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Hidden Gem in Provence: Fort de Buoux

Hidden Gem in Provence: Fort de Buoux

One of the most incredible monuments in Provence is hidden among the wilds of the cliffs of the Luberon. The Fort de Buoux is a remarkable, expansive site that was inhabited from protohistory to the 18th century. It features troglodyte dwellings, a primitive village, the ruins of a medieval fortress and castle, a church (with segments from pre-Roman, Roman and 18th century periods), ramparts, a drawbridge and certain elements that remain a mystery still. One can freely roam among the ruins here.

Outside the entrance of the ruins of the church is a phrase inscribed on the stone: “Vous qui passez par ici, passez par moi car je suis la porte de la vie” (Those who pass here, pass by my door because I am the door of life”). The layered remains of the various historical periods are unmistakable and fascinating. 

A grain silo among the ruins (there are 19 silos like this one). Historians are at odds about their exact age; some estimate the silos date to protohistory, others believe the silos are from the medieval period.

The ruins are surrounded by the lush, wild hillsides of the Luberon mountains. Often quiet, it is easy to find oneself completely alone in the midst of great natural beauty visiting this spot. 

One of the most remarkable aspects of the ruins is the bronze age staircase - 60 sheer steps carved directly into the mountain. The dizzying staircase leads to the “sacrificial bowl,” a site of ancient ritual. This was a sacred path in protohistory.  

Start or end your visit with a meal at l’Auberge de Séguins - just a short drive down a gravel path from the parking area for the Fort de Buoux. Glorious setting, unpretentious and delicious meal - charcuterie, cheese, salads. If you call the day before you can reserve a ‘picnic’ to take with you on your hike up to the Fort.

Notes on the visit: the fort is open year-round (closed Tuesdays, except by reservation), but there are closures from time to time in summer months for fire concerns. Best to confirm the site will be open before going. Keep small children close; there is significant exposure and cliffs. Summer months are very hot; bring water, good shoes for the hike and a hat.