Rustrel is a Luberon Village Where You Want to Spend a Week
Surprisingly, Rustrel remains under the radar for many visitors to the Luberon Valley. This village is just a few minutes from Apt, the largest town in the area. Yet retains an old-world Provencal charm. If someone had a week in Rustrel, what would you suggest filling the days?
We asked the owner of Au Coin des Amis, a delightful 3-bedroom village house, for ideas on how to spend a week in the region from her holiday rental.
Before we review the touring ideas for a holiday week, let’s start with a short geography lesson. The Luberon Valley, the Luberon massif and the Parc naturel régional du Luberon are part of Provence’s Vaucluse department. Millions of years ago, much of Provence was underwater. As the sea receded, it left behind a region with a rich agricultural terroir, rolling hills, and several small mountain ranges. As humans moved from caves and a nomadic lifestyle, they built settlements on higher ground to protect against their enemies and Mother Nature’s forceful floods.
Three mountain ranges form the Luberon Valley, with towns located north and south of the massif. During the Middle Ages, many towns were citadels situated on high points. These villages were near ruins after religious hostilities, the French Revolution, and two World Wars. Today, after restorations, these villages charm visitors with stone facades, coloured shutters, meandering laneways, drystone walls, and floral displays.
Rustrel for a Week
While a week is never enough time to see everything in Provence, the following outline allows sightseeing and downtime.
On Monday, head east of Rustrel to Forcalquier, about a 50-minute drive, for its excellent morning market. Spend the afternoon at the newly refurbished L’Occitane Spa in Mane.
Le Spa L’Occitane
Chemin des Jeux de Maï,
Tuesday is an excellent day to explore the perched villages and vineyards – Gordes, Menerbes, Lacoste, Bonnieux, Oppede le Vieux, and Roussillon. These villages ooze with charm, so you might best split the list into two or more days.
Wednesday is a good day to head to one of the larger towns in the region. L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, although famous for its Sunday market, has a smaller but still tempting Wednesday market. While there, visit some of the 300+ antique and bric-a-brac stores. If antiques are not your thing, there are galleries, old water wheels, and plenty of places to eat a bite.
On Thursday, stay close to Rustrel. Drive to Villars and walk to Saint Saturnin for lunch (or vice-versa!). Or park at Saint Saturnin and walk up above the windmill and the reservoir to see the views. Book a table for lunch or dinner at Le Saint Hubert in Saint Saturnin.
Le Saint Hubert
1 Pl. de la Fraternité
Friday is the day to go to Lourmarin in the south Luberon. This market is one of the most popular in the area. While there is lots of parking, it’s good to go early before the crowds. The Lourmarin market winds through the pedestrian streets, and all the boutiques and galleries are open, so it’s a lively atmosphere. Grab a table (if you can) for a drink at Café Gaby. Its corner location is perfect for people-watching. Before leaving Lourmarin, explore the Château de Lourmarin and les Caves du Château, a wine shop. After the market, drive to Cucuron for a bite or a drink alongside the étang (bassin), one of this village’s most recognizable sites.
Saturday is the day to visit Apt with the vast “marché d’exception” (one of France’s best markets) in the morning. Have lunch in town, then explore the Cathédrale Sainte-Anne and the Apt museum in the afternoon.
Et voila, a week in Rustrel passes in a flash.
Au Coin des Amis is a gem of a village home in Rustrel, a quiet Luberon Valley town. Dating from the 1700s, this fully-restored three (3)-bedroom house is just this side of heaven. Situated between Avignon and Aix-en-Provence, this charming maison du village is an excellent base for a holiday spent exploring the Luberon Valley and beyond. Provencal vineyards, agricultural lands, and the Luberon mountains make this one of Provence’s most beautiful areas. Rustrel is a quiet village with all the necessary services, including a little supermarket, church, auberge, post office, and the all-important boulangerie!