The Luberon region, located about 3h drive north west of Nice, is one of the most beautiful yet peaceful region in the south of France. With hundreds of cute little villages, vineyard, hill top castles and beautiful views, you could spend a few weeks in the region and still have some more places to visit. It is not easy to narrow down the list of villages to check out, so I thought I would share with you the most beautiful villages I visited in Luberon last August.
This is obviously not an exhaustive list, and I would be happy to hear your recommendations to complete it !! Don’t hesitate to leave me a comment at the bottom of the article 😀
Saignon – The village with the most beautiful square
This is were we stayed during our Provence holidays. Saignon is a tiny medieval hill top village of around 1000 inhabitants. All winding cobble streets lead to the beautiful village center, a square with a picturesque fountain surrounded by old flowering houses. Climb to the Rock of Saignon, and you will get a beautiful view of the Luberon valley and nearby villages. There is not much to do in Saignon except walking around, and having a nice lunch. There is also a small market of local specialties every Thursday from April to October.
Where to eat in Saigon : Le Comptoir Baltazar is a small restaurant nearby the church with a menu of delicious home made local specialties and local rose wine. Don’t mind the grumpy looking owner, he is actually very kind and his food is so tasty (just don’t bother his cat!)
Where to stay in Luberon : We stayed at Le Rimayon, and really loved it. Le Rimayonis a big beautiful house, in a large garden with a pool. The rooms are large, with a simple but authentic decoration. To be honest in our room, the bathroom ceiling was really low for us (we are both quite tall !), BUT they offer NUXE amenities, so I was happy and didn’t complain about anything! Le Rimayon serves a typical and delicious French breakfast (croissant, bread, butter & jam, fresh fruits etc …) either in the garden or in the dining room. They also have a restaurant (available to non staying guests), with a very limited but delicious menu that evolves day to day.
Around 140 EUR / night in peak season on Booking.com.
Lourmarin – The best village for shopping
Well known and much more touristic, Lourmarin is on the official list of France Most Beautiful Villages (yes, there is such a list, and here is the link to discover them all!).
It has a typical Provence architecture, with narrow streets, shady squares, but also a lot of cafes and restaurants with terraces on the sidewalks. All roads lead to the centre of the village, a great place to have lunch. There is a also a castle from the Renaissance area to visit. Albert Camus, famous French laureate of the Nobel Prize of Literature is buried in the village cemetery.
There is also two art galleries that I love in Lourmarin, the Atelier Gerard Isirdi(Colourful illustrations of the village) and the Galerie Marchal (selling beautiful paintings of the region). Both are right in the centre of the village and you should check it out if you visit the village.
Where to eat in Lourmarin : We had lunch at Cafe Gaby. The menu is typical French bistro style, and although the service was quick and friendly, the food was very average. There has to be much better options around. Le Numero 9 is the most recommended restaurant on TripAdvisor right now.
Ansouis – The sleepy village with a view
Continuing to explore the most beautiful villages of Luberon, we drove to the hilltop village of Ansouis.
Relatively similar to Saignon, it is a quiet village, with lovely streets but really not much to do. I guess that’s what makes the charm of the village to some, but that let me down a little! Still, don’t forget to take a look at the Saint Martin church and it surprisingly rich paintings, and visit the village castle. It was closed when we went, but this privately owned castle and its gardens seem to be very beautiful.
Lacoste – The artsy village
Lacoste is best know for its castle, once upon a time the residence of the Marquis de Sade. For my non French readers, the marquis de Sade was a French nobleman, politician and writer from the 18th century, infamous for his libertine sexuality and most likely sadism … I think only in France such a personage would stay in the history books !
Anyway, one of his residences sits on top of the village of Lacoste, and although my interest in the Marquis himself was limited, the view from the castle, over the surrounding Luberon valley and all the way to the Mont Ventoux was beautiful. The castle now belong to French designer Pierre Cardin, and also host some modern sculptures, that contrast strangely against the ruins of the castle. The 12 EUR entrance price is too much in my opinion, and you can also have a great view from outside the castle.
The village itself dates back centuries and its narrow cobble stones alley are so cute. You will be surprised to come across an American Art college in the village !
Menerbes – For the great food !
Menerbe is one more cute little village of Luberon and although I didn’t find it that interesting (it was really empty when we visited …) it is making the list because we had a really great lunch there ! To be honest, it is listed as one of the most beautiful village in Luberon, so you should probably visit it anyway, I might just have visited on the wrong day / time.
Where to eat in Menerbes: Right at the entrance of the village, with a terrace overlooking the valley, you will find Le 5. In a very casual outdoor bistrot atmosphere you can taste the best of French cuisine. Price-wise it is definitely on the higher side (100 EUR for 1 starter, 2 main courses, 1 bottle of rose, 1 bottle of Badoit and 1 coffee) but the food was absolutely worth it.
Oppede Le Vieux – The true medieval village
For the real medieval feel, Oppede Le Vieux is the deal ! Leave your car or your bike at the bottom of the village and start climbing the streets going uphill, all the way to the 12th century church dominating the surrounding Luberon valley. Just like other hilltop villages the view is beautiful, but it is really the medieval feel of the village, and the thick vegetation taking over in some places that set this village apart.
Gordes – The most famous Luberon village
This list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t mention one of the more famous villages in Luberon as well.
For a showstopper view, head over to Gordes, a gorgeous hilltop village, facing the Luberon. It makes the list of most beautiful French villages for good reasons. Its labyrinth of narrow streets going up and down the village are lined up with small shops and nice restaurants, and from everywhere you have a great view over the surrounding valley.
There is a 10th century castle to visit, and some outstanding hotels to stay at (check out la Bastide de Gordes).
The best view though, might be from across the valley, looking at the village. You shouldn’t miss the view point : On your way to the village you will notice all the cars and bus stopping by for people to take pictures.
Where to eat in Gordes : We had lunch in La Trinquette, and I was very pleasantly surprised. We were very lucky to score the only table on their 1st floor balcony that has a gorgeous view over the valley, but it is really the food that made an impression on me. The menu was rather simple, but everything we tried was super tasty, well seasoned, and just perfect really ! It was a really good find and I can’t recommend it enough ! If you want that one table on the balcony though, you should probably book ahead.
Voila, I hope you liked it and that Provence, and the beautiful villages of Luberon are on your bucket list if you haven’t visited yet.
Don’t hesitate to leave me comment below if you have any suggestion !!