European Road Trip – Chapter Three – The Hill Towns of The Luberon and Les Alpilles

Map of the Luberon Valley and the Hill Towns

On either side of the valley defined by the Petit Luberon, Grand Luberon and Luberon Oriental mountain ranges in the south of Provence are charming hill towns that are unique and historic.

The terrible insecurity of invasions forced the residents of the valley to seek security in town sites that were “perched” on the hillsides and were thus easier to defend and therefore more secure. These days the hill towns are prime tourist destinations with their weekly markets and open air cafés.


GORDES – The biege dry stone (without mortar) buildings and walls in Gordes are a draw for tourists.

Flat dry stone wall in Gordes

Flat stones

Main square in Gordes

Movie fans may recall a scene in “A Good Year” when actor Russell Crowe drove his Smart Car around and around this statue in the centre of town. The restaurant that figured prominently in the movie is also located in the main square of Gordes.

Gordes and the Luberon Valley

From most vantage points in the town of Gordes there are outstanding views of the beautiful Luberon Valley.

Gordes castle.

Today the Gordes castle houses an museum and art galley, but it still maintains an austere appearance.



The bright orange clay of Roussillon and the surrounding area is used in construction and results in the characteristic reddish hue of the buildings.

Roussillon cathedral tower.


Looking out from Roussillon across the nearby vineyards.


At the top of the hill above the village of LaCoste sits the Chateau de Sade. The Marquis de Sade resided in the chateau from 1769 to 1772 when he sought refuge following some scandalous behaviour. Following the French Revolution the Chateau was vandalized and construction material was sold off. Designer Pierre Cardin bought the ruins of the Chateau in 2001 and has renovated part of it. He uses the reconstructed building as a southern residence. [Credit – Wikipedia]

Chateau de Sade

LaCoste Village



Passageways hint of secrets from the past in Menerbes.

Menerbes was once thought to be impenetrable but today it is very inviting.

Amenities in modern day Menerbes.

Modern day Menerbes is a wonderful tourist destination with all of the necessary amenities to make you stay very enjoyable.

One of the hotels in Menerbes.

This charming town is currently being renovated and it will be home to a thriving artists’ community with all of the necessary studios and galleries.

Here is one of the hotels open for business during the renovations in 2013.



Charming lane ways lead to hidden treasures in the hill town of Menerbes.

About leftCoast Reflections

Peter Buxton - husband, father, photographer, skier, kayaker and sometime cook.
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