusc which he loved so much and which he nicknamed "My Paradise" by creating this "Venus emerging from the waves". His daughter, in 2012, who had served as a model, decided to save the work and had work undertaken to stop the erosion of the limestone, under the joint effect of spray, salt and wind.
On your right, the Grand Gaou, only accessible by a pedestrian bridge (leave the bikes to the right of the bridge). Until the 1960s, this footbridge did not exist and it was a smuggler, with his flat-bottomed boat, who could take you there.
From the bridge, an unobstructed view of a mini natural port which awaits you with a few colorful boats of professional fishermen, their nets stored on the quay and an old shed: Pose photos guaranteed in this picturesque place!
On the other side, various paths are proposed to go around the peninsula. My favorite remains the one furthest to the left, on this part of the jagged coast which overlooks the open sea.
Then follow one another tiny coves with turquoise waters with sometimes a few square meters of pebbles for swimming, hidden by pines and rocks. In the distance, the island of Embiez and the navy tower.
Arrived at the other end of the island, on the west side, a very small beach with a little sand offers a magnificent panorama of the island of Embiez a few tens of meters away. Gently sloping, shallow and sheltered by strong winds, it is very busy in summer. Better to arrive around 10:00 a.m. to take a dip! We could reach Les Embiez from this beach because we walk, but the boarding of this private island of Paul Ricard is prohibited. "Guardians" are also posted on the other side to dissuade you!
Fordings, which were very popular until the 1960s, are still visible but now you have to pay the boat to cross to Les Embiez from the port of Brusc! Note, in the middle of the island, a large discovery area that can be used for festivals such as the Pointu Festival which takes place in July, free and rather rock! Return to the left, under the maritime pines and umbrella pines. Sculpted by the wind, they are called anemomorphosed pines, with their trunks tormented and shaped by the mistral...
An intoxicating smell of resin and the song of cicadas in summer accompanies you then... This part of the island, overlooking the lagoon, is protected by wooden barriers and prohibited for swimming for fauna and flora. This trail completes our walk in less than an hour and brings us back to the footbridge. Back at Brusc, have an ice cream or a glass of rosé to recover from your emotions and preferably at Piadon, a small Provençal bar always in its juice... Already nostalgic for Gaou? Why not come back in high winds to see the waves crashing on the rocks or watch the sunset when the glowing sky takes on a golden hue?