A Guide to: Luberon

Parc naturel régional du Luberon

The Parc Naturel du Luberon is a designated area of the South of France of outstanding natural beauty. The area stretches from east to west between the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and Vaucluse and includes three “mountains”: the eastern Luberon the Grand Luberon and the Petit Luberon. The area is home to a great variety of natural diversity and architectural heritage.The area spans 145 hectares and runs from Cavaillon in the west to the edge of the Verdon Regional Natural Park to the east, the Durance making border between the two. The reserve is UNESCO-listed and encompasses limestone-mountains, rolling hills, serene valleys, orchards, and farms.

Everywhere you look, the area is blessed with stunning views. To the north is the wild mountain scenery of the Vaucluse hills and famous Mont Ventoux, and to the south the beautiful oak and pine covered slopes of the Grand and Petit Luberon mountains.The Luberon area itself is a picturesque landscape of vineyards, cherry orchards and lavender fields enhanced by the stunning hilltop villages; it really is an iconic area of the South of France. To add to this, the area is renowned for its sunshine days and blue skies all year round; there really is nowhere better to visit.

The area is superb for it’s local gourmet delights with many great restaurants and additional locally produced fruit, cheeses, honey and many other tempting local produce.There are many very good local vineyards all noted for producing excellent Cotes de Ventoux and Cotes du Luberon with tastings available at all the small domaines as well as the two big ‘cave cooperatives’.The vineyards are all too apparent in the areas and views within the region, all awash with the views of vineyard orchards.

The Parc Naturel du Luberon area is also noted for its provencal fabrics and beautiful table linen which are available from the local markets also with a wide variety of pottery. Within the area, several of the villages have art galleries and you can first hand purchase artwork made by some of the local artists. This is one of the lovely elements you can get in visiting one of these such areas regions in France; this is very much part of the charm.

A highly recommended area to visit, it is best to visit if you have a driving itinerary. To do this you must wander the charming towns and stroll cobblestone lanes while soaking up the Provençal ambience. You need to admire the stunning views of the landscape and savor the authentic regional cuisine. You also need to make the most of the local delicacies and flavours.The melons of Cavaillon are famous for their delicate flavor. Ménerbes is home to prized truffle dishes and the Bread and Goat Cheese Market, and Cadenet offers artisan products and specialties such as grilled quail with tapenade, chestnut soup, and cherry clafouti. This will first hand show you how this really is a unique region.

There are some really great towns worth visiting which promise the natural charm and character to which the Luberon area has become so iconic.There is Gordes, the Picture-Perfect Hilltop Village, Lourmarin which offers the Provençal art de vivre (art of living), Cavaillon with its Melon Festival and Rich Jewish Heritage or for something more diverse, Cadenet with its Culture, Cuisine, and Festivals. Every town in the Luberon can offer something different for anyone looking to visit. With this in mind, you need to really take in the atmosphere and everything this unique area has to offer.

Regardless of which areas you wish to visit, the area is great for walking and cycling to first hand appreciate the beautiful countryside, letting the quiet country roads lead you on to discover the hidden corners within this lovely region. No matter when you visit, all times of the year have something different to offer. From the cherry orchards in full bloom in early Spring, poppies dancing in the old dry stone walls in May, lavender wafting it’s scent across the fields in June and July, and even in October the golds and reds of the vineyards give a warm glow to the hills. There is something unique for all to see throughout all periods of the year. There is no better way to appreciate this other than doing so by walking or cycling; you can drive also of course.

If you have a hire car, you must drive to the top of Mont Ventoux. This bare topped mountain is known as the Giant of Provence. It is a mystical mountain to the provencals and on a clear day the views from the summit of the southern Alps and distant Camargue are just superb. The area is famed as it is said to be the hardest of all the mythical Tour de France climbs. It’s views however are unrivalled.

If a picnic may be your type of thing, you must visit The Foret des Cedres, on the mountain tops above Bonnieux the botanical trail in this forest of Atlas Cedars leads you to stunning views across the valley. The setting makes for a great place for a shady picnic in the heat of the day. The setting is most tranquil and the views cannot be rivaled from any other point in the local area.

Overall, an idyllic piece of rural landscape, there are no end of medieval hilltop villages and historic towns that dot the landscapes of the Luberon. The towns and villages within the area are all distinctive in their own way and are some of Provence’s most charming, unspoiled tourist destinations.They all typify the type of architecture and settlements to which this area has become so synonymous, with endless towns and villages perched atop the valleys overlooking the olive groves, lavender fields, hay bales and the other forms of produce growing which is associated with this region.