7 of Provence’s prettiest ‘perched’ villages to discover
PUBLISHED: 09:11 09 September 2020
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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