Peille, a hilltop village in the Nice Hinterland

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Peille is a perched village set atop a narrow rocky spur overlooking the Peillon Valley in the Prealps of Nice.

Plan your trip to Peille and the region of Nice!

The roofs of the village of Peille @sibuet via Twenty20

The roofs of the village @sibuet via Twenty20


Situation of Peille

Peille is situated on the D53 road which winds up and down in the Hinterland of Nice between Nice and Menton. The village lies at an altitude of 630 m above sea level.

Peille Situation Map

Peille is a superb medieval village clinging to the mountainside, surrounded by the peaks of Mont Agel, Pic de Baudon and the Cime de Rastel.


Peille: a bit of History

One of the first written mentions of the village dates back to 1029 under the name “Gaucelinus de Pilia“.

The name of the village probably comes from the Latin “pel“, one of the many terms for a rocky place in a dominant position.

Peille © Copyleft - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

General view of the hilltop village © Copyleft – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

In the 12th century, Peille administrated a territory that was quite large and included Peillon and notably Monaco. However, the famous Rock was lost to Genoa in 1191.

From 1388 to the French Revolution, Peille and the County of Nice belonged to the House of Savoy.

From 1814 to 1860, Peille was part of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia.

After the referendum of 1860, the whole region of Nice joined France.


The Village of Peille

Peille © Mossot - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Part of the village © Mossot – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Once you have passed the old village gate at the foot of the rock, you discover the heart of Peille.

In the old village, you will discover a few beautiful old squares with gothic fountains, narrow cobbled streets bordered with large medieval stone houses, and magnificently restored chapels.

Peille preserved from its distant and glorious past the remains of fortifications and an old court of the 14th century (the palace of the Consuls).

Peille has kept part of its medieval fortifications and the remnants of an old castle situated a little distance above from the village.

Place Carnot and the Town-Hall

The little square of Place Carnot leads to the curious town hall of Peille.

In one corner of the square, you can see the town hall which occupies the chevet of a church!

The Town-Hall and chevet of the St Sebastien chapel © Mossot - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The Town-Hall and chevet of the St Sebastien chapel © Mossot – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Indeed, the Romanesque chapel of Saint-Sébastien is one of the most beautiful religious buildings in the village. The oldest parts of the sanctuary date back to the 12th century.

In the 19th century, the chevet of the church became the headquarters of the Town Hall. Its domed roof is an unmistakable eye-catcher when looking at the village from afar.

A closer look at the Lascaris Palace © Mossot - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

A closer look at the St Sébastien church © Mossot – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Place du Mont Agel and place André Laugier

The ensemble formed by the Place André Laugier and the Place du Mont Agel is, without doubt, the most attractive site in Peille.

Place du Mont-Agel © Mossot - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Place du Mont-Agel © Mossot – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Dating from the 12th century, the pretty squares have a pebbled pavement.

There are two remarkable residences:

  • the Loge à Colonnes House, and
Place du Mont Agel © Mossot - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Under the Loge à Colonnes House © Mossot – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

  • the former Palais des Consuls or Palais des Juges Mages (13th century). The façade of the courthouse includes an arched door and an ogival door above which are arched geminated windows with small columns.
Place du Mont-Agel © Mossot - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Palais des consuls © Mossot – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

A commemorative plaque hanging on the façade of the Palais des Consuls reveals that in the Middle Ages, Peille’s jurisdiction extended over a vast territory that included the present-day Principality of Monaco:

Seat of the Consulate of the Counts of Provence
On 2 January 1177 in Aix(-en-Provence), Alfonso II, King of Aragon, Count of Barcelona and Marquis of Provence, established, approved and confirmed the Consulate of Peille.
Its jurisdiction extended to Peille, Peillon, La Turbie and Monaco.
On 19 May 1179, the consuls of Peille ceded to the City of Genoa the rights that Peille had over the Rock of Monaco.

On the place du Mont Agel, there is a column flanked by an old gothic fountain dating from the 14th century and a wash house.

Place du Mont-Agel © Mossot - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Fountain in Place du Mont-Agel © Mossot – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Palais Lascaris

Then Rue Lascaris leads to the Palais Lascaris.

On the very edge of the cliff stands the “Palais Lascaris” built by the Lascari family in the 14th century and renovated in the 17th century.

Peille, Palais Lascaris © MOSSOT - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Palais Lascaris © MOSSOT – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Coming from the village, it is easily recognisable due to its orangey façade.

The Baous belvedere

Walk to the left of the Palais Lascaris and climb to the top of the Baous, the rock that dominates the cliff and the Faquin gorge. This is where stands the War Memorial.

The village of Peille @sibuet via Twenty20

The village from the Baous Belvedere @sibuet via Twenty20

From the belvedere, you can enjoy a stunning view of the maritime pine and oak forests.

You can also see the main access road to Peille, which comes from La Turbie. A passage had to be traced, with the help of mines, in the rocky limestone bars of the western slope of the ridge.

In addition, you can also spot the remains of the ramparts and the ruins of the feudal castle that dominate the village to the north.

The Sainte-Marie church

Peille Church © Mossot - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The bell tower of the church © Mossot – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Outside the village, in the hollow of the Faquin valley descending from the Col de la Madone de Gorbio, is the parish church of Sainte-Marie.

It is the main religious building in Peille. The Romanesque sanctuary dates from the 12th century and is one of the oldest in the region. Its pyramidal stone bell tower is an unmistakable eye-catcher.

The church of Sainte-Marie de l'Assomption © Mossot - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The church of Sainte-Marie de l’Assomption © Mossot – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The church was made up of two adjacent chapels. The interior is ornate with ancient frescoes. The Sainte-Marie Church was the possession of the canons of Saint-Ruf in Avignon.


English-French Vocabulary

(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs

  • castle = château (m)
  • county = comté (m)
  • French Riviera = Côte d’Azur (f)
  • House of Savoy = Maison de Savoie (f)
  • mountain = montagne (f)
  • Nice Hinterland = arrière-pays niçois (m)
  • perched village = village perché (m)
  • Prealps = Préalpes (f,p)
  • village = village (m)

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

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