[TOURRETTES-SUR-LOUP, FRANCE] — I was on my way back from nine blissful days in Greece, heading toward the southwest of France. Having already done most of the coast, I wanted to find a new place to explore. I opened a new travel website I kept hearing about i-escape.com and started scouring pictures for something that grabbed my eye. And then BOOM. This is what I saw.
That was it.
This is in France? Looks more like Italy, or maybe Corsica. An ancient village perched high above the Côte d’Azur in the mountainy Alpes-Maritime region of France. I’ve always heard about this region, but had never been. So that’s where I pointed my car as I hopped off the plane in Nice.
Tourrettes-sur-Loup sits high above the French Rivera, in the Alpes-Maritime province. About equidistant between Nice and Antibes. I’ve always read about this region, but never have been here before. My god, I’m coming back. The land rises to steep valleys, great folds of the earth, perched towns, the sea still within view. But the crowds of the Côte d’Azur a million miles away.
It’s really not far from the sea, actually. About 40 beautiful minutes up winding roads, steadily increasing in altitude as you progress, getting narrower and windy-er as you got higher. The villages more spread out, the valleys a little deeper. This is going to be good.
Tourrettes-sur-Loup sits on a peninsula of pointy land that thrusts out over the famous Gorges du Loup. Clinging to the edge of a steep cliff, this medieval village is car-free, with narrow streets and steep stairs tucked cheek-by-jowl between the crooked houses — you can actually see the deep blue sea and the yachts around Antibes from here.
This is a real town, it seems. Not one of those over-touristed villages like Saint-Paul-du-Vence that have basically turned into art galleries and stores to sell things, with few locals around. In contrast, this cute little village is loaded with artists though, working right-there, making things in their own shops. Painting. Weaving. Sculpting. You get a feel for a real artists’ community.
It’s quiet. Has a great market day and the whole surrounding area seems to thrive off its bustling main square. Didn’t see a single tourist. There’s even a Michelin-starred restaurant and several other great places to eat. And the views….don’t even get me going about the views…
As you saw from the link above, I came to Tourrettes-sur-Loup to stay at this super cool B&B, Histoires de Bastide. From the reviews and pictures on i-Escape.com it was everything I love in a hotel, great rooms, killer views. There are only four or so rooms in the whole place, on a quiet street end just steps from the main square. The rooms all have their own baths, are good sized. Normally I can’t stand B&Bs but the way she set up this place is perfect. I can’t wait to come back.
This really is a special place. Ain’t nobody here… except the people who live in this cool little working town in the hills. It’s alive with life, not tourism. Put Histoires de Bastide in Tourettes on your list and plan a night or two up here. It is spotless and clean and the coolest modern interior. And reasonable at about a buck sixty. Oh, and the view. Sandrine is a lovely host that can guide you where to go, what to avoid and where to eat — there’s a Michelin star restaurant, Clovis, in town, and one I liked even more coming up next.
The beautiful owner, Sandrine, is the most delightful host…and, even better, the perfect tour guide, grabbing a map and making suggestions on where to go each day. More importantly, she says “Non, don’t go there. Not worth it. Go here instead.” My kinda gal.
Tourrettes, France from YouShouldGoHere on Vimeo.
There is a Michelin star restaurant in the village, Clovis, that people come from miles around to visit, but I really fell in love with this delightful little restaurant, Cinq, literally across the alley from the hotel. Super simple menu — 2-3 things a night, very reasonably priced. No wonder it gets completely packed.
The food was amazing, the service better still. The chef, Stefan, standing center-stage in his open kitchen that roosts between the two small dining rooms. Just Stefan, the sweet server and the cutest dishwasher I’ve ever seen. All three running this place like a top. they don’t even have a website. The place is jammed every night. Such a blast. This was one of the best experiences I’ve had in a while. Stefan, in his beard and clogs, making dishes right before you eyes, then sending them out.
“Stopping mid-cooking, hurriedly wiping his hands on his apron, Stefan said to no one in particular: ‘Must have Tom Waits right now!’ Then tapped on his iPad music player, propped center stage near his stove like it was another cooking pan. And then Tom came on. He smiled, nodded and went back to cooking.”
I would come back all the way to Tourrettes just to eat here. As perfect as it gets.
From Tourrettes-sur-Loup, you have the whole of Alpes-Maritime to explore. The farther away from the sea, the higher the mountains get. I didn’t build in enough time, so many cool places. Definitely coming back. I didn’t even know it at the time, but there’s a ton of canyoning and “wild swimming” all up and down the gorge. I can’t believe I missed it.
Keep going upupup to the highest ridges and you finally reach the stunning hilltop town of Gourdon. A little touristy, but some nice looking cafes and killer views all the way down to the sea.
Here’s a great overview of Tourrettes-sur-Loup from one of my favorite resources Provence Web. And TripAdvisor’s guide. And another great resource, BeyondFR’s guide.
Here is Histoires de Bastide’s page on iEscape.com….where I found this cool place and my new favorite resource.
And here’s a great overview of Gourdon on Provence Web. More on the Gorges du Loup on TripAdvisor here, and on Beyond.fr.
Last visited October 2016.
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