The Loaded Trunk was founded by Jonna Robison, an interior designer with a deep curiosity and passion for traveling the world, connecting with artisans in different cultures and sourcing unique and beautiful objets d’art. Published seasonally, the magazine features a curated collection of travel, lifestyle, nature, art and design inspiration for a life well lived.
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The hilltop villages and weekly markets throughout the Luberon are highlights of the region and a favorite way to spend mornings during your visit to Provence. Your tastebuds will tingle at the sight of a myriad of edible delights and concoctions, such as artisan sausages and cheese, olives, farm fresh produce, spices, breads, local honey, homemade nougat and other local products, are piled on tabletops and counters of various stalls. Load up on goodies to take on a picnic or to assemble a charcuterie board at my favorite villages and markets in the Luberon.
A wide selection of artisan products are also on display. You may find hand woven willow baskets, wooden French culinary knives and chopping boards, as well as table linens and hand painted pottery. Art, handcrafted soaps, clothing and more can be found at a market.
The bustling town of Apt is known for candied fruit and a history dating to Roman times. Romans built the first road in France in Apt, which linked Italy to Spain. Saturday morning, Apt hosts the largest market in the Luberon. Wander through town to soak up the lively atmosphere.
Arrive early for breakfast or break up your market visit for lunch at Les Valseuses. This welcoming French and Japanese fusion cafe is open for breakfast and lunch only, and offers both a tasty vegetarian or meat option. The menu changes daily. The day I enjoyed lunch here, ramen with pork and pumpkin tart with Gorgonzola were on the menu. Fresh, flavorful and fabulous! The atmospheric interior is colorful and artsy. Outdoor dining is offered as well, right beside the action of the market. Address: 26 Place du Septier
Be sure to pop into Atelier Buisson-Kessler for shelf upon shelf lined with locally made and hand painted ceramics, including a tempting array of cups, carafes and much more in every hue of the rainbow. Address: 17 Place du Septier
Cascading down the hillside, overlooking the Luberon Valley, Gordes is perfectly gorgeous… a gem in the region’s crown. It’s hard to imagine its residents, throughout history, have survived the plague, earthquakes, medieval invasions, bombings, and supported resistance fighters during World War II. In 1948 Gordes received the “Croix de Guerre” medal for being one of the most active centers of German Resistance during the occupation. Artist Marc Chagall and his wife called Gordes home for a period, prior to escaping the war and emigrating to the US. In the 1950’s-60’s Gordes attracted artists, and an artistic vibe permeated the village. It is a delight to meander through the maze of cobbled lanes, admiring the beauty at every turn. Market day is Tuesday. Arrive early, as loads of tourists will undoubtedly make their way up the hill to partake of this bustling market.
Near the market is a lovely pottery shop, Souleo È Provence. This small boutique is chock full of handmade pottery from local clay, glazed using old earthenware techniques, then hand painted in designs and colors characteristic of Provence. Every piece is entirely hand made and no two pieces are alike. I still have my treasured collection of this same pottery we purchased more than 20 years ago. Address: 45 Rue de la Poste
Stock up on picnic supplies to enjoy in the valley below or stop for lunch just a few steps from the market.
Perched at the top of the village sits La Bastide de Pierres, a traditional Italian restaurant, in operation since 1820. Dine on the pergola-enclosed terrace or the charming, art-filled interior and enjoy tasty pasta dishes (we recommend the delicious carbonara, which is served in a small copper pot) and pizza. Address: 63 Place du Château
The river Sorgue, with its clear emerald water, runs through this pretty village, branching off into canals and tributaries. Waterwheels are still present, remnants of the 16th to 19th centuries, when this town operated as a center for silk, wool and paper manufacturing. Sunday mornings the town is a hive of action at the wonderful antique market, when dealers set up their wares along the canals. There are innumerable antique shops throughout town as well. Parking is a challenge, but I highly recommend going early and braving the crowds. There are loads of treasures waiting to be found! I still regret not buying the antique child’s Madeleine hat and some of the vintage Majolica pottery I fell in love with.
While browsing antiques, dash across the street to Maison Meinado for a quick bite. A combined boulangerie, pâtisserie and bistro, this makes for a nice stop for a delicious pastry or sandwich. Address: 7 Ave des Quatre Otages
For a fabulous lunch in a beautiful garden, make a reservation at L’Atelier du Jardin. This is a perfect spot for lunch after spending the morning perusing the market. You can dine in the garden or indoors at a communal table. The plat du jour is a good bet. Mine was a delicate little chicken pot pie in a puff pastry bowl with a lid to match. Address: 91 Ave Julien Guigue
In addition to the large antique market on Sunday, there is a smaller Provençal market on Thursdays and a book market on the last Sunday of the month.
