For centuries past, the region saw much violence, forcing early inhabitants up the rocky outcropping to fortify themselves. This area is now known as Oppède-le-vieux. But the climbs were steep and the region was dark and damp, so when peace returned, the population eventually moved back down the hillside to what is now referred to as Oppède.
At the dawn of the 20th century, Oppède-le-vieux was a ghost village. (Happy October 1st, BTW.) There was a brief but shining moment of vibrant culture in the 1940s when architect Bernard Zehrfuss used the location as a commune for artists. For a while, famous sculptor François Stahly and writer Consuelo de Saint-Exupéry called the old town home.
It still feels like a ghost village today–full of mystery.
Don’t forget shoes with good grip to make it up the slippery stones.
Around a few turns were evidence of life, like this seemingly inhabited medieval beauty…
…but I didn’t see a single soul, except for this surefooted pair dangling off the Luberon.
At the top of the hill, you’ll find Notre-Dame-d’Alydon, a Romanesque church from the 13th century. From that perch, you can see the entire valley below.
This was the site of the evil Baron of Oppède Jean Maynier’s castle. He was infamous for the deadly religious war he waged in the 1500s against the Vaudois that destroyed 11 nearby villages.
It’s striking to find such a lovely little spot on earth so empty. With few signs of contemporary life, you’re truly taking very steep steps back in time.