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Provence: Our road trip through the most beautiful villages in the Luberon

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Provence – there is hardly a word that has triggered more wanderlust than this in recent years. We don’t know how long a road trip through the villages of Provence has been on our wish list. For a very, very long time anyway. The reason for our wish is so banal. Do you know that feeling when you see photos of a place and get the feeling: you have to go there? That’s how it was with us and Provence.

We can promise this much: Provence is one of the most beautiful spots in the world. It’s amazing how much clichés become reality here. Scent of lavender, Provençal farmers’ markets and picture-perfect streets lined with olive trees and cypresses – we don’t have to mention that we fell in love with Provence instantly, do we?

In this blog article we tell you the stops on our road trip through the most beautiful villages in Provence and our travel tips. Incidentally, when we talk about Provence, we primarily mean the mountain ranges of the Luberon in the Vaucluse department. Ready for an extra helping of holiday feelings? Here we go!

1. Starting point of our Provence road trip: L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue An ideal starting point for a trip through Provence is the small Provençal town of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue . It has the sympathetic nickname “Venice of Provence” and with good reason: The old town of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue resembles an island and is fed by a river, the Sorgue , surrounded. A good dozen bridges – some of them private – lead towards the old town.

Markets in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue If you walk through L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue on a Sunday morning, you’ll quickly realize what the town is known for. For a few hours, the entire old town resembles a single market hustle and bustle. Two markets are particularly popular in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue: the weekly market and the antiques market.

At the weekly market of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue you can you buy Provencal delicacies, including vegetables, fruit, cheese, olives and honey. This farmer’s market runs through the entire old town and along the river. Directly adjacent you will find the antique market. Twice a year (at Easter and in August) L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue also hosts one of the country’s largest junk fairs.

Information & opening hours of the markets in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue Weekly market (farmer’s market) in the town center: Sunday from approx. 8 am to approx .13 Watch

Antique market along Avenue des 4 Otages: Sunday from approx. 8 am to approx. 18 Watch

Fondation Villa Datris Usually you’ll find us out in the alleys of a city, but for the Fondation Villa Datris we have made an exception: in a beautiful, historic villa there is a modern sculpture museum accommodated. There are also some sculptures in the garden. The themed exhibitions, which are well worth seeing, change every year and are shown from May to November. Admission is also free.

Address: 7 Avenue des 4 Otage, 84800 L’Isle-sur-la- Worry

Entry: for free

You can find opening times on the website: Villa Datris

Lunch at the “Vert Bouteille” Vegan bistro? Yes, please! Unfortunately, vegetarian cuisine is still underrepresented in France. So when we read about this vegan restaurant, we didn’t hesitate for a second and spontaneously stopped by for lunch. Lo and behold: We lucky children even managed to get hold of a spot outside.

In the “Vert Bouteille” only vegan dishes are served. The selection is manageable, but that doesn’t matter, because our “Buddha Bowl” was incredibly tasty. The only downside: The price level. For what you see in the photo (2 main courses, 2 small drinks), we still have lunch 40 paid in euros. But if vegan or healthy food is important to you and you’re willing to pay more for it, then you’ll love the “Vert Bouteille” – I promise!

Address: 3 Rue Raspail, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 9 until 18 o’clock (evenings only after reservation from People)

Patisserie “Jouvaud” From éclair to tarte au citron: French patisserie we really liked it. If it also tastes as delicious as it does in the “Jouvaud” pâtisserie, then it’s over for us. And best of all: In this cozy shop you can not only find culinary delights, but you can also buy lots of pretty home accessories . A concept store par excellence, in our opinion.

Address: 5 Avenue des 4 Otage, 84400 L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

Dinner in the restaurant “L’Atelier du Jardin” We had a very good dinner in the “L’Atelier du Jardin”. L’Atelier belongs to the very fine restaurant “Le Jardin du Quai”, but is much more casual and more like a bistro. Both restaurants are housed in a beautiful garden. If the weather is good, you can also sit outside.

