Castagniers is a hill top village (250 m) overlooking the Var valley. Mont Cima rises to 878m behind it. Tradition says that the village was named after the chestnut trees which grew here.
The village is made up of several scattered hamlets: les Moulins, la Grotte, la Garde, le Vignon, le Cabrier and le Carretier. In 1874 the village became independent, having previously been part of the commune of Aspremont.
An olive oil mill , dating from 1250, is still in working order producing local olive oil.
Castagniers Abbey (Abbaye Notre-Dame de la Paix de Castagniers) is a Cistercian nunnery. In 1865, Dom Marie-Bernard Barnouin, restorer of Sénanque Abbey, founded a Cistercian community for women in Mane in the diocese of Digne, and in 1869, another in Reillanne, the Abbaye de Notre-Dame des Prés. In 1872 the two communities were united in Reillanne. In 1930 the community left Reillanne to settle in Castagniers. The community was elevated to the rank of an abbey in 1962.
The nuns have a guest house and they welcome guests wishing to make a retreat.
The first abbess, Mother Marguerite de la Trinité, created the chocolate factory in 1950 to allow the nuns to survive through manual work, with prayer and in silence as promoted by St Benoit. Praline is made with hazelnuts from Piedmont and almonds from Spain.
Special moulds are made for Christmas and Easter and the chocolates are available at their own shop, Chocolaterie Notre-Dame de la Paix, and at other monasteries.
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