La Provence dissimule ses mystères derrière leur évidence.
Palais des Papes, Pont St-Bénézet and the medieval well-preserved city walls are just a few of the must-see sights in Avignon. The old town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site, is beautiful to explore.
Villeneuve-les-Avignon, a short detour along the Rhone, is well worth a visit. This picturesque town invites you to leisure through its streets and from the monastery ruins at St. André, there is a magnificent view of the Vaucluse.
Every year in July, there is a major theater, dance and music festival that is three weeks long.
Six kilometers away, is Fontaine-de-Vaucluse (Fountain of Vaucluse), the source of the Sorgue River. A beautiful walk along the picturesque river landscape leads to these spring’s waterfalls at the foot of a steep cliff 230 metres high and is the biggest spring in France. In the summer, the basin above ground is almost empty and the river flows a few hundred meters beneath the surface. At the end of winter months when the snow starts to melt in the Vaucluse Mountains, the basin fills to the rim with spring water and the river swells.
Other attractions in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse include the ruins of the Bishops of Cavaillon, the Notre Dame Saint Véran Church, the «Vallis clausa» paper museum and the Pétrarque historical museum/library focused on the World War II period.
Fun-filled kayaking trips start in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse and head towards L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue.
Gordes and Abbaye Notre Dame de Sénanque
Gordes is undoubtedly one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Luberon region. The pretty hill village is perched on the southern flank of the Vaucluse Mountains. Rising above the town is the Château de Gordes castle which today houses the art museum and tourist information. Strolling through the alleyways is especially enjoyable when the large tourist streams of the summer months have dried up.
A little outside of Gordes is the «Village des Bories», a open-air museum, where you can admire the old stone construction with its impressive dry stonework and craftsmanship.
Also close by is the Cistercian monastery «Notre-Dame de Sénanque». One-hour guided tours (only in French) or unguided tours with a tablet (HistoPad) are available. This quiet and magical place is especially worth when the lavender fields bloom from late June to August.
Roussillon, east of Gordes, is one of the most beautiful villages of France and particularly known as one of the ten locations in the world with great ocher deposits. Almost 100 years ago, ocher mining was abolished here. In addition to visiting this colorful village, there are two walks through the former ocher quarries (Sentiers des Ocres).
As in many other villages of the Luberon, the Allied armies in the Second World War also found shelter in Roussillon. Samuel Beckett hid here and dedicated his play “Waiting for Godot” to Roussillon.
Bonnieux and Lacoste
Bonnieux is a picturesque town with enchanting narrow alleys and historic buildings. Just above the village is the entrance to the park-like cedar forest (Forêt des Cèdres, also accessible from Lacoste). In the small museum «Musée de boulangerie» you can learn everything about the art of baking bread.
Lacoste is very close neighbour with its impressive entrances through city walls, small winding alleys and the Marquis de Sade‘s castle characterize this townscape.
Ménerbes is nestled on the back ridge of Luberon and offers a fantastic view of the Luberon and the Vaucluse Mountains. Pretty alleys, historic buildings and hand-crafted construction can be enjoyed here. And yes, Peter Mayle was here as well.
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Les Baux-de-Provence
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is a very pretty small town in the middle of the Regional Natural Park of Alpilles (Bouches-du-Rhône Area). Spending time here promises beautiful sights and delicious culinary experiences. Van Gogh painted here during his stay in a mental hospital and created the world-famous painting “The Starry Night”.
Les-Baux-de-Provence is built at the foot of the huge fortress/castle. From here on a clear day, you can see as far as the Mediterranean Sea. In the historical center of the village, there are not many inhabitants but the area around the castle ruins is still worth a visit.
More places of interest
Provence offers a lot more historical towns and places of interest:
Aix-en-Provence, Ansouis, Apt, Arles, Bédoin, Carpentras, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Lourmarin, Cucuron, Marseille, Nîmes, Orange, Pernes-les-Fontaines, Pont-du-Gard, Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, Salon-de-Provence, Uzès, Vaison-la-Romaine.