Provence Luberon in October?

Old Apr 20th, 2019, 01:53 PM
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Provence Luberon in October?

I am a single woman (late 50s) hoping to explore Provence, France in early October. I started some research, but very quickly was overwhelmed, so I am reaching out for help. I am an experienced traveler, although have never been Provence, and prefer traveling a bit off the beaten path. The villages of Luberon particularly interest me.

I will be starting my trip at Gatwick airport outside of London and have not yet booked the flight, but it looks like in the interest of time, flying is shortest and the flights are most reasonable, accessible and plentiful to Marseille. I will have a car the entire time, but also plan to rent an electric bike for a few days. I’m thinking of staying in 2-3 locations over a 7 night period.
I would like to stay in a few beautiful villages of Luberon or the surrounding area that have sites or countryside of interest to explore but I am not sure which would be best? My accommodation style is charming (but not posh) hotels or B&Bs. I prefer simple and traditional over exclusive or modern, but aesthetics and cleanliness are very important to me. I am not the hostel or shared room type as I prefer my privacy and hotels or B&Bs appeal to me because I will be traveling alone and do not want to be too isolated.

I love photography and plan to ride the bike through the countryside to photograph the countryside and small villages so a town that would be accessible to this would be especially good. I also love markets, particularly antique markets, so have considered L'Isle Sur la Sorge as one of the villages. Any other towns with markets that could be recommended? I appreciate good food and wine and want to experience a few wonderful cafes or restaurants, but would prefer a hidden gem over a well known high-priced restaurant where reservations are required months in advance. I like flexibly and don’t want to be locked in to a trip that is too pre-booked. Chateauneuf du Pape is one of my favorite wines and I have considered touring that area and doing a wine tasting since it is only an hours drive. Is it worth it, or is it too popular? I see that people reserve these tastings a year or so in advance. I love art, but again, would prefer a few smaller gems. Should I include one night in Avignon or Aix? I appreciate your feedback and ideas.
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Old Apr 20th, 2019, 04:21 PM
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My wife & I have vacationed for 22 weeks in Provence. I developed a 35 page itinerary for Provence & the Cote d'Azur that describes our favorite villages, scenic drives, hideaways, farmer's markets, restaurants, wineries (Beaucastel/Chateauneuf du Pape), etc. I've sent this itinerary to over 3,000 people on Fodors. If you would like a copy, e-mil me at [email protected] & I'll attach one to the reply e-mail.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 20th, 2019, 04:53 PM
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I can highly recommend this b&b-
Bed and Breakfast - Luberon B&B - Provence - a beautiful inn located in the Luberon Park in the heart of Provence.

It is located just outside of the lovely town of St Saturnin Les-Apt (a 15 minute walk) and home to one point of the best restaurants in the area, L’Estade. There are 2 other restaurants in town worthy of dining.

The b&b is very central for exploring the Luberon and they have bikes they can loan (free) you to explore the beautiful country roads directly accessible from their driveway. The owners are extremely helpful. They even make their own wine (excellent!) from their vineyards surrounding the b&b.
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Old Apr 20th, 2019, 08:27 PM
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That's Kevin & Elizabeth's place!!!! We've had some wonderful lunches with them. He is from the US (lived 20 mins from our house in the SF Bay area). They know everything about the region. Recommended in my 35 page itinerary. Their place is surrounded by vineyards.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 20th, 2019, 10:29 PM
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Another vote for Château Beaucastel*at*Châteauneuf*du Pape, email them right away to set up a tour in English. No charges, you also get to taste 4-5 wines at the end of the tour.*They are out in the vineyards outside the town, you can email them for a visit, they have tours in English. They are out in the vineyards and a little difficult to find, even with GPS.*They*also have a sales outlet in town where*we went later for more tastings and some purchases. Of course there are any number of wine shops, you can also stop at the tourist office for maps and suggestions.

Don’t miss upper part of town with the ruins of the château, you can either walk up from town, about 10-15 minutes,*or drive right up. Parking was difficult to find in town.

Château de Beaucastel - 84350 Courthézon, France
Phone : +33.4.90.111.200
***www.familleperrin.com** *twitter.com/beaucastel** **facebook.com/beaucastel

We found Avignon too big and busy for our taste, though the Pope’s Palace is a magnificent building with a long and interesting history. A must see IMO. And of course the Pont d’Avignon, much beloved of the children’s rhyme!

Mountain biking is huge on Mont Ventoux, the area is extremely scenic, with the Dentelles de Montmirail and little villages. Several important wines villages too, Gigondas, Vacqueras and Beaumes*de Venise with extremely drinkable reds.


Last edited by geetika; Apr 20th, 2019 at 10:36 PM.
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Old Apr 21st, 2019, 06:23 AM
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Mt Ventoux biking.

We've stayed at a gite at the "base" of Mt Ventoux in Bedoin for 10 weeks over 4 trips. In the morning, we walk to town for croissants & cafe creme and watch the "morning commute" - bikers heading up to Mt Ventoux. In the afternoon, there is the "evening commute" - bikers coming down and plopping at one of the many cafes in town for a beer.

