Visit Menerbes (Provence, France)
Menerbes, one of the listed 'most beautiful villages of France', is found 12 kilometres to the east of Cavaillon, in the Luberon Regional Natural Park (in the Vaucluse department of Provence).
Menerbes is one of the famous 'perched villages' of Provence, and is a medieval village spread out along a hilltop in the centre of the Luberon region, facing south across a valley to a long unbroken line of hills, and north across many miles of vineyards and open countryside.
One interesting story tells that during the Wars of Religion the village was besieged by the catholics for five years, but to their great surprise the protestant residents never gave in. It seems that in all that time the catholics failed to notice the secret passage that the villagers of Menerbes were using to leave the village and get supplies!
Park in the square below the village, then walk up along the streets that climb on towards the small 12th century church at the higher end of the village. Typical of the ancient Luberon villages, you will find narrow streets passing carefully restored medieval houses as you climb up the hill - and the most interesting discoveries are to be made in the even narrower alleys that lead off to the side of the 'main road' and into the quiet corners of the village.
Menerbes is very attractive, as much for the views it offers in all directions as for the village itself. About halfway through the village you pass the clocktower in a small open square, with an unusual wrought iron structure on top - this is called a campanile and dates from the 17th century. Be sure to pass through the adjacent arch for another fine view.
A rich townhouse almost opposite the clocktower sometimes features art exhibitions. If it is not open when you visit be sure to peer through the iron gate to see the house and garden, very pretty 'Italian' in feel.
The village of Menerbes has long attracted artists - Nicolas de Stael, was one artist who lived here, and Picasso stopped here with Dora Maar. But the village is better known for a more recent resident, Peter Mayle, who wrote his 'Year in Provence' books while living in the village. Peter Mayle has moved on but the visitors remain.
These books undoubtedly brought fame and repute to the villages of the Petit Luberon and Menerbes in particular, and deservedly so - and while much of the renovation in the village has perhaps happened since the time the books were written, it remains a lovely little place to visit with plenty of small undiscovered corners.
There is a corkscrew museum a couple of kilometres below Menerbes. I didn't have time to visit but rumour has it that it is really very interesting.
The benedictine Abbey at Saint Hilaire, 3 kilometres away from Menerbes, is also well worth a visit. As well as admiring the 13th century abbey buildings, such as the small cloister and the medieval frescoes in the chapel, the abbey is now an extensive wine producing estate surrounded by more than 100 hectares of vineyards in is a very picturesque location to sample some of the local wines.
Photos of Menerbes
Click any picture to start the gallery
Tourist classifications for Menerbes
Menerbes is classified as a one of the most beautiful village in France (plus beau villages)
Address: Ménerbes, Bonnieux, Apt, Vaucluse, Provence, 84560 || GPS: latitude 43.832, longitude 5.2061
Map of Menerbes & places nearby
Highlights close by
Suggested tourist attractions to visit near Menerbes, France
- Jardin de la Louve - remarkable garden (8km)
- Gorges de Régalon - site of natural beauty (8km)
- Gordes - most beautiful village (9km)
- Abbaye de Sénanque (Gordes) - religious monument (9km)
- Roussillon - most beautiful village (10km)
- Collégiale Notre Dame des Anges (Sorgues) - religious monument (13km)
- Lourmarin - most beautiful village (15km)
- Abbaye de Silvacane (La Roque-d'Antheron) - religious monument (15km)
- Apt - recommended detour (16km)
- Venasque - most beautiful village (19km)
The French version of this page is at Menerbes (Francais)