In May of 2014 I was fortunate enough to stay at Le Mas de Gancel outside the small town of Vernègues in the South of France. While staying at this lovely villa, I was able to explore villages in the Luberon and the Alpilles, as well as spend some time in Aix-En-Provence. To say I enjoyed my time in Provence would be an understatement — I loved it. Every village felt like a profound discovery, and while I’m reluctant to play favorites, I’ve put together my recommendation for what I think makes a fantastic day in the Luberon.
My ideal day in the Luberon starts in Rousillon, cited as one of the most beautiful villages in France. I love the way the morning sun hits the magnificent ochre cliffs; the yellows, reds and pinks of the ochre against the blue sky, contrasting with the vibrant green foliage — it’s simply captivating.
Explore the ochre trail (though don’t wear your whitest whites, or they will no longer be your whitest whites), noticing how the colors and vegetation change with the elevation, keeping every step and turn interesting. After, stroll through the village to enjoy the shops featuring local art, pottery, crafts and the colorful tablecloths so typical of the region. Be sure to then go to the top of the village for a wonderful overview of the landscape. Before heading on, take a moment to reflect with a café creme near the square, overlooking the ochre hills.
I then suggest you carrying on to Goult, this tiny, innately walkable hilltop village is scenic shift from Roussillon. Park in the main square and head up the narrow road. You can follow the numbered path on the self-guided tour or simply meander along the quiet streets. Either way, you’ll enjoy the wonderful old buildings and homes, some carved out of stone. A picturesque ancient windmill greets you at the top of the village, where you’ll take in the gorgeous, panoramic views. Admire the hillside terraces as you head back for lunch in the village square. Café de la Poste is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The food is authentic and the atmosphere is lively. Sit outside, order the beef carpaccio salad and a glass of rosé, and you’ll feel like you could stay here forever.
If you love truffles, or want to give them a try, head to the medieval village of Ménerbes and stop in at Maison de la Truffe et du Vin. Built on a ridge, this walled, stone village is filled with 16th and 17th century architecture and provides fabulous views of the vineyards and farmland below. On your way out of town, stop by Domaine de la Citadelle for a wine tasting, a self-guided tour of the facility and an entertaining jaunt through their corkscrew museum.
If you can squeeze in one more stop, pay a visit to Lourmarin, a quaint village with cobblestone streets, blue shutters and flower pots on every ledge. It is quintessentially Provence and the perfect way to close out a day in the Luberon. Stroll through the Chateau’s seasonal flower garden and olive grove, then browse through the small shops in the village center. Relax at a café, taking in the late afternoon sun with a pastry or an apéritif. Take a deep breath. You’re somewhere spectacular.