Bonnieux: Home Away From Home

A big part of my trip to Provence was a pilgrimage to Lourmarin, the town where my grandmother lived the last quarter of her life.  Lourmarin has changed significantly in the past 20 years though (my grandmother died in 90’s).  What was once nothing more than a small town surrounded by old farm houses is now a chic getaway, easily accessible from Paris by the TGV to Aix–and even closer than Peter Mayle’s famous Menerbes (although Mayle has purportedly relocated to Lourmarin).  Boutiques and restaurants abound where there used to be nothing.  As I told my mother this morning, Lourmarin in July isn’t the most relaxing place to sit back and relish an afternoon at a cafe–there are just too many people.  And the commerce is practically overstimulating.  Next time I go it’ll be in spring or fall.

But a twenty minute drive west and north along a beautiful narrow uphill road lies Bonnieux, which I considered our home away from home for our time in Provence.

bonnieux with lacoste in lights

This picture was taken at the end of the first night we spent in Bonnieux.  Those tiny yellow lights in the distance (middle horizon) are the town of Lacoste.  It looks much closer when you’re there.

the church at night

Here you can see Bonnieux’s 19th century church below us in the centre ville.

les terrasses

If Bonnieux was our home away from home, Les Terrasses was our living room.  Really lovely, kind people and a terrace (not pictured) on the opposite side of the street overlooking the village.  A great, very casual place for coffee, dessert, an afternoon snack, or even a complete dinner.

rooftops

The rooftops of Bonnieux, seen from Les Terrasses

on the way down the hill

When you enter Bonnieux from the direction of Lourmarin, you enter the village at its highest point (the village itself runs along the side of a rather steep hill).  The main road leads you into the centre ville in a zig zag fashion.

wall

The old, old wall alongside the road down into town

looking up to les terrasses

Looking up from the road to the awning of Les Terrasses

little street

Narrow little street

evening

Early summer evening in Bonneiux

new evening

More early summer evening

Bonnieux is pretty sleepy, and everyone seems to like it that way.  There are a handful of restaurants, a gallery, a tabac, and an old antique store.  It’s certainly nowhere to go if you’re looking for action.  The antique store was full of very old treasures, the store itself little more than a musty stone cave.  It’s dark and cool in there, and the owners sit outside on chairs that are for sale.  My husband found a dead scorpion under an old kitchen weight.  I think it was the first time I’d ever seen one up close.  I told the owner and he came over, just in time for us to figure out the scorpion wasn’t dead after all.  We all had a good scream about that.

dramatic view

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