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What to do in the Luberon? / Que faire dans le Luberon?

  Oppede (c) Kristin Espinasse 2010
                                             In the hilltop village of Oppède

Quick, illico! It seems some travelers are in need of Luberon info! Can you please help by responding to the following questions (any tips received via email will be automatically posted to the comments box).

  1. Which villages to see in the Luberon?
  2. Where to stay in the Luberon? B&B, hotels... gîtes...
  3. What to do in the Luberon?
  4. Where to eat in the Luberon?

More French Word-A-Day Reader Guides:

What to do in the Loire Valley? Que Faire dans la Vallée de la Loire?
What to do in Paris? Que Faire à Paris?
What to do in Aix-en-Provence? Que Faire à Aix-en-Provence?
Where to rent a car in France? Où louer une voiture en France?

  Nancy Armstrong
(photo by Nancy Armstrong.)

Some villages in the Luberon (which are your favorites? Click to comment)
Cavaillon, Apt, Ansouis, Manosque, Pertuis, Roussillon, Gordes, Goult, Lacoste, Oppède (pictured), Maubec, Bonnieux, Saignon, Céreste, Ménerbes, Lourmarin, Cucuron, Forcalquier

  Saignon (c) Kristin Espinasse 2010
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I am thrilled with today's post. I have my many travel guides out planning our visit so this is very timely. I will comment on some of the villages you mentioned later today since we have been to several of them.

Love the cat picture!

Margaret in much cooler (less humid) Durham, NC. Great weather for morning coffee on the deck!

Marika Ujvari

Hi Kristin,

We spent wonderful days in an old mill just outside Oppede. It became the base of our outings to Menerbes,beautiful Rousillon, Lacoste etc..

Someday I wold love to re-visit these magical places. Thanks for refreshing my memories.

Hugs to you!

C.M. Redo

Hello Kristin,

My suggestions for places to visit are Gorde, Rousillon, Bonnieux, Isle sur la Sorgue, and Oppede le Vieux. My family and I have enjoyed staying at Le Mas des Gres in Lagne which is 10 minutes east of Isle sur La Sorgue. It's a lovely, family owned pension-style accommodation with a pool run by the Crovara family. One can find easily find their website by searching on its name above. Limousin is another place to visit that has a neat castle.

C.M. Redo


Margaret, looking forward to your recommendations. Marika, thanks for your note, which reminds me:

Jean-Marc and I enjoyed our stay in Maubec, at the Domaine Faverot (vineyard) cottages:

So many villages to visit nearby: Oppède, Ménerbes...

Bill in St. Paul

We stayed in Isle sur la Sorgue at the Hotel Les Nevons. It's a great location, we were in the newer wing which has good-sized rooms. The breakfast is great, lots of selection and home-made jams. The town is a nice size, easy to get in and out of. As for what to see in the Luberon, just have a car and visit the many towns in the area, either the "big" name towns like Rousillon, Bonnieux, Oppede, or Menerbes or any of the many small, less known villages. There's lots of vinyards, so stop in for tastings. Gigondas has a regional wine tasting and sales shop in the center of town, plus there are some great hikes out of Gigondas up into the Dentelles de Montmirail.


We rented an adorable house in Goult and loved it. Small town, quiet, yet central.
I think Bonnieux is my favorite, and has some wonderful galleries.

Marika Ujvari

Just one more thing: Our adventures were fueled by the books of Peter Mayle. His "A Year in Provence" introduced me to him and evoked my interest in that part of France. Now I own all his books and even have the made-for-TV version video set of his adventures.
What fun!!!

Alanna in Dallas

Dear Kristin,
I completely agree that Le Mas des Gres in Lagne is a lovely place to stay. I could hardly wait for dinner. Each night was another masterpiece!
Do you have suggestions for St. Tropez area? We will be staying in La Croix-Valmer.


I've stayed in Goult twice...it's right in the heart of all the 'beautiful villages' yet isn't as crowded and touristy. It's quite lovely in its own right. Rent the smallest car you can fit into...all the great villages have tiny,narrow streets and the parking can be brutal.

Steve in Stony Brook

No one has mentioned Lourmarin. Stayed there in a chambres d'hote; it made a fabulous base of operations. Concert in the old church; galleries; great cafe and a couple of excellent restaurants.