The menu in “L’Atelier du Jardin” is manageable, but there is something for every taste and, if necessary, special requests can of course be fulfilled. The vegetarian dish – a vegetable quiche you see in the photo – was excellent. The price of the restaurant is reasonable: main courses cost about 16 until 18 Euro.

Address: 91 Ave Julien Guigue, 2018 L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

La Fontaine de Vaucluse ) Probably the most popular destination around L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is the village of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse . There is the famous source of the Sorgue and you can visit it. The spring is in fact the largest in all of France. So you can already imagine what that means: Unfortunately, it’s not as lonely as the photo suggests.

To get to the actual source, you first have to search for an approx. 14-minute walk along the Sorgue. The nature here is really spectacular, no question about it. Unfortunately, the leisurely walk is more like running the gauntlet through souvenir stands and other visitors. However, we also have to mention that we were there on a Sunday and the place was therefore full.

Important to know: depending on season you experience the source completely differently. In the spring after the snow has melted, the water level of the spring is very high and the river rushes along. The later in the summer you come, the sooner the water level drops and the less exciting the spring is. During our visit, for example, the water level has retreated very far into the grotto.

Information on visiting the Fontaine de Vaucluse Directions: With your own Car in approx 13 Minutes from L’Isle-sur-la-Sorge

Entrance: Free

Parking: 4 euros

Our accommodation in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue The first night of our road trip through We spent Provence in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue – more precisely in a beautiful lodge on the campsite La Sorguette. The campsite has been around for a while, but the lodges were only 2018 built.

One thing we particularly remembered (apart from the great outdoor hot tub) and that is the smell of Wood. Every time we entered the lodge, we immediately felt at home. Although you are on a campsite here, you live very comfortably in the lodge and nothing is missing. The only downside: the campsite is about 5 minutes’ drive from L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and you therefore need a car. But that didn’t bother us.

Oh, and by the way: Of course we tested the Nordic outdoor pool. , understood. With a glass of wine in hand, which we bought for just 6 euros at the campsite reception. Wonderful!

Here you will find more information & prices: Natura Lodge on the campsite La Sorguette

2. Road trip through Provence: The most beautiful villages of the Luberon in the Vaucluse department And now to what this blog article is supposed to be about: our road trip through the picturesque mountain villages of Provence in the Luberon. The Luberon is a mountain range in the south of the Vaucluse department and comes up to the ideal of what we call “ in this country. der Provence” understand, pretty close. That means: Vineyards and olive groves as far as the eye can see, tiny mountain villages with charming stone houses and last but not least: lavender fields. (The most frequently asked question in this context – “When does the lavender bloom?” – is answered below in this article.)

The superlative (“The most beautiful villages”) is by the way not an invention on our part, because there is indeed an official classification with that name – in French “Les plus beaux villages de France”. Some of the villages in the Luberon carry this label.

Gordes Our first stop is the hamlet of Gordes. Its location is particularly impressive: Gordes is enthroned on a rock ledge. No wonder that Gordes is a very popular photo motif in France and its silhouette can be found in many guidebooks and books, right? In high season, Gordes is quite crowded and very touristy. The most beautiful thing about Gordes is then clearly its beautiful panoramic view from a distance. You have a great view of Gordes right at the entrance to the village. To do this, follow (coming from L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue) the provincial road D2 and then D16.

Of course, a walk through the streets of the Old town also worthwhile. The most important sight in the village center is the castle complex called Château de Gordes. A tourist magnet outside the center is the Cistercian monastery Notre-Dame de Sénanque. In the lavender season it is probably the most visited destination in the region, because the lavender fields right in front of the photogenic monument make it an absolute Provence classic.

Roussillon Roussillon dances out of line in terms of colour: the village is known for its reddish ocher cliffs around which it is built. A stopover is definitely worth it for this sight alone. We ourselves “only” saw Roussillon from afar when we were traveling in the carriage (more on that in a moment).

