It’s market day in Tourrettes-sur-Loup. This hilltop village in Provence is buzzing with life and color, and the scent of fresh soap and sight of woven baskets fill the air. I take in the scene, which is lively with locals and visitors browsing the wares. It’s a great introduction to this secret corner of France.
I’m spending a few days in Southern France with friends, and while I’m in the region I get a chance to explore Tourrettes-sur-Loup. The medieval village is located between Grasse (of perfume fame) and Vence, and isn’t far from the well-known artist colony of Saint-Paul-de-Vence.
I studied in nearby Nice when I was 18 and loved traveling in Provence. I didn’t get to see everything, though, and I’m excited to be back to discover one of the area’s under-the-radar villages. It’s less crowded than some of its neighbors, making it great for getting a local experience.
When I start exploring, I find Romanesque and medieval streets sitting atop a rocky promontory overlooking gorges below. The Mediterranean glitters in the distance, but the real highlights are closer in.
Surrounded by ramparts, Tourrettes-sur-Loup is full of pretty stone houses, art galleries, craft workshops, and open-air cafes. 15th-century churches and narrow passageways vie for my attention as I walk through the lanes that make up the village.
Outside the tangle of historic streets lie classic Provencal villas with pink facades and blue shutters. Orange tile roofs punctuate the slopes and giant rock formations loom in the distance.
There are cactus plants growing wild in the hills, but Tourrettes-sur-Loup is best known for violets. It has earned the nickname Violet Village for its association with the flower, and every spring there’s a violet festival in town.
Back in the center, Tourrettes-sur-Loup is easy to see in an hour but there are so many details I can’t help circling back to take in more vine-covered courtyards and archways.
In fact, there are so many stairways and alleys to explore I constantly find myself getting lost and then found again.
And when I find myself back in the main square, I’m immersed in the market and the open-air cafes surrounding it. It’s the perfect place to stop and take in the essence of Provence, from the lavender sachets to the rosé wine. I can’t think of a better place to fall in love with this part of France.
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