Villages of Provence Part Three: Lourmarin, Menerbes, Lacoste, Bonnieux
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Lacoste, France: Art and Fashion in the Luberon
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.
The village of Lacoste is pretty much completely cobblestoned and had a lot of interesting streets and alleys to explore.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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