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Provence holiday rental home:

Menerbes is in the heart of Provence, and it is also halfway between the Alps and the Pyrennees, Italy and Spain, the Cote d'Azur and the Languedoc. It's the perfect location for exploring the best of the Mediterranean region.

Click for:

Luberon sights  |  Sightseeing beyond the Luberon  |  Wine tasting  |   Luberon markets  |  Hiking & walking  |  Pilates  |  Cycling  |  Horse riding  |  Hot air balloon  |  Golf courses  |  Restaurants  |  Distances  |  Map of Luberon  |  Guides to the Luberon  |  Newspaper & magazine articles  |  Provence in pictures  |  360° village tours

 

For a lovely Provence villa
with pool , click here.

 

Gordes (15 minutes from Menerbes).

 

 

 

 

 

Provencal door.

 

 

 

 

Shopping in Gordes.

 

 

 

 

 

Medieval streets in Gordes.

 

 

 

 

 

Food shopping in Cavaillon.

 

 

 

 

Cafes in Gordes.

 

 

 

 

Painted door in Roussillon.

 

 

 

 

Isle-sur-Sorgue.

 

 

 

 

Shopping in Roussillon.

 

 

 

 

The Sorgue river at Fontaine de Vaucluse.

 

 

 

 

Oppede-le-Vieux.

 

 

 

 

Cafe in Oppede-le-Vieux.

 

 

 

 

Marquis de Sade's castle, Lacoste.

 

 

 

Garden at the Maison du Truffe et
du Vin, Menerbes.

 

 

 

 

Bonnieux rooftops.

 

 

 

The Mediterranean at Cassis.

 

 

 

 

Gordes castle.

Sightseeing close by

Perched villages nearby, similar to Menerbes (but mostly bigger): Lacoste, Bonnieux, Gordes, Roussillon, Oppede-le-Vieux.

Also, Lourmarin and Buoux are lovely villages beyond Bonnieux, cutting into the Luberon mountain range.

Marquis de Sade's castle in Lacoste, scene of unspeakable acts, orgies, and other fun things.

Abbaye du Senanque outside Gordes, a 12th century working abbey (real monks!) set amid lavender fields.

Roussillon is known for its surreal ochre quarries.

Isle-sur-Sorgue is a village full of antique and bric-a-brac shops where you can pick up a real souvenir of Provence. It is known as the antiques capital of France. On Sunday mornings the streets are lined with stalls selling mainly bric-a-brac.

Fontaine de Vaucluse is where a deep spring feeds the Sorgue river. 'Fontaine' means 'fountain' and Vaucluse is the name of the department (state) you are in. It's said that all the rainfall that comes off the mountains feeds into this mysterious spring, which is over 1000 feet deep (but the bottom has never been reached). Fontaine de Vaucluse is the name of the village as well. It's best to visit during the week - at weekends the world and his dog are drawn there. There are places on the Sorgue where you can hire a canoe or kayak and drift down the river - someone will pick you up and take you back to your car.

Mont Ventoux. This is the mountain that looks snow-capped year-round, but is in fact topped with a white shale. In the winter it does have snow and some people go skiing and toboganning there, though runs are short. You can drive to the top and enjoy stunning views to the Mediterranean and over to the Alps. It can be cold at the top even in summer. Extremely fit people cycle to the top - it is one of the most notorious stages of the Tour de France cycle race - and this is an all-day endeavour.

 

 

A-Z of sightseeing beyond the Luberon

Aix (Aix-en-Provence), is a lovely city of art and artists, fountains and thoroughfares, universities and youngsters, as well as having ancient roots going back to the second century BC. Nearby Sainte Victoire is the mountain Cezanne spent much of his time painting.

Arles was a major Roman city and the surviving sites, such as the Arena and the Theatre, are unique in that they are integrated into the houses and buildings of the town, rather than sitting apart as they do in places such as Orange. Arles is also where van Gogh had one of his most productive periods.

Avignon is ancient, full of history, life, art, music and activity. The perfect small city to wander around, with narrow streets inside medieval walls. In the summer it hosts a famous arts festival.

Les Baux de Provence is a spectacular old fortress village on a hill.

The calanques are deep narrow inlets, like mini-fjords, that cut into the cliffs between Cassis and Marseille. The colour of the water is stunning and some calanques have tiny harbors or beaches at the ends, and rock climbers scaling the walls along the sides. You can't drive to the calanques - you either hike or take a boat trip from Cassis or Marseille harbour.

