Travel

The Best Hidden Hilltop Villages of Provence

by Lily Heise

While traveling is off the table for most of us right now, it’s still fun to dream about the next time you’ll be able to go on an international trip. Visiting Provence in the South a France is always a great option. Consider heading to some off the beaten path areas. Provence is filled with small villages that are sure to delight when a trip is possible again. In the meantime, we hope to provide some travel inspiration by sharing these hidden hilltop villages of Provence with you. – HiP Paris

Left: a French country road in a hidden hilltop village of Provence, with a red-tiled roof house on the left and two historic Mediterranean houses on the right, and a view of green mountains and a partly cloudy sky. Right: a small country road in the South of France with a yellow house and blue shutters in front and a stone building with green and blue shutters to the left
Top: Méthamis – thibautmodelia / Above: Goult – lapicco / Goult – Henrik Berger Jørgensen

Provence is famous the world over for its postcard-worthy villages. While a village experience shouldn’t be missed on a visit to Provence, it can be difficult to enjoy the more popular ones, due to the sea of tourists that descends upon them every summer. Get off the beaten path and savor a real taste of the South of France at these lesser-known, but equally beautiful hidden hilltop villages of Provence. 

Left: a stone building covered with ivy with a fountain in front of it. Right: an old sand colored church in the center of the photo with a mediterranean building covered in ivy to the left.
Saignon – Peter M Graham / Saignon – Peter M Graham

Goult

Crowning a hill in the beautiful Luberon National Park, this pretty village offers a pleasant alternative to the famous villages of the area like Lacoste and Ménerbes. As you wind up the cobbled streets that circle the hill, you can take in pretty stone houses, a reconstructed Jerusalem Mill, Romanesque churches, and breathtaking vistas. Go on Thursdays to catch the open-air food market.

Left: outdoor market in front of a large stone building with light green shutters. There are tables with food and other wares on the right and left side. Right: An arched bridge over a small river. There are rocks and the river is surrounded by mountains on both sides, all set against a partly cloudy but very blue sky.
Saint-Saturnin-lès Apt market – Robert Brands / Tusset Bridge – robin.a.wilson

Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt 

Also found in the Luberon, this picturesque medieval village clings to the southern slope of the Monts de Vaucluse. Generally bypassed by visitors heading to nearby Gordes or the Notre-Dame de Sénanque Abbey, the village has managed to retain its authenticity. After wandering the village’s narrow lanes, climb up the hill to visit the remains of its original medieval citadel, which also offers a sweeping panorama over the valley.

Left: a table with several sets of tea cups and saucers and a full tea set. Left: A stone Meditteranean building covered in green ivy with pale green and light blue shutters.
Saint-Saturnin-lès Apt brocante – provencallife / Saignon – Peter M Graham

Saignon

Perched dramatically on the large rock of Bellevue, this village certainly offers belle views of the surrounding countryside, vineyards, and lavender fields. The town boasts the remains of three castles as well as vine-laden houses, ancient ramparts, medieval chapels, gurgling fountains, and a traditional washhouse.

Left: a view of a hidden hilltop village of Provence from above. There are several buildings and greenery. Right: A vineyard with a sunset. The sky is blue with orange, yellow, and gray clouds.
Rougon – spiegelverdreht_artundreise / Saint-Saturnin-lès Apt – jfmoermau

Simiane la Rotonde

If you want to catch a glimpse of Provence’s world-famous lavender fields from a different vantage point than the popular tourist meccas, consider visiting this historic hilltop village. The picturesque town is also home to a rare rotunda castle, Château de Simiane-la-Rotonde, in addition to crumbling ramparts, art galleries, and artisanal boutiques.

Left: A path in the mountains with grass and other greenery. There is a wooden gate at the beginning of the path. Right: The front of a boulangerie. The walls are red and there are wooden shutters. There are signs in French and tables with red chairs.
Rougon-Alexandre Chassignon / Simiane-la-Rotonde – Guillaume Baviere

Méthamis

This little-known village in the Vaucluse department sits on a rocky promontory overlooking the Nesque gorges. Away from the tourist path, this offbeat village allows you to discover authentic Provence. It features cobbled streets, castle ruins, and a section of the Mur de la peste, a wall built in 1720 to contain the plague. You can enjoy stunning views from its heights, You can also hike further into the gorge.

Left: a field of lavender with mountains in the background and clear pale blue skies. Left: a narrow winding street in a hidden hilltop village of Provence, with stone buildings on either side and colorful shutters.
Simiane-la-Rotonde – Bethany Ciullo / Simiane-la-Rotonde – aneta1404

Rougon 

Located in the heart of the Verdon Natural Regional Park, this hamlet offers sensational views. The village sits under a rocky spur. It overlooks the Point Sublime, a jaw-droppingly beautiful perspective of the Verdon Gorge, “France’s Grand Canyon.” After you’ve soaked up the soaring panorama, take a wander through Rougon’s tiny lanes where you can admire its clay-tiled houses and small château. Nearby are two historic stone bridges that cross the river, Tusset and Carajuan Bridges. The village serves as a good jumping-off point for exploring the incredible gorge.

Left: view of a house with colorful shutters on a hill.There are flags on the hill to the right. Right: boxes filled with fruits and vegetables. There are peaches and nectarines on top, melons on the bottom left, and green beans on the bottom left.
Rougon – manonpelissier_ / Goult market – georges.explores

Related Links

Left: a gray stone church steeple with a rock wall on the right, taken from a hidden hilltop village of Provence. Right: A building covered in ivy with a fountain in front of it.
Top: Saint-Saturnin-lès Apt – la.gazette.sauvage / Saignon – phil.maly

Written by Lily Heise for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates. 

Written By

Lily Heise

Lily Heise has been living in Paris for more than 10 years. When she's not getting into romantic mischief, she writes on dating, travel, and culture. Her writing has been featured in Frommer’s Guides, the Huffington Post, Conde Nast Traveler, City Secrets, DK Eyewitness Guides, and other local and international publications. She is the author of Je T'Aime, Me Neither, and Je T'Aime... Maybe? lively novelized memoirs on her romantic misadventures, and continues to share dating tips, stories and travel features on her blog www.jetaimemeneither.com. View Lily Heise's Website

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