Sunday, April 19, 2009


Oppède-le-vieux in the Vaucluse area of Provence, was built in the 12th century high on the hill because of the turmoil that raged for centuries, when this region was regularly won and lost in wars and embroiled in persecutions. One of the worst offenders, the bloodthirsty Jean Maynier, Baron of Oppède, took Oppède-le-vieux's castle as his seat in the 16th century and waged a crusade against the Vaudois population, destroying 11 villages in the process. Once peace came, the village was abandoned because the hilltop location was inconvenient to the fields below, so a new village was built further downslope. The old village started coming back to life during WW2, when a commune of artists, sculptors and writers started colonizing the empty houses and renovating them (including the wife of the writer Antoine Saint-Exupéry). Nobody much lives there now, but it's still a charming and romantic ruin.

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