I like getting up early, especially when the sun is beautifully shining and warming the world. When on vacation I even get up before the red rays emerge on the horizon. Why? Because I am often on a mission to visit a small town when there isn’t many people on the street, or when i want to photograph a unique sunrise, or see something amazing before my beloved family opens their sleepy eyes. My mission in Provence was to see as many small towns and villages as possible. Unfortunately, there was not enough time to visit them all. I was leaving our villa in St Aygulf when the roads were almost empty. Sometimes I met the first car after a good few minutes of driving.
First town I visited was Tourtour. It decided on this place, because it is on the list of the most beautiful villages in France,so I had to just “tick it off” from my list.The village is about an hour’s drive from Nice, Marseille and Toulon airports, as well as from Les Gorges du Verdon, the St Croix’s lake and Aix en Provence. The closest TGV railway station is Les Arcs-Draguignan.
I arrived there before seven o’clock, when the first rays were just breaking through the walls of the buildings. The city was slowly waking up from sleep, and first people ordered their morning coffees in beautiful cafes on Ormeaux Square. It charmed me completely.
Tourtour is known as the Village in Sky “village dans le ciel” because it set on the hill 635 m above sea level and viewed from afar it seems to sit on top of the horizon dominating the rest of the landscape.
Stone houses, spacious colourful and hospitable squares, numerous fountains, mysterious nooks and crannies, twisted streets, surrounded by vineyards, olives and woods make the place looking magical. Several towers dominate the area, hence the name Tourtour. Two of them belong to the Romanesque church of St.Denis, which sits on a side, a bit higher than the village and looks like a really impressive fortress. Others are part of the old sixteenth century stronghold. This castle was bought from previous owners by the city magistrates, renovated and now serves as the town hall and post office. In front of the it are two interesting sculptures donated to the city by the wife of the author, sculptor Bernard Buffett, who spent the last twenty years of his life in this village.
Going to the Tourtour, from a distance you can see the towers of another, older castle, in which the art vernissages have been sometimes held. Otherwise it is closed to the public. The remains of the former city walls, often attached to the stone houses, a maze of streets and flower-filled squares have not changed much since the Middle Ages. The view from the ramparts, out across the surrounding countryside is just magnificent.
While strolling there, I had the impression of being on a set of a movie, maybe a historical drama or a fairy-tale or maybe I was somehow moved few centuries back in time. I have completed my stay in this mysterious place with a cup of coffee in one of the cafes on the main square. It was delicious.
I was very sorry to leave Tourtour behind.