In the last week of May, I had the pleasure to spend a week at a friend's family home in the Luberon, near the village of Goult. That region is often on people's itineraries, and I got the chance to visit quite a few of the area's lesser-known villages (and beyond), so I thought I'd report on them!
Ansouis: a revelation! Very lively, full of flowers, with a stunning painted church, and a castle looming over it all, which is still privately-owned and tricky to visit. Certainly worth a stop if you are in Lourmarin, or coming in from Aix towards the Luberon.
Goult: this one wasn't new to me at all, but it is charming as always, with a cute main street winding all the way up to a restored windmill overlooking ruined terraced fields. Very central, easy access, easy parking - you can even drive (slowly and carefully) to the windmill if you cannot walk there.
Oppède-le-Vieux: most of the village is in ruins, which is the attraction. Very steep village, and the parking lot is not close to it, so you'd better be fit.
Joucas: a stone's throw away from Gordes with maybe 1% of the crowds. A handful of pretty flowered alleys and staircases, very charming, but only takes 20 minutes to visit.
Vénasque: a previous visit had left a better impression. Parking was a hassle, there aren't many views from the village itself, and the drive from Gordes or Apt is very winding. Still worth a stop if you are staying in nearby Pernes-les-Fontaines or even L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, but probably not otherwise.
Lacoste: very pretty and well-restored; some might say a bit too well restored. A good part of the village has been taken over by art galleries and the SCAD art school, which gives a very unusual vibe. Very steep village with slippery paving stones, beware.
Saignon: another revelation! The walk through the village, all the way to the "rocher de Bellevue" viewpoint (be careful with children) at the end, was absolutely stunning at the end of the day. There is a lovely-looking inn & café on a small square near a fountain, stopped there for a drink but nobody came to take the order so I left after ten minutes of free rest 😅.
D232 road between Bonnieux and Saignon, this road passes through beautiful lavender fields on a plateau, with Mont Ventoux as a backdrop. Must be stunning by now, with lavender in bloom.
North of the Luberon
I ventured a bit further north on one of the days, towards Mont Ventoux.
Mont Ventoux: well, I'm glad I went up there, but I am not sure it was worth the stressful drive with hundreds of struggling cyclists on the road. You are up to a mile above the surrounding plains and hills, so the views are very broad, but not detailed, and hazy in all but the best conditions.
Brantes: very cute car-free village with an impressive view of Mont Ventoux, twisting alleyways, and a lovely café ("Suzette") serving delicious sweet crêpes.
Mollans-sur-Ouvèze: a beautiful bridge with a clock tower, and not much else.
Buis-les-Baronnies: a surprisingly bustling small town, probably a good base for the immediate area (which has a beautiful landscape) but otherwise, I did not find that there was a lot to actually see there.