All the colours of the Luberon
The Luberon is a living, breathing landscape painting: the green of an immense nature reserve and its hillsides teeming with pines and olive trees, the violet of the lavender bushes and the red of the cherries which mark the start of summer in the orchards. These luscious berries are harvested by the basket-load, and turned into delicious pies and rich preserves.
And of course the omnipresent ochre, ranging in tone from golden yellow to intense red. This ancestral treasure is all around: on the hiking trails, on the canvases of the many artists who have fallen for the charms of the garrigue, on the cheeks of kids playing cowboys and Indians in a landscape worthy of a western. And it is the ochre which gives the region’s villages their instantly-recognisable hue.
Goult, Gorde, Oppède and Lourmarin survey this majestic scenery from atop their rocky promontories. Their winding streets form criss-crossing labyrinths of light and shade. Between secret passageways and private courtyards, you’re never far away from a hidden fountain, chapel or garden. Dappled with sunlight, the dry stone is adorned with ivy and vines, providing shelter for the slippery local lizards. It’s not hard to picture yourself on a balcony, looking out over the plains.
These villages have a knack for making you feel at home. People say hello, stop and chat, plan to meet up later. Early in the morning the old wooden doors begin to swing open, as grocers and restaurants spill out onto the street. A few tables on the pavement, checkered tablecloths: perfect. Pull up a chair beneath the wisteria and indulge in some creamy local goat’s cheese served on fresh bread with herbs and a drizzle of olive oil. Or else succumb to the temptation of Luberon truffles, season permitting.
When the sun hits its peak, time seems to slow down as everybody heads for cover. Some fall asleep, book in hand, while others set off for a spell of fly-fishing in the Sorgue. In the early afternoon a splendid silence descends, broken only by the cries of the cicadas.
Hop on your bike and pedal from one village to the next, along roads lined with tall cypresses. The hardiest souls can set out to conquer Mont Ventoux, and dream of Tour de France glory. For a less strenuous excursion, take a tour of the Luberon’s hidden treasures, from the medieval abbey of Sénanque and its endless lavender meadows to the last surviving traces of Via Domitia, retracing the footsteps of Julius Caesar.
Time seems to have stopped in this part of the world, where the past is regarded with pride and tender nostalgia. For proof, look no further than the countless, world-famous antique stores. Indulge in a spot of bargain-hunting – you never know what you might find! – before getting the whole gang together around the table as the summer sun finally begins to fade. The Luberon is a world apart, a sun-kissed haven where holidays carry the unmistakable scent of eternity.
When to go?
Bathed in sunlight all year round, the Luberon has something for all seasons. This beautifully-preserved corner of Provence is a haven of peace and tranquillity, even in the summer. Visit in the spring to admire the cherry trees in bloom, or else in July for the Avignon Festival and its incomparable array of live theatre.
How to get there?
The Luberon is easily accessible by car, leaving the A7 at the Avignon junction. The train station in Avignon has high-speed connections to Paris, Lyon, Nantes, Strasbourg and even London and Amsterdam in the summer, aboard the Eurostar. The international airports of Avignon-Caumont and Marseille are within easy reach, and local bus and taxi companies can take care of the rest.
Flying over ochre
As the sun rises, a big colourful hot-air balloon expands while the surrounding nature is still fast asleep. Hop into the basket and take off over the multi-colour countryside and the big vein of Roussillon ochre. A hot-air balloon ride over Luberon feels like an imaginary fairy tale like you are taking a few steps in a childhood dream.
The oldest vineyard in the Luberon
Discover the Luberon's award-winning wines in one of the oldest vineyards in the region. Follow the owner through the corridors of his family's chateau to the magnificent cellar. Here, taste the domain's robust wines and listen to the surprising and mysterious history that hides within the old stone walls.
The truffle chase
Meet a family of Luberon truffle growers and head out in search of the fabulous fungus in the golden late-afternoon sun. Team up with Michel and his truffle-hunting dog and dive into the oaks to learn how to find and gather truffles. When you return, a feast will be waiting for you under the trees for a meal with the precious fungus's powerful flavours prepared before your eyes.
