Carolyne Kauser-AbbottExploreVillages Towns and Cities

Explore Rustrel, a Charming Village for Your Luberon Itinerary

Famous for its perched medieval villages, Provencal markets, and vineyards, the Luberon Valley is a popular destination for visitors. The hilltop towns of Ansouis, Bonnieux, Gordes, Ménerbes and Roussillon are some of the beautiful stops on most itineraries.

However, some villages receive less “foot traffic” but are well worth the detour, and Rustrel is one of those places we recommend visiting. Below are our suggestions for why you should visit and things to do and see in and around Rustrel.

Rustrel is a small

Authentic may be overused since it was the Merriam-Webster 2023 word of the year. Yet, it is an excellent way to describe Rustrel, with a permanent population of only 670 (as of 2020), but perhaps because a large chateau dominates it, the town seems more significant. Only 10 kilometres from Apt, the largest Luberon town, Rustrel’s location between Luberon and Monts de Vaucluse gives the village a secluded feel.

This Luberon Valley village sits below the Plateau d’Albion with one of France’s most famous sites, the Colorado Provençal, a former ochre mining site, only minutes away. Rustrel is a terrific base for a holiday. It is the region with quick access to larger centres and famous sites and only steps away from hiking trails.

colorado-provencal Luberon Valley

Photo ©Chris Mallon

Rustrel Village Life

Regardless of size, Rustrel has everything you need (bakery, cafés, restaurants, and a pizza truck!) and plenty to do without leaving the village.

Many villages in Provence are quiet (eerie quiet) in the low season, but Rustrel is a “year-round” village with a delightful mix of residents, expats, and visitors. Each year in Rustrel, there is a holiday event where villagers host one another inside or on the street in front of their homes – one home per night from December 1 through December 24!

The village hosts “Voir Dire” every other October to welcome visitors into the many artists’ studios. This event is a natural hub for artists – whether photographers, painters, poets, sculptors, or filmmakers.

Book this Village Home

Rustrel for Active Types

Discover the ochre trails: Whether you like to hike or not, Colorado Provençal is a must. The Colorado Provençal is a natural site with walking trails that meander through a palette of ochre cliffs. It’s hard to imagine today, but this incredible site results from marine sediments that settled eons ago when Provence was underwater. The ochre cliffs range in colour from white to deep orange and red. Layers of mineral deposits (limestone and clays) and years of sediment build-up resulted in this impressive natural site once the water receded.

colorado-provencal Luberon Valley

Photo ©Chris Mallon

Hike through history: Put on your walking shoes and follow the Baume de Midi Trail, where the production of charcoal was part of the region’s history. Alternatively, a water walk takes you through the village, past fountains, spring-fed washhouses (lavoirs), and the Saint-Roch oratory. Walk to the pre-Roman oppidum at the summit of the Massif du Pointu.

Rustrel Hiking Trails

Photo ©Chris Mallon

Historical Rustrel

Check out the Olive Mill: Surrounded by vineyards, olive trees and nature, Rustrel is home to the Écomusée du moulin à huile. This small museum highlights the importance of olive cultivation historically and in the present day. Located in the centre of Rustrel, this 18th-century mill operated until the 1930s. The mill processed olives into oil via “à sang,” where animal power rotated the millstone. During your visit, you can follow the steps of olive processing, from where the fruit arrived to grinding and storage tanks.

Musée du Moulin à Huile
Rue du Moulin à Huile
84400 Rustrel
Guided tours in French
Open in the summer months
Free admission

Rustrel Historical Sites

©Marie de Rustrel

Visit the 17th-century Château: A sundial on this imposing, fortified structure dates from 1626, constructed for the lords of Rustrel, the Dukes of Lévis Ventadour. However, the castle changed hands several times before the French Revolution of 1789. After this, the château became a national property, and in 1847, the commune of Rustrel began buying parts of the building as they became available. Today, the commune owns and manages Le Château de Rustrel.

Rustrel, a Charming Village Chateau

Photo ©Chris Mallon

A bit of religion: West of the Doa Valley are the remains of the 11th-century Prieuré St Julien. Please note it is a private site today. However, you can visit the 16th-century Saint-Romain parish church dedicated to the Nativity of Our Lady (Nativité de Notre-Dame). The church has a distinctive bell tower, a single nave, and a semicircular apse. On the western edge of the Colorado Provençal near an old quarry are la Chapelle Notre Dame des Anges (constructed in the 14th and 17th centuries) and the ruins of a hermitage.

What are you waiting for?

With plenty to do in the village and nearby, Rustrel is a terrific option for a holiday in Provence. The Luberon Valley offers plenty of exploring options within less than an hour’s drive. Alternatively, our list above would easily be enough sightseeing for a week. It’s time to explore Rustrel!

Au Coin des Amis Sleeps 6.

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Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

Carolyne Kauser-Abbott

With her camera and laptop close at hand, Carolyne has traded in her business suits for the world of freelance writing and blogging. Her first airplane ride at six months of age was her introduction to the exciting world of travel.

While in Provence, Carolyne can be found hiking with friends, riding the hills around the Alpilles or tackling Mont Ventoux. Her attachment to the region resonates in Perfectly Provence this digital magazine that she launched in 2014. This website is an opportunity to explore the best of the Mediterranean lifestyle (food & wine, places to stay, expat stories, books on the region, travel tips, real estate tips and more), through our contributors' articles.

Carolyne writes a food and travel blog Ginger and Nutmeg. Carolyne’s freelance articles can be found in Global Living Magazine, Avenue Magazine and City Palate (Published Travel Articles).

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