Top 9 Luberon Villages to Visit in Provence
The Luberon region in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southern France is known for its picturesque villages and stunning natural beauty. These nine (9) villages are considered must-sees in the Luberon Valley:
You’ll find the village of Ansouis tucked inside the Parc naturel regional du Luberon. It is built on a hill above the vineyards and olive trees in the valley. So it is no surprise that Ansouis is among France’s “most beautiful villages.”
Located at the top of the village is the Château d’Ansouis, a privately-owned castle. It is the residence of the Sabran-Pontévès family, who have restored and continue to maintain it. Tours of this 10th-century fortress are available on a limited basis. However, even without a tour, the panoramic views of the valley make a visit to the castle worthwhile.
Another must-see is the Église Saint-Martin d’Ansouis. The 13th-century church has a rather stark imposing exterior which belies the bright and ornate interior. Another point of interest is Le Musée Extraordinaire de George Mazoyer, located just outside the village. Mazoyer was an artist and deepsea diver. He restored a 16th-century building in Ansouis to showcase his art and the artifacts he collected on his diving adventures.
The Romans built the village of Bonnieux on a hilltop to overlook the valley below. While they chose the site for its strategic location, the result is breathtaking views of the surrounding valley. The 12th-century church, Église Saint-Pierre, also offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Although Bonnieux is a perfect base for exploring the Luberon area, there is much to explore within the town. It has all the amenities anyone would need, including restaurants, shops, and a great Friday market at Place du Terrail. Just outside town, a beautiful 2000-year-old Roman bridge, the Pont Julien, crosses the Calavon river near the oldest settlement site.
Those who enjoy the outdoors can walk on the trail through the cedar forest created with trees imported from North Africa during the Napoleonic era. If you visit Bonnieux in the summer, you can enjoy the fragrance as you hike or cycle through the lavender fields.
The village of Gordes is often referred to as the crown jewel of the Luberon because of its position high above the valley. Visit the 10th-century Château de Gordes to see amazing panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Highlights of Gordes include the Chapelle des pénitents blancs (an art gallery inside a chapel) and the Sénanque Abbey, a Cistercian monastery built in the 1100s.
Surrounding Gordes are lavender fields which bloom in the summer. It is a beautiful location for hiking, cycling, photography, and painting. In addition, you’ll find an open-air museum, “Village de Boires,” just outside the town. Bories (bore-eze) are dome-shaped huts made from stacked stones. There is no mortar or clay to hold them together. There are a variety of sizes and styles as they were used as homes, grain storage, or animal shelters.
Another exciting attraction is the Glass and Stained-Glass Museum, about 4km from the town. Learn how humans started working with glass more than 3000 years ago and glass and stained-glass-making techniques have been used for thousands of years.
The village of Goult is a hidden jewel in the Luberon region. It is a small village with around 1100 permanent residents. Enjoy the beautiful views of the Luberon Valley as you take scenic walks along narrow streets. Many homes seem untouched by time, but others have been carefully restored or renovated while maintaining the village’s charm.
Even though Goult may be out of the way, the town has all the basic amenities and some marvellous restaurants. While there, walk to the top of the hill to see the Moulin Jérusalem. The tower-type grain mill is a favourite site for photographers. It was initially constructed in the 1600s but eventually fell into ruins. In the 1950s, the National School of Geographical Sciences purchased it for an astronomy training centre. In the 1990s, the municipality bought the property and restored it.
Hikers and cyclists will enjoy easy access and car-free travel on the paved pathway (the former Coustelet-Apt rail line), which runs parallel to the D900 motorway between Gault and Lacoste.
The hamlet of Lacoste is located on a ridge overlooking a valley of vineyards and orchards. Its charming atmosphere and well-preserved architecture belie some of its atypical history. For instance, Château Lacoste is the former home of the infamous philanderer Marquis de Sade (his name is the origin of the word sadism). However, in the 1990s, fashion designer Pierre Cardin purchased and restored the castle. It now houses a tiny museum, a sculpture garden, and an outdoor amphitheatre where there are performances in the warmer months.
Lacoste has several art galleries, shops, and restaurants and is an excellent base for outdoor activities. Stroll through the cedar forest, one of Europe’s most beautiful wooded areas, or visit the Abbaye de Saint Hilaire near the border between Lacoste and Ménerbes. Enjoy a fragrant bicycle ride through the nearby lavender fields in the summer.
Lourmarin is a charming medieval village surrounded by olive groves, vineyards, orchards, and lavender fields. It has well-preserved Renaissance architecture, including the 16th-century Château de Lourmarin, the oldest Renaissance castle in Provence. It was designated as a historic site in 1973 and is privately owned but open to the public for tours.
Because the village is quite close to Aix-en-Provence and less than an hour from the TGV, it is a popular weekend destination for locals. This means the town and its businesses thrive throughout the year, not experiencing an “off-season” like other small towns.
There are many things to see and do in Lourmarin, including visiting local vineyards and enjoying the wonderful restaurants and cafes. The Friday morning market is very popular, as is the holiday Christmas Market with many stalls featuring the creations of local artisans. In addition, the town hosts many exhibitions and events, including the indie-rock festival “Yeah!” and the Festival New Art.
Oppède le Vieux
The little village of Oppède-le-Vieux is perched on a hillside in the Luberon valley. Visiting the old town at the top of a hill is challenging, but the ruins of a feudal castle and a 12th-century collegiate church are worth seeing.
Although inhabited long before Roman times, the village was almost unoccupied by the early 20th century due to the old buildings and narrow, sometimes inaccessible streets. Fortunately, these features also give the impression that Oppède-le-Vieux is frozen in time.
However, the “new village” in the valley has recently expanded. It has many modern amenities, including several shops and restaurants. In addition, the rich farmland in the area provides delicious fresh olives, local wines, and of course, fields of lavender in the summer months.
The village of Roussillon may be best known for the colourful ochre cliffs in the area. Its beautiful buildings are tinted by the multitude of colours of ochre that were mined in the area. You can explore le Sentier des Ocres, two trails (30 or 60 minutes) that meander through the ochre area. Placards explain the region’s geology, history, flora, and fauna. A visit near sunset makes for stunning photographs. It’s easy to see why this village was a haven for artists and photographers.
For those who prefer indoor activities, visit, shop, or take a workshop at the Ochre Museum (Écomusée de l’ocre). Or, visit the Italian renaissance Château de Rousillon. It was constructed in 1545 for Cardinal Francois de Tournon, who signed the Edict of Roussillon, making January 1st the first day of the year. Don’t miss the extremely popular Christmas market. It runs for eight days during the second week of December.
Nestled against a steep ridge with a massive rocky outcrop, you’ll find the charming village of Saignon. As you approach the town, leave your car in the parking area so you can explore the narrow cobblestone streets on foot. Saignon has a long history. There is evidence of people living in the area during the Middle Paleolithic era, as the ridge provided a strategic vantage point.
This traditional French village successfully blends the old and new. The beautifully carved fountains seamlessly merge with contemporary restaurants and shops. Hikers and outdoor enthusiasts who hike up Rocher de Bellevue will be rewarded with stunning views of the Luberon valley. They are even more beautiful from the end of June to early August when the lavender is blooming. Those who don’t want to hike that far can look over the rampart walls at the fields below. And make sure to visit the Thursday morning market showcasing food and products by local artisans.