The Luberon is towards the west of the Provence region. It is the beautiful region made famous by Peter Mayle during his year in Provence. It is to the east of Avignon and to the north of Marseille.
The Luberon is best known for its hilltop ‘perched’ villages – small, often steep, traditional villages built centuries ago on top of rocky spurs in the region. Many of these ‘perched villages of Provence’ are now also classified as ‘most beautiful villages in France’ – the region has perhaps more of these than any other part of France.
The area is also quite compact – hence it is easy to visit several of the villages during a week vacation in the Luberon without spending too much time in the car, and still allowing plenty of time to sit by the pool at your villa!
Some of the most popular of the Luberon villages include:
The most popular and most photographed of all the perched villages, Gordes is a lovely medieval village in a fine setting, with far reaching views across the Luberon countryside. To reach the best viewpoints ascend through the narrow medieval lanes that wind up through the village towards the castle at the top of the hill.
The village of Roussillon is best characterised by its color – orange/red houses built from rock quarried in the local ochre mines. The mines themselves are also a colourful tourist attraction below the village, with the brightly colored rocks now weather worn into dramatic formations.
The village itself is also a very pleasant one to explore, with plenty of cafes to detain you if the heat of the day becomes too much.
Fontaine de Vaucluse
Fontaine de Vaucluse is best known and most visited for the source of the River Sorgue, a calm pool in the village from which a beautifully colored green river emerges, having disappeared underground in the Vaucluse cliffs behind the village. The river then crashes through rapids below the village – most dramatic when the water is highest, in the spring.
The pretty village itself – medieval but with earlier Roman origins – is in a lovely setting and is a very popular destination for vacationers in the Luberon.
Other beautiful villages in the Luberon
Be sure to visit also the villages of Menerbes, Lacoste, OppÃ¨de-le-Vieux, Lourmarin, Lacoste and Bonnieux, each with their own particular appeal and characteristics, and each well deserving to be explored. Menerbes was the village where Peter Mayle lived and wrote his famous book, and Lacoste was once home to the Marquis de Sade
Luberon Natural Park
A significant part of the region falls within the protected boundaries of the Luberon Natural Park and forms the Petit Luberon. Be sure to allow time to follow a couple of the marked trails in the region (see your nearest Luberon tourist information offices for details) for a chance to get a feel for the countryside of the region and also to escape from the ‘slightly overcrowded’ tourist hotspots for a while.