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Holiday Escape to Rustrel: Village Life in the Luberon Valley

We have featured many villages and larger towns from St Remy to Nice in our “Where we live in Provence” series, including other places in the Luberon. Perhaps missed by the typical tourist itineraries, Rustrel is a small Luberon Valley village worth visiting. We asked Beth, who owns a home in the town, and Jen Mallon, who lives in Apt, why they feel that Rustrel is a great place to visit and live, if only for a short vacation. Please keep reading for their answers.

Luberon Villages Rustrel

Rustrel ©OTI Pays Apt Luberon

Why Rustrel?

How do you describe Rustrel?

Authentic! Gentle and quiet. Rustrel is the real Provence, where you find friendly people, children playing in the square, boules courts, a great bakery and a café at the heart of the village. Rustrel has its share of artists, too, with two beautiful potteries. There is also an épicerie where you can find all the necessary staples.

Often, there is live music in the town square in the summer evenings, and all the village from age 2 to 92 come out to dance and drink wine. Two food trucks pull into town – Monday evenings (crepes) and Tuesday evenings (pizza).

While there are attractive villages in the Luberon, what is unique about Rustrel?

The tranquillity – even in peak season, Rustrel isn’t overwhelmed with visitors. It is a tiny village with a considerable chateau at the top!

Its proximity to the ochre trails of the Colorado makes Rustrel a wonderful place to visit.

Rustrel is a “year-round” village with a delightful mix of permanent residents, expats, and visitors. Each year, the town holds a holiday event where villagers host one another inside their homes or on the street in front – one home per night from December 1 through December 24!

Every second year in October, Rustrel hosts “Voir Dire” to welcome visitors into the village’s many artists studios. It’s a natural hub for artists – whether photographers, painters, poets, sculptors, or filmmakers.

Luberon Villages Rustrel

Rustrel ©OTI Pays Apt Luberon

The Rustrel Lifestyle

In your opinion, what do locals love most about Rustrel?

You feel like you are in the middle of nowhere, but it’s only a ten-minute drive to Apt, where you could need all the shops and services. The best of both worlds!

Why is Rustrel a great place to visit?

Location – proximity to so many things, but no need to leave the village if you want a day off from travelling! You can also walk out the front door of Au Coin des Amis and be on a hiking trail above the village within 20 steps. Or drive 10 minutes away for a walk in the spectacular Colorado Provençal.

Colorado Provencal Rustrel Luberon

Activities and Touring

Is there a must-see attraction in or near the village?

The Colorado Provencal has stunning trails and views of the ochre cliffs. 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. Here is the Colorado Provençal website for more details.

Luberon Colorado Provencal

©OTI Pays Apt Luberon

There are plenty of beautiful vineyards, but a must-see is Les Davids, just ten minutes away by car. It is a modern vineyard with incredible views, delicious wine, and an excellent restaurant on the terrace.

Les Davids
Route de Banon
84750 Viens

The Luberon region in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region is known for its picturesque villages and stunning natural beauty. These nine (9) villages are considered must-sees in the Luberon Valley, and all are easy to reach from Rustrel for a day trip outing.

Bonnieux Provence Paul Shawcross

©Paul Shawcross

What is the best day trip from Rustrel?

The beauty of the location is that you can fill a day with a gentle tour of local villages and sights without going too far. I would start with coffee and croissant at Boulangerie du chapeau rouge, at the base of Simiane-la-Rotonde, then spend the morning exploring Simiane itself, including the stunning Rotonde, right at the very top of the village.

Garden Abbaye de Valsaintes

Then, head across the valley to l’Abbaye de Valsaintes for lunch with a view followed by a gentle stroll through their magnificent gardens. Over 550 varieties of roses and some 350 other plants, including lavender, grow in this remarkable garden.

Abbaye de Valsaintes
04150 Simane la Rotonde
Telephone: +33 (0)4 92 75 94 19
From May 1- September 30, the abbey and gardens are open daily from 10:30h to 19h.

After lunch, drive to Banon to buy the famous goat’s cheese, browse the superb book shop Librairie Le Bleuet, have coffee by the fountain, and head back home.

Banon AOC Le Banon Cheese

Book this Village Home

Village Life in Rustrel

What about non-tourist (local) experiences?