Mary in Memphis

Nancy: Cat photo is great. Is that Rasteau in the distance? Taken from Sablet?

Susan Bento

Hi Kristin
One of the villages that is so often overlooked but much loved by those that do discover it is St Saturnin lès Apt. It is not too 'touristy' and has a real local feel. The views from the château on top of the hill above the village are stunning.
We run our French language school, Language In Provence, for adults just on the edge of the village and can offer a warm welcome and lots of local knowledge!

Jill McCluskey

We just returned from Provence. We stayed at a great little B&B in Pernes de Fontaine - "Le Lavandin". I actually found this place via a link from this website. The owner Georgia Perrin was a great resource for us "American's" and she is a lovely person. I can't wait to return again someday. I thought we were very centrally located to see all the little villages we wanted to visit. There is also a fabulous little restaurant in her village. I don't remember the name, but she referred us. We loved Fau de Vancluse, Isle Sur le Sorgue, St. Remy.


Hi Kristin,
Every September, we always make it a point to have at least one lunch at the Auberge de la Loube in Boux. The drive is super scenic, the restaurant is lovely, and the food is simply the best!

Steve Donohue

L'Isle sur la Sorgue has been our base for several trips. We rent a house from one of the agencies like VRBO or Home Away. Both Pamela Hall-Johnston www.frenchfolies.com and Gillian Saunders [email protected] are superb hosts. For places to eat try the Bistrot de l'Industrie or the Umami restaurant-umami.fr. In Rousillon, the Restaurant David is very elegant and pricey but worth it. Also the Thouzon cave in Le Thor is excellent http://www.avignon-et-provence.com/cave-provence/thouzon-cave/‎. Have fun. Steve Donohue in Pittsburgh.

Diane Strong

To me, there is no place in the Luberon with a more gorgeous view than Gordes. The history, the Monastery nearby and the view of the neighboring mountains were breathtaking. We were on a bicycle trip throughout Provence and our last stop for the day was Gordes. Needless to say, we did not make it up the hill, walked most of the way...but reaching Gordes and the hotel was well worth it!


Re. Susan Bento's comment: yes, we have walked through, and to the top for that view of the water!, St. Saturnin. My aunt rented a house there for many, many years. We have also stayed at Le Presbytere up in Saignon: here is my post, scroll down, to see the view from our terrace! http://bit.ly/1ZitQQ

michael youngman

Ansouis is utterly magical. We have rented a lovely old house(c1512), Maison Des Voutes, at the top of the village, several times. It has a magnificent view across the Luberon, is well furnished although with minimal kitchen equipment and is ideal for two couples who would like some separation in bedroom quarters.

ps: we are trying another house rental in Sablet this year that we found on your website and we are keeping our fingers crossed that it will live up to its appearance there


To get inspired, listen to Kiri Te Kanawa's gorgeous, lush CD, Chants d'Auvergne.


Michael I too love Ansouis and its Chateau d'Ansouis. Have lunch in Lourmarin and then tour the chateau in the afternoon. If one is capable of hiking explore Fort de Buoux, ruins of a medieval fort that was built in the 13th century and destroyed in 1660. It is on top of a high stone butte in the Luberon mountains, about 10 km south of Apt and 8 km east of Bonnieux. Take a picnic and your camera..fascinating.

Mary Rack

We loved the village of Bedoin and our extended stay at the Hotel des Pins. Mary and Dave


Bonnieux (climb to the top, eat at Le Fournil, nearby Chateau de la Conorque--best dry rose on the planet and the setting for the movie A Good Year)
Rousillon (most beautiful provencal colors, down the hill is the museum of the society preserving provencal colors--get your paints to take home!)
Bike the Luberon bike trail (http://eng.veloloisirluberon.com/)
Corkscrew museum (http://www.domaine-citadelle.com/anglais/index.html)
Gordes (pretty village, tremendous view, be sure to go over the ridge to visit Abbaye de Senaque)
Lourmarin (i always make the pilgrimage to the gravesite of Albert Camus)
go for a day trip to St Remy (best alley of plane trees) and through Les Alpilles

Kristin: I too want to know what the cat was looking out over

Skip Anderson

The post just before mine is spot-on, though we find Loumarin a bit chi-chi and touristy, but with good galleries.

