Viens

Viens is one of those gorgeous villages in the dramatic, wild landscape east of Apt that happily the guidebooks don’t bother with.

Perched on a rocky crag for the last 1000 years, Viens gives three distinct impressions depending on which route you approach it on: a fortress from the north, citadel from the west and a typical perched Provence village from the south.

You enter Viens through the portail de l’Horloge (clock gate), the high square tower in the ramparts, where the portcullis is still in place. Then you follow your nose through narrow streets, past grand houses. In some places it opens out to an extraordinary view, others you come across curiosities like the communal oven, the honey shop, or the Saracen gate.

Viens is small but does have a cafe-restaurant and pizzeria.

From the village you can hike in any direction and won’t be disappointed. The landscape is rugged and beautiful, softened by lavender fields.