The villages of the Luberon are exceptional in many ways. Most are perched like a stone watchtower over the valley or plain. Some have been awarded the prestigious label of "Les Plus Beaux Villages de France" (The Most Beautiful Villages in France), which enables them to welcome a host of tourists in the summer.
But what they all have in common is that they all scent of Provence, with their shady squares, fountains, cobbled streets and heritage architectural treasures.
Over two weeks, we crisscrossed the natural region of the Luberon in search of its beautiful Provencal villages. We still have some to explore, but here's a small selection of our discoveries!
(All photos below were taken during the past two weeks!)
10 Villages of the Luberon
Ten villages! In less than two weeks, we visited ten villages in the Luberon. And as I write these lines, we're about to explore the 11th: Gordes - a must-see village in the region!
This is our base for our autumn stay in Provence. Situated in the heart of the picturesque Luberon region, the village of Bonnieux is a pearl nestling at the top of a hill.
The typical Provencal village has a timeless charm. The cobbled streets wind through the stone houses, creating a fascinating maze. The old buildings, carefully restored, add a touch of authenticity to this unspoilt setting.
Bonnieux is renowned for its peaceful atmosphere, colourful markets and open-air cafés where you can sample the delights of Provençal cuisine.
With panoramic views over lavender fields, vineyards and the Luberon mountains, Bonnieux embodies the enchanting charm of rural Provence, making it a must for visitors seeking an authentic and picturesque experience.
Right next door to our holiday home, Lacoste is a medieval gem perched on a hill. Like Bonnieux, it offers spectacular panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
This picturesque Provencal village is characterised by its narrow cobbled streets, authentic stone houses and tranquil atmosphere.
Lacoste is famous for its historical past linked to the Marquis de Sade, whose ruined château still dominates the village.
Stroll through the narrow streets, visit the local art galleries and savour the tranquillity of this Provencal enclave. The village exudes authenticity with its shady squares, fountains and picturesque cafés.
Ménerbes is a village perched on a hill at the foot of the Petit Luberon. The site has preserved much evidence of its rich historical past, including the tragic siege during the Wars of Religion in the 16th century.
Like the prow of a ship, Ménerbes offers a splendid view over the Calavon valley.
Ménerbes is a member of the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.
For the record, it was here that British author Peter Mayle settled in the 1980s, inspiring him to write the bestseller "A Year in Provence".
Situated between Bonnieux and Gordes, the village of Goult is a real hidden gem, preserving the authentic charm of the Luberon.
The medieval village boasts winding stone streets, colourful facades and ancient tiled roofs. Visitors can stroll through the maze of narrow streets, discover tranquil squares shaded by majestic plane trees, and stop at quaint cafés to sample local specialities. (This is the home of our favourite boulangerie-pâtisserie!)
Goult is also famous for its restored windmill, which offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Perched on a hill with Mont Ventoux in the background, Roussillon is a unique village in Provence.
Its facades' yellow, orange and red colours tell visitors that the village is located on one of the world's biggest ochre deposits.
Roussillon is a member of the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.
The village of Saignon was a revelation for us. Perched on a high hill above Apt, Saignon has an unspoilt medieval charm, with cobbled streets and stone houses that witness its rich history.
As we strolled through the village, we were captivated by the peaceful atmosphere and calm. The narrow, winding streets invite you to explore at your leisure, leading to shady squares where you can relax under the century-old plane trees.
Saignon is also famous for its impressive cliffs and rock formations, making it an ideal place for hikers and nature lovers. For example, the top of the village is crowned by an impressive rock that offers breathtaking panoramic views of the area around Apt, all the way to Cavaillon.
Lourmarin is a Provencal gem that transports you into a kind of southern fairytale from the moment you arrive. This picturesque village combines medieval charm, vibrant culture and breathtaking natural beauty.
Narrow streets lined with stone houses with colourful shutters invite you to stroll through its well-preserved historic heritage. A stroll through the village takes you to shady squares, elegant fountains and local artists' studios.
Lourmarin is also famous for its Renaissance château, which dominates the surrounding valley and offers breathtaking views over the village.
The village is a member of the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.
Finally, Lourmarin is a place of culture and creativity, with art galleries, craft shops and a lively Provencal market. Food lovers will be delighted by the local culinary delights, while nature lovers can explore the verdant surroundings of the Luberon.
Lauris is a medieval village with an atmosphere of tranquillity and authentic charm. Strolling through its cobbled streets, we discovered a labyrinth of narrow old lanes leading to secret courtyards and beautifully restored stone houses adorned with colourful shutters and climbing plants.
The Castle of Lauris, perched at the top of the hill, offers breathtaking views over the Durance Valley and is now home to a remarkable garden where you can admire various Mediterranean plants and exotic flowers.
Lauris is also famous for its local crafts, including traditional pottery and top-quality olive oil. You can explore quaint shops to find unique handicrafts to take home as souvenirs (our favourite boutique was Les Choses Simples, 6 Rue Louis Mourre).
9. Cabrières d'Avignon
As you stroll through the narrow streets of Cabrières d'Avignon, you'll be captivated by the traditional architecture, with its stone houses with colourful shutters and facades adorned with flowers. There are surprises around every corner, from an old fountain to a shady little square.
The village boasts a privately owned castle, which you can tour by following the fortified ramparts and towers.
Cabrières d'Avignon is steeped in the Provencal art of living. You'll find open-air cafés where you can enjoy a coffee or a glass of local wine while soaking up the relaxed atmosphere of the village.
At the entrance to the Luberon, Lagnes left a good impression on me. This old fortified village nestles beneath the 13th-century private castle and its ruined walls. But before you reach the foot of the castle, you have to pass under the belfry and wander through the ancient streets with their colourful facades.
I fell in love with the village square, shaded by a beautiful plane tree and featuring a beautiful fountain and a small café.
Finally, I climbed to the Rocher du Pieï for an exceptional view over the Comtat plain, with Cavaillon, the Saint-Jacques hill, the Alpilles and Avignon in the distance.
In the coming weeks, we hope to continue our exploration of the villages of the Luberon, in particular Gordes, Oppède-le-Vieux, Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt, Cucuron and Ansouis.
Don't get me wrong, exploring these villages from top to bottom took a lot of sport 🥵 and focus 🧐 (to take the photos!). I've also taken a film of my walking tours of these villages, which I hope to post on YouTube when I return to England. So stay tuned!
Plan Your Provencal Escape
Are you feeling inspired? It's time to plan your adventure in this captivating corner of Provence. Whether you're drawn to the lavender fields, the vineyards, or the charming villages, the countryside of Bonnieux and Lacoste promises a memorable escape. So, pack your bags and immerse yourself in this idyllic region's rustic allure and natural splendour – your Provencal adventure awaits!
Visit the tourist board website for the département of Vaucluse.
All photos © French Moments