SATURDAY : LOURMARIN - BONNIEUX - APT - ROUSSILLON - GORDES

On the way to Apt, it is necessary to cross the Luberon. It is the name of this magic mountain range, famous world wide, enriched by its stones, its castles, its luminosity and colours....
This is the real Provence, full of character.

A sweet dolce vita of a climate and pure clean air which just breathes the incredible contrasts between a rich, and variable natural environment : the blue strides of lavender, the subtle nuances of green in the forests, the flamboyant and blinding colours of the cliffs of ochre, or the austere white of the limestone hills.
It is the place of choice for many artists (painters, sculptors, writers, singers...)

Mostly on the northern part, on the side of the hills, several picturesque villages are perched, overlooking the valley. In order to protect themselves from pillagers, the inhabitants, during centuries, have patiently built, stone by stone, their houses, closed to the seigniorial castle.

Nowadays these charming villages, with their tiny narrow streets and amazing shaded squares are classified among the most beautiful ones in France.
Nevertheless, each one has its own personality and its own attractive power.

Quick stop at Lourmarin : It nestles in the middle of vineyards, olive groves and almond trees. A very animated village in the summer due to its numerous cafe terraces, restaurants and boutiques.
You can admire its medieval / renaissance castle, its temple, its interesting pigeon house, its provencal bastides, its "boîte à sel" belfry...
Albert Camus, winner of the Nobel Literature Prize, lived and wrote here and was even buried here.

Quick stop at Bonnieux : this large, attractively-terraced village situated on a promontory offers a lovely view of Calavon valley, from the hilltop village of Lacoste, which castle was formerly occupied by the Marquis de Sade, to the edges of the Vaucluse Plateau.

Apt is the major town in the area and this is where take place one of the most important market of Provence. The marketplace takes over the entire center of Apt and all the interior streets are closed to traffic. The eight open squares are filled with stands and little truck-stores, and other stands line the narrow pedestrian streets. The big parking lot is filled with more sellers. Many of the permanent shopkeepers also set up tables or stands outside their businesses. There are usually about 300 sellers with sometimes street performers.
Lunch with the advice of your guide

Roussillon : It owes its name to the reddish (roux) colour of its houses. The village is lovely from the outside, set in a deep green pine forest on bright red-ochre hills but even more spectacular inside, with the colourful old buildings and narrow medieval streets. From the terrace the view on the ochre cliffs, composed of 16 or 17 different shades is spectacular.
You can also go for a walk following the "Giants' Causeway, among jagged rust-red cliffs, relieved by a scattering of pines and evergreen oaks.

Gordes - Panorama : This very beautiful old village is perched on the southern edge of the high Plateau de Vaucluse. It seems to be an unbelievable "stone cascade" : the stone houses are built in tight against the base of the cliffs and others are perched on the rocks above, and all together are topped by a 12th-century castle.

Between the sites, your driver-guide will explain you many things about the history, the tradition, the natural environment...
You will be able to stop as much as you want to take pictures, to taste local products or just to breathe the fabulous scents of the provencal plants...

Suggested schedule
8:00am Pick up at your hotel or ship in Marseille
9:15 Quick view on the charming village of Lourmarin, considered to be among the most beautiful ones of France, with its Renaissance castle
9:30 Drive through the Luberon mountain range to reach the lavender fields (Blooming end of June till mid-July only) and then the hilltop village of Bonnieux, from where there is an astonishing view on the Calavon valley
10:30 Time at the huge market of Apt
Lunch to be advised by your guide in Apt or Roussillon
02:00 Visit the picturesque hilltop village of Gordes
03:00 Drive back
04:00 Drop off

The schedule can be changed depending on the arrival/departure times of your ship or according to your wish if you stay in a hotel.

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