The Grand Tour

The Grand Tour 32 – The Villages of Provence

The main reason we visited Provence was to visit many of the small picturesque villages in the region. Lacoste, Bonnieux, Cadenet, Lumeron, and Lauris to name a few. We also visited Aix-en-Provence and Avignon. This won’t be a comprehensive post – it’s not possible to cover five whole days in one post – these a just a few things that stood out to me.

The Lumeron Market

You can buy nearly anything at this market that’s held every Friday. For example fine cheeses.

Fresh spices, and these are really fresh.

All kinds of produce.

The market was packed with people by 9am, buying freshly baked bread, clothing, linen, jewelry, rotisserie chickens, cured meat, nougat, and much more.

What struck me was the smell of the produce. This was really fresh and the combination of all these smells combined is hard to describe. I’ve certainly not experienced anything like that in New Zealand.

The Chateaux

Standing on a hill overlooking the village is the Villa Medicis de Provence, built in the late 15th century by Foulques d’Agoult. It has a number of furnished rooms, and is used a centre for the arts, hosting concerts and exhibitions.

The staircases are also pretty cool. Europeans seem to be very partial to a good spiral staircase, and so am I.

We also walked around the village. Parts of it are very old.


We walked up to the top of Lasote and saw some very interesting construction on the way up the hill.

At the top of the hill are the remains of a castle built by Marquis de Sade.

There is also a sculpture of him, and a word featuring outstretched hands called Welcome.


We also walked to the top of Bonnuiex, to the church at the top of the hill. The steps leading up to the church are very wrong from centuries of use.

And the view from the top is stunning.

But the building itself appears to be no longer in use, with some fairly major cracks.


Is this the Doctor?

We did a bit of shopping in Aix, and looked around an exhibition of works by the artist Turner that we stumbled on quite by accident. Holidays are like that.



For a while the Pope lived in France, in this palace. We did not go in, having seen enough of Papal palaces in Rome.

No visit to Avignon would be complete without a visit the bridge of Avignon. Originally about 920 metres long, changes in the river’s course of the centuries undermined and washed away all but four of the original 22 arches.

The Bories Village

Based on artefacts found on site, these stone huts may have first been constructed in the 15th century. There were certainly in active use in the 17th and 18th centuries. What is unique about these huts is that they are built without any mortar at all.

Even the arches above the doors have no mortar, and it is remarkable they were constructed, and for the most part still stand.

So that is a snapshot of our time in Provence. Tomorrow it is on to Barcelona, and to the Sagrada Familia.

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