The Luberon consists of three mountain ranges and occupies about 600 square km. Situated in Provence, it is arguably the most beautiful and picturesque part of rural France. The scenery is made up spectacular mountains, vineyards, lavender fields, and perched historic villages.
The Golden Triangle of the Luberon is made up of the settlements of Lacoste, Gordes, Bonnieux, Goult, Oppede, Menerbes and Rousillion.
Classed as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Gordes is perched on a hill, overlooking the Luberon valley. The 11th century castle is at the centre dominating the village, and is open in part to the public. There are many shops and restaurants to explore, some of which stay open throughout the year. There is a market every Tuesday morning, which depending on the time of year sells local produce and more tourist goods such as baskets, linens and pottery.
The village was one of the locations used in the Ridley Scott film "A Good Year" in 2006 featuring Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard, which showcased Provence at its best. There is a copy of the film in the house for guests to see!
Menerbes is a charming hilltop village made famous by the books of Peter Mayle in the 1990's, notably 'A Year In Provence". It is considerably sleepier these days, Peter Mayle himself has moved to the south Luberon, but it is definitely worth visiting for the spectacular views and the small Thursday market.
Bonneux is one of the largest of the Luberon villages, with plenty of restaurants and cafés, and a bustling Friday market. It began as a fortified village in the 10 century and has some very smart houses dating back to the 16th century which were initially the residence of the bishops who lived in the area when it belonged to the Popes. Bonnieux has a bread making museum which shows how bread was made in the artisanal way.
This beautiful village has steep, narrow cobbled streets that wind upwards towards the partially ruined castle of the Marquis de Sade. The castle has been under restoration since the 1950's by the fashion designer Pierre Cardin.
The Festival of Lacoste in July and August celebrates musical, theatrical and artistic events including opera in the quarry of Lacoste.
This village rises out of a stunning red ochre cliff, the quarry next to the village was, in its day, one of the most significant locations of red pigment used by artists in the world. The buildings reflect the vibrancy of theses colours very unlike the honey coloured stone of the other villages.
There are numerous restaurants and cafés to try, and amazing views of the Luberon and Mont Ventoux from the top of the village.
Goult is less well know than the other notable villages in the Luberon, but it is still worth a visit. Café de la Poste on the main square is a popular and pleasant place to sit and watch the world go by and, if you walk further up the street the older part of the village is charming.