I just want to remind all to consider the smaller village of Sablet...perfectly typical with only a book fair once a year to interrupt the calm of each day. It is near Seguret for a nice bicycle ride and there is a nice inn/cafe "L'Auberge" about halfway between the two towns. Seguret has several great restaurants and artist's studios with a view of the valley below that will take your breath away! Mesclun bistrot is small and cute with wonderful food.

Marge Illich

My first two visits to France were spent in Goult (1999/2000) (a beautiful mas just down the hill south from Cantarelli's taxi/ambulance service). "Our" mas is now a cooking school. Goult absolutely is the best village as it is not too popular but has the greatest bar/cafe (Cafe de la Poste), 2 charcruteries a few doors apart, a great patissere, general store and several fine restaurants...plus a hilltop moulin. I also had my hair cut at the local salon and it still is the best cut I've ever had in my entire life! In 2001 we stayed just 2 miles west of Roussillion in another terrific mas but we missed the close proximity to a village that we had in Goult. Instead of our early morning walks to the hilltop moulin and then down to Cafe Poste for a cup of coffee and newspaper purchase...and final stop at the patisseries for our daily breads, we had to drive to Roussillion. We did this once/twice but then found ourselves usually heading over to Goult (also a few miles away) as like old dogs, we just could not change what we enjoyed so much the prior two years.

Ann S

I loved Forcalquier in the spring and summer. Walking on the roads and paths, past small farm houses, through fields, riding horseback too, heading out to the many sites in the area - it was a dream time.

Tonya McNair

WOW! I live in Arkansas and LOVE France and anything French. AND, after reading Peter Mayle's books, starting with A Year in Provence, I had to see les bon marches he touted. Aix is the Rodeo Drive of Provence, outside of the tres chic Nice and Cannes. Isle sur Sorge was as much a delicacy to me as any fine cuisine. God bless France!! Thank you so much for this site and everything in it!!


Hiking the Colorado Provencal and visiting the Ochre fabrications in Roussillon, shopping in Loumarin and eating in Cucuron at "La Petite Maison".

Ron Madaras

Roussillon is my favorite, by far! The ochre colored village and hills are very colorful and very charming.

gail bingenheimer

En Aix-en-Provence, il y a dans ce quartier plusieurs restaurants où l'on peut bien manger pour pas cher. Ma favourite était "les deux garçons". gail

Connie V.

This will probably be a long post but answers the question of what there is to do in the Luberon... I think some of the places mentioned below are not in the Luberon, but are reachable by car!In 2006, inspired by those Provence hiking/walking tours, my two sisters and I set up our own Provence trip. We stayed in a bread and breakfast in Robion (near Cavaillon) and made day trips from there. We hiked from St. Remy to Les Baux de Provence and back... great hike except at the very end when we took a wrong turn somewhere and extended our hike by an extra 4 or 5 miles! Les Baux is a lovely old medieval town.
By car the next day we visited Tarascon, then the ancient ruins of the Roman amphitheater in Arles where we ate in a little restaurant near the Van Gogh house.Our next hiking day was near Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. This hiking trail took us up over rolling hills with beautiful views of the Luberon and alongside it we saw the Mur de La Peste (Wall of the Plague), built in 1721 to stop people who were fleeing from the plague which had broken out in Marseilles.
The day after was a "car trip day" which took us to the market day in Apt and on our return, we drove through some lovely perched villages, including Lacoste, Bonnieux and Menerbes.
The following day was a combination car/hike day. We toured the colorful perched village of Roussillon (once the European ochre capital). we also went to Lourmarin. I was particularly excited about the last as I am a big Peter Mayle fan and have read all his books!
We walked in the Foret des Cedres which was a pretty easy walk compared to other days.
Les Gorges du Verdon was our next car-day. Beautiful views and one can see why some people talk about it as France's Grand Canyon!
On the next day we hiked from Gordes to the Abbaye de Senanque and back. The view of the monastery from the trail is breathtaking! Wish we had been a little later in the season to see the lavender all in bloom.
The next day: Oppede le Vieux where we had heard they were filming a movie that took place during WWI or WWII. It was so neat to see people dressed in period clothing.(Would anyone happen to know the name of a film that was made in Oppede le Vieux in the summer of '06?) We also went to the Dentelles de Montmirail and rode up Mont Ventoux.
Great trip... lots to do in this region and nearby!

