Little Gems of Provence
Having just moved a bit further north of Aix-en-Provence, I am now even closer to many of the little villages that dot their way across the Luberon. There is a list of towns that everyone needs to get to and I had heard for months about Lourmarin. I never made it up there as covid kept me stuck in Aix and when I did have a chance to escape, I usually headed for the beach.
In the few short weeks that I have been in Le Puy Saint Reparade, I have been driving around and have had the absolute joy of discovering the area. The drives around here are visually to die for as not only are the Mount Saint Victoire and the Luberon mountains in constant view but every road is lined with a vineyard or an olive grove. It is honestly breathtaking and never gets old.
Do take some time to drive around if you’re in the area. It’s always good to have a goal but don’t be afraid to veer off down a road that looks interesting. There is beauty everywhere here and sometimes it’s the little farm roads that are tucked away where you might just find your prettiest views yet. Go for it, you won’t be disappointed. Here’s what I’ve discovered so far:
I love it here! Lourmarin is a beautiful town and the market is fabulous. You’ll find it every Friday and I must admit that this market won me over. There are more artisans in the area and I found the variety of what’s on offer to be not only endless but all very beautiful and unique. Lourmarin is clearly a magnet for artists. They are all there explaining their designs and are usually busy creating too.
Of course, there is also the food!
The choice is a bit different than what we find in the city. In Lourmarin, the farmers are actually there selling their own products. Thanks to this, the variety and quality of what is on offer is top-notch. It is literally farm-to-table unlike in the bigger markets of Aix-en-Provence and the like where there is often a middleman. I love the market in Aix but I think this one is worth a visit, for sure.
If you can’t make it to the Friday market, don’t fear! The streets of Lourmarin are lined with one creative shop after another. There is jewelry, artwork, home interiors, etc. You will find everything here and it is all original, which I find very exciting.
As far as places to eat. There are lots! I suggest that you just walk around and find a spot that draws you in. We ate at ‘La Fontaine’, which was very nice and in a very cute square. I enjoyed it here but I’ll bet that most places are fine.
We went on one of the busiest Fridays of the summer and we were able to sit down so don’t worry. You’ll not go hungry. I usually park near the Chateau (which is well worth a visit) and from there you can walk right into the center of town. It’s not very big so you can’t miss it.
When I arrived in Ansouis I was welcomed by the beautiful Chateau, the vineyards, and the pretty little village that was peering down from above. Once parked, I started to make my way up into town. Like all villages here in France, I passed all of the little shops (la poste, la boulangerie, le fromagerie, etc.), made my way past the cafe where there were lots of men enjoying a pause in their shady corner on the square.
It was so quiet. I walked down the first side street that I saw and then continued up the slight incline. The streets were all cobblestoned and it was empty. The beautiful stone houses were covered in vines and some had flower boxes protruding from the windows. There was a stillness here that was very calming. When I reached the top of the hill I noticed that there were a few people gathered and looking at some activity up ahead. I was thinking movie shoot and couldn’t help my curiosity so I went to see what was going on.
To my delight, I was able to witness a bride who’d just arrived in a vintage car and was greeting the priest who would marry her. It was a sweet moment and I watched as she made her way to the back door of the church where she was ready to walk down the aisle. How special!
When I turned to walk through the rest of town, there seemed to be only a couple of other streets, I came across a beautiful little art gallery which was also the artist’s workshop. You can’t miss it as there’s a lovely statue outside and once in the studio, you can see the many sculptures and jewelry that the artists have made. Inside there was a variety of sculptures, jewelry, and paintings.
The work is fabulous, modern, and unique. Not being able to help myself, I bought a ring. I had a chance to speak with one of the artists, who was there and he was very happy to explain his process and which materials he uses. I promised him I’d be back with friends. This was a nice find, indeed.
Ansouis is small or should I say… tiny.
I would however put it on your list because it is a lovely little village to wander through and it is quiet. I think that Ansouis is a perfect stop where you can enjoy a nice walk through town, visit a beautiful church and do some wine tasting at the chateau which is at the base of the village. It’s not big but that’s what I liked. Sometimes it’s just nice to be where no one else is. I saw only a few other tourists while I was there.
It is possible to visit Le Château d’Ansouis but by reservation only
Etang de la Bonde
Etang de la Bonde has become my new escape when I want to go for a walk. It is right at the entrance to the Luberon if you’re coming from Aix-en-Provence and it will probably only take about 40 minutes. It’s great to pair it with your trip to Ansouis or Lourmarin as it’s right around the corner.
Here, you can have a walk around the lake (which they call a pond) and you will enjoy the beautiful views, stroll through a small wood and end up at the foot of a vineyard. It is just perfect for a little stroll in the fresh air. If you are here during peak season, there are cafes and little restaurants set up along the way so it is also possible to have a bite to eat or something to drink. I even noticed a camping village with bungalows that can be rented out and look out onto the lake.
This is a really sweet spot and it’s smack in the middle of all of the tiny towns that you may want to visit in the Luberon. It might be just the perfect place to hang your hat for a few days and have a tour of the region. I was pleasantly surprised by this find during my wandering through the area.
Have you visited Lourmarin, Ansouis or Etang de la Bonde – Gems of Provence? Please share your experiences in the comments below.
All images copyright Suzanne Vidal