The Hidden Secrets of Saignon
The favorite villages in Provence are no secret to lovers of the region – Bonnieux, Lourmarin, Gordes, Roussillon. Their café-packed streets, boutiques, and sweeping views put them on everyone’s “must-see” list while touring Provence. Still, there are a handful of more quiet, hidden gems – villages that might not make it into every guidebook yet offer all of the charm and authenticity of those on the more trafficked tourist path.
One of our favorites is the small village of Saignon, perched on the hillside overlooking Apt and only 15-minutes from Bonnieux.Saignon is a small haven of tranquility, known more by the locals and traveling hikers than your average tourists. You will not find a plethora of boutiques or cafés, nor a bustling morning market – but an afternoon here will do one thing: Saignon will transport you back in time.
After a meal, hike up to the top of the village onto Bellevue Rock which offers stunning views of the Luberon valley speckled with fields of poppy or lavender if you come during their blooming seasons. Winding and sleepy cobblestone streets, beautifully ancient colorful front doors, perfectly aged shutters, terraces brimming with flowers, the sound of a trickling fountain – this is Saignon.
History of Saignon – dating back to Gallo Roman times…
During Antiquity, the Gallo-Romans of Apta Julia built several villas and altars were dedicated to the gods. The rock of Saignon, promontory about 30 meters high, was used as an observatory to issue any needed warnings. From this use, “signum” has resulted in the name of Sagnio, the most probable etymology of the present name.The first structure was built in the 10th century on the rock, it was then replaced by 3 forts or castles -part of the ramparts remains North side).
From the early Middle Ages, the Romanesque church of Notre Dame or Sainte Marie, of remarkable proportions, was a privileged pilgrimage for believers traveling to Rome on the Via Domitia or to Santiago de Compostela. On a wall of the church, an inscription attests the presence of Celts. The church also houses a reliquary of the Holy Cross.
Saignon- How to Get There
We recommend renting a car to explore this exceptional village and its region, as it is not easily accessible by public transport. The main international airport, used by most European carriers, is Marseille (MRS), only 80 km from Saigon, roughly a one our drive. If coming by TGV train (fastest), the closest option is to travel to Avignon TGV Station and drive to Saignon (50 minutes). Below are the train times to the Avignon train station.
- 2 hours 40 minutes from Paris
- 3 hours from Roissy Charles de Gaulle
- 1 hour from Lyon, and
- 30 minutes from Marseille
Where to Eat
Enjoy a simple but delicious salad or an omelet with a chilled glass of rosé at one of our favorite lunch spots, Chez Christine, or indulge in a more formal affair at Au Comptoir de Balthazar.
For a perfect sunset, book a table at Un Jardin Sur le Toit, a trendy new restaurant with a chic top-of-the-rock setting overlooking the valley below. The upscale and delicious menu offers a unique contrast to the ancient rhythms of Saignon.
Where to Stay: Accommodations in Saignon, France
Hotels in Saignon, France
Saignon has a couple of quaint and quiet hotels and B&B’s:
Chambres d’hôtes L’Auberge du Presbytère: This simple B&B is found is the heart of the village near the famous fountain.
Most hotel accommodations will be found in nearby Apt or in the other more touristy villages found in the region (Gordes, Roussillon, Mernerbes, Bonnieux).
Only 20 minutes away is the fabulous 5 star hotel Coquillade Provence Resort & Spa which is perfectly located in between Saignon and the other popular hillside Luberon villages of Gordes, Goult and Menerbes.
Luxury Villa Rentals in Saignon, France
As the luxury property rental market has exploded worldwide, renting a luxury villa in Provence has become the preferred choice for accommodations in Provence. Only Provence has the largest selection of luxury properties in the region.
Benefits of Luxury Villa Rentals in the Luberon
One of the many benefits of renting a villa in Provence is having a genuinely private yet authentic experience in Provence, complete with in-home chef services. Many of Only Provence’s villas are within walking distance from the village of Gordes itself.
Below are some of the few great benefits of a luxury villa over other traditional accommodation options.
- Personalized experiences such as private chefs and organized tours and activities;
- Privacy and exclusivity;
- A dedicated villa manager and staff;
- A sense of feeling at home while staying in a private luxury villa;
- Private luxury villas in Gordes are ideal for groups of families or friends traveling together.
Simple and serene are our feelings toward Saignon, perhaps followed by a “shhhhhhh” – only because we would love that it remain a secret.