Villages

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What could be more fun than to sit on a terrace, visit a local market or just stroll around the narrow streets of the ancient villages where time seems to stand still. The Luberon has some of the most beautiful villages in France. Gorges, Lacoste and Bonieux are some of the sounding names known to a wide audience. I describe some lesser known but especially picturesque villages in the area.

Monieux 
Grange Ventoux is located at the foot of this small medieval village with a loaded history. It is built in limestone and is nicely hidden in the shelter of the eastern flank of the Ventoux. It is wonderful to drink coffee with the book by Stefan Hertmans under the plane trees in the morning sun. Stefan describes the life story of a young Christian woman of nobility who falls in love with the son of a Jewish rabbi in the 11th century. They have to go into hiding in Monieux because of their forbidden love. It seems a bit like the Provencal Romeo and Juliette. You will view the village differently after reading this novel. Walk to the observation tower where you have a beautiful view of the village, the valley of Sault and the green hills surrounding it. You will recognize passages that Herman writes about in the landscape. On the first Sunday of September there is a lively village festival here.

Sault 
You will probably come here the most. You will find the supermarket and bicycle rental, but also some not to be missed delis (see shops). The town is built on an rock with a beautiful view of the lavender fields. On Wednesday there is a market and you will find many organic products from the plateau: goat cheese, spelt (épeautre), honey, nougat and meat from the Ventoux pig. The gourmets among us can let themselves go completely. On August 15 there is a Lavender festival!

Méthamis
A beautiful typical Provencal village built on a rocky point. Even in high season it is quiet here. If you do the bike tour ‘tour of the Nesque’, it is ideal to fill your water bottle here and to sit on the terrace in the only village cafe.

Brantes 
My ‘préfère’! The view of the north side of Mont Ventoux and the valley of the Toulerenc is magnificent! The village sticks to the wall of the Montagne de Blog like an eagle’s nest. You will find many artists and craftsmen here. At ‘chez Martin’ you can enjoy all this on the terrace of the renovated castle. Be sure to visit Joop’s ceramic workshop.

Montbrun-les-Bains
The Romans knew where life was good and enjoyed the hot springs. Yet they were not the first here! Excavations at the bottom of the village proved that the first farmers from Provence settled here. It is one of the most beautiful villages in France. You walk uphill in style through narrow medieval streets to enjoy a breathtaking landscape above the village, at the foot of the castle’s ruin. The north side of Mont Ventoux is clearly visible.

Roussilion
This picturesque village is one of the most beautiful in the Vaucluse, built on ocher rock. The buildings are made of this beautiful red earth and their red sandstone contrasts with the green atlas spruces at the bottom of the village. The walk ‘le sentier des Ocres’ is in itself worth this trip. It is very busy in the summer months. Do visit in the evening with the setting sun that makes the colors even more beautiful.

Simiane-la-Rotonde
This village is located on a hill from where you have a view of the surrounding area. You can see the Alps well in the distance. Under the village was an ancient Roman trade route between Sisteron and Apt. Simaine had its heyday especially during the Renaissance, when it was the place for the glass industry. Authentic buildings, narrow streets and beautiful gardens. The main attraction remains the round tower of the château where you can enjoy classical music in August (fantastic acoustics!).

Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
The Venice of the Provence takes its name from “island” in the Sorgue. After the Saturday market, you can enjoy the cool terraces along the Sorgue. It is the place to be for antique dealers. You have plenty of shops and galleries. During Easter and on August 15, about 800 exhibitors will be coming here, making it one of the most important antique events in Europe. Here you will also find some ancient brasseries and delicious ice cream parlors!