Luberon, Provence in color

The Luberon is no longer reduced, as in the past, to a massive stretching in the sun for 80 km from west to east, from Cavaillon to Manosque: the almost impassable barrier of Giono's novels, unless you take the combe de Lourmarin between the southern lands (Vaugines, Ansouis, Cucuron) and the perched villages of the North (Goult, Lacoste, Roussillon).

The Luberon, today, is a magic name, almost a myth, which alone doubles the price of rentals and sales. This explains why this micro-region extends far beyond the massif, including villages of the Vaucluse mountains like Gordes or Roussillon, and others belonging to Sorgue country, like L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue or Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, which for some have become the very emblem of the Luberon.

What sets them apart: colors. And again, the palette is so rich that you will never see the same painting twice. Ready to take your eyes off?

Each season, its colors

White sea formed by fields of cherry blossoms in spring, blue rows of lavender fields in summer, red and golden lines of vines in autumn and white snow for a few days in winter ...

Every season is an experience. Spring here is always early. From the month of february, the first almond trees are in bloom and, with their pink and white tones, form bouquets that herald the return of sunny days.

In the space of a few weeks, the Luberon regains its shimmering colors. Return of markets in March, with their stalls with scarlet strawberries, green and white asparagus. Blossoming orchards, rosebushes blooming on the facades of the houses, lilacs and wisteria, poppies and broom… A myriad of intense colors contrast with the tender green of the grass and the first leaves of plane trees, poplars and acacias.

Carpet of blooming thyme and rosemary, daffodils and wild orchids, the paths of the Luberon are at the height of their beauty spring, the springs emerge and meander throughout the massif, we suddenly feel like having a picnic!

At the end of the month of June, we hear a cicada singing in the pine tree next door. With it, summer sets in and colors invade the plates: tomato salads, ratatouille, melon, peaches and apricots.

THEfall is the most flamboyant of seasons. It is the time of the harvest in the rows of blood and gold vines, also that of the harvest of nutmeg squash and golden quinces.

THEhiver gives way to more white and we are seized by the charm of the morning mists, which cling to the sides of the mountain. White landscapes of the first frosts, picking olives, harvesting black truffles, the sweetness and colors of a plate of candied fruits with the sweet flavors of summer.

Provence blue, lavender blue

A sky of a blue as deep as it is dazzling, a light almost overwhelming in summer and so soft in spring and autumn, low and cold in winter.

In the Luberon, blue declines and becomes almost purple in lavender fields from mid-June. Fragrant waves wave over the Claparèdes plateau until Valensole and join this sky so pure, free of any cloud.

At the end of June-beginning of July, sleep at the Château du Grand Jardin, 300 m from the village of Valensole and wake up to discover the lavender fields in bloom.

Le Lavender museum, at Coustellet, is open all year round. Lavender cultivators and distillers for four generations, the Lincele have built this museum around their collection of stills. A stone's throw away, a farmers' market has been attracting international customers to this crossroads village for more than 20 years, who are heating up their credit cards.  

To get indigo blue, you just have to cross the coomb of Lourmarin to discover, on the terraces of Lauris castle, the conservatory garden of tinctorial plants. 250 plants all having in common an extraordinary coloring power.

And don't forget to look up when crossing the valleys. We find here bluish reflections even in the tops of the cedars of the Atlas. They form real forests on the peaks that overlook Bonnieux, in the valleys of the Petit Luberon, from Oppède-le-Vieux to Cabrières d'Avignon.

White walk around Gordes

The Luberon is also these limestone cliffs that one climbs in Buoux, Cavaillon or Lioux and that one still exploits for the quality of the stone in Ménerbes or Oppède. Perfectly white, this “Pierre du Midi” is used in particular for the construction and restoration of beautiful buildings.

Among the most emblematic hilltop villages: Gordes, Bonnieux, Ménerbes, Oppède-le-Vieux. Stroll through their "caladées" streets (paved with stone), discover the path of the terraces at Goult, the old village of Slits built on old quarries, the hamlet of Beaumettes with many troglodyte dwellings ...

Hike along the plague wall at Cabrières d'Avignon, and stop for a while near the bories village in Gordes. A village long deserted! Grouped together in a hamlet, these dry stone dwellings were built from the 14C before being abandoned in the 19C. There are those that served as a sheepfold, wine tank and crusher, silkworm (for silkworms), and, of course, housing.

