A distinctive region of Provence, the Luberon region boasts more hours of sunshine a year than anywhere else in France, and is blessed with a wild natural beauty like no other.
While the stunning triangle of Arles, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence, with their striking architecture and historic monuments, is less than an hour’s drive, in Luberon itself, you’ll be charmed by the many traditional villages that crown the hilltops. Many of these villages have been described as some of the most beautiful in France, including Gordes, Bonnieux and Lourmarin. As you wander through the quiet streets, you’ll take in the picture-postcard scenes of Provence, from the drystone walls to the shaded squares, café terraces and tranquil water fountains.
Gordes is one of the Luberon’s towns which is definitely worth visiting. Though it can be busy in the high season, particularly when the Tuesday markets are held, this former ghost town is now lined with boutiques and artisan stores, and is also home to an 11th century castle filled with contemporary art exhibits. With an impressive Renaissance chateau on its fringe, Lourmarin is the southernmost village in the Luberon and is often overlooked in favour of the better-known towns. However, it’s the perfect base from which to explore the southern part of the Luberon, with both Aix-en-Provence and Marseille both within distance for a day trip.
One thing that visitors will notice, however, is that many of the buildings are stained with ochre, a natural pigment found in the surrounding area. Ochre not only characterises the town but also the entire region, and in some spots, the intense orange buildings blend into the landscape behind. Roussillon in particular is an excellent example of a village which has embraced ochre; an eye-catching beacon of orange adorning a lofty hilltop. A protected village since 1943, at the village’s summit you’re promised a spectacular view of the tiny villages scattered across the empty valleys below.
There’s more to the Luberon than exploring the towns and the surrounding countryside, however, especially during the summer. At this time of year, the region is at its most lively with traditional events. Many of the Luberon’s villages hold a regular Provencal market selling local foods, flowers and crafts, while outdoor concerts, theatre performances and operas also make for the perfect way to spend a warm summer’s evening.
Where to stay – La Verriere
Once a medieval priory, this stunning boutique escape offers blissful relaxation in the beautiful surroundings of the Luberon. The property is set within a working vineyard producing the acclaimed Chêne Bleu Rhone label, and can be hired as an exclusive stay for a party of up to eighteen (seasonally dependent).