Lourmarin, Ansouis, Cucoron and Vaugines

Spend a couple of hours in the morning exploring the narrow little streets of Lourmarin. Walk the short distance to the Château de Lourmarin, a handsome 16th century castle, part of which is open to the public. It’s well worth a visit to see the furnished apartments, magnificent stairway and library of 28,000 books.

Head to Ansouis a few minutes away, where little has changed in centuries; the part-fortified village has justifiably earned its place among the Most Beautiful Villages of France). Ramparts, watchtowers and gateways surround the old centre and the medieval Château d’Ansouis. Pop into an oddball museum, the Musée Extraordinaire, founded by Provençal painter and diver Georges Mazoyer, whose passion for the sea shows in the fossil exhibits and oceanic art.

Cucuron, 2km further east, is the starting point for walks up Mourre Nègre (1,125m), the highest hill in the Lubéron range. Maps are available from the tourist office. Cucuron is a charming, typically Provençal village whose main talking point is the made-famous-by-Hollywood pond with its lovely shady trees. But the old town, surrounded by 13th century ramparts, has a wealth of ancient towers, hotels and town houses, as well as a church that features a historical organ.

Visit the parochial Romano-Gothic church of Notre-Dame-de-Beaulieu dominating the village; the olive oil press (housed in a grotto under the city walls), which has been pressing local olives for the past four centuries; and the Museum Marc-Deydier, showcasing regional archaeological discoveries and ethnographic artefacts.

Finally, on your way back to Lourmarin, pop into Vaugines, where you can see the Capitainerie (a superb Renaissance town house), the Romanesque church of Saint-Barthélemy dating from 1004, and the ancient chapel of the Abbey of Psalmody (rebuilt in the 13th century).

For more information explore this map of places to visit visit the South Luberon tourist website

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