When we were planning our summer 2014 trip to France, we decided to start with a week in the south before our two weeks in Paris, and one of the planned items on our "bucket list" was a long drive through the picturesque villages of the Luberon region.
Working from online posts, newspaper articles and more, we worked out a route starting from our base in Saint-Remy-de-Provence and continuing on through nearly a dozen places and then back home.
Advice to anyone who's reading this now: DON'T. When I was young and traveling with my family, my father seemed to never want to stop anywhere along the way; my sister and I remember it as "driving past America." This turned out to be the French equivalent. Too much to see, and not enough time for real stops. My advice now: pick two interesting places, and spend some real time there.
For us, that turned out to be Bonnieux on a hilltop and Fontaine-de-Vaucluse in a valley, and even at that, we could have used more time. Our time in those two has been posted here in two blogs. This gallery records what we saw in passing, and wish we had had more time to explore. Someday, perhaps...
Source of the Canal des Alpilles, just outside Saint-Remy-de-Provence
At Orgon, a ruined Templar Castle on a hilltop (above) and a seemingly-mysterious door in the rock, leading to the crypt of a 13th century church (below)
More local produce, although sadly, the local cherries were no more...
We learned a lot about hay, including that it's wrapped in burlap and can be any kind of grass, and is everywhere...but Monet made better pictures of it.
Near Merindol, on the Durance River, an abandoned 1843 suspension bridge that was in use until 1979. France was a pioneer in suspension bridges, but many of the earliest were removed by the 1850s because an engineering "bad choice" made some of them fragile.
While I was tramping through underbrush and along the road to photograph the bridge, my wife, Joan, followed her berry radar to bushes near where we parked, and harvested a quart of delicious fresh blackberries
Of course, the blackberries only lasted a while, and we were lured off the road by this giant melon...
Along the way to Cavaillon, we stopped for a roadside view, and were rewarded with beautiful color, and close-ups of bees at work.
On second thought, actually, go ahead and plan that long drive...and stop a lot...and go back another day for the villages.