Luberon Natural Park
Discover Luberon Natural Park
The Luberon regional Natural Park covers almost 500 square miles, running from Cavaillon in the east to Manosque in the west, although this guide only takes you as far as Lourmarin and Bonnieux in the west - the part known as the Petit Luberon. There is a remarkable range of different environments in the Park - white limestone cliffs, red ochre cliffs, forests of cedar and exposed moorland, which in turn are home to a wide range of flora and fauna.
The Petit Luberon really needs to be walked to be seen at its best, but if you don't have time for that a drive along the roads from Cavaillon to Lourmarin, with a few stops en route, will make a very nice day out.
Start from Cavaillon, where you might like to go to the top of the town and admire the view from in front of the Chapelle St Jacques. This long-ranging view will give you a feel for the day (and the treats) ahead of you.
Cavaillon is not otherwise the most interesting town in the region, although it is famous for its melons - a treat if you are there when they are in season.
Your first stop heading west will be at Oppède-le-Vieux, a lovely little pedestrian-only hilltop village with plenty of medieval houses to admire, an attractive 12th century church, and the remains of an even older chateaux. Climb the hill (as usual) to see some lovely views of the forests and cliffs that surround the town.
Continue on to Ménerbes, ex-home to Peter Mayle and a 'most beautiful village of France' - yet another of the stunningly beautiful villages in the region. Grab some lunch, then set off again, still eastwards, until you reach Lacoste.
Everything I said about Oppède-le-Vieux applies equally to Lacoste - hilltop, beautiful, church, chateau etc. Difference this time is that the ruined chateau was once home to the Marquis de Sade. The Marquis de Sade fled to the chateau in 1778 to escape the scandals surrounding his writings which were, errr, a bit risqué.
The depravity of Lacoste behind you, carry on to Bonnieux. Yes, same old thing, beautiful all the same. This time you can stretch your legs a bit - there is a scenic walk through the cedar forests, which is a very nice way to pass the afternoon.
Energy replenished head on to the last village for the day, Lourmarin. Yet another 'most beautiful village of France' to explore and fall in love with, Lourmarin has plenty of shady cafes where you can pass the rest of the afternoon soaking up the atmosphere, and remembering that Albert Camus once walked these very streets, as he lived and worked in the town.
Photos taken within 10 km
Address: Parc naturel régional du Luberon, Vaucluse, Provence || GPS: latitude 43.829, longitude 5.034
Map of the region
Highlights close by
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Luberon Natural Park, France
- Jardin de l'Alchimiste - remarkable garden (10km)
- Collégiale Notre Dame des Anges (Sorgues) - religious monument (11km)
- Menerbes - most beautiful village (14km)
- Gorges de Régalon - site of natural beauty (16km)
- Gordes - most beautiful village (16km)
- Abbaye de Sénanque (Gordes) - religious monument (16km)
- Glanum - national monument (17km)
- Pernes-les-Fontaines - recommended detour (19km)
- Jarditrain - remarkable garden (21km)
- Venasque - most beautiful village (21km)