The Good Life France Magazine

The Good Life France Magazine brings you the best of France - inspirational and exclusive features, fabulous photos, mouth-watering recipes, tips, guides, ideas and much more...

Published by the award winning team at The Good Life France

1 year ago

Issue No. 25

In this issue, visit France from home - Gascony, and Provence, fabulous day trips from Paris, captivating Toulouse and charming Northern France. Recipes, guides and a whole heap more to entertain and inspire...

Petit peak at Provence

Petit peak at Provence Exotic, lush in Provence Oppède... Photo: Cheryl Shufflebotham

As you wind your way across the plains of the Vaucluse in Provence (all olive groves, lavender and vineyards), you see Oppède le Vieux hanging above you on the north face of the Petit Luberon. It looks haunting and beautiful says Lucy Pitts... The rise… Oppède le Vieux dates back to at least the 12th century. At the very top of the village stand the remains of a medieval castle and a formidable Romanesque church. The castle was at first home to the Counts of Toulouse, then the papacy in the 13th century and thereafter to the blood thirsty Jean Maynier, Baron of Oppède in the 16th century. The latter used Oppède’s strategic positioning to wage war and it’s believed he was responsible for the massacre of 3,000 people including women, children and the elderly. And fall Notwithstanding its occupants, the village thrived as a 900 strong farming community for several hundred years. But by the end of the 17th century, the castle had been abandoned and slowly the residents began to move down to Oppède-les-Poulivets in the valley below. Houses on the side of the mountain are damp here, and the Luberon castes a long shadow, especially in winter. By 1909, with the main village hall relocated to the valley, nature was left to reclaim the village. And then the revival But for World War II, that would have probably been the end of Oppède le Vieux. But in 1940, attracted by its secluded position, a small community of creatives moved into the village to escape persecution by the occupying forces. The community eventually grew to about 50, including the architect Bernard Zehrfuss, French sculptor François Stahly and the writer and artist Consuelo de Saint Exupéry. Although, as others had before them, the creatives too eventually moved out. But, if you look carefully, you’ll see the odd painted wall as proof they were here. And today, people are starting to move back.