Our address book
le Domaine de Fontenille
A day in the life of a château
In this grand 18th-century estate, head chef Jérôme Faure runs two offerings with decidedly different personalities. On the one hand, gastronomic restaurant Champ des Lunes serves gorgeous modern cuisine, attuned to the seasons and served in a dining room graced by the works of Jean Prouvé, Charles Eames and Patricia Urquiola. La Cuisine d'Amélie, meanwhile, offers classic bistro cooking in a warm, traditional atmosphere, complete with family crockery and wooden furniture in the shade of the tall plane trees.
Domaine de Fontenille, 84360 Lauri
Surrounded by vines
Founded in the thirteenth century, the Domaine de la Coquillade has been a local landmark for countless generations. This charming hamlet offers a unique blend of modern design and local craftsmanship. With an unbroken view of the vineyards, revel in the sun-drenched cuisine of head chef Christophe Renaud: vegetables and herbs from the garden, fish from the Mediterranean and wines from the Domaine d’Aureto.
Le Perrotet, 84400 Gargas
In the shade of the olive trees
Amid the elegant surroundings of the Hotel Spa des Bories, Grégory Mirer offers a contemporary twist on local classics. The chef injects a dash of exoticism into some of the Luberon’s favourite culinary traditions, playing with colours and flavours to paint gastronomic pictures. Succulent creations to be savoured out beneath the olive trees, or inside by the fire.
Route de l'Abbaye de Senanque, 84220 Gordes
The village bistro
Within the stone walls of this boutique hotel, the owners have decided to retain the traditional bistro spirit. This is the focal point of the village, and its wooden chairs, old kitchen utensils and enamelled signs are enough to make anyone nostalgic. Pop in any time of day for a coffee, a glass of wine or a home-made pastry.
Rue du Brave Crillon, 84220 Murs
La Bastide de Gordes
Step back in time
The Bar in the Bastide de Gordes appears to be suspended in time. The wood panels, tapestries and furniture all belong to a different century. Settle into one of the voluptuous velvet sofas or pull up a chair on the panoramic terrace, to enjoy one of their signature cocktails or a cool glass of rosé as the sun sets over the valley.
Rue de la Combe, 84220 Gordes
Le Petit Café
Visions of Provence
Set in the sort of village square you thought only existed in dreams, Le Petit Café and its shady terrace are a postcard vision of Provence. This is the place to meet friends over a glass of the Luberon’s finest, accompanied by fresh delicacies from the nearby market. You feel instantly at home between these old stone walls, thanks in no small part to the warm welcome of the owners, always ready to share a glass and some invaluable local tips.
12 Rue de Sainte-Cécile, 84580 Oppède
A day of climbing
A vertical tour of the Luberon
All different, all well-equipped, the region’s limestone cliffs offer a seemingly endless playground for climbing enthusiasts. They are perfect for beginners, or for more experienced alpinists hoping to follow in the footholds of legendary climbers such as Patrick Edlinger, the first to complete the solo ascent of the iconic Buoux rock faces. The most advanced climbers can take on the Luberon’s most legendary routes, such as Captain Crochet, the world’s first “7b blind” ascent, or La Chouca, the first female “8a+” ascent in history. At the top, that effort is rewarded with a breath-taking view of the Luberon massif.
Multiple routes on many of the Luberon’s cliff faces
Maison de la Truffe et du Vin Luberon
Awaken your senses
The Luberon’s official home of truffles and wine is a mecca for amateurs and professionals alike. This centre is as surprisingly multi-faceted as the historic 17th-century building which houses it, formerly a hospice then a boys’ school. It now contains a wine library where you can sample and purchase wines from the surrounding area, a restaurant, a boutique and even a laboratory where you can enrol in conferences and training sessions focusing on the gastronomic treasures of the Luberon.
Place de l'Horloge, 84560 Ménerbes
The Luberon nature reserve
A whole nature reserve to explore
From gentle strolls to intensive hiking, the Luberon nature reserve is criss-crossed by footpaths which wind their way through scrubland, vineyards, lavender meadows and forests. Follow the “Ocres de Roussillon” or “Colorado Provençal” trails to discover astonishing landscapes which wouldn’t look out of place in a classic western. Or delve deep into the Gorges de Régalons and find the floating rock. If it’s a tour of the Luberon you’re after, pick up the GR97 and discover some of the region’s most picturesque villages.
Up in the hills