The Camargue is quite unlike anywhere else here - a nature reserve of birds, bulls and white horses, as well as rice paddies and salt plains. Best seen in the saddle - horse or bicycle.

The Cote d'Azur or French Riviera is a day-trip away. St Tropez is 1.5 hours, Cannes is 2 hours, Nice and Monte Carlo 2.5 hours.

Glanum, just outside St Remy, is a fascinating Roman site with well-preserved buildings giving a real feel of life in Roman times.

The Gorges du Verdon is a spectacular canyon up to 700 m deep and 21 km long - compact, wild and beautiful. From Castellane to the village of Rougons, the Verdon river flows clear and swift, and the road follows along the banks. Perfect for hiking, climbing and watersports.

Marseille, 1 hour away, is France's second city, a very lively place with wonderful seafood.

Just off the coast, near Toulon, Porquerolles is a mostly uninhabited island of Mediterranean forests, rocky calanque coastline, nature reserves, beaches, boating and one little village. This is probably what the Cote d'Azur was like 100 years ago. A ferry ride is 15 minutes and there are no cars allowed, only bicycles. It is very lovely and the 'high street' has almost a Caribbean feel to it. If you are into scuba diving you can explore the underwater world too.

Port-Cros is smaller than its neighbour Porquerolles, but more mountainous and thickly forested. There is a pretty little port guarded by ancient forts. The whole island is a nature reserve, excellent for walks and hiking.

St. Remy is a picturesque, busy town with a good choice of restaurants and hotels. The road between St. Rémy and Cavaillon is arrow-straight and lined by plane trees - like French roads are portrayed in films. This is where Nostradamus and van Gogh lived, and where Princess Caroline of Monaco lives now.

 

 

Activities


Wine tasting

There are two vineyards worth visiting just outside Menerbes, on the D3 to Robion/Cavaillon.

Domaine la Garelle is run by a Dutchman who has always dreamed of growing wine in the south of France. He speaks English. The other is a hi-tech vineyard - Domaine de la Citadelle - attached to the corkscrew museum (Musee du Tire-Bouchon) which you can take a tour of. This operation is owned by the mayor of Menerbes who has also renovated a building in the village square that is now dedicated to local wine and truffles.

Chateau la Canorgue, which is where the upcoming Russel Crowe/Peter Mayle film 'A Good Year' is set, is signposted from Bonnieux and makes good organic wine.

Luberon wines are improving fast. Not long ago they were just table wine but now they are catching up with the Rhone wines. For great wines you need to head to the Rhone valley, starting just north of Avignon. Gigondas and Vacqueyras are not well-known but can be very good. With Chateauneuf-du-Pape you tend to pay for the famous name. Drive another hour up the Rhone towards Lyon and you come across the great names of Rhone wine - Cornas, St. Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, Condrieu and the marvellous Cote Rotie.

All vineyards are set up to give you a taste of their wine with no obligation to buy. You can buy any quantity from one bottle up, and most will ship abroad.

At the Maison de la Truffe et du Vin, in the Place de la Mairie, Menerbes, there are 2-hour wine appreciation courses in July and August. Click on the link for more information.



Luberon Markets

Shopping in Bonnieux

 

Bonhommie at Coustellet market

Explore the daily markets for food and arts and crafts.

Avignon (40 minutes away)
The Halles covered market - Every day
Flower market, Place des Carmes - Saturday morning

Coustellet (10 minutes)
Farmer's market on Sunday mornings in season (roughly April-November)

Cavaillon (15 minutes) - Monday morning

Gordes (15 minutes) & Lacoste (5 minutes) - Tuesday morning

Robion (10 minutes) - Thursday morning

Bonnieux (10 minutes) - Friday morning

Oppede-le-Vieux (5 minutes) - Saturday morning

Apt (20 minutes)
Saturday morning
Tuesday morning June-October

 

Hiking & Walking

There are more than 4000 km of marked paths over hill and mountain in the Vaucluse region. The "petite randonnée (PR)" are the shorter hiking paths, and "grande randonnée (GR)" are bigger hiking paths which criss-cross Vaucluse, through the wine country, across the lacy Dentelles de Montmirail, and even an entire loop around Vaucluse.

Or you can just walk heading for the Luberon mountain opposite - there are many paths that go up to the top or along its flanks. If you are planning a long hike, take some precautions: always take water, and a cellphone if you have one, or else tell someone where you're heading.