Johanna DeMay

My husband and I just returned from a bicycling trip in the Luberon. If you enjoy riding a bike, this is paradise - but be warned: it's all hills. There is not a level spot in the whole region! Every town is worth the climb, and the landscape will take your breath away.

My favorite town is Rousillon, for its spectacular colors. Take the hour and a half walk through the old quarry, where the ochre was mined. Explore all the little streets and shops, especially some very nice art galleries. Walk up to the top of the church and look out over the valleys below and across to neighboring towns. Look for the ancient, narrow stone stairway leading up to the bell tower, and imagine trying to make your way up those steps, rounded with centuries of use. Now imagine doing it in winter, in the middle of the night, when the stairs are glazed with ice!

We stayed at a little B&B on the main street into town, run by Mme. Cherel. This is a home, complete with young grandchildren during the day. It is a modest place, very rich in character and heart. Our small room had a million dollar view! Mme. Cherel speaks excellent English. She can be reached at (33) 04 90 05 71 71.

Another gem is the tiny village of Cucuron. We stayed at a nearby B&B called le Vignoble. http://levignoble.free.fr/
It's a lovely place with 2 beautiful modern rooms and a warm welcome from the hostess, who also speaks English.

Each town has a different market day. Time your visits so you can spend the morning walking through them. Buy food and crafts, and enjoy the colors, tastes, smells and sounds. Every one is different, and they are all marvelous. Enjoy!

Jon Maksik

As beautiful as the "tourist villages" west of Apt are, if you want to get a sense of something entirely different, head east towards Cereste and beyond. And, if you want to stay in a sublime house and meet an incredible woman, find this: http://montjalade.com/


Another question about the cat! Was that photo taken in Venasque???


Aah, that cat is having the time of his life! Mine are jealous now! : )

Eileen deCamp

Hi Kristin,
I love the photo of the cat! I heard this company was great for trips to the Luberon.

joie  carmel,ca

oh, so much to do and so little time when I was there. The Sunday market in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a must. Make a day of it. Pernes de la Fountaine was cute and very friendly. Not at all touristy. Stayed in a mas outside there on the Neve. I will try to remember the name. The daughter Isabelle was wonderful and her mother made jams. Just wander from village to village. This is the time of the year that I had the best cherries ever from a stand along side the road heading toward Gorde(too touristy). I am drawing blanks for names...but the little place where the Sorgue comes out of the mountain has a great restaurant right on the river, the trout almondine was great, and the wine and hardly anyone was there during the week in late June.


the river Sorgue, mentioned in Joie's post, comes out of the mountain at Fontaine de Vaucluse. the original reason for the little village was to use the water power to make all the paper the popes needed when they were in Avignon. the easy kayak/canoe trip from there on the Sorgue is great (http://www.canoe-france.com/en/sorgue/index.html).

Mary, Pt Pleasant NJ

We have rented a house in Murs in October...has anyone ever been to that town? It is just north and east of Gordes. All of these posts will be printed and marked on my map by October!

joie  carmel,ca

Thank you Gary. I finally did remember what it was called and the old paper mill. The underground hole that the water comes out of is pretty interesting.
The mas is called "Domaine la Nesquire" and it is on the Nesquire creek, not the Neve. Anyway the hosts were delightful and the place was simple and filled with old french antiques.

Bill Facker

Aloha Kristin and Loyal "Kristinites" .. There are these times .. these poignant, melancholy moments when one (this one anyway)aches inside for ANY connection with daily life in France. One of those internally impassioned moments just struck as I was enjoying all your writings. Sadly, as I sit here on one of the world's most beautiful islands, I cry inside for Poivre d'Au de bifteck, a huge red, and Jazz in the background. Oh France .. you can be such a devastatingly cruel Mistress, simply by your absence! Mahalo, Kristin, for continuing to stimulate with your "sharing" .. and please, have Jean-Mark set aside a Big Red for your tormented reader on Kauai. Aloha!


