Lourmarine is a small village deep in the Luberon about 50 km's easy of Avignon and is surrounded by olive groves, almond trees and vineyards, and epitomizes what we all love about Provence.It is officially designated one of the prettiest villages in France.A busy village in summer, it has those lovely leafy terraces and cafe's dotted around the village, some great medieval houses, a castle with some most peculiar Renaissance stairs and loads of winding streets, archways and nooks and crannies to explore.
In the summer there is a range of activities on offer for the visitor, the vineyards offer tastings, there are a number of pretty walks through the forested valley, fishing 4 km's away in the Durrance, horse riding, even mini golf.There is horse riding available and swimming plus you can even have a go at Archery but watch where you point those arrows! For me though, it is the typical Provencal existence that attracts me, a glass of the local rose or a pasts in the late afternoon sunshine or lunch, the magical word in Provence when most things stop for 2 hours.
Lourmarine has also a famous inhabitant, sadly now deceased, Albert Camus lived and worked here and won the Nobel Prize for literature.He is buried in the Lourmarine grave yard, and tribute is paid to him all over the village.
Several other villages in the surrounding area are also worth a visit.The unfortunately named Puyvert is a small hamlet just 2 km's away and Cadenet has a really interesting classified feudal site with views over the Durrance River, the Alpilles Mountains, and the St-Victoire.There is a chateau which has been turned into a gallery and an outdoor theatre which stages shows from time to time.There are some troglodyte cave dwellings which you should go and see and there is also a basketwork museum, dedicated to a sadly dying art as the growing of willow trees has reduced a great deal since 1978.There is a Monday morning Provencal market all year around and a summer market on Saturdays. Bikes for mountain biking can be hired and there is walking, hiking and swimming available, plus a man-made lake which is only open in summer.
There is a 12th century Romanaesque church at Vaugines, plus a couple of other buildings to view, the Renaissance style Capitanerie and the 13th century Commanderie.In Cucuron there are a number of attractions;The Mark Deydiere Museum, the countryside of Saint Victoire, so loved by Cezanne, and an oilmill built into the 13th century village ramparts.The village is busy all the year around, especially in November and December when the picking and the pressing of the olives starts.
There is the odd hotel in the area, and odd is the operative word!The hotels here, if you can find one, are slightly quirky and pretty but do not always adhere to what might be expected by a discerning traveler.For the best comfort and ease of exploration, it is far better to consider renting a private villa as there are a number to choose from, often with great views, many with swimming pools and other attractions, such as their own boule courts.A number of companies are dedicated to find that perfect villa rental for you and many speak English or indeed in some cases are English and that can be important if anything goes wrong!
Getting to the area is not that difficult but you will need a car, Avignon is the biggest town and that's 50 km's away, but the drive is so pretty it will be over before you know it.The nearest airport is Marseilles but allow up to 2 hours to get there.Marseilles airport has a number of destinations on offer, London and several European destinations benefit from daily flights.