My Lavender-Scented Dream in Provence
I’d been waiting for this moment for years….
One of the great things about Provence is that you have a plethora of amazing towns within a short drive from each other. After discovering over a dozen of them, I’ve listed the best of the best below (and their distance from our hotel):
Lourmarin (40 min drive): Listed as “one of the most beautiful villages in France”, Lourmarin is surrounded by vineyards, olive groves, and almond trees. If I could only live in one small town the rest of my life, this would be it! The village is lively in the summer due to its numerous café terraces, restaurants and boutiques. In the village you will notice the beautiful Mediterranean architecture in its winding narrow streets, lovely old restored houses, and well shaded public squares where you can immerse yourself in the gentle Provençal ambience.
Sault (40 min drive): Situated on an old fortified village on the border of a great wooded plateau, Sault is a town that’s loaded with lavender! It’s wonderful to smell lavender everywhere you go while driving through town. The esthetic features of the village have not gone unnoticed, for Sault is one of six lucky sites in France chosen for protection by UNESCO due to the historic value and beauty of the buildings. The “Pays de Sault” (the region) was an ancient Comté, ruled by a count. In the 18th and 19th centuries Sault was the center of an important glass industry. Today the glass works are gone, but the weekly market (Wednesdays) has remained — since 1515!
Aix en Provence (1h 15min drive): If you’re looking to step outside the cozy feel of the Luberon region without heading too far back into reality, Aix en Provence is the perfect solution. Situated in southern Provence, close to the mediterranean, Aix has the look of a city with the feel of a town. Aix was formed in 3rd century BC(!), so you can only imagine how stunning it is. The center of Aix is the old town (vieille ville), ringed by a circle of boulevards and squares. It’s a small-enough area to explore by foot, but there’s way too much to see in one or two days. Aix-en-Provence is also full of fountains, which I loved.
Bonnieux (20 min drive): Regardless of the route you take to Bonnieux, you will see the church tower well before you arrive. The tower dominates the countryside and the surroundings of this magnificent village, which while inside gives some of the most sweeping views in all of Provence. There are some charming homes here that date back to the 16th century, serving as a reminder that Bonnieux was a wealthy town back when it belonged to the Vatican.
Lacoste (20 min drive): The famous château belonging to the Marquis de Sade is located in Lacoste. In 1771 the Marquis fled from Paris to escape the scandals created by his erotic writing and naughty behaviour. The village has charming narrow streets paved in beautiful white stone. I really enjoyed aimlessly wandering around the town and sitting at a charming café to escape the strong sun. Drinking a delicious local rosé is a pleasant way to pass the time. You will also come across beautiful old stone houses, some of which are being restored. This charming gem of a town is definitely worth the trip to escape the modern world and slink back to a time long before modern civilization.