This stunning village is one of the most famous towns in the Luberon, known for the brilliant ochre quarries nearby. The village is perched on the edge of a red cliff, and buildings glow in shades of mustard, rouge, apricot. Market day in Roussillon is Thursday. Go early before the tourist buses arrive and the hordes of people descend on the village!
Head into the side streets to the must-visit Boutique Cricri. This very unique art shop creates homemade watercolor paints in a rainbow of hues. The pigments are sold in powder form and they also sell ready-to-use caked palettes. The shop also sells a selection of ceramics. Address: 31 Rue Richard Casteau
Another shop worth visiting is Atelier Marchande de Couleurs. A vibrant shop brimming with ceramics, as well as baskets, textiles, pottery and more.
Read our Inspired By Nature post for more about Roussillon.
This peaceful and picturesque hilltop village, about 20 minutes from Gordes, feels under the radar, as opposed to Gordes and Roussillon, which draw tourists like bees to a hive. A handful of excellent restaurants, the village consists of charming 16th century stone houses and attracts resident artists. The town is a “living” village, meaning that it remains as it has always been, set up for the people who live there rather than as a tourist-focused village. Residents buy their daily goods at the boulangerie, fromagerie and the small market which is held Thursday mornings.
After wandering through the market, I love exploring the pretty lanes, admiring the pretty vignettes that abound and the vine-clad doorways and lovely, muted hues. The church, Eglise Saint-Sébastien, dates from the 13th century. At the top of the village sits a 17th-century windmill named Moulin de Jerusalem. Hiking trails lead from here to several surrounding villages, passing farms, vineyards and lavender fields along the way.
I recommend lunch at one of the following (reservations are essential):
La Terrasse This is a popular fixture in Goult, serving French and Mediterranean cuisine. It is a lovely spot to enjoy lunch or dinner. Request the terrace for lunch on a warm day. Address: 200, Rue de la République
Le Carillon Sitting on the main square, Le Carillon, a firm favorite, serves lunch and dinner, either indoors or outside. The beautiful Provençal-inspired cuisine has a contemporary flair. Vegetarian and gluten-free options are offered as well. 10 Ave de Luberon
The hilltop village of Ménerbes was firmly planted on the map when British expat, Peter Mayle, famously published his bestselling book, “A Year in Provence.” It drew crowds for many years. The village has returned to relative peace, and overlooks vineyards and cherry orchards. Zigzagging on foot up the hill through the village to the small market, held on Thursday mornings, one can admire the 16th and 17th century architecture.
Picasso bought his mistress, Dora Maar, a house in the village in the 1940’s. She was an artist and photographer who spent summers here. Following her death, American arts patron, Nancy Brown Negley, purchased the home and renovated it to create a residency for writers, academics and artists. The home can be visited during exhibitions, as well as guided tours: La Maison Dora Maar
A short drive from the village, in the valley below, sits the sprawling La Bastide de Marie, a beautiful family-run boutique hotel, filled with handpicked antiques. The property boasts a fabulous restaurant, serving lunch, dinner and afternoon tea, a vineyard and wine cellar, Le Domaine de Marie, where you can arrange a tasting of their red, rosé and white wines. They also produce delicious olive oil for purchase.
This enchanting village was an important stop along the route between Marseille and Apt from the 11th century onward. Unlike most of the villages in the region, Lourmarin is not at the top of a hill and is quite easily accessible, with plenty of parking.
Market day is Friday, and this is a great one! Stalls are set up beneath the shady plane trees. There is also a farmer’s market on Tuesday evenings. There are so many delicious local foods to buy here – it’s easy to put together a picnic or items to take home and enjoy al fresco.
Pick up coffee and a cookie or lunch (a salad or sandwich) or pick up a bottle of wine at Les Commissions du Moulin, a small grocery shop and purveyor of local gourmet food and wine, run by the Hotel du Moulin across the street. The shop also sells lovely, typical French pottery.
