Saignon has the most distinctive outline of any Luberon village, with its rock squared off by nature as if to look from afar like an impregnable castle. It acts as a signpost high above the town of Apt, hence perhaps the name Saignon, which comes from signum, Latin for ‘sign’.
Saignon was like a look-out for danger riding along the valley towards Apt, and the church bells were the alarm. Because of this important role this was a privileged village and no fewer than three castles sprung up within its confines, built by three different lords, which when you look at the size of Saignon is truly remarkable. The wealth of the village 800 years ago can be seen in the architecture that still stands, and it is a lovely village to stroll around, with its winding narrow streets and fountains.
Particularly pleasing are the square where three roads meet, with its fountain and the Domaine de la Presbytere, a fine hotel and restaurant. And you can climb the imposing rock of the village to get spectacular view and photos towards the north, with the white-topped Mont Ventoux as your anchor point, as well as the Montagne de Lure, a glimpse of the Alps and even Avignon on a clear day.
The 12th century Romanesque church of Saignon is of impressive dimensions, as wide as it is long, and notable for the imposing front facade with its 12 bays (perhaps signifying 12 apostles) above the front door. The facade was added in the 14th century and the richly decorated door is from 1725. Most unusually, and for reasons unknown, the church was built just outside the village walls.
For a great photo of Saignon, come at the end of the day and take the road heading south towards Sivergues, from which you can frame the village bathed in golden light in the foreground, and a majestic wide, far view of Provence beyond it.