7 of Provence’s prettiest ‘perched’ villages to discover

PUBLISHED: 09:11 09 September 2020

The hilltop village of Peillon. Pic: Rolfst/Getty

The hilltop village of Peillon. Pic: Rolfst/Getty

Archant

We’ve rounded up some of the south’s dreamiest villages perchés that you’ll want to visit on your next trip

Like carpets of lavender and patchworks of vineyards, Provence’s villages perchés are emblematic of this stunning region. Inland from the ritzy Mediterranean coast, these exquisite villages in hilltop locations offer an authentic taste rural France. Here we’ve selected just seven, but there are more than 120 of these villages perchés dotted around the south, ripe for exploring. Let us know your favourite!

Gordes

Nestled among the Monts de Vaucluse, within the Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon, gorgeous Gordes is one of the most famous villages perchés. It’s not hard to see what attracted artists like Marc Chagall and André Lhote (not to mention stars of the screen like Mr Bean!) to this picture-perfect hilltop town. Its crowning glory is its honey-hued château, parts of which date back to the 11th century. Don’t miss nearby Sénanque Abbey, surrounded by swathes of lavender.

The medieval village of Gordes. Pic: Bertl123/GettyThe medieval village of Gordes. Pic: Bertl123/Getty

Seillans

This small but perfectly formed Var village has some stunning examples of medieval architecture, including the Église Saint-Léger. Seillans is famous for its pottery markets every August, where dozens of local potters and ceramicists exhibit their wares. Well-known former residents include the German surrealist Max Ernst and his wife Dorothea Tanning; you’ll find their work on display in the village.

Seillans, part of the Pays de Fayence. Pic: WikimediaSeillans, part of the Pays de Fayence. Pic: Wikimedia

Le Barroux

With commanding views over Mont Ventoux and the Dentelles de Montmirail, Le Barroux boasts some of the most beautiful vistas in Vaucluse. Its fortified castle takes pride of place at the very top of the village, and is worth paying a visit to learn more about the area’s fascinating past.

Le Barroux. Pic: Emmanuel84/GettyLe Barroux. Pic: Emmanuel84/Getty

Peillon

Perhaps one of the region’s most dramatic villages perchés, Peillon sits on a rocky outcrop and is navigated by a series of stairways and tiny paved streets. The marvellous frescoes in the church, Chapelle Notre-Dame-des-Douleurs des Pénitents Blancs, are a must-see.

The perched village of Peillon. Pic: RolfSt/GettyThe perched village of Peillon. Pic: RolfSt/Getty

Montauroux

Part of the Pays de Fayence just like Seillans, Montauroux is nicknamed the ‘Balcony of the Estérel’. Enjoying more than 300 days of sunshine a year, it’s a great place to spend a morning wandering the pretty streets. The magnificent Lac de Saint-Cassien lies just to the south-east of the village and it’s perfect for a spot of kayaking or simply chilling out at the lakeside beach.

The church tower at Montauroux. Pic: G CHP/WikimediaThe church tower at Montauroux. Pic: G CHP/Wikimedia

Ménerbes

This walled village hosted a major five-year battle during the Wars of Religion in the 16th century, but today it’s thankfully a very peaceful spot in the Luberon. It’s perhaps best known in the Anglophone world as the village to which A Year in Provence author Peter Mayle moved in 1987. The village was also immortalised by popular French author Marcel Pagnol in his books including Manon des Sources.

The stunning village of Menerbes. Pic: Trabantos/GettyThe stunning village of Menerbes. Pic: Trabantos/Getty

Roussillon

Renowned for its ochre deposits, Roussillon is home to gorgeous orange houses that seem to glow in the summer sunlight. Follow the famous Sentier des Ocres footpath to explore its prestigious mining heritage.

Roussillon and its ochre cliffs. Pic: LR Photographies/GettyRoussillon and its ochre cliffs. Pic: LR Photographies/Getty

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

You might also like...

6 stunning bastide towns to visit in south-west France

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region guide

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Latest from the Complete France