Gordes et Ménerbes
Lourmarin et Ansouis
Tourtour et Seillans
The village of LesBaux-de-Provence is a resolute must-do. Home to 22 listed monuments and harbouring a priceless cultural heritage, the village is perched on a rocky outcrop in the heart of the Parc Naturel Régional des Alpilles. Start your visit with a tour of the ruined Château des Baux and its dungeon– a genuine plunge into daily life in Provence in medieval times. Not to be missed too: the Eglise Saint-Vincent des Baux. Partially of Troglodyte origin, the church is adorned with distinctive contemporary stained-glass windows designed by famous glass artist Max Ingrand. Last but not least, no visit to Les Baux-de-Provence would be complete without a tour of the Carrières de Lumières. This ancient quarry is now an astonishing multimedia exhibition venue, where works of art are projected onto the high stone walls. A perfect blend of culture and heritage.
Bathed in a magnificent and ever-changing light – an endless source of inspiration for some of the world’s greatest artists – the village of Gordes never fails to cast its spell on visitors. Built against a plateau, this Acropolis of the Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon, criss-crossed with steep winding lanes, is tucked between the lavender fields of Abbaye de Sénanque and fascinating Musée du Vitrail (stained glass museum). Don’t miss the Caves du Palais Saint Firmin: a genuine subterranean museum set under the village, harbouring archaeological remains. Located a stone’s throw from Gordes, the unforgettable village of Ménerbes with its ancient stones and ultra-famous truffle market is the epitome of Provence’s envied lifestyle.
With its pretty old streets fragrant with lavender, ochre roof tiles and buzzing café and restaurant terraces, Lourmarin is a defiantly Provencal village. Push open the doors to the Château, nicknamed the « Little Villa Medicis of Provence » and exhibiting fascinating collections of furniture, engravings, artwork and musical instruments dating from the 16th to the 19th century. In summer, Lourmarin castle is also a residency for young artists, who come here to let their creative spirit run free « without material worries ». Fancy a spot of fishing? Head to the nearby Durance river. A few kilometres from Lourmarin, the charming hilltop village of Ansouis stands under a 12-century castle. Wine buffs will also enjoy the Musée des Arts et des Métiers du Vin wine museum, located at the village exit.
Set at the gateway to the Gorges du Verdon, the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie nestles gracefully against a cliff. Ceramics are a long-standing tradition here – a genuine institution in fact. The village’s 20 or so specialist boutiques sell a varied, refined and colourful range, If you want to learn more about this ancient local art, head to the Musée de la Faïence. Fancy a refreshing dip after your tour? Sainte-Croix lake is just a few kilometres away and offers a choice of water sports and activities including pedalos, kayaking and bathing. If terra firma is more your cup of tea, slip on your trainers and head up to Saint Mary Magdalene’s grotto to enjoy the sumptuous views over the village.
If you’re seeking absolute authenticity, Tourtour has preserved its original character to perfection. Perched at an altitude of 630 metres, the village is a truly delightful place to stroll, complete with ancient paved lanes and even a working olive oil mill. The views over the Var and Haute-Provence areas are positively breathtaking too. Sports fans will be keen to challenge themselves to a tour of these exceptional landscapes. Last but not least, take time to visit the village of Seillans with its ancient fountains, squares and arched passageways brimming with Provencal charm.