Saturday, September 26, 2015

A Visit to Lourmarin, One of the "Most Beautiful Villages of France"

As I told you in a previous email, we met cousin Annick in Lourmarin for a day devoted to visiting Luberon villages. Lourmarin is about 1 1/2 hours from Sablet and is classified as "one of the most beautiful villages in France."

Lourmarin is nestled in the middle of vineyards, olive groves and almond trees in a combe, or valley, which separates the Grand Luberon mountains from the Petit Luberon. On sunny days, its golden stone glows against a swathe of green, marshy land watered by the Aigues Brun brook.

In contrast to many other villages in Vaucluse, Lourmarin isn't a rugged perched village. It's just slightly hilly, with narrow cobblestone streets spiraling lazily up to the belfry at the top of the village.


Lourmarin, like much of Europe, was devastated by the Black Death plague epidemic in 1348 and left semi-deserted. The village's fortunes turned around a century later with the arrival of the powerful D'Agoult family who started building the Château de Lourmarin.

The Lourmarin Chateau was built by the Agoult family between 1479 and 1545 on the ruins of a 12th century fortress. The part of the chateau open to the public includes the furnished apartments and the library (with some 28000 books). The highlight is probably the magnificent stairway.

Lourmarin Castle

War Memorial at Eugene Bounot Square

The Three Mask Fountain by sculptor Louis Didron seen below. The three masks represent the Rhone River, the Durance River and Luberon Mountains.

The Three Mask Fountain

Lourmarin has an unusually large number of bars and restaurants, many of which - even more unusually - are open outside tourist season.

Cobblestone Street

Empty Café in the Early Morning

Cafés cluster around the place de l'Ormeau, pictured at the end of the street below. The small square is named after an elm which was planted there as a sort of "tree of liberty" in 1792 during the French Revolution. It had to be cut down in 1944 and was replaced by a fig tree (though the square was not renamed).

Cobblestone Street Leading Down to Ormeau Square

Lourmarin Door

Faded door in Lourmarin

Lourmarin Town Hall

The Church of Lourmarin, which is part of the Avignon Catholic Diocese, used to be dependent on the Priory of St Andrew in Villeneuve-les-Avignon in the XIth century. In those times, it was a Chapel with only two arches and no choir. This church, in which Romanesque and Gothic styles are both present, has gone through several restorations and additions.

The Church of Lourmarin

Fountain in front of the Church of Lourmarin

Lourmarin Fountain

Lourmarin Boutique

Annick and Shirley Receiving Aroma Therapy from the Huge Jasmine Bush

Lourmarin Fountain

Pretty Stone House in Lourmarin

Stone Arch Entry into Lourmarin House

Narrow Lourmarin Street

Stone Pigeon House

Wash House

The D'Agoults also repopulated Lourmarin by inviting a colony of Vaudois (Waldensians) from Piedmont in Northern Italy to settle in the village. This was a sect that had split from the Catholic Church, leading to its members' persecution.

Many were burned as heretics; many more fled to Provence, where the massacres nonetheless continued, notably in nearby Mérindol. Those who remained joined the Reformed Protestant movement in the 16th century and finally built their own Protestant church - sometimes referred to as a "temple" - in Lourmarin in the early 19th century (see below).

Saint-André and Saint-Trophime Church with the Lourmarin Castle in the Rear

Entry into Lourmarin House

Pottery Shop

Inside the Pottery Shop

Lourmarin Street

Lourmarin Cafe

Our day trips with Annick are always fun and informative. We will be back in Sablet in a few days and I look forward to new adventures.


  1. The book fair here is wonderful.

    1. Thanks for letting me know. I appreciate your sharing that with me.

  2. As always, I learned quite a lot in reading your post! And it was fun to see that you and I have photographed quite a few of the same things. :)
    One tiny correction if that is ok - the term is Romanesque not Roman to describe the lovely church.

    1. Hi Heather. Thanks for taking the time to give feedback about my post. I have made the correction you suggested plus one other I found as I was making that change. I want to make sure I am as accurate as possible so I truly appreciate your sharing that with me. I hope all is well.

  3. Thank you so much for this lovely post. It brought back so many great memories of our week in Lourmarin in 2003. We rented a small apartment and every afternoon we would come back from our travels and sit in the cafe in the last picture. My husband would have a beer and I would have a glass of wine. We would relax along with our fellow villagers and watch the world go by. And we actually felt like we lived there -- even if it was only for a week. I can still picture the small three wheeled vehicles that they used to pick up the trash in the narrow streets. That stay in Lourmarin made is lovers of Provence and now we return every year for pleasure and business (I have a travel planning business to Provence). Thank you for bringing back such great memories!

    1. Thank you Antonia for sharing your memories about your stay in Lourmarin. I am happy I could help take you back to a wonderful week in Provence. I hope you will stop in often and give me feedback. Have a great day.