The large regional Luberon Park protects the countryside from random development, so even if it is such a big touristy area with many foreigners buying properties and invading the region during the summer months, this area somehow manages to preserve its wonderful valley floors and hilltop villages. The area was ravaged by (it seems) just about every war that Europe has seen since Roman times, and so just about all the villages cling precariously to hilltops, being built around some ancient castle, all of them giving commanding views of the valley below. The towns are quite sleepy during the average week, or at least till it is the weekly market day. And although the wonderful bistros, artisan crafts, fantastic markets and charming architecture of the region delivered on all the promises the guide book made, it was the quilted patchwork countryside down below on the valley floors, the gentle rising foothills and the landscape that took us by surprise. It is even more beautiful than what I expected! Beautiful vineyards, green lavender fields starting to turn purple, silver-green olive groves, fruit trees laden with bright red cherries all stood between the cypress and plane trees with dramatic red poppy fields in between.
Looking back at the week, it was an olive tree that created one of the surprising highlights of our trip. The photo below is of me under a 1,000 year old olive tree. How incredible is it’s gnarled trunk and its grey-green leaves? Simply beautiful!