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A tour of four Luberon villages

The selection of photographs above are from our first outing, a lovely day of winding and climbing though the hilltop towns of the Luberon Valley, well four of them at least.

The Luberon Valley is the Provence that you see in the movies. Tiny towns, growing directly out of the rocky terrain. Stone buildings constructed by skilled masons and stuccoed with ochre pigments, faded from the sun, hung with blue-grey wood shutters to protect from the northern winds that blow fiercely through the valley, and capped with terracotta tiles shaped like a woman’s thigh.

The Luberon Valley is famous for Peter Mayle, who penned A Year in Provence, in between hunting truffles and restoring an old farm house in the area. But even before Peter told the world about its charms, this rugged gem of Provence was here, stunning and a bit remote.

With the olive trees, the stone roads built and traveled by Romans, the golden light, the perfect climate, and rustic food, it is a wonder that it stayed a bit of a secret for as long as it did.

Out of the four towns we managed to make it to on our drive: Bonnieux, Lacoste, Roussilion, and Gordes, the first was by far my favorite.

If I were to do this trip again, I would likely skip the town of Lacoste. It is primarily owned by SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) and filled with American students and faculty bustling about below the looming, empty-seeming castle of Marquis de Sade. Un peu bizzare. And I would absolutely not miss my reservations at one of the reputedly best restaurants for modern takes on rustic Provencal classics, located in Bonnieux, Le Fournil.

Looks like it might be time for a visit. Wouldn’t you agree?