 

Pilates

Pilates in Provence

Provence planner

 


Cycling

Cycling is a lovely way to see everything - bicycles can be hired in Bonnieux and Cavaillon. There are over 100 km of marked bike paths through the best parts of the Luberon.


Where to rent and mend bikes:

Cavaillon
Cycles Christian Rieu. Tel : 04 90 71 45 55
Cyclix Tel : 04 90 78 07 06

Coustellet
Les Roues du Luberon. Tel: 06 11 08 50 90

Bonnieux
Mountain Bike Luberon Tel: 04 90 75 89 96


 

Horse riding

A good alternative to cycling around the Luberon, trips are organised by several equestrian centres nearby.

 


Hot air balloon

Le Luberon en Ballon, Roussillon, Tel. 04.90.05.61.46

 

 

Golf courses

Golf de Pont Royal
Mallemort
35km southeast of Avignon on the RN7 to Aix.
40 minutes away
This is the most beautiful course in the area, designed by Ballesteros.
Website: http://www.golf-pontroyal.com/first.php

Golf de Châteaublanc
40 minutes away

Website: http://www.golfchateaublanc.com/

Provence Country Club
15 minutes aw
ay
Hills and valleys, beautiful view over the Luberon and Mont Ventoux.
Website: http://www.provencecountryclub.com/home.html

Golf Grand Avignon
40 minutes away
Website: http://www.golfgrandavignon.com/index_en.htm


 

Restaurants

 

You can see many Luberon restaurants reviewed here: Luberon restaurants

In Menerbes there are 4 restaurants and the best one is Veranda. The other three are aimed more at the touris market. Clementine has a great view. La Rabasse and Le Galoubet have been favourably reviewed by some past guests, to my surprise.

Two very good restaurants nearby for about $/€80 a head, both with excellent outside settings in the summer:

Mas de Tourteron (04 90 72 00 16, closed Sun-Mon) in Les Imberts (5 minutes away) has a very good reputation throughout the region, well-earned.

La Bastide de Marie (04 90 72 30 20) 2 km away on the road to Bonnieux has very limited capacity and must be booked well ahead. Shouldn't be missed though, because you feel like you have stepped into a Provencal postcard, and a very classy one. The food is outstanding.

15 minutes away, in Isle sur la Sorgue, is Le Jardin du Quai, 50 euros a head for dinner and very good food.

All the good restaurants of the region will be in the guidebooks in the house.

Distances by car from Menerbes to:

Lacoste - 5 minutes
Bonnieux - 15 minutes
Cavaillon - 15 minutes
Gordes - 20 minutes
Roussillon - 20 minutes
Lourmarin - 30 minutes
Avignon - 40 minutes
Aix - 45 minutes
Marseille - 1 hour

Map of the Luberon, with Menerbes on the left.

 

 

Provence on the Web


Guides to the Luberon:

TheLuberon.com
www.provenceweb.fr/e/groupes/luberon/luberon.htm
Overview and maps: www.atpm.fr/c_luberon_a.htm
Online magazine: www.luberon-news.com/index-uk.php


Newspaper and magazine articles:

Walking the Van Gogh trail in Arles
Provence is a painter's paradise as well as a traveller's delight
Provence and artists
A day in Avignon
L'Isle sur la Sorgue at the weekend
Peter Mayle country
Isle-sur-Sorgue antiques market
Isle-sur-Sorgue antiques part 2
Aix & CÚzanne
Aix: my kind of town
Best of Avignon
Avignon visitor's guide
A weekend in Arles
The Provence of Jean de Florette
48 hours in Marseille
Where to eat bouillabaise in Marseille
The Luberon
A tour of the Luberon
The Luberon by bicycle
Enduring appeal of the French Riviera

It's official! Provence is better than Tuscany...


Outdoor leisure activities:
www.provenceguide.com/gbcdt/Activites.asp


Provence in pictures (and quotes), gives you a good impression of the region:
www.2docstock.com/provence/photo%20galleries/index.html

 

360° virtual tours of most of the villages of the Luberon:
http://www.vaucluse-visites-virtuelles.com/glvirtualbluepopouts/carte-luberon-us.html

 

Provence books and films

My recommendations for books and films set in or inspired by the Luberon and Provence.

 

Any questions? Ask me!


If you are looking for a larger property nearby, I can recommend two outstanding Luberon villas with pools, that sleep 8-10 people. See them by clicking here.

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Photography: Copyright John Medhurst, Paolo De Paolis 2004