Sunday, 11 June 2017

Europe 2017 Part 6: Oppède-le-Vieux: an interlude between the rouge of Rustrel & Roussillon and the Roman of Vaison & Orange

By contrast to the tourist-developed towns of Gordes and Roussillon, Oppède-le-Vieux has more the feel of a place back in time, a smaller town almost off the radar, with an approach to visitors that reflects less the tourism drive than a modest pride in preserving ‘le Vieux’. Except for residents and services and deliveries, you can’t drive into Oppède (I’ll use the abbreviated town name although there is a town just called Oppède nearby, so when you visit, don’t confuse the two; it is Oppède-le-Vieux you are looking for). You pay 3 euros to park just below the town, then you follow a simple self-guiding path through old gardens and enter the town through its narrow streets. 

Photos may speak a thousand words, but they can never equate to being there in person. We hope at least some of this atmosphere comes through in the following photos. Finally, if you have a big enough screen, I think you can left click on any photo and then scroll through a slide show of the photos in larger format but without the commentary, for a better visual impact. Enjoy:


1. In retrospect, this driveway just outside of town seemed to set the right perspective for the visit to Oppède.


2. On arrival, the weather threatened rain, but the small scale of the place, and the immaculate gardens below the town, hinted of a different experience than those of previous days.


3. An artful orientation map as you enter the footpath from the parking to the town.


4. The relative locations of Gordes, Roussillon, and Oppède are shown at top right, with Mont Ventoux (i.e. “Windy Mountain”), the highest peak in the mountains to the north of our first ‘pied-à-terre’ on this trip, in the centre background. P.S. For anyone who watches the 20+ day Tour de France bicycle race each July, it was the beautiful countryside settings of this race that led us to our first visit to France, and Mont Ventoux is one of the mountains that has been featured in the race on several occasions.


5. The visitor’s approach.


6.


7. The main town square: At the far left is one of only two café patios visible from the square,


8. This is the other.


9. Where some of the locals park.

10. And a peek at someone’s inner courtyard.


11. Heading up to the inevitable hilltop church or chateau.


12. How easy to step back a few centuries into this picture.


13. Stone masonry must have been a trade in high demand.


14.


15. This time it’s a church. A chateau may have meant a significantly different past, present, and future for the special town of Oppéde-le-Vieux.  We can only speculate.

Until next, Lorna and Dave from France the fantastic.



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