Oppéde is a somewhat modern French town close to the villa. It’s less beautiful than the other impossibly beautiful small towns in the area (Gordes, Ménerbes, Roussillon), probably because it is more recent. A run-off of people who descended from the hillside after “Old Oppéde” began to dissolve a hundred years ago.
We start off early and hike up the hillside into Old Oppéde, knowing that it is a “ghost town”, but little else.
What I discover is probably the most beautiful place I have ever seen.
It’s not actually a ghost town, but it was at one time, and what does remain is mostly ruins. The only homes that survive being outside the dilapidated walls. The inner core apparently being deserted after an earthquake took down the castle in 1731.
It is literal example of the ephemeral worlds I built as a kid. Walls are crumbling, and the houses that haven’t been saved are collapsing under their own weight. Rooms drop away so completely that I have to use my camera to see inside of them. Many of the windows are empty except for rotting iron guards. I resonate the most with a long drooping alley that appears deserted except for the ornate carvings framing one of the doors.
I later learn that the engraving is a Magicbox (a carving that can be read the same in every direction) and the one above the door (Henri Simon Faure), a poet that lived there in the 1970’s. Even though the windows are open to the elements, I assume someone still lives there because of the naked lightbulb above the door. I let myself fantasize about living in this unreal place, time stretching out before me, my life open to the elements.
What I find in Old Oppéde is a sense of discovery that I haven’t felt in a long time. Or is it possibility? Two sides of the same coin, I guess.