Gourdon: Our Favorite Perched Village in Provence

My brother once dated a woman who had never heard of the Loch Ness Monster.  She was a college graduate, bright, professional, but had never heard of the Loch Ness Monster.

This stunned my brother and me.  How could anyone never have heard of the Loch Ness Monster?  She hadn’t, and I use this story to remind people to never take for granted what other people know – or don’t.

On our honeymoon to Nice, France, I was most excited to see Monte Carlo and Cannes and St. Tropez.  What I ended up enjoying most, however, I was completely unaware of prior to our trip.  These were the hill towns or “villages perches” (perched villages).

The perched villages were my Loch Ness Monster – a major tourist attraction in their own right I had never heard of.

Falling in love with Gourdon

Gourdon, France
A vibrant pottery shop where we purchased a souvenir in Gourdon, France (photo credit: Kristi Dosh)

Kristi booked us on a wide-ranging tour of the area around Nice by car for our first day there.  It was on this excursion we were first introduced the perched villages of Grasse, famous as the home of the Fragonard perfume factory, and Gourdon, which would become my favorite.

Why Gourdon?

That’s difficult to say.  All of the hill towns are largely the same and I mean no offense by that generalization.  They all feature narrow, winding streets, art galleries and shops, restaurants, spectacular views, statues… they’re all captivating.  Gourdon was the smallest hill town we visited and, as is often the case with travel, something about it just spoke to us.

By small, I mean tiny.  There’s really just one main street with a couple lanes leading off of it.  An hour is more than enough time to see everything, which is what I’m sure our tour guide based his itinerary on.  Unfortunately, Kristi and I found the hour or so we were allotted in Gourdon much too brief to allow us to simply sit and enjoy the place.

On this same tour and on subsequent days we visited St. Paul de Vence, Eze, with its fantastic “Jardin Exotique,” and Haut-de-Cagnes.  I’d skip Haut-de-Cagnes, but St. Paul de Vence and Eze were wonderful.

All of the perched villages we visited were easily accessible from Nice by car or bus.  Between the art galleries and shops, you could spend as much money as you want, but prices in the hill towns were no more expensive than anywhere else we visited.

The perched villages of Provence.  The Loch Ness Monster.  Proof we can’t know everything and should never stop learning.

Want to try the same tour we took? You can find it here.

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