7 Beautiful Hilltop villages in Provence (France)

Get to know the most famous hilltop villages in Provence, known for their beauty and stunning views of the French countryside.
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Like stepping into the middle ages, the region of Provence is dotted with many historic “hill villages”. Many of these stunningly beautiful villages were built centuries ago, high on a hilltop for protection from marauding armies fighting over territory.

Like travelling back in time, these secluded towns and villages harken back to another era. Until the summer visitor season that is.

These villages and towns in Provence have become so famous for their beauty that they attract plenty attention from visitors looking for that quaint hamlet charm. So let’s explore the most famous hilltop villages in Provence, shall we? Allons-y!

1. Gordes

Officially recognized as one of the plus beaux villages de France (meaning one of the “most beautiful villages in France”), the hilltop village of Gordes a tiny gem of a town. And it is a town that attracts quite an exclusive clientele.

Gordes in Provence, from a distance

The village of Gordes is in a stunning location on a clifftop and offers some expansive views of the valley below. The village itself is tiny and much of it is built on a slope.

With a 5-star hotel in its midst known as the Bastide in Gordes, this is a town that tends to attract the wealthy, looking for a getaway that can last all summer. You can read more about visiting Gordes here.

2. Roussillon

About 35 miles (55 km) from Avignon, you will come across orange and yellow ochre hills of an old quarry, surrounded by the lush greens of the forest. Nearby sitting atop a hill is Roussillon, the town officially recognized as one of the “plus beaux village de France“.

Roussillon town

The town sits atop the hill, and its lower part is lined with all sorts of artisan shops. The main commodity here is pottery and pigments.

There are several organized tours that visit Roussillon and the nearby lavender fields from Avignon and nearby Aix-en-Provence. You can read more about visiting Roussillon here.

3. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Perched on a hill, near the famed Gorges du Verdon is the charming town of Moustier-Sainte-Marie which has been voted one of the “most beautiful villages in France”.

The village was founded by a group of monks in the 5th century, who built a church there, high on the hillside.

village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

There are many small shops selling local artisanal products as well as a couple of small art galleries you can wander through. With beautiful views of the valley below, there are also several great restaurants offering local specialties to have lunch in rather exquisite surroundings.

People from all over flock to this beautiful part of Provence, which has managed to retain its charm and village feel in a fast-paced world. There are several tours visiting the village from Nice, and you can read more about visiting Moustiers-Sainte-Marie here.

4. Baux de Provence

The hilltop village of Baux-de-Provence has been named one of the “plus beaux villages de France“, with an impressively large Château, pedestrianized village, and more.

Shop in Baux de Provence

It is located around 52 miles (85km) from Marseille. In addition, within walking distance of the fortified town’s main gate is another attraction called the the Carrières des Lumières.

Ancient quarries that were used to dig out limestone for construction, have been taken over by a digital art studio.

Carrières de Lumières

The art exhibition projects the imagery of famous artists like Picasso and Van Gogh on these centuries old walls, of what is classified as a “Site naturel classé” (listed natural site).

You can take a tour to Les Baux-de-Provence from Marseille and read more about visiting Baux-de-Provence and the Carrières des Lumières here.

5. Saint Paul de Vence

Known as the town that the rich and famous flock to, the hilltop village of Saint Paul de Vence is about 12 miles (19 km) away from Nice. Once catering to Pablo Picasso and Jean-Paul Sartre, it still attracts a high-end clientele looking for fun in the sun.

Saint Paul de Vence

It is one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera. Some of its popular attractions include its modern art museums and galleries like Fondation Maeght, and for the 17-century Chapel Saint Charles-Saint Claude. You can read more about taking a tour from Nice to Saint Paul de Vence here.

6. Bonnieux

The perched hilltop village of Bonnieux is located on the northern slope of the Luberon massif, just a few miles away from Gordes and Roussillon and about an hour away from Aix-en-Provence.

The village’s maid road cuts through its center. Most of the village’s stores and businesses are located in its lower section, while its higher section has meandering lanes that lead to the church perched on a hill.

There is also a small vinery called Château La Canorgue nearby, if you are looking to indulge in some Côtes du Rhône wines. And if you are looking for stunning views over the Luberon, a visit to the village of Bonnieux is a must.

7. Venasque

With ancient buildings made of stone, the lovely little hilltop town of Venasque feels like it belongs to another era.

Perched on a rocky edge of a cliff, it is about 24 miles (38 km) from Avignon. It has been officially recognized as one of the “plus beaux villages de France” (one of the most beautiful villages in France), welcoming thousands of visitors every year.

Venasque Church from a distance
Venasque Church

When the sun is shining, this little village is a stunning place to visit, with its medieval stone buildings and historic church.

The stunning Gorges du Verdon are also close by, for those that enjoy a good balade (walk) in the mountains. You can read more about visiting Venasque here.

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If you enjoyed this article, you may like to read about the top tourist attractions in France. A bientôt!

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