A summer evening in most of the Provencal villages should find some locals playing boules – often by a café – grab a pastis and watch. If you’re lucky, you’ll pick the day when Lorenzo brings his wood-fired pizza van to Rustrel – order as soon as he arrives to avoid disappointment!

Understanding Boules Pétanque boules Provence Players

What day is the market?

There is a Wednesday evening market in summer in Rustrel. Apt has a vast Saturday market and Tuesday farmers’ market all year.

Is walking to the restaurants and services from Au Coin des Amis possible?

Yes – the village has three restaurants, a café, a bakery, and a grocery shop.

Is there a grocery store nearby?

Yes, there is a well-stocked village shop in Rustrel. The supermarkets are in Apt, just a ten-minute drive from town.

Can you walk to the bakery and have coffee in a local café in Rustrel?

Absolutely – the bakery is excellent and has a lovely terrace where they serve great coffee, drinks, ice cream, lunch and more.

Mairie de Rustrel (website)
Le Château
84400 Rustrel
Telephone: +33 (0)4 90 04 91 09

Rustrel Dining Options

Are there several restaurants in Rustrel?

There are three in the village, plus a great pizza place nearby. I would suggest having an apéro on the roof terrace at the house. A good lunch option is the bakery (Au Pierrot d’Antan) for a salad or a light bite on their terrace. For dinner with the family, Pizzéria du Colorado is a winner. However, head to Villars (within a 15-minute drive) to La Fontaine or Bar des Amis for a little more romantic dinner.

Pizzéria du Colorado
Quartier Notre-dame Des Anges,
84400 Rustrel

Restaurant la Fontaine (and a wine cave, too)
14 Place de la Fontaine
84400 Villars
Reservations recommended.

Bar des Amis
Place de la Fontaine,
84400 Villars
Reservations suggested.

Provence’s Luberon is one of the most beautiful spots in France. It is chock-full of restaurants serving excellent food, and where you can enjoy a nice view along with our meals. Here are five restaurants with a view that we suggest. Please note that booking in advance is highly recommended.

Lacoste View Mon Ventoux Luberon

Family Activities

We are travelling with children. What are the family-friendly activities in or near Rustrel that you recommend?

The trails at the Colorado Provençal are easy enough for children. In addition, there is also a fun tree course in the Colorado Provençal with adventures for children of all ages. The village pool in Rustrel is open in July and August. You can rent bikes and e-bikes from the bakery in the village.

In the hot summer months, wander to Gargas to tour the ochre caves. The Mines de Bruoux is cool in every sense of the word!

Luberon Mines De Bruoux

©Vaucluse Dreamer

There is also horseback riding nearby for all levels.

A bit further afield, but worth the effort, you can kayak down the river at Fontaine-de-Vaucluse (warning – you get very wet!)

Plus, you can hike for miles off-road straight out of the door at the house.

Or jump in the car for a quick trip to Oppedette and the beautiful walk through the gorge there.

Book your Stay!

Ansouis Village Luberon Church

More Luberon Touring Ideas

There are many beautiful villages in the Luberon – Gordes, Ménerbes, Roussillon and Bonnieux, to name but a few. I think Saignon is one to add to your list to visit. It’s just above the town of Apt, so you could head to its excellent market on a Saturday morning and then pop up to Saignon. Saignon is situated on a steep ridge with a massive rocky outcrop and is quite distinctive as one drives towards it. ~ Jane Dunning, Author

I think Apt as a base location lends itself to day trips in every direction – you can do the Gorges du Verdon, Cassis and the calanques, Sisteron, quickly from here. These are four (4) full-day tours that our friends and guests have enjoyed. One of the best things about Provence is slowing things down. So, our advice is not to rush through these itineraries but to enjoy the scenery and our tips for eating places and wine tasting. ~ Jen and Chris Mallon, Owners of Cent Cinq apartments in Apt.

The Luberon in the Vaucluse boasts many charming villages, four classified as Plus Beaux Villages. Moreover, there are wooded hills with plenty of good walking, great markets, excellent restaurants and a producer of quality wines—all in this relatively unspoiled corner of Provence. While this itinerary can be done in a day if you stay nearby, I would advise spending more time in this beautiful region. If you plan to stay overnight, you will find plenty of reasonably priced accommodation in Apt-en-Provence, Bonnieux or Gordes – in the season, it is advisable to book ahead! ~ Paul Shawcross, photographer, writer.


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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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