Great Monday morning market in Bedoin. There are 4 bike rental shops in Bedoin. One is also a pizza parlor.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 21st, 2019, 06:55 AM
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The Luberon massif is a mountain chain that stretches from Cavaillon in the west to Manosque in the east. It is in the Department of the Vaucluse. So exactly how specific are you being?

First, I highly recommend reading Village in the Vaucluse by Laurence Wylie, one of the most beautiful books ever written. It is a sociological study on village life that has inspired many people (including myself) to visit the village of Roussillon, which is the village featured in the book (the author calls it Peyrane, a made up name). It is spectacularly gorgeous, and one of its many amazing features is an ochre quarry. Walking onto the quarry is like walking into a paint factory, so I advise wearing footwear and clothing you don't mind being covered in dust of many colors. You will get filthy. Roussillon is not a well kept secret, though.
Another highlight for me is a lowlands spot you could consider staying, Fontaine-de-vaucluse, the site of a mysterious spring and paper mill. Also very popular, and very beautiful.

Two other spots I enjoyed visiting that are fairly unpolluted by visitors: les Grottes de Cales, 7th century BC Ligurian grottoes in the village of Lemanon, and the ruins of Vieux Vernegues.

I used Aix as a base. It is beautiful with many tiny Roman fountains scattered through the historic core. There is a also a very surprising Op Art museum there, Foundation Vasarely, which is purpose built to house the installations of Victor Vasarely.

You might want to consider looking at the Bienvenue a la ferme program, which are farms and other agricultural places (including vineyards) that are open to visitors. Sometimes they offer lodging, but more often they prepare meals or have their products for sale.

https://www.bienvenue-a-la-ferme.com

I also think you should consider visiting vineyards and wines that you are not already familiar with or can't easily get outside of France. In those cases, no advanced notice required.

You also might want to know about Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, a program that identifies small villages that are very beautiful, have a few historically or architecturally important features, some support for tourism, but most importantly maintain their essentially rural heritage. These are usually, but not always, very quiet places. Here is the wiki page:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Les_Pl...ages_de_France
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Old Apr 21st, 2019, 01:11 PM
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Foods does not disappoint. Wonderful information!

Thanks to all. Stu and Shelemm I have started looking through your information. I started with Stu's fantastic documentation and have found so many great ideas. I was up past midnight reading. Shelemm, I can also see that you understand what I am looking for when you lead me off the beaten track a bit. Thank you so much for the reading recommendation. I am from the Seattle area, and usually spend my holidays in a small thatched cottage way off the beaten track in Dorset, England (my special place). I love the seclusion of Dorset since there are not any major motorways through the region and very few tourists. My family usually joins me there for a week and they will be returning home after our UK visit, but I will head on to France alone to fill my need for adventure. Since it is my first time in Provence, I will want to see some of the special sights, but still want a bit of time in special places off the beaten path which is why I thought an bike might be a good way to travel through some of the countryside. Studs document mentioned there are well marked walking and bike paths that do not allow for autos which delighted me. Thanks also to Geetika for the information about the winery. It was very helpful. I am considering staying 2 nights in Aix or Avignon (possibly Cassis just to see the sea?), then 3-4 nights in a small village in the Luberon (to be determined) and then one last night (Saturday) in L'Ile Sur La Sorge to be in town for the Sunday antiques market before heading back to the Marselle airport for my evening flight back to Gatwick. I have tentatively booked Le Pevote (a bit of a splurge for me) for the one night, but I can cancel the booking. A Châteauneuf*du Pape winery tour may be best from Avignon, so that may be best for two days prior to the small villages. None of this is set in stone yet as I am still reading and soaking up the information. You all have been so helpful!
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Old Apr 21st, 2019, 03:02 PM
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Aix is our favorite large city in Provence - but it is not centrally located enough to visit the places most people want to visit. Get the Michelin 113 map & highlight in Magic Marker all the places you intend on visiting. You'll find most of them are much closer to Avignon than Aix.

Stu Dudley
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Old Apr 22nd, 2019, 07:43 AM
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I will be flying to Marseille and renting a car, so will be driving north. I though perhaps I could stay in Aix or Avignon the first night and see a little of the town on my way to the Luberon area. Aix appealed to me because it is closer to the airport and it might be good to drive just a little the first day after a very early morning flight. I do see that Aix is a little off the route but only 26 km from Marseille. My flight arrives in the morning and I do not mind driving an hour out of my way if it is worth spending the day there. It would either be Avignon or Aix. I will also be returning the car in Marseille, but my flight leaves in the evening so I planned to drive straight from L'Isle Sur la Sorge to Marseille.
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Old Apr 22nd, 2019, 11:10 AM
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A 1-2 nighter in Aix is fine for arrival day if you land at the Marseille airport. Make sure it is not a Sunday or Monday morning, however.

Stu Dudley
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