St Blaise

This hill top village lies at 350m above the Var river valley. St Blaise la Plaine is situated down in the valley.

The village is made up of several different quartiers: Nougaïret, Grand Pas, Croix de Fer, Col de l’Olivier, Saint-André, l’Amandier, Campo Curial, Bouïssa, Saint-Antoine de Siga. Grau and Lauzière.

Owned by  William the Deliverer (Guillaume le Libérateur), after his conquest of Provence on the Saracens in 973, the fief of Saint Blaise lies within the County of Nice. In 1075 it was given to the Abbey of Saint-Pons, along with Saint-Martin-du-Var, and the abbots of Saint Pons remained the Lords of St Blaise )apart from a brief spell in 1279 when it was owned by Chabaud, Lord of Aspremont) until the secularization of the abbey in 1792.

In 1262 the municipality comprised 36 families (about 200 people). The Abbey of Saint Pons built a mill (water, wind – for grain, oil?). But two centuries later, an act of 16th September 1461 indicates that the place of St. Blaise was uninhabited. probably due to wars and epidemics.

In 1590, Louis Grimaldi of Beuil, former Bishop of Vence, was elected abbot of the abbey of Saint Pons and became lord of St. Blaise. Louis Grimaldi knew the area because his sister Anne was the wife of Peter Lascaris, Lord of La Roquette. Early in 1607, after obtaining permission from the Holy See, he divided the area and granted on a “perpetual leasehold” . Abbott Grimaldi started to share out the land and advertisements were posted in Nice and the neighbouring villages.

The parish of St. Blaise was created in 1777.

The Guibert house was owned by the Guibert family from the 16th to 18th centuries. A family of military engineers working for the House of Savoie, they were also involved in civil construction such as the cathedral of Sainte-Réparate and the port Lympia in Nice.

Local agricultural industry included silk, textiles, olives and wine.

Until disease hit the silk worms in 1867, the region also had many mulberry trees and silk worm farms. By 1887 the silk industry had completely vanished.

Hemp was grown and sent to the Levens textile mills to be made into coarse linen.

Olive oil mill at St Blaise
Olive oil mill at St Blaise

The 18th century Genoese-style hydraulic mill used for olive oil still exists and has been restored to be part of a museum and gallery. The olive harvests have been destroyed by attacks from caterpillars (1880, 1889) and whenever there has been a severe frost.

Vines prospered here too until the arrival of phylloxera in the late 1870s which decimated the vineyards. In 1894-7, the conseil generale issued 1550 American rootstocks for replanting the vineyards.

st blaise to Levens bridge




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