Another timeless site, Sénanque Abbey protects itself from visitors (guided tours only). Founded in 1148, it remains one of the most beautiful buildings of the Cistercian order, with a church of extreme simplicity and a very pretty cloister.

A word of advice: visit all these places early in the morning or at the end of the day, in order to avoid the crowds. Same advice for Lourmarin, unmissable for its castle, the beauty of its alleys and the stop at the grave of Albert Camus. Finally, a must for lovers of old stones: the Ansouis castle. A colorful visit, by the owners themselves.

The "Colorado Provencal": the Luberon in yellow and red

An ocher mountain allowed the economic development of the Pays d'Apt in the 19th and 20th centuries. These sands with shades ranging from very pale yellow to purple red still form one of the strangest and most striking landscapes that exist today.

We walk in this " Provencal Colorado "On Rustrel, where erosion as much as the hand of man (these ocher quarries have been exploited since the Revolution) have shaped a landscape with a phantasmagorical appearance. A word of advice: the ocher stains seriously. To clean any stains: Marseille soap and cold water.

A 50 km marked cycle-tourist route winds through the ochres. The less athletic can take a horse-drawn carriage ride in the Ocrier massif… or fly over these amazing colorful landscapes in a hot air balloon.

You can even learn to make your own painting before going to put your easel in front of one of the most beautiful hilltop villages of the Luberon, Roussillon. Artists and potters exhibit their works there in their workshops and galleries.

To learn more about ocher, head to ocher mines in Gargas and especially the old one Mathieu ocher factory in Roussillon, which houses the ocher and color conservatory, Ôkhra, which perpetuates know-how. A “golden” place.

Vert Vaucluse: on the path of olive trees

The Luberon offers a shades of green infinite: the deep one, moss near springs and Scots pines; the softer, silvery one of theolive.

This emblematic tree is often cultivated in “terraces” and the darker gray of the dry stones that make up these low walls plays with the paler grays of the trees.

Lovers of olive oil will go to the mills that have kept their authenticity. AT Cadenet, they can even eat in the cellar of an old oil mill (Au Moulin Gourmand) after tasting a multi-awarded organic olive oil at the Bastide du Laval.

Going up towards Apt, from Cavaillon, stop at Jullien mill to taste (and buy if there are any left) one of the best oils in Vaucluse, produced in a mill that can be seen operating from mid-November to the end of December.

There is no shortage of guest rooms to sleep among the olive trees. A must: the Sources mill, near Gordes. A nicely restored 17th century oil mill. Rooms in the colors of the region (Garance, Ocre, Siena, Ardoise, Céladon).

Olive Oil Expo at Bouillons mill, which will give you the opportunity to visit the Stained Glass Museum and the adjoining glass, to stay within the theme. Route of monumental sculptures in the park.

In the land of Sorgues, to the west, a sea green bathes the walk: Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, the most important resurgent source of France, which cultivates the memory of Petrarch, or to L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the “Comtadine Venice” with its gondolas called “nego-chins” (“drowning dog”). Flat-bottomed boats, which are mainly used for a colorful summer floating market (1st Sun in August).

Luberon wines and truffles: "La vie en rose" and "Le rouge et le noir"

As is often the case in the South, the routes of the olive tree and vineyard paths cross. They now pass through castles and prestigious residences, such as the Val-Joanis castle, on the road to Cavaillon, at Pertuis. We visit its gardens in season, its vegetable gardens, before tasting the wines and olive oils of the property.

A priori nothing in common between the Bonnieux cellar, the oldest cooperative cellar in the country, and the chic Domaine de Fontenille to Lauris. However, both have been able to evolve over time to adapt to their audience. We are as well received in one as in the other. Even if the cuisine of the Fontenille estate is obviously, even on the Cuisine d'Amélie side, a cut above that which you can enjoy at noon at the Café de la Gare. In fact, if you don't go from one to the other, you won't have seen (and drunk) the Luberon.

More than half of the wines produced here are rosés, but the reds of the Isolette castle near Apt or La Canorgue castle in Bonnieux. Consult the AOC Luberon website for visiting times (there are also lodgings to sleep in the middle of the vineyards and restaurants).

In winter, go from red to black, and discover the world of truffles, Ménerbes. A beautiful 17th century mansion houses the House of truffles and wine, the largest “wine cellar” in the region, and the wines are sold there at the same price as at the producer. Nearby, a restaurant and an iconic wine bar. Small truffle market at Christmas, to change from all those, known as Provencal, where we take you for real truffles.

