Simiane-la-Rotonde is a bit of a well kept secret in Provence. A hilltop village that has been incredibly well preserved, it’s hardly changed for centuries. It lies northeast of the lovely town of Apt, close to Mont Ventoux and in summer months the fields that surround it are filled with lavender.
The village takes it’s name from the keep, or rotunda, of the ancient castle at it peak. The Château des Simiane-Agoulthas been partially restored and can be visited and is also home to the Sainte Victoire Aromatherapy Laboratory where you can join in a workshop and learn about essential oils.
A magical Provence village
The medieval village of Simiane-la-Rotonde is a classified “city of character”. Along its cobblestone lanes, houses from the 16th to 18th centuries give you the impression you’ve stepped back in time. It was once famous for its glassware, tile making and cloth weaving making it a prosperous and desirable place to live. A few kilometres away is a beautiful valley where a sundial, carved into the rock in prehistoric times can still be seen. In the sandstone floor, egg-like formations gave birth to the belief that the goddess of fertility laid her eggs here. The 12th century saw the arrival of Cistercian monks who lived in this sacred spot. In 1660 they founded an abbey which has been restored. It has a most beautiful garden with 500 varieties of roses. And, in the 12th century Romanesque church, an acoustic surprise can be experienced – if you know the right people!
“Don’t miss a visit to one of the oldest Medieval castles in Provence. Simiane-le-Rotonde’s fortress castle is truly unique. It has a round, dome-like Roman style donjon that’s around 1000 years old. The views from this hilltop village overlook a valley full of fields of clary sage, lavender, spelt, chickpeas, and sheep prairies. It’s like a living natural patchwork of textures and colours. To the east, on a clear day you can see as far as the jagged peaks of the Alpes” says Emily Durand.
Discover Provence with Emily Durand. She offers tours that help you discover Provence like a local from day trips to week long lavender, photography and other truly special tours including the most beautiful off the beaten track villages. Find out more at YourPrivateProvence.com
What to see nearby
Apt – a little over 20km from Simiane-le-Rotonde, Apt is in the heart of the Luberon Nature Park. Gorgeous little shops, famous for its crystallised fruit, and home to a fabulous market.
Mont Ventoux – the Giant of Provence
Roussillon – this colourful little village is known as the Colorado of France!
Saignon – one of the prettiest, unspoiled villages in Provence