The most impressive of the Luberon’s hilltop villages, Bonnieux (pronounced "bun-yuh") rises out of the arid hills in a jumble of honey-color cubes that change color subtly as the day progresses. Strewn along D36, the village is wrapped in crumbling ramparts and dug into bedrock and cliff. Most of its sharply raked streets take in wide-angle valley views, though you’ll get the best view from the pine-shaded grounds of the 12th-century Église Vieille du Haut, reached by stone steps that wend past tiny niche houses. Shops, galleries, cafés, and fashionable restaurants abound here, but they don’t dominate. It’s possible to lose yourself in a back ruelle (small street) most of the year. If you have a car, you’re in luck: to every point of the compass, there are lovely drives from Bonnieux threading out through Le Petit Luberon. Of the four, the best is the eastward course, along the D943 and D113, which leads to the Romanesque ruins of the Prieuré de St-Symphorien. If you have a car, follow the road above Bonnieux toward Loumarin to the lofty Forêt des Cèdres. Perched on a mountaintop, the unparalleled 360-degree views and cool breezes make it popular spot for a picnic or hike among majestic century-old cedars.
- Photo: Pack-Shot / Shutterstock
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