We realise that in discussing how we have moved to Lorgues that we haven’t really written a lot about it. So this is the first of what will be a couple of blogs with pretty pictures.
There are many good things about Lorgues. One of them is its architectural heritage. Like so many French towns there’s tons of history at the centre. There are what must be a couple of hundred ancient buildings squashed against each other with barely a straight line in sight, twisting and turning streets just wide enough for donkeys to pass, venerable doorways revealing winding stairs and shadowed hallways, old wells, time-battered doors and half glimpsed courtyards and crumbling towers.
There are street signs and memorials that point to ancient mills, olive presses and washing places and all sorts of echoes of long forgotten traditions, professions and tragedies, some of which go back over half a millennia.
Lorgues is not a big town and you could walk across the old part in ten minutes and although there are few individual buildings of a quality to make you stand and marvel the cumulative effect is rich and rewarding. There is history here; a history not just of aristocracy and epic events but of generations of ordinary people struggling to make a living in what was for a very long time one of the poorest backwaters of France.
Thankfully too, Lorgues has not really been ‘discovered’ and despite being so close to the Côte d’Azur the centre of Lorgues has not been gentrified; indeed most of the old houses appeared to be lived in all year round by locals. Some one suspects are family houses going back centuries.
It’s charming, but we should offer a caution to anyone at risk of being seduced into buying some apartment or building in the centre of one of these Provençal towns. Yes, they are wonderful to wander around, and it’s fun to dream of living in one but the practicalities are actually rather daunting. There is generally no nearby car parking and sometimes no car access at all and there are generally no views other than into your neighbours’ window. Perhaps above all, air conditioning is rare and often impossible to install which means that on hot, humid Provençal summer nights all you can do is sweat quietly, throw the windows wide and try to ignore the noise and music from the lives of others just a few yards away.
So although we enjoy walking amid the accumulation of years and lives that there is at the centre of Lorgues it’s a relief to be able to walk out of the town, climb up under the pine trees of the hill of St Ferreol and slip down the little road to our own house; nowhere near as picturesque or overflowing with history, but quiet and peaceful.