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Saorge: The Prettiest Little French Town You Never Heard Of
SAORGE RESEMBLES TIBET WITH ITS CASCADING VILLAGE
You see, if the word gets out about the magical village of Saorge, that very magic will be threatened. Then its 650-year-old cobblestoned streets will be filled with tourists taking selfies in the town called the “Tibet of France.”
And right now, the place feels like it belongs to me.
If you come (and bring friends), it will be hard for me to get a table at La Petite Épicerie, the restaurant that is at the epicenter of the 400-inhabitant village. I won’t be able to order my tourtes Saorgiennes (with both red and green filling), and you’ll distract me from eavesdropping on the table next to me (an especially challenging task in French!).
LA PETITE ÉPICERIE: PART GROCERY STORE, PART RESTAURANT, PART BAR
Please don’t come and rent one of the uber-affordable AirBnBs or gîtes that overlook the crashing river below, because then they’ll stop being so affordable. And don’t even think about buying an apartment as your vacation home. That’s my plan!
Don’t make friends with the locals. They’re mine. I’m quite certain that I am the only visitor they have ever embraced as their own, and I’d like to keep it that way.
I plead with you not to stumble into the town library, which was, at one time, a church, and where now Mary and her cherubic angels guard the small collection of books.
A CONVERTED CHURCH SERVES AS THE TOWN LIBRARY
Please don’t visit the monastery that sits overlooking the town. Yes, I know it’s amazing that it was constructed in 1633, and it’s fascinating that French soldiers chased the monks out to occupy it in 1794. But you’re not welcome, no matter how friendly the trilingual man at the front desk may seem to be.
Don’t hike on the dozens of trails meandering in any direction from the village. You’ll disturb the animals and the fairies. Don’t climb the steep trail to the chapelle de Paspus, past my mountain man friend, Gibi’s, house and peer inside at the now-neglected shrine. And for heaven’s sake, if he happens to be outside when you pass by (you’ll know him by his ponytail and the flower he’ll be chewing between his teeth), don’t accept his invitation for a kir and lunch.
IT’S EASY TO MAKE FRIENDS IN THIS BEAUTIFUL VILLAGE IN FRANCE
Don’t pet the half a dozen cats that belong to nobody and everybody in the village. They were doing quite well, basking in the Provençal sun, before you came along. And if one should find his way into your rented room and make himself comfortable on your bed, don’t take it personally. He does it with everyone.
Please don’t stop in La Miellerie to buy the best honey you’ve ever eaten. Stick with your stuff from Trader Joe’s. And certainly, don’t scoop up a handful of honeysuckers for the kids. They’ll be fine without them.
Don’t stop in and order un pichet de vin at Bar Heinz at the edge of town. Yes, the owner Marc will want to talk to you about American music, but just leave him be.
I’m asking you not to wander into L’Eglise Saint Sauveur on a quiet afternoon when there’s no one inside. Sure, the Baroque-style decor is breathtaking, but once you’ve seen one church in Europe, you’ve seen them all, right?
SAORGE’S CHURCH HAS BAROQUE FEATURES
Whatever you do: please, please do not fall in love with this beautiful village in France. It belongs to me, and me alone. There’s nothing there for you except stunning views, warm-hearted people, and amazing cuisine. Nothing to see here, folks.
Rather than encroaching on my territory, I beg you to stay down the mountain in Breil-sur-Roya. It’s a delightful village, and even has a lake.
Or bask on the stone beaches of Nice. The French Riviera has plenty of appeal, doesn’t it?
Make the trek down to Genoa. There’s nothing like locally made pesto and trofie pasta.
There are plenty of other places nearby for you to enjoy.
Just don’t go to Saorge. Because once you go, it will forever be a part of you.
Before coming to France, do not forget these 2 important points:
- Get Travel Insurance! I use Allianz Travel Insurance and can only recommend them. If you travel a lot, I recommend the Multi-Trip Insurance, but you can read all about whether single trip or multi-trip travel insurance is right for you here – as long as you get insurance.
- Visit my Travel Gear and Resource Page to see my recommendations on useful travel gadgets and helpful travel services that can help you with planning your trip.
When Susan Guillory isn’t running her marketing company, she’s traveling and writing about it on The Unexplorer. She’s written several books (business, as well as travel) and has been published on Forbes, FOX Business, and other sites. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook.