I didn’t set out to put together a series of photographic essays on “The Doors of (Small Town) France.” In late 2017, I was working on several articles on “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (France’s Most Beautiful Small Towns) and found myself mesmerized and gravitating toward the whimsical, varied and sometimes inexplicably small, odd or just frigging magical doors that I found. And I clicked away.
What a delight! Many times you’re left wondering how they were functional at the time they were built, let alone now. Many are not people-sized (Were folks shorter then? Or was ducking just something you did to get into your home?). One conclusion I reached – without Googling! – is that each of these old doors is likely unique: No mass production, no Home Depot to visit on a get-the-chores-done Saturday. Surely there must be a coffee table book out there on this topic? My (abbreviated) search found none.
I’m going to present these in batches, according to regions. Probably four or five total. Way too much for one post!
My first area to cover is Provence – well, actually central and western Provence – with a look at the small villages of Gourdon, Bargeme and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (there are many, many, MANY more; and I’ll cover eastern Provence in a later post). These towns are close to the Riviera and thus enjoy lots of tourist activity. Accordingly, most of their doors have been lovingly refurbished, yet they still retain that breathtaking French charm.
Here we go:
Bargeme is a typical Provencal perched village. At its apex sit the ruins of the 13th century Chateau de Sabran de Pontaves, definitely worth a schlep up to see. But throughout the town you’ll find sweet enticing doors.
Next we’re off to Gourdon, one of Provence’s most popular tourist towns. It’s renowned for its perfume shops, from which waft myriad scents that are mesmerizing for most travelers (apparently) but which were, for me, more like an attack on my olfactory system. I endured the assault because the doors were a very different type of sensual treat.
And here are a few from the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. This is a special place, with a 14th century chapel (Notre Dame de Beauvoir) clinging to the cliffs above the village. You can climb the (steep!) trail up – but my knees would not oblige. So I settled for the picturesque town below with its (equally) picturesque doors.
I’ll post additional parts of this series in the coming weeks.