Lourmarin in southern France is not as well known as some of its sister villages, like Bonnieux or Gordes, but it has just as much to offer on a day out. Lourmarin has one of the best regional markets in the area, several chic boutiques, a castle with delicious wine, pretty squares with old fountains, a good selection of accommodation and even a summer festival.
Southern Luberon is a route less travelled
The Luberon is the inland, northern part of Provence, and it’s traditionally high on the tourist agenda because of its typical Provençal farmhouses, medieval villages perched atop hillsides, and a plethora of vineyards fed by abundant sunshine. The southern part of the Luberon is typically a little less travelled by tourists so some of its villages can be calmer than the rest of the region during peak season, but they’re just as beautiful. Lourmarin is one of these and is located 40km from the ‘city of fountains’, Aix-en-Provence, and 60km from Avignon. An ideal time to visit is at the end of summer, when tourist traffic is lighter. For many residents, Lourmarin is their second home, so it’s at this time too that many will pack up and leave.
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The best thing to do is to wander the streets
Lourmarin deserves its reputation as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Stroll through the cobblestone streets that lead to ancient squares, many of which have lively bars and restaurants where you can while away the hours. Watch the water trickle through the many fountains dotted around town while taking photos of the Luberon architecture, which quintessentially features blue shutters on stone walls. Wander around the artisanal shops that offer a tasteful range of Provençal furniture, textiles, perfume and regional produce.
Lourmarin has an arty history
Lourmarin has always been a magnet for French artists; aside from Albert Camus, writer Henri Bosco (1888–1976) is buried here. The English writer, Peter Mayle, famous for attracting hundreds of British expatriates to the region through the publication of his book, ‘A Year in Provence’, also bought a house here at the end of his life (he died in 2018). Lourmarin has a few small art galleries well worth a visit.
Things to do in Lourmarin
Albert Camus (1913–1960) lived in Lourmarin and is buried in its cemetery. You can visit his grave to pay your respects to his writing. Camus died in a car accident on his way from Lourmarin to Paris in 1960 after being talked out of taking the train by his publisher who was driving. The train ticket was still in his pocket and there were rumours he was killed by the Russian KGB. Camus had only moved to Lourmarin two years earlier, choosing to settle here because the mountains reminded him of his native Algeria. He bought the house with the money he won from his Nobel Prize victory in 1957.
The Lourmarin market on a Friday morning is widely regarded as one of the best in the region. Buy some Provençal honey, local cheeses, bread and wine, as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables sold by regional farmers. Alternatively, just wander the stalls, savouring the smells and tasting the samples on offer. The market takes over the winding streets in the centre of the village. In summer, there is also a farmers market on Tuesday evenings (from 6.30pm) at the Old Fruit Co-operative.
Lourmarin’s castle was built in the 16th century but it gradually fell into decline after the French revolution. In 1920, it was set to be demolished when businessman Robert Laurent-Vibert bought it and restored it. After his death from a car accident, the château was bequeathed in Laurent-Vibert’s will to the French Academy of Art and Science in nearby Aix-en-Provence, on the condition that young artists would be allowed to perform there. Today it plays host to a variety of music concerts and festivals, and is the venue for the family-friendly Festival Yeah! that takes place at the beginning of June each year. This festival runs over three days and takes over the entire town with music events, food stalls and arty activities.
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