Gorbio, France is a hilltop medieval village, high-up above Menton, in the south-eastern corner of the Côte d’Azur. This picturesque village is a secret place, seemingly forgotten by tourists. As with other historic perched villages, Gorbio has an impressive view, 354 meters above the Mediterranean Sea. You’ll find it in the craggy mountain side of the Alpes-Maritimes department of the French region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
What to see in Gorbio
On arriving in Gorbio you will see the main square, the Place de la Rèpublic. It’s a traditional French village square, where people congregate to chat and exchange pleasantries over a café. It’s the sort of village where everyone knows everyone else. In this square, history is rich and runs deep, here you’ll find a celebrated 300-year-old elm tree. It was planted in 1713, to commemorate the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, returning the County of Nice back to the sovereignty of the Duke of Savoy.
With only 300 residents in the village of Gorbio, and 1000 total in the commune, it is an astonishing community of religious fête, festivals and celebrations. One of them is truly memorable, the Procession des Limaces (Procession of Snails). Held after the olive harvest, snail shells are filled with olive oil and lit to illuminate the entire village on this night of festivities. It is where villagers celebrate the abundant olive harvest. They await the processional through the village, led by the local Priest, all-the-while giving thanks to the Virgin Mary.
Gorbio – a storybook village
Gorbio tugs at your heart-strings with its stunning views and medieval vaulted passageways that seem to lure you forward, for a closer peek inside. It’s a little storybook village with a beautiful history. And, the people are lovely. There is the most most charming maze of cobblestone lanes, and houses built from iconic stone, all festooned with flowers. Strolling the steep, winding stone paths of Gorbio, is an authentic experience. It’s a lived-in village, seemingly unchanged from ancient times. Centuries old buildings and antiquities cascade throughout. Don’t miss the exotic fountain in the Place de la Mairie, built in 1882, or the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs de la Sainte Croix, built in 1445.
Surprisingly, the village has a Michelin rated restaurant, Le Beau Séjour, owned by the Bracco family. The owners have captured the essence of French décor. There’s a canvas of French grey and linen white, permeating a romantic ambiance. You’ll enjoy homemade food, with locally sourced ingredients. Recipes are traditional, such as rabbit, lamb and fish; along with the not-to-be missed apricot pie! Details: Le Beau Séjour: 14,place de la république Gorbio
Truth is, there are many scattered hidden treasures along the Cote d’Azur. They range from quaint outpost villages, to a secluded hide-away. Ancient ruins, or a village steeped in history. Discovering places serendipitously is the pleasure of travel.
Gorbio Tourist Office; Transportation: Zest Bus Line: Bus 7 from Menton
J.Christina is the blogger behind www.scribblesandsmiles.net. Blogging from the Midwest, J. Christina and her husband share their European trips so others can travel vicariously through their scribbles and images.