Bonnieux was a fortified village as early as 972 AD. Built on a plateau above the valley, this is one of the prettiest villages in the area with a stunning view. The houses spread out on the hillside form a striking set of earth-toned colours and shapes. No matter what route you take to Bonnieux, you will see the church tower well before you arrive. At a height of 425m, the tower dominates the countryside and the surroundings of this magnificent village. It also has a number of pretty shops and cafes where you can happily while away a few hours before a chilled rose!
MUST VISIT VILLAGES
RECOMMENDED PLACES TO VISIT
A truly beautiful old village perched on the southern edge of the high Plateau de Vaucluse. The stone buildings are built in tightly against the base of the cliffs and those perched on the rocks above, including the 12th century castle, are made of a beige stone that glows orange in the morning sun. The spectacular view from the village is a southern panorama out across fields and forests and small hilltop villages to the Montagne du Luberon.
Located on a hill between the Luberon Massif and the Monts de Vaucluse, Goult is often called the “hidden village” as it’s positioned only a few minutes away from the more famous villages of nearby Gordes and is not easily seen from afar. It has the wonderful Café de la Poste, and several excellent restaurants to choose from. Goult is grouped around the 17th century castle and 12-13th century Romanesque/Gothic church with its arches and buttresses, both definitely worth a look.
This attractive and lively town is a major haunt for antique hunters at weekends – there is an excellent market on Sunday mornings. It lies on the river Sorgue which once powered 70 watermills that processed grain and oil. Today, nine idle wheels remain. The town’s 17th-century Notre-Dame-Des-Anges is ornate inside. The tourist office is an 18th-century granary, and the hospital, also 18th-century, has a collection of Moustiers pottery jars in its pharmacy.
Joucas is a small terraced village built on a hill opposite the ochre of Roussillon. You can appreciate the beautiful countryside in this peaceful village, largely undiscovered by tourists, unlike the other better known villages in the Luberon.
Joucas has plenty of picturesque narrow streets, paved with ancient stones. The 18th century church is worth a look – it is unspectacular from the outside, but contains a treasure trove of Italian trompe l’oeil artwork. Also of interest are the unusual wooden sculptures dotted around the village and the atelier where they are created is hidden in one of the tiny streets!
This is a magnificent village across the valley from Bonnieux. Its castle used to belong to the infamous Marquis de Sade, and is now the property of the famous designer Pierre Cardin who hosts a festival each year. There is also an American art school in the village (Savannah College of Art and Design) adding an important cultural element to the area.
Listed as “one of the most beautiful villages in France”, Lourmarin nestles in the middle of vineyards, olive groves and almond trees. A very animated village in the summer due to its numerous cafe terraces, restaurants and boutiques, Lourmarin attracts many visitors. It also has many chic boutiques and food shops selling delicacies from the local area.
Ménerbes sits proudly on a hilltop ridge in the heart of the Parc Régional du Luberon (the Luberon Regional Park) and is officially one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France. It was made famous (and, some claim, was thoroughly spoiled) by its use as a backdrop to Peter Mayle’s 1989 international bestseller A Year in Provence and its two sequels. But there’s a good deal more to the village than gorgeous countryside, gargantuan lunches and eccentric locals. In fact several of its key attractions opened well after the publication of Mayle’s trilogy. Think history, art, wine, corkscrews – and, not least, truffles.
Famous for its magnificent red cliffs and ochre quarries, Roussillon’s striking hills are made up of houses featuring various shades of ochre found naturally in the surrounding rock, giving this village its exceptional charm. It has stunning views from every side and if you walk up to the Castrum at the top you get some wonderful panoramic views across the valley to the Grand Luberon, the slopes of Mont Ventoux, and the plateau of the Vaucluse.