Luberon markets, a festival of colors and flavors

All the colors are gathered here, and are a delight for the eyes: cherry red, almond green, eggplant purple, apricot orange, peach yellow, sunflower yellow, olive green, rosés from wine and garlic, black from melanosporum ... is there anything more colorful than a Provencal market ?

Hard to miss that of Coustellet (at the crossroads of the Gordes, Cavaillon, Avignon and Apt roads, Wed 17 p.m.-19:30 p.m. from June to mid-September, and Sun mat early Apr-end Dec). Less media, that of Small palace, at the exit of L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, remains our favorite, on Saturday morning.

Nothing to do, obviously, with that of Apt, the same day, which extends throughout the city. For its atmosphere and authenticity, the Apt market was awarded the Exceptional Market label. There, you have to leave your car in the distance and walk (free bus shuttle in summer). We go there for the goat cheese, the olive oils, the ambiance. The market has always been essential to the life of the whole country of Apt, closely linked by the play of the seasons, tradition, customs and habit.

There are many others, to discover over the weekend walks, between that of Lourmarin, Friday, and that of Cavaillon, Monday, which struggles to regain its old charm.

If you missed melon season, don't be sad. There is always the candied fruit that you can pick up at the Beaumettes village, on the road to Apt, at the confectionery St Denis. Apricots, pears, cherries, candied strawberries, we leave with colors and flavors full of the trunk!

See our page on the Vaucluse markets


Find all the practical information, tips and good addresses in the Luberon in the Routard Provence in bookstores.

Consult our Provence online guide

Luberon Monts de Vaucluse intercommunal tourist office 

Tourism in Vaucluse

Luberon Regional Natural Park House 

How to get there ?

- By road: A7 motorway - Avignon exit, RN 7 direction Apt or Cavaillon and RD 900 (ex RN 100) direction Apt.

- By train: Avignon or Aix-en-Provence TGV station and car or bus rental.

Good addresses

Provence blue

- Lavender Museum : route de Gordes, 84220 Coustellet. Phone. : 04 90 76 91 23. 

- Château du Grand Jardin: 1, chemin Amiral de Villeneuve, 04210 Valensole. Phone. : 04 92 74 96 40 Port. : 07 87 00 31 65

- Conservatory garden of dye plants : castle of Lauris. Phone. : 04 90 08 40 48.

Walk in white and gray

- Village des bories: 4 km south-west of Gordes (signposted access). Phone. : 04 90 72 03 48 (town hall).  

- Castle of Ansouis: between Pertuis and Cucuron. Phone. : 04 90 77 23 36.

- Sénanque Abbey: 3 km from Gordes, on the D177. Phone. : 04 90 72 05 72. 

- A nice event: the Yeah festival in Lourmarin in early June.

Colorado Provençal

- In the heart of the village of Roussillon, a brand new hotel, La Maison des ocres: route de Gordes, 84220 Roussillon. Phone. : 04 90 05 60 50.

- Ôkhra, the ocher and color conservatory: on the D 104 (direction Apt), 1,5 km from the center of Roussillon. Phone. : 04 90 05 66 69.

- The Ocres trail: departure from the car park located towards the Roussillon cemetery. Open from mid-feb to mid-nov min.

Olive green

- Maurice Jullien olive oil : Chemin du Moulin-à-Huile, route d'Apt, Saint-Saturnin. Phone. : 04 90 75 56 24.

- La Bastide du Laval oil: chemin de la Royère, in Cadenet. Phone. : 04 90 08 95 80.

- Restaurant Au Moulin Gourmand: 4, rue Viala in Cadenet. Phone. : 04 90 77 68 27.

- Bed and Breakfast Le moulin des Sources: hamlet of Gros near Gordes. Phone. : 04 90 72 11 69.

Wine and truffles

- Château Val-Joanis: route de Cavaillon, 84120 Pertuis. Phone. : 04 90 79 20 77. 

- Domaine de Fontenille: route de Roquefraîche, 3 km north-west of the center of Lauris. Phone. : 04 13 98 00 00. 

- House of truffles and wine : Place de l'Horloge, 84560 Ménerbes. Phone. : 04 90 72 38 37. Free entry and free tasting.

Luberon markets

Confectionery Saint Denis : ZA plan des Amandiers, route d'Apt (N 900), Les Beaumettes. Phone. : 0490 72 37 92.

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