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  • Writer's pictureMartine Bertin-Peterson


Oppède-le-Vieux is one of my favorite Luberon hill towns. Surrounded by lush, overgrown vegetation, Oppède-le-Vieux is a small and partially-abandoned village tucked into the northern slope of the Luberon. Unlike some of the other charming villages in the Luberon, I find Oppède-le-Vieux to be nostalgically raw and unpolished. Skeletons of abandoned houses line the town’s cobblestone grand rue and its gardens overflow with local fig trees and vines. When I want to escape crowded streets and chaotic plazas, this town offers quiet, meditative strolls and serene vistas.

Because Oppède-le-Vieux is foot traffic only, it is ideal to arrive by bike and sail through the lavender fields before arriving at the town’s square. Modest yet quaint, I enjoy savoring a cafe creme in one of the town’s two café’s, browsing in the pottery shop (when it is open), and sometimes buying from the occasional local fruit vendors. The humble establishments offered here speak to the town’s simple and untouched aesthetic.

Moving out of the town’s center and up the weaving, cobblestone street one can find awe-inspiring vestiges of the past as well as remnants of the town’s medieval castle.

The road winding up Oppède-le-Vieux’s slope is framed by structures ranging from grand houses to small cottages, most of which are partially exposed and blanketed in ivy. The climb up the road evokes a feeling of calm and even puzzlement and always makes me wonder: “What happened here?”

Nearing the peak of the hillside, the partially restored church, Notre-Dame-d'Alydon, comes into view. Sitting at the precipice of Oppède-le-Vieux, the Romanesque church overlooks the patchwork scenery of the Luberon. A perfect spot for a jambon-beurre picnic, the church’s open-air terrace has a dramatic cliff edge which simultaneously looks on to the old town below and the rolling, colorful countryside on the horizon.

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