For most who visit the villages of Provence, Apt is just a place to pass through. A town in the Luberon Valley that seems industrial at first glance. It wasn’t until I did a tour into the old city that I really saw it’s charm, and understood why it’s known as one of the most Provençal towns.
Lovely cobblestoned streets, ancient fountains and private mansions. The 11th century Cathédrale de Sainte-Anne, and a 2nd century Roman bridge, Pont Julien.
Once a completely walled city, a few of the portals and fortified towers remain. To enter the Rue des Marchands (Merchant Street), one must pass beneath the Port de Saignon, which was once the main portal that gave way to the city centre, and the Apt Bell Tower (pictured above). No matter how many times I strolled that beautiful, cobblestoned street, I couldn’t help but think of the history and glory days of this quiet little Provençal town.
Beyond the historical ramparts, the other hidden secret is the quirky cafes and vendors. Nicknamed the site remarquable du goût (a place of wonderful tastes), Apt takes pride in its plethora of local products. Famous for candied fruit, honey, wine, goat cheese and truffles. Home to the Saturday morning market that begins in the main parking lot and winds down Rue des Marchands, then splits off into the winding streets of the old city.
I also have a very special bond with the town because my baby girl was born there, in a small maternity ward with the help of the sweetest French midwives. I can’t wait to take my daughter back one day to her birthplace. There’s a small part of me that hopes the vendors and locals I got to know will still be doing the same thing, like no time has passed. Oliver at L’Aptois, the busy little cafe and bar on the main square. Flore, the gentle esthetician on Quai de la Liberté, who proved the French do everything gentler, even bikini waxes. And the family who serve up the best wood fired pizzas at Chez Mon Cousin Alphonse.
Like most people and places, there’s so much more to Apt than meets the eye. For those whoever find themselves in the area, don’t take my word for it. Go on a Saturday and enjoy one of the most cherished local markets in the Luberon. And, go hungry. You won’t be disappointed. After all, they don’t call it the site remarquable du goût for nothing.