How the others had lived: Village des Bories, Provence

Village des Bories

I’m always fascinated on how people live. I travel for the same reason I read books; to get away from my own life, and to get glimpses of how other people live their daily lives, and sometimes imagining I was one of those people instead of me (not that I don’t like being me, but I’m curious by nature).

This is why, instead of going to art museums, cathedrals or monuments, I always prefer to wander around a town getting lost, or go to museums and exhibitions which highlight how ordinary people lived, however humble. Village des Bories in Provence, is one of those memorable places, where I was transported to a vivid and extraordinary scene of how human lives could be.

It is tucked the remote area of the Vaucluse region of Provence. The closest good-sized town is Gordes. After a winding and uphill drive through very narrow streets, we found the abandoned village. It was technically a ruin, but they had done a very good job at restoring several huts into their former glories. The huts are quite big and some could even qualify for a proper house, and they are made by stacking rock chips on top of each other from bottom to top. It must had been meticulous and tedious work to build one of those. Some of the interiors were also restored, furnished with period appropriate household apparatus. The soot could still be visible on the ceiling of those buildings too (not sure by restoration effort or real vintage smoke). The buildings were connected with alleyways and little streets, some were fenced by small walls. All structures were made from the similar rock chips as the buildings. I was lost in trying to imagine what it must had been when these dwellings are inhabited and the village was thriving.

Despite its appearance, Village des Bories are not as old as some might have guessed it to be. They were originate from the 18th century, and was still in use through the 19th century. There was a modern looking building built on the premise (though by the same method), housing the small museum which held more information about the history of the settlement. There’s also admission fee, but not much.

The Kid was three when we took her there. Though she was still too young to really understand what it was, she had fun poking her head into every doorway and enjoying the claustrophobic rooms as only children do (admittedly, I was doing the same). All the structures are sturdy enough for even the rowdiest children, and it is contained in an enclosed open space where they could run around a bit or explore on their own.

With so many amazing things to see and do in the beautiful region, it could be easy to overlook Village des Bories. But I’m glad we didn’t, since I get to sit inside a stone hut, and pretend played (although only mentally) that I was a Provençal farmer’s wife living in an isolated mountain village somewhere in the 18th century.


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