Highlights of Provence



Hilltop Villages


  From the earliest times, Provence, being a coastal frontier province, has always been susceptible to attack and invasion. Firstly by pirates then by Saracens, Franks andsubject to border disputes with Savoy, the Popes and later Italy. With such threats the easiest way to defend one’s home was to build it on top of a steep hill, adding a castle and walls to the natural features for greater defence. In this way the hilltop villages of Provence were created.


We were fortunate in being able to visit the following famous “villages perchés” of Provence: Oppède le Vieux, Gordes, Roussillon, Bonnieux, Menerbes and Lacoste. All are featured in the AA publication Secret France - Charming Villages and Country Tours, and were within 30 minutes of our gite. Once you have visited the six villages you will have seen the best, and maybe had your fill of hill climbing!



Remember that these are “hilltop” villages and as such most require a climb before reaching the village, followed by an even steeper climb to the castle above. You need good walking shoes and a reasonable level of fitness! 




Remember most of the hill villages are living villages with people’s homes so please respect their privacy and property. Your support of village shops, crafts people and restoration projects helps in the overall prosperity and the long-term survival of the individual villages. Your generosity will be appreciated.


Roussillon lies at the heart of huge ochre deposits The town of Roussillon and the ochre rock deposits are best viewed at sunset when they glow in colours ranging from yellow-orange to red-brown.

While waiting for the sunset visit the Domaine de Tara just down the road.





When you complete the climb to a hilltop village you will be rewarded with expansive views over the countryside and beyond. Vineyards create a patchwork below you with a backdrop of the Vaucluse and Luberon mountains. 





When one thinks of Provence in summer, then one think of fields of lavender in bloom. In Cousteflet is the Museum of Lavender with interesting displays and video presentation plus a full range of products to buy. Well worth a visit.