I would second Goult as a base for exploring the Luberon. We had a very reasonably priced rental home here (http://www.provencewest.com/_webapp_879130/La_Porte_Jaune). Goult is not as severely hilly or as touristy as villages like Bonnieux or Gordes, but it's charming in its own right, with a selection of restaurants, and quite close to most of the best sites: Bonnieux, Roussillon and Gordes, especially.

L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a little farther, but a must to visit on a market day.

kathy vk

We just returned from 8 days in the Luberon. A car is a must, very much agree about getting a small one as the streets in these villages are seriously narrow and parking can be creative. We based out of Lourmarin and stayed in a studio apt. in an updated 16th century house - http://www.anciennemaisondesgardes.com/index.php?lang=En . Rose and Robin are delightful (both English) and a wealth of info complete with maps and guidebooks; 490 euros for the week. Lourmarin is very well located for short drives (1 hour or less) to all the villages mentioned here so far.

We planned our day trips around market days. Cucuron is small and very low key, but enjoyed lunching by "l'etang" where the date scene from A Good Year was filmed. We loved shopping in Bonnieux (women's clothing and accessories - La Cambuse on Rue de la Republique and interesting pottery across the street). The colors of Rousillon were gorgeous. The Friday market in Lourmarin was impressive - lots of excellent quality handcrafted work, really good food and produce, lovely linens.

Our favorite restaurants were Le Fournil in Bonnieux and the real find was our hosts' recommendation in Lauris, 10 minutes from Lourmarin - Lou Pebre D'ai. Go for the less expensive lunch, 13.50 euros for 5 courses including wine and coffee - really amazing food! By far the best meal of the whole trip - reservations are a must - ph# 04 90 08 27 00.

Jill in Sydney

I have never been to the Luberon but I am sitting here in cold Sydney dreaming of it, thanks to the beautiful and informative posts by everyone. They are really enjoyable and much better than a guide book.


Take a balloon flight at dawn over the villages in the area, before landing in a vineyard and driving back with the deflated balloon for a champagne breakfast!

Provence ballooning
Joucas – 84220 Gordes
T/ +33 490 05 76 77
F/ +33 490 05 74 39
[email protected]

Mary Ann Waterman

Stay in Bonnieux at Le Clos du Buis (www.leclosdubuis.com, le-clos-du-buis @ wannadoo.fr) but leave a room open for me. Check out the eglise at the top of the mountain as well as the one at the bottom of the village. Le Fournil is a very good place to eat. Also try Le Pont Julien Restaurant on Route 100 just outside of Bonnieux. And, L'Gustalet in Lourmarin (face au chateau) nearby.

Visit the nearby villages, Goult, for instance. You can easily get to Avignon and Marsailles. Driving is a breeze in the area.

Seattlite who stuggles mightily with french pronunciation

What to do in Luberon? There is no end to ways you can pass the days!
1. If you ride a bike, take a little tour, it is lovely in the spring and fall especially, when fewer folks are on the road.
2. Traveling by car? Grab a map and go. Do alittle planning onthe internet before leaving home by looking up bike or hiking tour routes, as they typically hit the essentials. Then just connect the dots using roads that often require a reallt good map. most iomportantly, if you see something int he distance, off your planned route, don't even hesitate before deviating.
3. Traveling by train? Add local buses/walking and try some of #2, above. Make sure you plan ahead in terms of returning back to your starting point.
4. You are on vacation. Enjoy it as if you will return to see more another time, or you will be too concerned about missing "sights" and won't truly enjoy where you are any given day. If you don't make it back, oh well. You have seen what you have seen and done what you have done.


