DAY 2 THE LUBERON
The Luberon might just be what most people imagine when they think of Provence. With its fragrant lavender fields and a choice of stunning hillside villages, this will be a wonderful day out in the countryside!
Start at the iconic Abbey de Senanque near Gordes. Although this 12th century abbey is an incredible building, it is most famous for its spectacular summer lavender fields which offer amazing photo ops. Get there early – the Abbey is no secret and by mid morning the tour busses start rolling in.
Gordes is the closest hillside village to the Abbey. It is famous for good reason as it offers stunning views of a typical Provencal hill village built up the mountain cliff. You may want to visit on a Tuesday as it’s market day with all that that offers.
Spoiled for choice of villages, we next suggest Bonnieux. The village has been lovingly restored and affords sweeping views over the Luberon. This is one of the loveliest places in the area to stop for a slow local lunch. You can walk the small winding streets up to the top of the village where you’ll find the 12th century church. Fromthere you can see lavender fields dotting the surrounding landscape.
While Menerbes (made famous by Peter Mayle who spent his Provence time just outside the village) and Rousillon (known for its ochre colored buildings and the ochre mine nearby – you can walk the Ochre Trail through the dusty red canyons) are possibly the best known Villages in the area, our next choice for today is Lourmarin. While this artists’ village doesn’t have any particular attractions, it is just wonderful to meander through its small alleys and lanes full of small shops and restaurants. Being slightly off the tourist map makes it even more appealing and it’s the perfect place to wind down the day.
Surprising find: In summer the old church at the top of the village hosts some classical concerts. While walking through the village you’ll see posters advertising these and they make for a great experience in the almost 1,000 year old church!
DAY 3 – MARKET DAY IN ST REMY
Weekly markets throughout Provence are a regional highlight. If you’re staying in St Remy, Wednesday is market day. Various websites list market days in towns and villages throughout Provence. St Remy’s weekly Wednesday market is an absolute treat. The market wends its way throughout the small town and is filled with wonderful local produce like cheeses, fruit, breads and pastries. And a LOT more! You could fill yourself up just by walking around tasting samples from the 100’s of vendors. It’s a feast for the eyes and taste buds!
After a morning filled with eating and shopping, how about a bike ride in the afternoon? St Remy has a number of bike shops where you can rent bikes for as long as you like. An excellent excursion is to ride over to St Remy’s small neighboring village of Le Baux de Provence, a tiny village in the Alpilles mountains and atop a rocky outcrop crowned with a ruined castle and offering sweeping views all around. What better than to sit amongst the ruins devouring your fresh picnic that you bought earlier in town? Once finished you can walk around the village taking in its small alleys, ruins and artisan shops before doing the easy bike ride back to town.
SURPRISING FIND: Just outside the village of Le Baux you’ll come across Carrieres de Lumieres (Quarries of Light), an old limestone quarry that now houses an ongoing multimedia art display. It’s fabulous. If you are biking from St Remy you cannot miss it as you approach the village.
TIP: If indeed you choose to bike from St Remy to Le Baux – and it’s well worth it – be forewarned that although the distance is only about 11 km’s/7 miles, it is over a mountain pass and very steep! So unless you really want to challenge yourselves, we’d advise renting ebikes for the afternoon! We’ve done this ride with regular road bikes and it is HARD!