Lourmarin is an ideal base for your vacation to Provence. It is set among vineyards, olive groves, almond trees, fields of wild herbs and, in the summer months, brilliantly coloured rows of lavender and sunflowers. Located in the heart of Provence, amid a multitude of picturesque villages perched on hilltops, it is midway between Aix-en-Provence (the ‘Paris of the South’) and Avignon (the ‘City of the Popes’), and is within easy reach of the famous Mediterranean beaches.
Considered the gateway to the Lubéron, one of France’s most esteemed natural parks, Lourmarin also has easy access to hiking, cycling, horseback riding and other outdoor activities. The village has its own allure, and is steeped in history, culture, arts and gastronomy. Lourmarin boasts the narrow, winding lanes of a typical, medieval village. It is officially one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France and has long been a popular destination for French and international vacationers alike.
Lourmarin boasts the narrow, winding lanes of a typical, medieval village. The main street, rue Henri de Savornin, traverses the village and brings visitors to the main square, Place de l’Ormeau. From there you can easily find rue de la Juiverie, the oldest road, named for what was the Jewish ghetto in the Middle Ages, when it encircled the ramparts of the village. A number of ancient fountains remind visitors how the village was once irrigated. Look for the public washhouse, le lavoir, where you can still find women doing their washing and hanging it out on the public clothesline to dry.
Today the lanes are typically adorned with splashes of Provençal colour on the doors and streaming out of window boxes. The pretty shopping area has selection of quaint little shops, galleries, antiques stores, boutiques and tea salons that are a magnet for visitors who return time and again.
At the centre of the skyline is the 17th century belfry and clock, keeping time for a village whose roots extend back over a thousand years. (There is evidence that the area was inhabited even earlier, in the Neolithic Age some 12,000 years ago.) Today’s clock was built atop a fortified 11th century watchtower and is all that remains of the fortress that kept vigil over Lourmarin when it was established along the route between the Mediterranean coast and the Alps during the Middle Ages.
Two church steeples emerge proud from the village. The older of the two is the Church of Saint André. Built at the turn of the 12th century in a Roman architectural style, it was heavily modified in the 16th century by Vaudois settlers who transformed the church into a Protestant temple.
When the Vaudois were slaughtered and Lourmarin razed during the religious wars, Catholics reclaimed and modified the church. In the 19th century, it was substantially altered again and a new steeple was added.
The other church, built between 1806 and 1816, is one of the oldest Protestant churches in the region and a testament to the tenacity of the Protestant community. Designed by well- known Marseille architect Michel-Robert Penchaud, it is known for its austere beauty, attractive proportions, lovely lighting and its exceptional organ, installed in 1840.
In 1990, it was listed as a Historic Monument and, a few years later, it was completely restored. Concerts are often held here in the summer months.
Self-guided walking tour of Lourmarin
The narrow streets of Lourmarin beg to be walked. Pick up a map from the Office de Tourisme and put on your walking shoes.
We recommend that you seek out the major attractions such as the Château, the Church of Saint André, the Protestant Church, and the belfry and clock, also called Le Castelas. A good view of the latter may be found in the pretty place de Castelas; from this vantage point, keep walking toward it and you will be rewarded with a close-up view of the remains of its 11th century foundation.
There are at least five lovely fountains to discover, as well as a lavoir (old communal washing fountain).
Albert Camus’ house can be found on the street by the same name and his tombstone (and that of Henri Bosco) can be found in the cemetery on the periphery of the village.
There is plenty more to discover if you feel like just wandering around a bit!
Distances from Lourmarin:
- Puyvert 2.5km
- Cadenet 4km
- Lauris 5km
- Vaugines 5km
- Cucuron 8km
- Ansouis 10km
- Buoux 12km
- Cabrières-d’Aigues 13km
- Bonnieux 14km
- Saint-Estève-Janson 14km
- La Roque-d’Anthéron 14km
- Mérindol 16km
- Lacoste 18km
- Apt 19km
- La Tour d’Aigues 20km
- Ménerbes 22km
- Roussillon 28km
- Grambois 30km
- Oppède le Vieux 30km
- Gordes 31km
- L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue 40km