Within the southeastern region of France known as Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (or just Provence!) lies the most spectacular area called the Luberon Valley. It is laden with authentic Provençal charm and beauty. I was desperate to seek out lavender and explore some of the prettiest villages in the Luberon Valley after being inspired by the lavender fields around London I have visited over the past few years.
I was not disappointed. The endless vineyards, orchards, lavender fields and villages that rest on high on hills create the perfect recipe for an unforgettable experience.
About The Luberon Valley
This region is a massif (a band of hills and mountains) formed of three mountain ranges. Tucked within the valley are the villages and land that cultivate the grapes, olives and lavender the region is known for.
The Prettiest Villages To Explore In The Luberon Valley
Gordes is one of the most famous villages in the region and one of the most charming, not to mention beautiful! If you’ve ever seen the movie “A Good Year” with Russell Crowe, it was filmed here.
There are plenty of narrow, winding cobblestone streets that are lovely to meander. They lead to wonderful cafes, shops selling handmade jewelry, charcuterie and clothing as well as cultural spots of interest.
A quick stop for coffee at Cercle Republican gives tired feet a chance to rest for a few moments while the eyes can gaze upon the fabulous view from the seating area on the balcony in the back of the cafe.
Cercle Républicain: place du château, 84220 Gordes, France
The Church of Saint Firmin, patron saint of the village, was built in the 18th century and has gorgeous wood paneling and murals throughout. It’s a peaceful respite from the heat of the summer sun.
No visit to Gordes would be complete without a visit to the iconic Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque.
The abbey was built in the 12th century for Cistercian monks who still live and worship there today. Guided tours are available and there is availability to stay there as part of a retreat.
I will admit that by the time we visited, this summer, the lavender directly in front of the Abbey looked like it had just been planted and was teeny tiny. The plants further away were much nicer.
Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque: 84220 Gordes, France
L’Isle sur la Sorgue
L’Isle sur la Sorgue is surrounded by the river Sorgue and has canals running through it. This pretty “island” town is a must-see.
An entire day can easily be spent discovering unknown treasures in the many antique shops the town is noted for.
Every Tuesday and Sunday there is a bustling market that takes place in the center of town and the tangle of streets become lined with tables and merchants boasting wares such as
And some of the most gorgeous rotisserie chickens I have ever seen.
And, of course, there are antiques and homewares in addition to anything else that can be imagined. We ended up purchasing an absolutely stunning silk/cashmere carpet that we promptly sent back to our home, stateside. It’s a beautiful souvenir that will forever remind us of our time in Provence.
We ended up grabbing food from the merchants to sustain us for the day but we did start our day off at L’Instant Appy with pastries, fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee to sweeten up the morning.
L’Instant Appy: 48B rue Carnot, 84800, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
Joucas, nestled between Gourdes and Roussillon, is a lovely village paved with ancient stone streets and beautiful views of the region. Directly across the way is Rousillon with its golden ochre hue.
The 18th century church of St Jean Baptiste should not be missed as it has gorgeous paintings inside.
Loumarin is a beautiful village with lovely cafes and boutiques. It does get quite crowded, though, as we found out.
It is also home to Lourmarin Cemetery where Albert Camus, the second youngest recipient of the Nobel Literature Prize, is buried.
Cimetiere de Loumarin: 84160, Loumarin
Other Things To Do In The Luberon Valley
Chateau La Coste – Le Puy Ste Réparade
We really enjoyed sampling the wines and wandering about Chateau La Coste Winery.
This property is unique because there are art and architecture installations throughout the grounds in addition to gorgeous wines and cuisine being served at the restaurants on site.
We had a wonderful time tasting wines after swanning about the grounds. We ended up bringing back several bottles.
As a bonus we drove through the colorful village of Le Puy Ste Réparade on our way to the winery.
L’Art Glacier – Ansouis
Will travel for ice cream. Always and always. L’Art Glacier in Ansouis is really hidden away but totally worth looking for. It’s overwhelming as there are dozens of flavors to choose from. Perennial favorites such as vanilla and chocolate mingle along with unusual flavors like chestnut, rose and thyme.
I had to have the lavender…when in Provence, yes? I also tried the lychee and chestnut. All were amazing.
This is by far the best view I have ever seen from the vantage point of any ice cream establishment I have visited. And there have been many. The glorious fragrance of rosemary was clinging to the warm air from the numerous plants scattered about. The scent…the view and the ice cream are all something I will never forget.
Where To Stay In The Luberon Valley
There are a dizzying amount of accommodations throughout the valley ranging anywhere from Airbnb properties to luxury resorts. It really just depends on your budget, where you want to be and what you’re intentions are. We really enjoyed our time at Le Phebus and Spa, a Relais & Châteaux property in Joucas, and found it to be a good base to travel from.
Our suite had a lovely balcony that was nice to come back to at the end of the day and a large sitting area with ample seating.
There is also the Michelin awarded restaurant, La Table de Xavier Mathieu, on site that has a beautiful view overlooking the outdoor pool area and the gorgeous surrounding vistas of the Luberon Valley.
The restaurant uses produce grown directly on the property in the preparation of its cuisine.
The food was fresh with beautiful flavors.
In addition to the outdoor pool, there is an indoor pool, spa, hot tubs and even a hammam. Unfortunately, we were out all day so sadly I never had a chance to use them but everything looked very nice. We did take time to play tennis in the evening, though. It was a lovely way to end each day.
The next time we return to the area I would love to maybe move around a little more within the villages and include a stay at La Bastide de Gordes. It looks amazing.
A Few Tips For An Enjoyable Holiday
- Hiring a car is a necessity for exploring the villages in the Luberon Valley. These towns are flung about and there is very little public transport.
- A small car is recommended because parking can be extremely tight and larger cars may have trouble fitting into spots. Ask me how I know. This holiday was actually the first time we have ever rented a vehicle and driven on our own. It was quite an accomplishment for us!
- Wear (or at least pack!) comfortable shoes. There are many hills, steps and uneven footpaths throughout the villages. And consider wearing breathable clothing and maybe even a hat. Hot and hazy was the name of the game while we were there. Fortunately, the heat was dry and the evenings were cool but the days were scorching.
I hope you enjoyed this little tour of some of the prettiest villages to explore in the Luberon Valley.
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Thanks for reading! Cheers!