This past weekend I took another wonderful group to visit the incredible, unforgettable Luberon region of France. Provence, Côte d’Azur is one of the most visited areas of France receiving close to 11 million visitors a year! Of course, it would be a top pick for me and I love taking a bunch of adventure seekers, right along with me.
This year, we meandered down through France, stopping in Dijon on the way and Lyon on the return to break up the distance which were great cities to add to our wonderful itinerary. I fell in love with these towns during our trip to Nice this past February and now feel like they are sister cities that I know very well!
We made our way once again to Vaugines, France. This little town near Lourmarin, where we found the wonderful B&B, L’Elephant. We stayed here last year with François and had such an amazing time we just had to return. François is very easy to work with and helps coordinate day trips and markets, he’s a gem. His service and attention to detail are impeccable. This year, we met Nina his lovely wife and enjoyed another amazing stay.
They introduced us to Tropézienne a regional pastry from St. Tropez that was a donut like cake filled with orange creme. YUM!
Vaugines is a quiet, peaceful town away from the hustle and bustle of some of the more visited cities of Provence. I highly recommend it for rest, relaxation and decompression after full days of touring and shopping. Local restaurants are within walking distance too and François would even help you make reservations.
Our first full day in Provence we decided to visit Lourmarin, this weekly market happened to be open earlier this year and stayed open later because the TOUR de FRANCE was traveling through ~ No kidding! I can’t make this stuff up!
We happened to be in Lourmarin the day the portion of the Tour de France was traveling through making it a “must-see” for several of our inquisitive adventurers who opted to stay and see the race.
After the market we visited the Bastide du Laval, an olive oil and winery just outside of Lourmarin. One of our stops last year, we just had to have a visit with Alex, Carine and Roland, the olive oil and wine tasting is fabulous. One of the best Rose’s I’ve had from the region, I always make sure I leave with a few bottles before we scoot.
Try the flavored olive oils (lemon, basil and truffle.) The pure richness of their signature “Green fruity” filtered oil will make you ask for a cup, instead of just a taste. The olive oil processing tour is quite informative and gives insight on the intricacies of production that leave you honored knowing the delicacies of making fine olive oil.
Apt is one of the largest markets in all Provence, so of course we needed to make it one of ours too. With linens, pottery, jewelry, clothing, cheeses, lavender sprays, flowers, and on and on, several streets long, what’s not love? The market is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturdays but with a full day the day before we arrived a little later at 11:00a.m. there was plenty of time to shop and see this historic town.
So after breakfast we said tearful goodbye’s to François and Nina and headed to Apt where we would spend the night.
CAUTION** the road to Apt from Lourmarin/Vaugines is quite narrow and windy. Absolutely beautiful and breathtaking but lots of switchbacks. We were grateful to spend the night in Apt after shopping at the market as it would have made for a long day.
Shopping all day can make you hungry. So with a little persuasion I convinced a few travelers to join me at The Creperie in Apt.We had a wonderful lunch with salads and crepes. I highly recommend this restaurant located on the second floor of a very narrow building in downtown Apt. Our service was wonderful and salads were impressive.
After the market, we visited the Lavender Museum in Coustellet which was not too far away. This was my first visit here and we loved it. Our guide Rita was awesome, we did book an English private tour and I’m really glad we did. The tour was about 45 minutes and then we were able to shop in store where Rita told us about all the different uses of lavender from medicinal purposes to baths and relaxation. It makes me laugh every time we visit the lavender fields or a store because usually we have sleepy travelers conked out on the bus ~ I can vouch it is a great sleep aid.
With everything pretty close together now in Apt we spent the night at a little hotel just outside of Apt, Hotel La Manoir. With a beautiful swimming pool, lovely rooms and wonderful reception by Emi and Mikael we felt like family when we arrived. I arranged for breakfast and for dinner which was fabulous, not to schlep around town or get back on the bus. I was so glad we did that as we all were ready for a swim, dinner and bed.
Heading out of Provence we decided to stop in the unbelievable cliff-side town of Gordes. Our awesome bus driver, Wolfgang (Omnibus Wolfgang) generously pulled over for us to snap a few shots! This was just one I got ~ can’t wait to return.
Next we traveled to the famous Sènanque Monastery. Because it was Sunday and our group was under 20 we were unable to tour the inside of the monastery but we had plenty of time to take photos. One that a travel blogger must have if they are ever in Provence.
So with our walks through the lavender and our bus smelling like lavender you can imagine how quiet and sleepy everyone was on their way up north. But our hearts and bellies were full. What a wonderful visit to Le Luberon ~ I look forward to my next visit, but I don’t think I can wait a year ~
It’s always an adventure when you ©Travel with Wendy!