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Bonnieux is one of my favorite villages in Provence. Perched on the side of a cliff, we see it often as we drive from our village of Lourmarin to the north Luberon, And, especially at dusk when the sun is setting, I am always entranced by the sight of it. No wonder I have painted it several times. We live in the south Luberon, and it takes all of 20 minutes to arrive in Bonnieux. We have to go through the “gap”, which is a winding, tortuously rocky road that is the only way to get from the south Luberon valley to the north. But what a road.
The “gap”, I suspect, was made over centuries of wear and tear from water flowing from the north to the south. Every time I make the trip, I think of the numerous hordes who trekked over this rough terrain and the Romans who ended up settling in the lower valley of the south, growing their olive groves and vineyards which the region is well known for today.
Driving from Lourmarin at the bottom of this mountain range we follow the stream with steep rocky outcrops seen against the intense blue provincial sky. And when you arrive at the top, there is a plateau sprinkled with an abundance of lavender fields, as lavender only likes the higher elevations. The intensity of the blue lavender is reason enough to make the trip. But the ultimate sight is the town of Bonnieux hanging off the side of a cliff. Great restaurants there, it boasts of one of the most famous private gardens in France, Nicole de Vesian’s garden, which is featured in every book on gardens in France that I have perused since moving to France.
For sure, this is one drive everyone should make to appreciate the beauty of Provence.
by Alice Williams
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