If you love towns with bucket loads of character that are impossibly pretty, you’ll love Tourrettes-sur-Loup. A quintessential small southern France medieval village. It’s just a few kilometres from Vence. Our guide to Tourrettes-sur-Loup reveals its charms and secrets…
The joie de vivre of Tourrettes-sur-Loup
Tourrettes-sur-Loup is in the Alpes-Maritimes department, southeastern France. Located between Nice and Cannes, it’s perched on a rocky outcrop. Surrounded by cliffs, it offers breath-taking views over a valley. To get the best view of the village planted on its rock, you should visit via Le Bar-sur-Loup road.
The fortified village is arranged around the 15th century chateau des Villeneuve, now the town hall and an exhibition area. Houses spread out from the central half-moon shaped “Grand Rue”. And you should definitely aim to get lost in its pretty narrow streets to discover secret Tourrettes and its pretty white stone houses. You’ll find vaulted passageways, stepped passages and streets bordered by pretty flower baskets. Discover pretty bijou squares and many artists’ studios and restaurants.
Tourrettes-sur-Loup exudes joie de vivre. The village has inspired many artists and lured celebrities seeking tranquillity and beauty. For pure joy, take a stop at a café for drink, visit small shops and indulge at a lovely restaurant, some of them in cool and shady cellars.. The “Grand Rue”, the heart of the historic centre of the village, is where you will find more than 30 artists’ workshops and galleries.
The song Autumn Leaves was composed in Tourrettes-sur-Loup
In the 1940s, French poet and screenwriter Jacques Prévert rented a house in Tourrettes-sur-Loup. Together with his friend Joseph Kosma, a composer, he wrote the film “Les Portes de la Nuit”. In the movie, Yves Montand hummed along to a tune named “Les Feuilles Mortes”. The song crossed the Atlantic and became a jazz standard. Johnny Mercer wrote the English lyrics and gave it the title “Autumn Leaves”. It has been covered by many huge names from Bing Crosby, Chet Baker, Nat King Cole, Tony Bennett, Miles Davis, Doris Day, Frank Sinatra and Barbara Streisand to Eric Clapton.
This song is recognised as “the most important non-American standard”. It’s been recorded some 1400 times by mainstream and modern jazz musicians. And, it’s the eighth most-recorded tune by jazz artists.
The Village of Violets
For over a century, the village has been famous for its cultivation of violets, a type commonly known as “Victoria”. The “Violet Village”, is the only village in France to grow them so intently. The violets grow all year round. The spring flowers are picked and used in confectionery. In summer, the leaf is cut and sent to Grasse for use in the perfume industry. In autumn and winter, the flowers are picked to form bouquets.
Since 1952, the village has organised an annual “Fête des Violettes” (Flower Festival). This celebration usually takes place in March to mark the end of the season and the arrival of spring.
The Church of Saint-Gregory: Built in the 12th century, the Church was modified in the 16th and 19th centuries. It has a Romano-Renaissance style entrance and houses remarkable furniture made up of paintings, sculptures and altars.
La Bastide aux Violettes: This quirky museum is dedicated to the cultivation of violets. You can visit the flower greenhouses between November and March and discover the methods of cultivation. Open all year from Tuesday to Saturday. Entry is free.
Chantille de Lincourt is a photographer who specialises in small villages and French heritage. Find out more on her blog www.villagesetpatrimoine.fr