The hilltop villages of Provence are a collection of picturesque and historic towns and villages located in the southeastern region of France. Perched on hilltops overlooking the countryside, these charming villages offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape, as well as a glimpse into the rich cultural and architectural history of the region.
Some of the most famous hilltop villages of Provence include Gordes, Roussillon, Bonnieux, Menerbes, and Lacoste, among others. Each village has its own unique character and charm, with narrow cobblestone streets, colourful houses, and impressive architecture that reflects the area’s rich history.
Many of these villages are also known for their markets, where visitors can find local crafts, food, and wine. The area is also known for its lavender fields, which bloom in the summer months, adding a beautiful and fragrant backdrop to the already stunning scenery.
Overall, the hilltop villages of Provence are a must-visit destination for anyone interested in history, culture, and natural beauty. Whether you’re interested in architecture, food, or simply soaking up the atmosphere of a beautiful and historic village, Provence’s hilltop towns are sure to impress.
Try this one-day itinerary
Drive to Bonnieux, a hilltop village with a fantastic view of the petit Lubéron and over the plateaus of the Monts de Vaucluse. Visit the bakery museum; the old 13th century church with its combination of Romanesque and Gothic styles; the ruins of 12th century towers and ramparts; Hôtel de Rouville, a beautiful 18th century residence; the Philippe tower; and the outstanding Louve gardens (classified Jardin Remarquable).
You might also want to go via Pont Julien, 5km to the north, a stonework or opus quadratum bridge built during the early Roman Empire (27BC to 14AD).
On the Claparèdes plateau area there are also plenty of bories to see. These drystone-wall huts that dot the landscape were built by 19th century fieldworkers to use as shelter. They make for very pretty pictures. If you feel energetic, stop for a walk in the 250-hectare Cedar Forest, which has wonderful marked shaded hiking and biking paths. Take a picnic – but no fires!
Head on down to the cobbled village of Lacoste, famous for the château that was once home to the Marquis de Sade and is now owned by fashion icon Pierre Cardin, who also owns many other properties in the village.
Nearby Menerbes (made famous in Peter Mayle’s best-selling memoir A Year in Provence) is a lovely jumble of ancient medieval towers, churches and stone streets. At one end is the Citadelle, a miniature fortress dating from the 16th century, and at the other end is the cemetery along with Château du Castellet, where the painter Nicolas de Stael once lived. There are photo opportunities everywhere, including views of other hilltop villages, like Gordes.
End the day in Oppède Le Vieux, and wander around the old village where you can see: the ruins of the castle; the parochial Romanesque church of Notre-Dame-d’Alidon (12th and 16th century); a Romanesque cross in front of the church; the 19th century chapel of Saint-Laurent with its bell tower-arcade; the Romanesque chapel of Saint-Antonin-des-Pénitents-Blancs with its small 17th century bell tower; and ancient wash houses, medieval and Renaissance town houses. You’ll need good walking shoes for this outing!