Provence was one of my top destinations when Slade and I were planning our 3 month Europe trip in 2015. I had read all of Peter Mayle's books, had re-watched the film adaptation of A Good Year countless times, and had dreamed of the endless sunflower and lavender fields dotting the French countryside. We only had time for a quick stop in Provence on our way from Italy to Spain, but it was enough to prove to us that one day we will spend a whole summer here...
Airbnb - Bonnieux
We decided to stay in Bonnieux, a quintessential village in the Luberon region of Provence. The Airbnb we stayed at was one of our favorites ever -- a charming suite in an 18th century stone house. The hosts were very easy to communicate with and the space was so immaculate. Our only wish was to have stayed there for longer than two nights!
There are seemingly countless villages in Provence, to the point where it can be very difficult to narrow down the ones to see. We knew we had limited time, so we chose villages that had unique characteristics. Below are the 4 villages we went to, all in the Luberon.
Bonnieux was my favorite village. It had the perfect mix of activity and serenity. Like all of the prominent villages in the area, it is situated in the hills, with winding streets that overlook vineyards and fields of lavender in the distance. Time seems to move slower here, and your days are likely to become structured only around good food and drink. If you're up for the climb, the medieval church perched at the top of the town has some rewarding views of the valley below.
Listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Roussillon is aptly named for being situated on one of the world's largest ochre deposits. (Ochre are natural clay earth pigments that range in color from yellow to orange to red). You can walk along the Sentier des Ochres (Ochre Trail) and see the pigments for yourself. There are educational signs along the trail explaining the process of manufacturing the ochre pigments. The village itself is also very picturesque, with many colorful historic buildings. If you're lucky enough to go on a Thursday like we were, you'll even catch the local market in the square.
Gordes has the most impressive vantage point of all the towns in the Luberon. Also listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France, it is known for its 11th century castle and fortifications. Gordes is a bustling little town, with many tourists and artsy boutiques. Find a nice cafe here and enjoy the stunning views of the valley below.
Another spectacular hillside village, Menerbes is where Peter Mayle lived and wrote his books. Among other famous artists (and poets), Picasso also owned a home in Menerbes. It's a sleepy place, surrounded by so much natural beauty. It is a wonderful village to get lost in and just wander the streets.
I don't even know what to recommend here! I don't think you can go wrong with a meal in Provence. For breakfast, either pick your go-to cafe and stick to it, or challenge yourself to try a new one every day. For lunch, there's nothing better than a baguette, cheese and wine enjoyed while overlooking the countryside. For dinner, splurge and enjoy traditional Provencal cuisine.
So there you have it, our guide for must-see villages in Provence. As I mentioned before, this region is somewhere we could see ourselves taking an entire summer one day to relax and enjoy the simple pleasures of good food, good weather and good company. It has a special place in our hearts.
Have you been to Provence? Let us know your favorite memories in the comments below.