At the gates of the Parc du Verdon and nestled at the foot of a majestic tuff cliff, Cotignac is a Provencal village of character where Provençal art and crafts are very well represented. After having indulged in one of the many sports activities in the Verdon, the village can be the subject of a pleasant day of relaxation and discovery. It may also serve as a good base camp to explore the Parc du Verdon for a week.
When you get to Cotignac, you are first struck by the huge cliff that overlooks the village. Visit the amazing cave dwellings inside the cliff, then step outside and admire its views from many places. Then take the time to stroll through this village with its typical atmosphere, where you can soak up the Provencal air and discover galleries of local artists. Finally, for gourmets, a detour is essential in order to taste the delicious products that Cotignac has to offer.
What to do in Cotignac?
The first thing to do when you arrive in Cotignac is to visit the Rock. It is the symbol of the village. 400 m long and 80 m high, this tuff cliff has been home to caves and cave dwellings for centuries. The inhabitants carved the first fortifications in the rock around the year 1000 and you can still see the two Saracen towers of the castle built at that time. You can visit the Rock from April to October, and it is a free discovery for children under 10 years old!
After leaving the Rock, take the time to stroll through the calades to vibrate to the rhythm of Provencal life. This is one thing not to be missed in Cotignac… Indeed, walking through its shady alleys full of history, and up to the large animated courtyard, it is good to walk and discover this amazing village.
Moreover, there is a very good signposted circuit created by the tourist office. It allows you to discover the village and its history in about 1 hour and a half. Afterward, you can also go for a visit to the Museum of Cotignac, which presents a retrospective of the village in the past and temporary exhibitions. Throughout the summer, shows take place outside under the starry sky of the Théâtre de Verdure. This is, of course, one of the best times to enjoy the village.
Outside the village, you can walk to the beautiful waterfall of the Gouffre, which can be reached on foot in 15 minutes along the river. Ideal to cool off in the heart of summer! A little further on, barely 2 km south of Cotignac, is the sanctuary of Notre-Dame de Grâce, a famous haven of peace and a high place of pilgrimage since the 16th century. Further south, you can hike to the Lac de Carcès and to the Caramy Falls. And of course, for swimming, the Lac de Sainte-Croix and the Gorges du Verdon are only about thirty kilometers away!
Arts and crafts in Cotignac
Cotignac has been attracting artists for a long time… Painters and sculptors have chosen the village to set up their studios and take advantage of its special atmosphere for their creations. Along the calades, and on the Cours Gambetta, you will successively meet jewelers, woodturners, ceramists, clothing designers… For example, the talent of the stained glass artist Dany Ely, at the Atelier Verre et Lumière. For families with children, go to Les Trouvailles du Zèbre, a highly original manufacturer of decorative mobiles.
Several galleries and workshops are open all year round and present the work of the artists. One of the most interesting places is undoubtedly La Truffière. Situated on the Cours Gambetta it presents itself as a gourmet art gallery/workshop. An interesting concept: you can eat in July-August, but you can discover the artist’s creations all year round.
Taste the Provence in Cotignac
Finally, a good word for gourmets, don’t forget to make a detour to the Cotignac cellar. You will be able to taste the local wine and especially the olive oil, very famous. You can also taste the Provencal delicacies produced in Cotignac, such as honey and truffles. The Ruchers du Bessillon brings together beekeepers who have been producing Cotignac honey since the 19th century! Fancy some delicious fresh produce? Visit Les Papillons Verts, a biodynamic farm where the Lassemblée family welcomes you to offer you their products. Olives, jams, astonishing fruits and vegetables from old varieties promise you a real treat!
Where to stay in Cotignac?
There is no hotel in this family village of Cotignac. However many guest rooms in typical houses or Provençal mas will satisfy those who are looking for a nice place to stay. Families will also be able to take advantage of numerous weekly holiday rentals. They are a very good alternative accommodation to discover the Verdon gorges. The tourist office website will be able to inform you and give you the contacts of all these accommodations. In a quiet area, away from the village, the municipal campsite Les Pouverels, offers ecolodges, classic pitches, and a gîte d’étape.