Bonnieux’s Old town: A Provençal village on the hilltops

Explore the hilltop village of Bonnieux in the Vaucluse near the Luberon in Provence. From the history of the Roman Pont Julien bridge, what to do, and more.
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Bonnieux - view from Eglise Haut
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Bonnieux is a charming village located in the heart of the Luberon Valley in Provence. It is one of those hilltop villages hidden away in the south of France that completely comes to life in the summer months.

The village of Bonnieux has a rich history dating back to the Roman era. IT is famous for being the territory where the old Roman bridge Pont Julien sits. The bridge is about a couple of miles away from the center of Bonnieux, and still a working bridge dating back to the 1st century.

The village belonged to the Counts of Provence since the Middle ages. Eventually it became part of the Papal lands when the Roman Popes were living in nearby Avignon.

Beautiful entrance to a building in Bonnieux

The area around Bonnieux is known for its picturesque countryside, including the Vaucluse mountains, lavender fields, and vineyards. It is near the beautiful villages of Ménerbes, Lacoste, Roussillon, Gordes, Lourmarin, and Isle-sur-la-Sorgue making it popular destination for visitors.

So let’s have a look at the top things to see and do in Bonnieux, shall we? Allons-y!

Things to do in Bonnieux

1. Église Haute and Église Bas

The skyline of the village of Bonnieux is dominated by two churches, Église Haute and Église Bas, meaning “High church” and “Low church”.

Bonnieux's Old town: A Provençal village on the hilltops 1
Eglise Haute de Bonnieux

Église Haute is the older of the two, with portions of the ancient church dating back to the 10th century. It is perched on top of a hill overlooking Bonnieux, inside the historic ramparts of a castle is now in ruins.

The church is not always open, but there are beautiful views from all around, if you want to admire it from the outside.

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Eglise Bas

Église Bas is a more modern church that was built in the 18th century, and is also referred to as the Église neuve de Bonnieux or “New church”. Eglise Bas is located at the base of Bonnieux (next to a large parking lot for visitors to the town.) Both churches are open to visitors and are well worth a visit.

2. Pont Julien (bridge)

Similar to the renowned Pont Du Gard, a smaller Roman bridge called the Pont Julien is located just outside the village center of Bonnieux in Provence.

The bridge was built around 3 BC after the Roman conquest by Julius Caesar and named after him. The bridge was still a working bridge for cars are recently as 2005.

Pont Julien

It was built along the old Roman road, the via Domitia which connected the settlements in Cavaillon to Apt, and is today one of the most famous Roman ruins in France. You can read more about Pont Julien here.

3. The Old Village

The village of Bonnieux has a lot of winding pedestrianized streets that make a wonderful place to walk around. There are some lovely restaurants, including a number of them which are perched on the cliffside offering views across the valley.

The village’s main road cuts through its center. Most of the village’s stores and businesses are located in its lower section, while its higher section has meandering lanes that lead to the Eglise Haute church.

House on a hill in Bonnieux

It is not the most stroller or wheelchair-friendly however, as there are a number of steps.

There are main roads where car traffic is allowed to pass, but you will not get a true feel of the town unless you are walking around. Wear good shoes however, as there is a bit of climbing.

4. La Louve garden

The La Louve garden is a beautiful private garden located in the heart of Bonnieux. It is open to the public, and is known for its stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

It was created in 1986 by Nicole de Vésian, a textile designer for the French fashion house Hermès, with subsequent owners maintaining her designs and its upkeep. It is classified by the French Ministry of Culture as one of the Remarkable Gardens of France.

5. Wine and the Cave de Bonnieux

France is known for its excellent wine, and the Luberon region that Bonnieux is in is no exception. The wines are part of the Côtes du Rhône region with the Luberon having its own AOC.

Wines from Luberon

The Cave de Bonnieux is a local winery that stocks and sells some of the best wines in the area. Visitors can take a tour of its facilities and taste the wines, or they can purchase bottles to take home.

6. Château La Canorgue

About 1 mile from the center of Bonnieux is the privately-owned Château La Canorgue. It is a beautiful castle that today operates as a winery and is open to visitors.

It has been in the same family for over 200 years, who continue to run the vineyard. The 17th century château was built on the ruins of an ancient Roman villa that once stood here.

There are no visits inside the château but you can visit the wine shop and do a tasting, as well as purchase some wines directly from the terroir.

7. Musée de la Boulangerie

The French take their breads very seriously and Musée de la Boulangerie is proof. It is museum located in Bonnieux that is dedicated to the history of baking.

Vsitors can learn about the history of baking in the region, as well as the traditional techniques dating back centuries that are still used today. It is not always open, so check opening hours on their website before heading over.

Market days

The Bonnieux market takes place every Friday morning from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. There are all sorts of provencal specialties on sale, from local souvenirs, wines, truffles, etc.

It can get quite crowded in the parking lots however, especially in the summer months, so arrive early.

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How to get to Bonnieux?

The village of Bonnieux is only accessible by car or bus. The city of Avignon is the largest big city nearby with high-speed train TGV access from Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and Paris.

For a day trip, Avignon is about 30 miles (50 km) away from Bonnieux, and which can take about 45 minutes to travel.

How easy is it getting around?

The town of Bonnieux is perched on a hill, so you will need a good pair of walking or running shoes to get around. The pedestrian paths are not the most stroller or wheelchair-friendly, but you can drive around most of the town to get around.

How many days should you spend?

It takes about a day to explore Bonnieux, but you may want to spend the night in order to explore the restaurants and bars in the village at nighttime.

Where should you stay?

There are some wonderful lodging options in Bonnieux, in beautiful local farms and gites.

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If you enjoyed that article, you may like to read more about traveling around Provence. A bientôt!

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