Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Luberon - Bonnieux & Lourmarin

We wanted to see Gordes in the Luberon, but we didn’t – it happens that way sometimes. You go out with an initial plan in mind and it changes, for no reason in particular.
The adventure continues in a different direction and the experience is just as enchanting – most times.
This was one of those enchanting experiences. As for Gordes, we’ll never know.

From Bonnieux on a clear day, I believe you can see Mt Ventoux. The town of Sault is one way to the summit that in the past, Tour de France riders climbed the giant of Provence.

The day started out by leaving St Remy in the direction of Gordes, via L’Isle sur la Sorgue. We were told that there was a market there but we couldn’t find it and drove round in circles until we became bored and decided to move onto Gordes. As we drove down the motorway for no other reason than liking the sound of a village called Bonnieux, we turned right rather than left to Bonnieux.

As we neared Bonnieux the first impression was of the chapel on the lower slopes below the village, its steeple prominent on the horizon.

The church just below the cafe in Bonnieux and in the background is the hilltop village of Lacoste and the ruins of the Marquis de Sade's castle. He also lived in another castle in Paris. It was the donjon of Vincennes.

Sue suffers from RA so I occasionally will drive into a village, drop her off at a café and park the car below. Usually I’m hopeful that she will have an espresso or a glass of wine waiting for me on my return. Being close to midday, we enjoyed a snack and a glass of wine by the roadside. The outside area overhung the steep incline overlooking the Luberon valley. The church steeple was just below us and as we looked across the valley with a clear blue sky above us, and we could see the hilltop village of Lacoste. The ruined castle was once the home of the Marquis de Sade.
Bonnieux was also featured in parts of the movie “A Good Year” starring Australian actor Russell Crowe which was based on Peter Mayle’s book of the same name.

Did you see the movie - with scenes of the Luberon, Gordes and Bonnieux.

Here's the trailer for the movie.

After lunch I returned to the car and drove back to pick up Sue, then we drove back through the village exiting from the other side to discover our next adventure.
It turned up in the form of Lourmarin, a village set on the lower levels of the Luberon. Lourmarin had a peaceful but a very touristy atmosphere about it. The village had a really nice feel, with cafes, restaurants and crafty type shops. As you walked to the lower part of the village, an Abbey and Chateau appears. The Chateau had been extensively restored and today is both a learning centre and residents to the arts with concerts being a feature.
The village of Lourmarin was on the floor of the valley with a much flatter terrain. More people were about enjoying the craft and antique shops, cafes and restaurants.

But it was a village where you could still find your own quiet spot.

The Chateau of Lourmarin

According to the legend, Lourmarin was dug by a dragon in a gorge. The famous writers, Henri Bosco, the troubadour of Luberon and Albert Camus were seduced by this village and made it their final abode.
There’s so much to see in the Luberon and I’m sure that even a week couldn’t do it justice and we only took a day trip. We missed Gordes, Lacoste and the many little villages set in the hills – hopefully one day there will be a next time.
Returning to our villa in St Remy we had dinner, a bottle of local wine (as we do) and then we wandered up into the square on the balmy Provence night to have coffee and an after dinner liqueur (that knocked our socks off) at our regular café. That night we had a little chat with the waitress and made a connection – nice.
It was a very good day.


  1. Great photos, love that first one with the church and the view. Diane

  2. Diane,
    I was considering not to post Wednesdays in France with the flood situation in our northern states but I thought something a little more positive might be in order.
    Further floods are expected and even here in Melbourne we are getting our share of rain too but without the havoc and deaths being experienced in QLD.
    My 22 year old and his girl friend are currently visiting my daughter on the Gold Coast - all are safe.

  3. The videos of the flooding are unbelievable; it is heart breaking!

    Gordes is a beautiful city. (The movie was horrible).

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