I realised I was in another world as we traversed the scenic route behind the highway in the South of France and came across a gushing stream beside a tiny village. If you followed the water with your eyes you found yourself looking at a mountain towering over the landscape. Pure beauty in the middle of nowhere only found when you’re not searching.
An early start, a rental car and some Australians trying to navigate the winding roads of the national parks in France. After eventually conquering the roads we found ourselves in the medieval-looking town of Gordes, perched atop a green hillside. The streets were quiet and the weather was warm, the perfect time for gelato looking over the expanse of greenery surrounding us and out to the roads in the distance. We stayed the night in a little B&B with the friendliest French hosts who didn’t speak much English. Before settling in for the night we wandered into town in search of dinner. Nestled between a boutique and boulangerie was a small French bistro. The warming smell of seafood cooking in butter drifted across the room. Funnily enough, we made friends with more Australians eating on the table across from us.
The morning took us from the medieval hues of Gordes to the bright pink, pale yellows and light blues of Rousillon; a tiny town 20 minutes west. Protected since 1943, Rousillon’s absence of modern development is reflected in the old town charm that remains to this day. We arrived for breakfast, without realising it was 10am on a Sunday in France – the most notorious hour for stillness. The sunlight bounced off the cliffs as we enjoyed toast and coffee on the terrace of a café. It wasn’t until we left at 12pm that the small side streets were busy. We slowly made the journey back to the car, stopping to admire the colourful houses lining the streets along the way.
Another 30-minute drive south and we arrived in Lourmarin, the last home and resting place of French writer Albert Camus. The main road was lined with overflowing greenery leading to the maze quaint streets, hidden art galleries, boutiques and bustling afternoon markets. We stayed the night in La Fenière, a family run farmhouse hotel surrounded by a vineyard retreat, just 2km from Lourmarin village. The organic garden behind the house overflowed with produce and the kitchen promised ripe tomatoes, warm bread and local cheese.
The vast scenery of Luberon bathed in late afternoon light is reason enough to make the trip down south. But then there’s the abundance of fresh produce, good wine and the different personality of each tiny village scattered through the countryside waiting to be discovered.