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A Luberon Experience

A Luberon Experience

Monday, May 13, 2013 
Delights in the South of France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on a summer tour on the Amalfi Coast, in Provence, or in Amsterdam/Belgium.

Our fellow Slow Travel Tours members, Charley and Kathy Wood, have invited us to join them for a day of their Luberon Experience tour, and it’s just a gorgeous day to explore this enticing area with them. 

We’re staying in Lourmarin for a couple of nights, and buzz by the elegant chateau on our way to meet the Woods in Bonnieux.

After zig-zagging our way up and over the Combe de Lourmarin, we come out above the valley and snake down through upper-town Bonnieux to meet Charley at the Clos de Buis below, which they’ve filled with Luberon Experience guests for the week.
Several of the group are hiking with Kathy across the valley to Lacoste, crowning the opposite hill, and we’ll meet them there later.

Our first stop is the peaceful Abbaye St. Hilaire, where Charley points out the WC – carved into the adjacent cliff!

The Abbey, with origins in the 1300s, was abandoned for decades, and is now being slowly and carefully restored by a family who is also living there.

 

We enjoy the views of farms below and cliffside gardens,

then pile back into the cars to meet the rest of the group in Lacoste, where we begin our tour above the town at the chateau, now used as an exhibition venue, that was the former abode of the Sade family…

yes, THAT Marquis was chased out of  THIS town and imprisoned in the Bastille. Across the valley you can see Bonnieux to the right.

Beyond the sculpture, gleaming white-topped in the distance, is Mont Ventoux, a yearly fixture on the Tour de France.


Kathy shares the history of this now quiet and peaceful place, and we walk down through the town, which is mostly inhabited by students and faculty of the Savannah College of Art and Design… not even a bakery is here any more.

Next stop, our perennial favorite (we were here last month, remember?) Roussillon.

The Wood’s favorite Provencal artist, Francoise, whose shop is just on the left as you enter the village, shows us her work, and at least one Luberon Experience guest takes home a beautiful painting!

I love her patio – what a perfect place to sit and be inspired!

We’re all roussillon colored as we sit down for lunch in Cafe des Couleurs,

then take time to stroll the lanes, a photo op at every turn, from the tower

to a poppy strewn cliffside.

A couple more stops with the group – the graceful arch of Roman Pont Julien,

and a hand- picked- by – Kathy poppy field, just right for a scarlet- surrounded photo. Once again, Mont Ventoux gleams in the distance.
Thanks so much, Kathy and Charley, for generously sharing a Luberon Experience day with us!

We take off on our own for a few more Luberon sights, such as Gordes, another of France’s official “most beautiful villages” ,

and leave time for a wander around Lourmarin,

where our chat with a sidewalk guitarist leads us to his shop – he’s also an artist! And while we browse and buy he entertains us with a Johnny Cash tune or two.
Each day’s proving even better than we could have imagined – one unexpected surprise after another, with gorgeous weather as a perfect backdrop.

 

Fab Friends and Superb Sights

Fab Friends and Superb Sights

Saturday, March 30, 2013 
South of France

Interested in a Music and Markets Tour? We’d love to hear from you!  Join us on a summer tour on the Amalfi Coast, in Provence, or in Amsterdam/Belgium.

La Belle Cour is as pretty as can be, ready for our spring and summer renters, so we’re on our way to Aix for a couple of days filled with friends, music and the delights of Provence. A quick shopping spree Saturday morning to pick up gifts, dessert for tomorrow, and that Ambiance d’Aix necessity, fresh flowers.

On the mantel goes the bouquet of sunshiney mimosa,

then we’re back in the car for a countryside drive to the lush Luberon, an hour or so north. We zig and zag up over the Combe de Loumarin,

and soon the graceful tumble of Bonnieux, our destination, appears ahead. Kathy and Charley Wood, fellow
Slow Travel Tours members, have invited us for lunch in their new apartment and we are eager to see lovely Bonheur en Bonnieux. What a marvelous setting – bakeries, cafes and boutiques just steps away, views of the beautiful countryside from every window and this inviting terrace –  a cozy and charmingly decorated two bedroom haven in one of Provence’s most delightful villages!

We love hearing the tales of finding antiques, beds, the many touches of sunny yellows and reds, dealing with France Telecom and the electric company (!!) and are reminded of our weeks of getting Ambiance d’Aix ready for renters, as the Woods have done.


Charley pours a crisp rosé to accompany Kathy’s mouthwatering quiche, followed by a board of local cheeses,

then we bundle up for a stroll through the village.

The Woods have spent many a month here for a decade or more, and Bonnieux is the base for their Luberon Experience tours, so every few feet we’re stopped with a cheery greeting from a friend.  We’re thrilled, with them, that they’ve now established a home here – what a treasure!
We complete our Luberon afternoon with a stop at what’s probably our favorite village in the region, Roussillon. You know you’re getting close when the russet cliffs appear by the road.

No matter how many times we visit, we always take more photos here than anywhere else – can you blame us?!


On the edges of town, you can still see where the ochre was harvested – scraped off generations ago – in shades from palest yellow to blood-red brick. Today synthetic paints have replaced the ochres used in times past.



Enjoy the views with us –

a rainbow row of homes,

 

an ancient arch leading to the topmost part of the village,

a valley vista,

colorful abodes,

one tucked right into the red rock,

others scattered among the cliffs.

We linger til sunset, watching the colors change,

Bonne nuit, Roussillon, it’s been a pleasure!!

The lights of  Lacoste, the ancient stronghold of the Marquis de Sade, shimmer a wink goodnight as we drive home to Aix.