Depending on the time of day and the position of the sun, the ocher rocks shine in a wide variety of red and orange tones. Along the popular “Sentier des Ocres” you can hike directly through the ocher landscape. In the high season, however, be prepared for quite a crowd of visitors. A little less frequented (and outside of Roussillon) there is a second path, the “Colorado provençal”.

Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt Let’s continue to the region where we find some of the most impressive moments of our trip to Provence – and with good reason. Or rather, for two reasons: Ollivier & Coquet. The friendly farmer Ollivier took us on a carriage ride with his horse Coquet. While it’s hard to put into words what made this experience so special, let’s give it a try.

Carriage Ride through Provence Let’s start from the beginning: Ollivier is – just like us – a world traveler. Before he (back) in his homeland , who landed in Provence, he circumnavigated the world in a tandem. His unusual expedition lasted 3 years, 3 months & 3 days. If we hadn’t liked Ollivier from the start, we would have liked him the moment he came out with this story. “We left in this direction” (points in one direction) “and returned from the other direction.” He didn’t sit on the tandem the whole time, however Among other things, he went in search of wild horses in order to research their behavior.

Speaking of horses: Ollivier has been accompanied by horses since he was a child. He has been riding horses since he was a child. So when he returned from his trip around the world to his parents’ organic farm, he had the idea of ​​using horses to show visitors the beauty of Provence. That was the birth of Provence Hipposervices.

Today, Ollivier and his girlfriend offer carriage rides through the unknown regions of Provence around Saint Saturnin les Apt on. The close bond between him and his horses was obvious. Coquet’s well-being came first: if something frightened him while driving, a break was taken and he was calmed down. If the flies bothered him too much, we drove on as quickly as possible. Rarely have we seen anyone as close to their animals as Ollivier. And quite apart from that, the trip was such a natural experience, that we wouldn’t want to miss it.

Mines de Bruoux The Mines de Bruoux near the village of Gargas were a stopover worth seeing on our carriage ride. As part of a guided tour through the underground ocher tunnel, you will learn how ocher was mined in the past. The tour lasts about an hour.

Reserving in advance is certainly not a bad idea, because then you can also ask for the (rarely conducted) German-speaking tours. The tour is usually in French. Tip: Be sure to take a warm sweater with you. In the dark corridors it has just 10 Grad! Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside. (An exception was kindly made for us so we can show you a picture.)

Price: 8th,91 Euro (high season), 7,90 Euro (low season)

Address: 1434 Route de Croagnes, 84400 Gargas

Opening times & Reservations on the official website: Mines de Bruoux

Lunch at a winery We spent the lunch break at a wine tasting at the picturesque vineyard Château Perreal. Do you see this beautifully set table? Chef Nadège Mestre conjured up the greatest vegetarian & organic lunch of our entire trip to France for us.

The good news: Wine tastings are at Château Perreal possible at any time (and we can also highly recommend one). The bad news: This stopover, including the wonderful lunch, was organized for us extra-tourally. For a wine tasting at Château Perreal you can book from Monday to Saturday from 10 until 13 hours and from 14 until 19 come by. By the way: You can also spend the night in this peaceful place! You can find all information on the official website: Château Perreal.

Information on the carriage ride at a glance Duration: depending on the selected trip between 2 hours and one day

Address: Domaine de Seoul, 84490 Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt, France (Warning: located outside Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt!)

Saignon From Saint-Saturnin-lès-Apt we continued south to the beautiful village of Saignon. With the medieval fortress , Saignon is a photo motif par excellence from afar. However, we strongly recommend that you also explore the village itself, because there is a fantastic vantage point here, the Rocher de Bellevue. You will reach him after a short (approx. 12 minutes) ascent from the town center. And best of all: There was nothing to be seen in Saignon of the streams of tourists to which we had almost gotten used to by this time. We actually had the vantage point to ourselves most of the time.

Bonnieux We continued via Buoux to picturesque Bonnieux. Located on a plateau of the Luberon, it is definitely worth a visit. Although Bonnieux is very popular, the streets were less crowded than expected. Highly recommended is the short walk up to the church (“Église haute”) at the top of the hill. On the way up you have a wonderful view through the treetops over the plain of the northern Luberon to Mont Ventoux.

