Friday, October 22, 2010

Ménerbes, A Plus Beaux Village de France

I fell in love with France, or at least a tiny part of it, during childhood trips to visit my father's family at the Metairie Neuve, the family farm located near Viane, a small hamlet about 15 km from Lacaune in the southeast region of Tarn France.

It wasn't until quite a few years later that I discovered and began my love affair with Provence through the pages of Peter Mayle's charming book "A Year In Provence" and his other books that followed.

If you don't know, "A Year in Provence," describes Provence, its culture and the people Mayle encounters from this Englishman's unique perspective after he and his wife leave London, buy a stone farmhouse in a Luberon village, fix it up, and adopt the region as their new home.

The village where Mayle and his wife settled was Ménerbes, a beautiful village perched along the top of a long ridge of the north face of the Luberon. Ménerbes is classified as one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, wife Shirley and I drove to Ménerbes from Sablet to visit Peter Mayle's village (I should mention that the Mayle's don't live there anymore). Here are a few pictures from our visit to Ménerbes.

In the village, narrow streets wind up and down past lovely old homes.

A beautiful door on a home in Ménerbes.

A colorful door.

A wrought-iron gate into a private home in Ménerbes.

An old stone fountain.

There are beautiful vistas where ever you look from Ménerbes.

Place de l'Horloge and the wrought-iron campanile (bell tower) atop the Mairie (town hall). Through the arch, there is a magnificent view out across the plains with several villages visible.

Also at Place de l'Horloge, there is the Maison de la Truffe et du Vin (House of Truffles and Wine).

A beautiful stone house in Ménerbes.

Église Saint-Luc stands at the east end of Ménerbes and dates back to the 14th century.

Another beautiful door in Ménerbes.

This 13th century fortress was rebuilt in the 16th and 19th centuries.

Cousin Annick and Shirley walking in Ménerbes.

One of the many beautiful vistas from Ménerbes.

As we got to the end of our walk around Ménerbes, we stopped for drinks near the entrance to the village. As we sat there, I could see this sign saying La Vie est Belle (Life is Beautiful). I couldn't agree more.

If you go to Ménerbes, you might want to stop by the Musée du Tire-Bouchon (Cork Screw Museum) at La Citadelle winery about 1 km outside Ménerbes on the road to Cavaillon. The museum displays 1000 cork screws from the 17th century to today.

I would guess the Mayles were attracted to Ménerbes more for the house and the surrounding area rather than the village itself. While Ménerbes and the surrounding area are very pretty, there is not much village life as far as we could see.


  1. I was in Menerbes too and thought it was nice but not as interesting as nearby Bonnieux,the natives seemed to be hiding from us tourists I think!
    Peter Mayle sent me off to Provence too after reading his book,I think he lives in Lourmarin these days?

  2. A Year in Provence is an absolute must read for Provence visitors. Even though it was written twenty years ago, I find the characters to be spot on. I even made my mother read it before she visited me!

    I've been to Menerbes and to be honest, I don't get it. It's a nice village, but there a plenty of others just as fantastic. I think they have a great PR department.

  3. talesfromagarden - Menerbes was pretty but lacked activity or a sense of village life. I agree with you about Bonnieux.

    Sara Louise - I have given A Year in Provence to quite a few friends over the year to try and help them understand why I love Provence. Either good PR or halo effect from Peter Mayle's time there.