Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Exploring the Luberon

Pretty street in Roussillon

Le Colorado de Rustrel
Our next day in the region was for visiting nearby Roussillon (my original pick for our home base), the ochre cliffs of Le Colorado Rustrel, Mont Ventoux (of Tour de France frame), and ending up in our next home base of Buis-les-Baronnies to visit the Luberon region of Provence. Roussillon is startlingly attractive and quite different from every other quaint village we've seen in Europe in that it sits atop huge quantities of ochre, and all of the buildings in town have the ochre color. I'm not sure if they're made of ochre bricks or if the ochre is used to create a paint or plaster. We enjoyed a nice wander through the small town, gave thanks that we'd landed in busier, pretty Isle-sur-la-Sorgue as our home base, and headed out of town to Le Colorado de Rustrel, a park with lots of sandy paths among the ochre colored cliffs and rocks.

Mont Ventoux
From Roussillon, we headed toward Nathan's must-see sight in Provence, the top of Mont Ventoux, which I believe is used sometimes as the final point on the Tour de France route or is used as a Tour stage. Climbing out of the valley filled with lavender fields (and pulling over for a quick look at a working sheepdog herding some wayward sheep back across the road to the flock), we passed through a nice forest that thinned out to become a completely bald, mountaintop resembling the surface of the moon. Just white, limestone rocks everywhere. And at over 6000 feet, it's COLD at the top. We went from the Colorado de Rustrel, where we were guzzling water and had to sit in the car with the A/C running to recover from our hike, to Mont Ventoux, where I was pulling on jackets and wrapping a scarf around my bared legs.

Beautiful Buis-les-Baronnies
We ended up in Buis-les-Baronnies, a tiny, tiny village and one in which I was very apprehensive. This was to be our longest stay so far at three nights, and after spending nights in a town filled with restaurants, yummy ice cream parlors, and a beautiful river to walk along, I thought we might be bored silly in Buis-les-Baronnies. Wrong, wrong, wrong. We booked into Hotel Arcades de Lion d'Or, a lovely hotel in the Old Town - aka, the town since the only parts of town not in the "old" section were a few small stores and gas station on the road leaving town. Our hotel was so full of character with a room that felt like visiting a friend's home, a view of the Old Town and the weekly market out our window, and a beautiful, relaxing garden and pool (and hot tub and sauna, which we never used) to lounge in after our days of exploring. We found a restaurant on the edge of town with tables overlooking a scenic, mountain vista and a menu so appealing that we returned the following evening to try more of their food. Plus, nearing the end of a full week of traveling meant we welcomed some quieter, more slow-paced evenings.
Our hotel's relaxing garden
A favorite photo from Roussillon


  1. Stephanie, your mother would not be able to "do" Mount Ventoux! Love Mom

  2. Sure you would. We drove up a gentle road and there are no steep cliffs. Just amazing views.