France is home to many beautiful places: captivating cities like Paris, Nice and Dijon; stunning regions such as the Loire Valley, Champagne, the Dordogne Valley and the Côte d’Azur. I’m sure you have your favourite.
Mine is in a small corner of Provence’s picturesque Vaucluse department. Here in the Luberon, the gently rolling landscape is abundant with vineyards, fruit trees, and olive groves, peppered with enchanting perched villages. Once a year the air is fragrant with carpets of wafting lavender and the swaying faces of golden sunflowers. Vibrant bands of colour tumble across the fields as if splashed by an unseen artist’s paint brush.
Nestled below the deep green backdrop of the southern Luberon hills, one small medieval village has captured my heart in particular. In Lourmarin, a thin-lined collection of cream-colored, shuttered buildings and a hodgepodge of clay-tiled roofs melt together between a clock tower and a church.
Although not a perched village, Lourmarin is proud to be one of ‘Les Plus Beaux villages de France’ (the most beautiful villages of France). Lourmarin’s twisting, cobbled streets are fringed with ancient buildings the colour of honey. Shutters painted from a palette of pastel shades sit below the golden clay tiled rooftops.
Alluring and unspoiled, Lourmarin’s meandering streets are full of charming boutiques and enticing galleries. Vibrant street cafés and restaurants provide lots of dining options. Lourmarin is also home to a mystical, 15th-century château, the first Renaissance château in Provence, where throughout the year one can enjoy lavish music concerts and soirées.
Every Friday Lourmarin hosts a bustling market, one of the best in the region. Its colourful stalls are packed with locally grown produce, flowers, olives and cheese. Linens flap in the gentle breeze alongside baskets and other treasures of a Provençal marché.
The setting is superb, surrounded by wineries and the ramparts of the neighboring fairy tale villages. The walled city of Avignon and sun-drenched Aix-en-Provence are less than an hour away; the dazzling Mediterranean coast just a little further.
But there’s another reason to visit Lourmarin, and that is just “to be”. To listen to the clock chime every hour as it has done for centuries. To absorb the rich sense of a time long ago, stepping across weathered cobbles to peep behind ancient doorways, which, as they creak, seem to whisper the secrets of the past.
To spend long, lazy days under cornflower blue skies, listening to the sound of chattering crickets, and the chuckle of the fountains. To become immersed in a place where your drive to the grocery store is along avenues of plane trees which seem to stretch out to kiss each other, as you pass vineyards and olive groves.
Lourmarin is an intoxicating place inspiring authors and artists, it is somewhere where one becomes busy just living. It is a place that in leaving, you’ll long to return. A place to yearn for and dream of when you are far away.
How to find Lourmarin
Situated is in the Luberon Valley in the Vaucluse department of Provence, the nearest major airport is Marseille (MRS), a 45 minute drive, with numerous connections to Paris, London, Munich and other major European cities.
If driving, Lourmarin is about 20km from the A7 autoroute traveling north and the A51 to the A8 is 20km to the south.