It was not an easy decision. I was all cozy in bed with a charming timber-beamed ceiling above me and two shutter-clad widows overlooking the Luberon in a town called Roussillon. After some convincing self-talk, I got up in the dark, hopped in the car, and made my way to the hilltop village of Gordes about 20 minutes away. Fortunately, Donna and I had been to Gordes the day before so I knew exactly where I wanted to go to capture this predawn image of the village.
When I arrived at the overlook off a narrow windy road leading up to the village, I was the only soul around. All was quiet. The misty haze in the distance absorbed the light as the sun prepared to make its appearance on the horizon. The air was cool and crisp and the village’s street lamps were glowing like jewels on a crown. About ten minutes later, I heard the crumpling sound of gravel as a car pulled up in the small parking area behind me. It was a French photographer intent on capturing another shot of the village to sell in the local hilltop markets. I had already set up right in front of where he had dreamed all night of taking his photograph. In an slightly awkward but pleasant manner he plead his case for harmonious coexistence, which I promptly agreed to. From that point forward, we proceeded to get along like we were old friends.
As we stood there in the dark, he commented that he rarely saw visitors out so early with a full set of camera equipment. I told him I was a nut about finding the right light for my photography, which was not a foreign concept to him. He was a very nice gentleman. He even went to the trouble of lending me some of his camera gear. Well, after an hour of shooting pictures and conversing, he invited me to his village for lunch and a glass of wine. It sounded so inviting but Donna and I were unable to go due to the plans we had already set for the day. I regret not going now but it was a very nice gesture none the less.
The Luberon, which is where Gordes is located, is an extremely beautiful region in France filled with rolling countryside peppered with picturesque stone-laden villages. In all, we visited eight different towns while we were there. With Rousillon as our base, we were able to easily drive from one to another and explore their cobblestone streets and admire breathtaking views. The view above was our prize for climbing to the top of one of the villages for lunch. We were two of about seven people in the small restaurant sitting on an open air terrace overlooking the countryside. We just sat there in amazement of the beauty before us as we enjoyed our croque-monsieur for lunch.
Some of the villages were touristy and others were quiet with very little traffic. If the village catered to tourists…the tourists came. Because we were at the very end of the busy season, even the busiest villages were very manageable and enjoyable to explore.
If you go visit the hilltop villages of France, rent a car, take a Garmin, and pick a home base from which to explore the villages. They are close together and you can easily visit several in one day. As I said earlier, we picked Roussillon. Although Roussillon is pretty busy with tourists, we enjoyed the cacophony and vibrant atmosphere of the village. Our room, which was at the Le Clos de la Glycine was fantastic. We were cliff-side overlooking the Luberon in a quiet, large and nicely appointed room. The hotel staff was very friendly, catered to our every need, and made us feel at home. What’s more, the hotel had private parking, making it very easy to get in and out of Roussillon.
The hilltop villages of France were a vital part of our travel experience so I highly recommend you visit them as well!
More posts about traveling to Provence, France
- Driving from Provence to the French Riviera
- The Doors and Windows of Roussillon
- Two Fabulous Days in Avignon, France
- A New Day in Provence
- A quick stop at Sénanque Abbey
- Gordes: France’s Quintessential Hilltop Village
- When Buildings Attack – Car Crushed by Crumbling Building in France