Nestled in the scenic region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in southern France, the Luberon valley boasts an astonishing amount of little towns and villages. If you are looking for “typical Provence”, this is it.
Exploring the most beautiful villages of the Luberon is like stepping into a world where time stands still. It’s a region I know well, having family in the area. Exuding charm and history, the ancient stone houses line flower-filled streets, with picturesque landscapes surrounding it all.
From the iconic hilltop village of Gordes and ochre trails of Roussillon, to the hidden gems of Bonnieux and Ménerbes, each village in the Luberon tells its own story. So let’s have a look at the most beautiful villages of the Luberon valley, shall we? Allons-y!
Officially recognized as one of the plus beaux villages de France (meaning one of the “most beautiful villages in France”), Gordes a tiny gem of a town that attracts quite an exclusive clientele.
The village of Gordes is in a stunning location on a clifftop and offers some expansive views of the valley below. The village itself is tiny and much of it is built on a slope.
With a 5-star hotel in its midst known as the Bastide in Gordes, this is a town that tends to attract the wealthy, looking for a getaway that can last all summer.
Where to stay in Gordes
- €€€ – Mas des Romarins, The Originals Relais
- €€€€€ – Airelles, La Bastide de Gordes (with amazing views of valley below)
About 40 miles (65 km) from Aix-en-Provence, is Roussillon, the town officially recognized as one of the “plus beaux village de France”.
Roussillon is famous for being surrounded by the orange and yellow ochre hills of an old quarry. They are a sight to behold, and are so popular that reservations are needed to visit during certain times of the year.
The town sits atop the hill, and its lower part is lined with all sorts of artisan shops. The main commodity here is pottery and pigments, from the nearby ochre trails.
There are several organized tours that visit Roussillon and the nearby lavender fields from Avignon and nearby Aix-en-Provence. You can read more about visiting Roussillon here.
Where to stay in Roussillon
The perched hilltop village of Bonnieux is located on the northern slope of the Luberon massif, just a few miles away from Gordes and Roussillon and about an hour away from Aix-en-Provence.
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 church perched on a hill.
There is also a small vinery called Château La Canorgue nearby, if you are looking to indulge in some Côtes du Rhône wines. And if you are looking for stunning views over the Luberon, a visit to the village of Bonnieux is a must.
Where to stay in Bonnieux
Lourmarin has been labeled “une des plus beaux village en France” (one of the most beautiful villages in France) to visit.
The village owes its existence to its strategic location near a route to Aix-en-Provence, around the Massif of Luberon. Aix-en-Provence has always been a bustling town due to its natural thermal springs, so the route to Aix needed to be defended.
A fortress was built in the area in the 12th-century to protect that route, and gradually the village around it expanded to what it is today, with a population of approx. 1000 people.
There is a beautiful château in the village to an exhibition to French philosopher and writer Albert Camus who lived in area for several years. Along with bustling cafés and small boutiques, this is the quintessential French village in Provence.
Where to stay in Lourmarin
The hilltop town of Ménerbes is larger than some of the other towns on the list, and it is easy to see why. The town attracts plenty of visitors all year around, with a vibrant local community and many cultural events.
It is located near the ancient Via Domitia and the 2000 year old Roman Pont Julien bridge which is still standing nearby. It is also within 20 minutes of two other attractions, the Château du Marquis de Sade in Lacoste and the Abbaye Saint Hilaire.
In the 1960, the village of Ménerbes became a cultural favorite after Dora Maar took up residence. She was an artist as well as a lover and muse of Pablo Picasso, and the widow of artist Nicolas de Staël.
In addition, the British author Peter Mayle moved to Ménerbes writing many books about a British expatriate who settled in the village of Ménerbes. You can read more about visiting Ménerbes here.
Where to stay in Ménerbes
- €€€ – Hôtel particulier de Tingry – Pierres d’Histoire
- €€€€ – La Bastide de Marie, Maisons et Hôtels Sibuet
Located in the heart of the Luberon region, the small village of Ansouis is famous for its most prominent landmark, the Château d’Ansouis. This medieval fortress stands proudly atop a hill, offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.
Its imposing architecture and beautifully landscaped gardens provide a glimpse into the village’s feudal past. Inside, you can explore the castle’s interior and admire its antique furnishings. The Château is privately owned and guided visits are available only during certain times of the year.
Strolling through the narrow streets of Ansouis, The village is adorned with beautiful stone houses, colorful shutters, and cascading flower pots that add to its idyllic allure.
Along the way, you’ll also discover charming boutiques, art galleries, and local artisan shops that showcase the region’s craftsmanship. Additionally, the Église Saint-Martin, a Romanesque church with its beautiful stained glass windows, is another architectural gem worth visiting.
Where to stay in Ansouis
- €€€ – Un Patio en Luberon
With ancient buildings made of stone, the lovely little village of Venasque feels like it belongs to another era.
Perched on a rocky edge of a cliff, it is about 24 miles (38 km) from Avignon. It has been officially recognized as one of the “plus beaux villages de France” (one of the most beautiful villages in France), welcoming thousands of visitors every year.
When the sun is shining, this little village is a stunning place to visit, with its medieval stone buildings and historic church.
Where to stay in Vénasque
I would recommend staying in the village next door, Gordes which is slightly bigger. It is about 10 miles (16km) away, with equally lovely views of the valley. Crucially, it has more cafés and restaurants for visitors, while keeping that same village feel.
8. Fontaine de Vaucluse
The small village of the Fontaine de Vaucluse is not quite as large as the others, but it is a very popular tourist attraction in the Luberon Valley. It is a natural spring, and one that is considered the 5th largest in the world.
Located in at the foot of the Vaucluse Mountains, between the towns of Saumane-de-Vaucluse and Lagnes, this little corner of the Natural Park of Lubéron is one of the most visited sites in Provence.
The spring itself is situated at the feet of a steep limestone cliff 230 metres high, and has an annual flow of 630 million cubic metres. It is a beautiful area, with a few provençale restaurants dotted all around.
You can take a tour from Avignon that will bring you to Fontaine de Vaucluse and read more about visiting Fontaine de Vaucluse here.
If you enjoyed that article, you may like to read more about the local foods and drinks specialties in Provence. A bientôt!