There are some lovely boutiques a few steps from the market, which I quite enjoy:
Gris Piedra Barcelona native, Laia Roig, stocks her shop with stacks of woodblock-printed Indian blankets, tablecloths and cosmetic bags, kimono robes, silk scarves, fun jewelry, leather goods, antique French blouses, and much more. Address: 5, Ave Philippe Gerard
The brand also is a very charming children’s version of the shop, Le Petit Gris Piedra, on a nearby lane, which carries adorable baby clothes, shoes and toys. Address: 8, Rue de Temple
De Nada Intérieurs is a tiny shop carries a variety of ceramics, textiles, baskets and decor. The owner is kind and helpful regarding local recommendations. Address: 9 Rue de Grand Pré
Across the street from De Nada Intérieurs, La Boutique de l’Antiquaire is run by the very talented Nathalie Masset. This very interesting shop is full of enticing antiques such as chandeliers, furniture, pottery, and linens. Nathalie is gifted with her sewing machine and makes chic tote bags with antique linens and bits of old leather straps. Hours of operation seem irregular – sometimes I’m fortunate to find the shop open and sometimes I drive to Lourmarin only to find it closed. Address: 9 Rue de Grand Pré
The village is very charming, full of restaurants and boutiques which merit some time to explore. The château on the highest point of the village was constructed as a fortress in the 12th century. After the French Revolution, the castle fell into ruins and was renovated in the 1920’s. It now operates as a trust to support young artists, and is well worth a visit.
The picturesque medieval village of Cucuron is built around a huge spring-fed pool, known as a bassin. Massive 200-year-old plane trees line both lengths and provide leafy shade and beauty. The village has been a set for a couple of films, including A Good Year (starring Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard). There are a few restaurants, cafés and a bar where you can relax and observe the animated scene before you, particularly on market day, which is Tuesday.
This exquisite hilltop village, listed among the Most Beautiful Villages in France, is pure charm, and a favorite of mine.
The market, held Sunday mornings, is very tiny and very local. It is located below the village at the Place du Lavoir (the old laundry) across from the wonderful boulangerie. Plan to spend a late morning in the village with a brief market visit then a walk up the hill and through the village.
Tourists are sparse in this living village. A saunter along the perfectly picturesque lanes, past 15th century houses covered in vines and roses, and poking into the few sweet shops, is a lovely way to spend a few hours. There are several plaques with black and white photographs explaining the history of Ansouis. At the top of the village there is a beautifully preserved château, originally built as a fortress in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 12th or 13th century. It is open to visitors on set days and only by guided tour (in French). The village mayor’s family owned the château for about 1,000 years. The handsome 13th century Church, St-Martin d’Ansouis, retains much of its charming, decorative interior painting. Across the church is a hall which sometimes hosts art exhibitions.
Step into Galerie Juliet S., an amazing art gallery owned by Australian painter and ceramic artist, Juliet Schlunke. Originally hailing from Sydney, Schlunke has spent the past 50+ years in Europe. She has a storied career as an artist, going from painting nudes and portraits to painting silk fabric and trompe l’oeil, then designing prints for the top French design houses and designs for Limoges porcelain. Since settling in the Luberon 25 years ago, Schlunke’s work has been inspired by the beautiful fruit, vegetables and landscapes found in the idyllic Provençal countryside. She sculpts exquisite bulbs of garlic, onions, artichokes and more, as well as dishware. Her paintings include luscious figs, grapes, pomegranates and trees. To learn more about the artist, read the TLT article, “In the Workshop with Artist Juliet Schlunke.” Address: 9 Rue de Grand Pré
A must stop for lunch: La Closerie is situated in the former post office. This modern, creative Michelin-rated restaurant serves imaginative, artfully presented cuisine. Chef Olivier is an artist in the kitchen and the service is meticulous. I savored a fabulous lunch, including chestnut cappuccino and mushroom soup, mushroom pot pie in a phyllo pastry “pot” and the most divine layered fig dessert. La Closerie is a treasure! Reservations essential. Address: Boulevard des Platanes
The wonderful variety of pastries at Patisserie Volpert are decadent and elaborate, beyond what you would expect in a small village. Gelato is served as well, and an attached garden with tables. Address: Place Saint-Elzear
May 1, 2023
The Loaded Trunk is a travel and lifestyle magazine founded by Jonna Robison, an interior designer with a deep curiosity and passion for traveling the world, connecting with artisans in different cultures and sourcing unique and beautiful objets d’art. Published seasonally, the magazine features a curated collection of travel, lifestyle, nature, art and design inspiration for a life well lived.