At Essential Sailing, we love the history, culture and cuisine of the places we visit almost as much as the sailing to get there. Our Captain’s Blog brings you a taste of what to expect from our luxury crewed sailing holidays around the French and Italian Riviera. In this blog we ascend the beautiful hilltop villages of Peille and Peillon.
Sit back and be inspired.
Just a short distance inland and set in wild, under populated countryside, Peille is a perfect retreat from the touristic frenzy of the coast, a unique hill top village, with its own Provencal dialect, Pelhasc.
Peille had unusual ideas on religion too. During the Middle Ages, it was excommunicated several times rather than pay the bishop’s tithes. The Chapelle des Pénitents Noirs was converted into a communal oil press and its splendid domed Chapelle de St.Sébastien into the Hotel de Ville. Inside the church of Ste-Marie is an interesting painting of the village in medieval times, showing the now ruined castle in its former glory. Once during a drought, Peille asked a local shepherd for help. He made it rain on condition that the lord of the castle agreed to give his daughter’s hand in marriage – an event still celebrated on the first Sunday in September.
Peille’s twin and neighbouring village, Peillon is one of the Riviera’s most beautiful hilltop villages, very cleverly camouflaged against the landscape. Medieval perched villages were built in lofty positions for safety. From behind their thick ramparts, villagers could keep vigil over the hinterland as well as the coast.
Peillon’s huddle of cobbled alleys, steps and arches lead up to a charming little church at the summit. But the main attraction here is the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs just outside the village, with 15th century frescoes by Giovanni Canavesio depicting the Passion of Christ. Beyond the chapel, a footpath walk to Peille takes about two hours along what was once a Roman road.