Lourmarin The Vaucluse department has saved another highlight for the last stop of our road trip for the time being: the silhouette of Lourmarin in the evening light is too beautiful to be true. The town center with its pretty streets is very well maintained, but as expected very touristy. In front of the main attraction, the Château de Lourmarin, numerous tour groups cavort. One can hardly blame one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Our accommodation in Lourmarin: Hotel Le Mas de Guilles We were allowed to spend one night in the beautiful Hotel Le Mas de Guilles, which is located a few minutes drive outside of Lourmarin. Although “hotel” doesn’t sound all that appropriate here. Rather, it is reminiscent of a luxurious retreat in a country house style. If you want to switch off for a few days, you’re in good hands here! We would have preferred to have stayed much longer.

The pool is a dream, the rooms (we had a suite) very spacious and the staff extremely courteous. We were particularly impressed by the breakfast , which you can enjoy in the idyllic garden when the weather is nice. Wonderful!

You can book the hotel here: Le Mas de Guilles

3. More travel tips for Provence When does the lavender bloom in Provence? Hardly anything symbolizes Provence more than its blossoming lavender fields. The pictures of the purple sea of ​​blossoms are world famous and for many a reason to travel to Provence during the lavender blossom. But when does the lavender bloom? First of all, it is interesting to know that there are different types of lavender: the real lavender on the one hand and the industrially used lavandin.

Roughly speaking, the lavender blooms between the beginning/middle of June and the beginning/middle of August, whereby the exact The timing always depends on the weather: the earlier it gets warm in spring, the sooner the lavender starts to bloom. The classic lavender photo motif is usually the cheaper lavandin. It grows more evenly and starts flowering a little later than true lavender. The real lavender is much rarer and tends to grow in mountainous areas (from approx. 600 meters in altitude).

If you want to be sure to experience the lavender blossom, then you should plan your trip in July place. (We’ll get to the cons in a moment.) But of course you can still be lucky in mid-August. However, we can definitely confirm that in mid-September (during our road trip) there was no more lavender to be seen anywhere in Provence and it had long since been harvested.

When is the best time to travel? The time when the lavender blossoms has one major disadvantage: it falls during the peak travel season. In July and August there is quite a tumult in many places in Provence. So if you want to see the lavender, then you have to put up with it for better or for worse.

We ourselves were in the 2nd and 3rd week in September in southern France and even there there was still a lot going on (although not nearly as much as in midsummer). However, in September you only see harvested lavender fields, which – admittedly – is of course a bit of a shame. Apart from that, we can highly recommend September: It is usually still pleasantly warm and you can usually swim in the sea on the coast without any problems.

Another popular travel time is the Spring, especially April and May, when the plants in Provence start to flower. Just like in autumn, you also have the advantage in spring that the prices in many hotels are cheaper than in summer – apart from the Easter holidays.

How much time should I plan for Provence? Our described itinerary through You can easily do the villages of Provence in three days (ie two nights). Of course, more time is always b eater, no question. Then you could take even more time for the individual villages.

It is important to know that Provence naturally also includes numerous other areas. : Before our tour through the typical Provençal villages, we spent two nights in the Gard department, more precisely at the Pont du Gard and in the Camargue. This region is also part of Provence, although the landscape looks completely different in large parts than you might expect.

From Lourmarin we finally went on to Aix- en-Provence (one night) and Roquebrune-sur-Argens (two nights). Unfortunately, we missed the very famous and probably really spectacular Verdon Gorge and Avignon. To make it short: You should set aside at least a week for a road trip through Provence.

Transparency: {Advertisement} For this blog article we have collaborated with the French National Tourist Board (Atout France). As part of the #facesoffrance nature campaign, we were allowed to travel through southern France for two weeks – including the Vaucluse department. Of course, this cooperation has no influence on our opinion.

This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!

Have you ever taken a road trip through Provence? How was your itinerary? If you have any more tips or questions, please leave us a comment!