With its picturesque villages on top of hills and strong agricultural and craft traditions, the Luberon is a peaceful retreat to be discovered at your own pace.
… unspoilt from industrialisation
The Luberon (lybeʁɔ̃) is a part of Provence located west of Avignon and North of Aix-en-Provence. The core of the territory lies peacefully between Apt, Cavaillon, Pertuis and Manosque. Far from crowded and high-speed communication lines of Southern France, the Luberon is an art de vivre.
The territory has been forgotten by the industrialization of XIXth and XXth century. Paradoxically it has been one French’s high society favorite destination. Climate is Mediterranean, with (very) cold winters and (very) hot summers. Its pleasant way of life, natural food, good wines and olive oil makes it a good place to experiment the French paradox.
The architecture is typical of Provence. If you are interested in such matter, I will advise to get familiar with these two words. FIrst the ‘mas’, which is a stone-made traditional farmhouse. Then the ‘borie’ which is a dry-stone hut used for agricultural purposes.
Before you go, you can read the book from the British author Peter Mayle A year in Provence. The book details the life of the author after he moves to the Luberon.
Through your discovery of the Luberon, you should not miss the picturesque villages of medieval aspect. They are sometimes situated on top of hills. Among them is Gordes, the most famous one. Indeed Gordes is a good example of traditional architecture with its castle and the Senanque abbey. After WWII, the village started to attract artists such as Marc Chagall or Vasarely. In addition, the village of Lacoste is famous for its vernacular architecture, art and history. Its castle, now owned by the fashion designer Pierre Cardin, hosted the Marquis de Sade, one of French most sulfurous writer. Also Ansouis is a small village, famous for its fortress, Apt is the capital of the Luberon and a bit further Banon is very nice and famous for its library and cheese.
Hiking and cycling in the Luberon (and Mont Ventoux)
If a car is sometimes required, you can access most villages hiking or riding your bike. Do not miss the markets – sometimes overcrowded and tourist-oriented – they still are a good way to taste local products and buy handicraft. For instance, the market takes place on Saturday in Apt and on Monday in Forcalquier. In winter, you can visit the truffle market in Carpentras or in Richerenches (north of the Luberon).
Some well-structured hiking trails will lead you on your way to discovering this amazing region. For instance the GR97 ‘Tour du Luberon’ is an 8-to-10 days great hiking trail going through Gordes, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, Robion, Viens, Vaugines, etc. The famous GR4 (connecting Royan on the Atlantic coast to Grasse in Provence) is crossing the Luberon through Oppedette, Sault, Malaucene.
The legendary mountain Mont Ventoux (1 911 m) is often on the Tour de France’s route. Cycling enthusiasts will reserve a day to climb to the top. In addition, the Provence tourism board (in English and German) and the regional natural park (in French) provide interactive websites to help you to appreciate the numerous cycling itineraries and prepare your cycling holidays. For example, the 236 kilometers cycling tour around the Luberon is one of them. The loop will lead you in 5 to 7 days across Manosque, Forcalquier, Apt, Cavaillon, Lourmarin, Beaumont de Pertuis.
Access to the Luberon
- Access from fast train (TGV) via Avignon or Aix. In Avignon, there is one train station downtown and one train station outside the town (Avignon TGV). Both stations are connected in 6 minutes by the train line named ‘la Virgule’.
- Local trains stop at Cavaillon, l’Isle sur la Sorgue, Carpentras and Pertuis
- Nearest airports are Avignon and Marseille.
Pictures Alain Hocquel coll ADT Vaucluse & Luberon Côté Sud ©