Glad to see that others have mentioned Peter Mayle's delightful Provence books. Certainly read those before going to Provence for a good idea of what lies before you.

bonnie poppe

Venasque is a very sweet hilltop village, and St. Didier is also attractive with a busy main street with shops and platanes. Neither are terribly touristy. Nearby is Pernes les Fontaines which has more commerce. Fontaine de Vaucluse is a tourist site, but the source of the river is worth the walk up to see it, and I had a very good lunch there (don't remember the name of the restaurant). Apt has a big lively Saturday market, definitely worth a stop. Saignon is also a beautiful village. Be prepared for a lot of visitors if you go in season, as this part of France is very popular, for good reason.
bonnie, roquebrun Languedoc

Suzanne, Monroe Township, NJ

Last September we enjoyed our drive from Sablet to villages in the Luberon. I highly recommend Roussillon. We had a wonderful lunch at Le Bistrot de Roussillon sitting out on the pack terrace overlooking the ochre cliffs with beautiful dark green evergreens. The narrow lanes are wonderful for exploring and photographing including the lovely trompe l'oeil you published recently. Also, we found two terrific pottery shops where we purchased Christmas gifts for family and friends.

We're planning this September's trip and our home base will be Vaison-la-Romaine. We travel with our 86 year old mother so are planning one long day out and otherwise short trips. For the long day we are torn between Lourmarin and Les Baux. Any suggestions are welcome since Margaret and I are in the early planning stages.

Margaret Dennis

No shortage of favorites here!

Michael, are you renting from Marianne in Sablet? If so, you can contact me and I will tell you all about it. We were there last year and it was fabulous!

[email protected]



Thanks for all the great advice. I am looking forward to seeing Provence. We have reservations in Cavaillon already, so I hope it was the right choice. I made them months ago, and places were already filling up for the upcoming festival in Avigon.


Greetings all

Peter Mayle is funny but no longer the favorite man in Gordes, believe me. We stayed in Rousillon for Christmas one year and got caught in a snow storm, it was magical! The girls made a video on their phones in Roussillon, I sent it as an attachment to an email to you Kristin, I didn't know how to embed it here.

Maureen France

Hello,my name is Maureen and I live facing the Luberon,

I work for David and Marcella Hulston, they own France Monaco Rentals, who advertise on this site. I discovered the Luberon 32 years ago.

In the past 6 years I have put together an extensive information pack with web links, on Provence and the Luberon, I will be happy to send this to anyone out there free of charge, and I will respond to any questions that you may have. You can contact me at:
[email protected]

The guide has been put together from my own experience, and also places visited by our clients who have shared their own experiences with me.

Two good books to read if you enjoyed reading a year in Provence. These books were first published in 1939, and can be found at Amazon.

Perfume from Provence
~ Winifred Fortescue (Author), E.H. Shepard (Illustrator

Sunset house;: ~ Winifred Fortescue (Author).

Best wishes from Provence/Luberon


Sorry I wasn't able to respond till now-- but I'll still add my 2 cents' worth:

We stayed in Gordes a few years ago (can't remember the name right now). It was just outside the village, which was perfect because then you had the stunning view right in front of you.

While there, we visited the Abbey of Senaque, nestled in a valley, surrounded by lavender. Ah!

We also visited Roussillon while there. Very nice, though it seemed a bit more "discovered."

I'm sure I could think of more, but I'm already late in responding to this post...


I love all the villages, some more than others depending on the time of year.

I would suggest walking through a village on market day, guides are published on-line. There's also a nice book with pictures but I have loaned it to friends and am unable to remember the title.

Attending vespers at the Abbey du Senaque is something we try to do whenever we are in Provence.

We once had a wonderful family summer Sunday picnic at Fontaine de Vaucluse, parking lot was jammed but we found a hidden spot on the river bank where we were able to chill our drinks and cool off. We bought absolutely everything at the (Sunday) market at Isle sur la Sorgue, craziness to be sure, but fun shopping and people watching.

Hardcore cyclists should ride Mt. Ventoux for that Tour de France experience. Bikes for rent in Bedoin, which is charming whether or not you are on a bike.

For a splurge stay at Hotel Crillon Le Brave, in the hilltop town of Crillon Le Brave. Or go for lunch or dinner, the view is spectacular. They have just redone the terrace and it is lovely.

Michael Armstrong

To all who inquired about the cat picture,it was taken in Menerbe, toward the northwest. Cat's name is Belle, une chatte perchee dans un village perche.

truck rental

Amazing, absolutely amazing! Everything from the picture of the cat, through the superb hand cream and to the beautiful stone houses. Next time I'm in France, I'm going straight there!

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