The very official French association “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France” (see http://www.france-beautiful-villages.org/en) lists 155 villages in France of exceptional beauty. Of these, 18 are in Provence. Lourmarin is one of them, as are Ansouis, Gordes, Ménerbes, Roussillon, Les Baux de Provence and Moustiers Ste Marie. All of these are within easy striking distance of Les Olivettes. Ansouis is only 10 minutes away, and Moustiers Ste Marie is the furthest - an hour and a half across lavender fields, with dramatic backdrop of the Alps.
Each village has its particular charm. Roussillon has ochre quarries, and presents a palette of hues from deep purple to pale, subtle pink. Les Baux is dramatic, perched on a rocky promontory in the Alpilles, the jagged, olive-covered hills beloved of Van Gogh. Gordes is chic and photographic, Ménerbes is quiet and mysterious, and Ansouis has a spectacular castle which until very recently had been inhabited by the same family for over 1000 years. And Moustiers, high in the hills, is famous for its decorative pottery and the golden star that hangs on a chain suspended between two cliffs, high above the village.
Of course, we believe that Lourmarin is the most beautiful of all, but it is one of the many pleasures of staying at Les Olivettes that each day can bring another village, another market, another vine-shaded café terrace for sipping rosé and watching the local world go by.
Sightseeing - Lourmarin, the Luberon and beyond.
Situated in the heart of the Luberon Natural Regional Park, Lourmarin has long been famous for its scenic beauty and unusual history. The village lies on the southern side of the mountain, at the entrance to the pass separating the "Petit" Luberon from the "Grand" Luberon. It makes an ideal base for exploring all of Provence, from the hidden valleys and hilltop villages of the Luberon to major cities and sites like Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and Arles. The famous antiques market in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a favourite destination for many of our guests, as are the dramatic cliffs and port-side restaurants in the fishing village of Cassis.
The Heart of Provence
In the heart of the Luberon, day-trip destinations include the Cistercian abbey of Sénanque, the medieval villages of Gordes and Bonnieux, the ochre quarries and russet colours of Roussillon.
On Sunday mornings the world-famous antiques market at Isle-sur-la Sorgue is just thirty minutes' drive. The opportunities for hiking and cycling here are almost unlimited, and these are great ways to explore some of the finest scenery in Southern France.
The major cities - Avignon, Aix & Arles
These three great cities are all less than an hour's drive from Lourmarin, and all are well-worth visiting and re-visiting. The medieval city centre of Avignon is grouped around the vast Popes' Palace, and the city's narrow streets and sunny squares contain fascinating monuments (along with great shopping).
Aix-en-Provence is famous for its tree-lined squares and elegant café terraces, as well its very chic boutiques. It has a sophisticated, cosmopolitan atmosphere. Arles is a charming medieval city with extraordinary vestiges of its Roman past. The Coliseum in the centre of Arles is as large as the one in Rome, and is still in regular use as a venue for concerts, pageants and bull-fights.