The Luberon is one of the most romantic, irresistible regions of Provence. It conjures up images of colorful markets set in “platane” tree-lined squares, elegantly perched hilltop villages, fields of dancing sunflowers and beautifully colored vineyards in autumn. Peter Mayle’s best-selling A Year in Provence pushed tourism to this region years ago, particularly to the villages of Gordes (pictured above), Ménerbes and Bonnieux but there are many villages that retain their authentic character.
What is special is that each of these Luberon villages has its own unique feel. Here are just some of our favorites, so come along and explore with us. Whether you’re in the mood for antique hunting or lazily sipping a café while watching village life unfold, there’s a perfect Luberon village for you.
We start with Lourmarin, a charming village ideal for chic Provence shopping or slow terrace dining featuring a beautiful Renaissance château just on the outskirts of the center’s activity. Lourmarin is a peaceful village yet offers a cosmopolitan flair featuring many lovely dining terraces, galleries, boutiques and artist ateliers, along with a lovely market held two times per week. The markets are on Tuesday evening and each Friday until 1pm, featuring a mix of local artisanal products, clothes, straw baskets, produce, cheeses, honey and more.We love snagging a table on a rooftop terrace for early evening nibbles “grignoter” along with a glass of wine to kick off an evening, or to relax after a day of shopping. Visit the château to pick up a local bottle of wine from it’s extensive cave inside, along with a wonderful assortment of fine “epicerie” items for a picnic or apéro. The château also houses temporary art exhibitions and special events throughout the year.
Lacoste is one of my personal favorite Luberon villages due to it’s mix of finely preserved stone architecture and cobblestone streets that give the impression of a village where time has stood still. Yet scratch the surface, or stumble upon modern art sculptures scattered around the village to discover a vibrant creative community of artists, designer students living here. I attended Pierre Cardin’s Annual Festival de Lacoste last week in the stunning setting of the Carrières du Château at the top of the village. The festival draws thousands of visitors each year for world-class opera, theater, and music coinciding with the Festival d’Avignon each July. It’s an intimate, spectacular cultural evening and the Mozart operetta I took in was awe-inspiring. Learn more about this village here.
Romantic Cucuron has it’s own amazing restaurants and markets as well, but in particular I adore its gorgeous center plaza featuring a still reflecting pond with some of the most beautiful platane trees in Provence. Ideal for a lazy stop to sip a cafe along one of the many restaurants lining the center plaza.
Isle sur la Sorque is known around the globe for it’s antique markets each Sunday, along with it’s large Antique Fair held twice per year.
The city is brimming with sourcing opportunities for collectors and is also known as the Venice of Provence, featuring many attractive water wheels throughout the town which are still in working order. You can also hire canoes and travel between Isle sur la Sorgue and the beautiful Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, one of the most visited towns in the area. More on this adventure next week!
The village of Buoux is in the center of the Luberon and known for it’s beautifully rugged landscape and steep climbing cliffs and caves. These steep and dramatic surrounds of Buoux provide a paradise for climbing enthusiasts. The irregular contours of the Aigue-Brun River are filled with caves, cliffs and peaks and is a popular place for climbers from around the world. Our family tries to escape here with friends in the off-season, June or September, to experience this magical area in its quieter moments.
So get out and explore some of the Luberon’s more hidden gem and discover true bliss.
Blog author and Luberon village photography by: Tarik Koivisto