Villages of Provence Part Three: Lourmarin, Menerbes, Lacoste, Bonnieux

Villages of Provence Part Three: Lourmarin, Menerbes, Lacoste, Bonnieux

This is part three of a three-part series. Here are parts one and two.

As a conclusion to our three-part Provence series, we bring you four villages in the Luberon, each with their own charm and unique histories. Since we travelled there in the winter, we had some not-so-ideal weather on some days, but we made the best of the sunny days we did have. 

Lourmarin, France: Cafe culture in the Luberon

We passed through Lourmarin by car a couple of times before actually visiting, and one thing to note is that while Lourmarin is a beautiful, charming town, it is not a hilltop town like the rest mentioned in this article. We also forgot to bring our camera, so we couldn't fully capture its beauty with just our cell phones. 

This is one of the only towns in the Luberon that we visited that actually had restaurants open in the winter.  There were many cafes and restaurants lining the streets and squares, and about half of them were actually open for business when we visited, which was a vast improvement from the other villages.

 View of Lourmarin from the chateau

View of Lourmarin from the chateau

Like most villages, this one has a chateau, and it is actually open to visitors for a small fee. Built in the 12th century and rebuilt in the 15th and 16th centuries, it is Lourmarin's oldest building, and well worth a look.

Lourmarin was also home to French writer and Nobel Prize winner Albert Camus, who is also buried in the local cemetery.

We felt this town was the most lively and had the most going on out of all the villages we visited in the Luberon.

 Approaching the chateau in Lourmarin

Approaching the chateau in Lourmarin

 One of the towers of the chateau in Lourmarin

One of the towers of the chateau in Lourmarin

Like most towns in the Luberon, this one had its fair share of cats.  This one below was especially charming as he waited patiently for his tuna tartare.

 This cat knows what he wants at this cafe...

This cat knows what he wants at this cafe...

Menerbes, France: Setting For Peter Mayle's " A Year In Provence"

Menerbes was a delight to walk through, and like most villages in the Luberon, we had the place mostly to ourselves since we visited in the winter. Boasting splendid views in every direction, this hilltop village is a must-see in Provence. It gains a lot of its fame and popularity by being the hometown of writer Peter Mayle, who wrote the very successful "A Year in Provence", which is set in Ménerbes.

 Walking up the hill to the town centre of Ménerbes

Walking up the hill to the town centre of Ménerbes

 One of the squares at the top. Great views from this point!

One of the squares at the top. Great views from this point!

 The plentiful rock walls in Ménerbes meant we could actually get a photo of us together!

The plentiful rock walls in Ménerbes meant we could actually get a photo of us together!

 Chateau in Ménerbes, which is A private residence and not open to the public

Chateau in Ménerbes, which is A private residence and not open to the public

 Interesting staircase leading to the back of the chateau

Interesting staircase leading to the back of the chateau

While we didn't get to see it since we were there in the off-season, one of the most interesting attractions in Ménerbes is its corkscrew museum! Yes, a museum dedicated to the corkscrew (which of course was invented in France).

 Life in Ménerbes is beautiful, and they don't mind letting people know!

Life in Ménerbes is beautiful, and they don't mind letting people know!

Lacoste, France: Art and Fashion in the Luberon

Villages of Provence Part Three: Lacoste
Villages of Provence Part Three: Lacoste

In our minds, Lacoste was probably one of the prettiest of all the villages we saw in the Luberon. It has an interesting past, since it used to be home to the infamous Marquis de Sade (if you're not sure who that is, he's the reason we have the word "sadism") who used to own the intimidating chateau at the top. 

These days the chateau is owned by fashion designer Pierre Cardin, however it is not open to the public.

Lacoste is also home to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).  We noticed pretty much all of the life in this town during the winter was due to all the English speaking art students wandering around and running to class.

 This old boulangerie is now a private home, but still very photogenic!

This old boulangerie is now a private home, but still very photogenic!

The village of Lacoste is pretty much completely cobblestoned and had a lot of interesting streets and alleys to explore.

 One of the fuzziest residents. Much more interesting than the students!

One of the fuzziest residents. Much more interesting than the students!

 The top portion of the chateau

The top portion of the chateau

 A sampling of the view from the chateau

A sampling of the view from the chateau

Naturally since the town houses an art school, there are various sculptures by students all around town and countless art studios and galleries to visit.

 One of the sculptures in front of the chateau

One of the sculptures in front of the chateau

Bonnieux, France: The breadwinners of the Luberon

Bonnieux is where we stayed during our time in the Luberon. Since it is centrally located, it is a great place to base your stay and see all the other villages in the area. It is however one of the villages that closes most of its businesses during the winter, so we didn't really get to sample the local food.

Bonnieux was a very wealthy village during the 16th-18th centuries, partially because it belonged to the popes back then. Several high-profile bishops also made this their home, so there are a lot of interesting and gorgeous homes and buildings to gawk at as you explore.

 View of Bonnieux

View of Bonnieux

 The top of the hill in Bonnieux with cool cedar trees and awesome views

The top of the hill in Bonnieux with cool cedar trees and awesome views

Besides the cool buildings, windy streets and fantastic views, Bonnieux, like the rest of France has a deep fondness for bread. And as such has one of the coolest attractions we have come across...a Boulangerie Museum! Yes, a whole museum dedicated to making bread. Located right in the centre of town in a 17th century building, it is open year-round (hours vary) for a small fee.

 The "New" Church built in 1870

The "New" Church built in 1870

 A steep, agonizing road, the most direct way to get the top of the hill

A steep, agonizing road, the most direct way to get the top of the hill

Foret des Cédres: Perfect Hike Outside Bonnieux

If you've seen enough stone buildings for a while and want to embrace nature, just 6km away from Bonnieux is a fantastic cedar forest with multiple trails ranging from a 30 minute walk to a more strenuous 4 hour hike. This forest happens to be at the top of the mountain range, and has some of the best views of the Luberon. You can also see the towns of Bonnieux, Lacoste, and Goult from the top!

 cedar forest near bonnieux

cedar forest near bonnieux

So that concludes our three-part series on the villages of Provence. Now that we've shared them all, which one is your favourite? Let us know in the comments!

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Villages of Provence Part Three: Lourmarin, Menerbes, Lacoste, Bonnieux