When we contemplate traveling after a year of pandemic downtime, summer in Provence holds special appeal. And in Provence, it is the Luberon—that craggy, uber-atmospheric region with fabulous food—that sends its siren call.
There is nothing we would like more just now than to recapture the luminous memories from an extraordinary food-and-wine journey we took a few short summers ago. That trip, filled with personalized touches, is our template for a return to France as it re-opens. We delight in independent travel but in the aftermath of a year of no travel at all, the comfort and security of an escorted gourmet trip is our choice.
The sun-drenched Luberon tempts visitors with mouthwatering food and wine and encourages walks in nature. Old stones, castles and hilltop villages dappled in ochre, silver and olive color the landscape. Here, friends and families gather around tables, spending hours together over Sunday lunch under the shade of ancient trees.
Everything here—from the low-slung cloister of a medieval church to pathways laid down by Roman soldiers to the region’s tapestry of flavors—has a colorful backstory worth sharing with someone dear.
Where to stay in France’s Luberon? A private inn
We spent a week exploring from the atmospheric comfort of a family-run inn in the Luberon. The window in our room framed lavender fields. We could go for a morning jog or walk from right outside the door. Our small group spent the days exploring the region’s perched villages and discovering the magic of a countryside layered with history. In the evenings, the vineyards below glowed with the warm hues of sunset.
What to eat? Everything Provençal
Mornings brought gourmet fare—breakfast clafouti, seasonal fruit, steaming coffee and fresh baked goods—to start our day. The scents of peaches, melons, and waffles wafted from local markets.
We sampled pissaladiere and shopped for tablecloths and olive oil. We tasted local sausages and a seemingly endless variety of goat cheese. Our favorite was rich, tangy and creamy Banon, washed in eau-de-vie and wrapped in raffia-tied chestnut leaves. Paired with a glass of the rosé wine for which the region is legend, it is a marvel.
Leisurely meals featured regional specialties, such as peas with mint, aioli vegetables, beef daube with walnuts, and trout almondine. Desserts of crème Brulee and ice cream flavored with lavender celebrated the season. We joined a Michelin-starred chef in his kitchen, before tucking into a meal built entirely around the luscious melons of Cavaillon. It was a luncheon with innovative flavors that lingered on our taste buds long after we returned home.
Most of the wine produced in picture-perfect Provence is rosé, fresh and crisp and dry on the palate. Paired tastings in a producer’s wine cellar introduced us to Provençal Appellations d’Origine Protegee (AOPs) for rosés. A private tasting in an art gallery added Châteauneuf-du-Pape and wines from Burgundy to our tasting repertoire.
What to do in the Luberon? Follow our hearts’ desires
We did not have to move hotels during our week-long stay, which was a treat in itself. Between rambles through lavender fields and up to hilltop lookouts, we traveled in comfort in a private van. We had exclusive access to house museums, wine tasting venues and even a rambunctious course camarguaise (bull games with bulls chasing the players).
We reveled in experiences without crowds or complicated decision-making. Amidst all the culinary pleasures of the week, we soaked up the magic of an evening concert in a chapel, and enjoyed meanders around “our” village.
Wendy Jaeger of Bliss Travels organized our culinary and wine adventure in the Luberon, and we would travel with her again in a heartbeat. Bliss offers personalized itineraries, comfortable accommodations and plenty of opportunities to taste the best seasonal foods in several European destinations. Starting with Provence, we are ready to explore!
What’s appealing to an over-50 traveler?
Our escorted tour provided:
- Private transport, no buses, no crowds
- Exclusive access to events and tasting venues
- Settled accommodation for the duration of the trip
- A customized trip, with activities based on the season and traveler preferences
COVID-19 Update Info: What You Need to Know
- It is important to check the latest admission information for PCR tested and verified vaccinated travelers, and to purchase travel health insurance.
- Travelers from the US should also plan to bring a letter in English (and French, if possible), with passenger and vaccine details, including batch numbers and maker, signed and stamped by a doctor.
IF YOU GO
Photo credits: All photos Tom Fakler and Anita Breland
The authors’ travel in the Luberon was supported by Bliss Travels.
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