Oppède le Vieux looks incredible on approach, as if it’s clinging to the side of the rocks with its ancient history becoming increasingly buried under the engulfing vegetation. The village can only be visited by foot so park the car at the bottom of the village and head up the pretty cobbled path. Oh what was I thinking putting on flip-flops this morning! –I nearly twisted my ankle on the rutted rocks and hold onto those kids! –there are some steep falls!
So what’s there to see? Dominating the skyline is the 12th century Romanesque church (that has not yet been buried under the shrubs), ancient wash basins, historical workshops, abandoned shrines, beautifully restored renaissance and medieval houses and quaint boutiques. At the highest point is the ruined feudal castle; you are forbidden to entre as the kids may just slip off!
The views are a dream from up here; just what you would expect from the heart of Provence; lush vineyards, shimmering silver and green olive groves, lavender fields and other quintessential perched villages.
A bit of history:
The castle belonged to the Counts of Toulouse as well as the papacy in the 13th century. The anti-pope, Benedict XIII, was sheltered here during the wars of religion. Forced once again to go on the run, he was believed to have flown from the summit through an arched postern, ‘born from the devil himself’. Next came to awful Jean Maynier, Barron of Oppède. He used this castle as his seat from where he waged a bloody war on 11 villages. Nowadays, artists have attempted to revive the place and summer concerts are staged here.
Tip: Look out for bees engraved onto the walls…no one knows which resident family etched them here.
Tip: Try to decipher the enigma SATOR AREPO TENET OPERA ROTAS written in a square. It can be read from left-right, up–down.
Oppède le Vieux Checklist:
-Wander the streets
-Visit the castle and the church
–Corkscrew museum at the Domaine de la Citadel. 2km
-Go wine tasting also at Domaine de la Citadel
–Le Mas des Abeilles in Bonnieux offers aromatic lavender products.
–Hike or cycle in the Cedre Forest and the Luberon valley
Home to Peter Mayle
Sade de Marquis castle
Stunning perched town, Sénanque Abbey, Neolithic settlement
Quaint perched village
Incredible ochre trail
Le Petit Café, Oppède
Bistro les Poulivets, Oppède
How to get there
Train: Avignon (50mins)
Airports: Avignon (32 mins). Marseille (1h)
Car: See map
Contact us for more details or take a look at other villa rentals in Provence.