Crazy About Bonnieux

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I must admit, at first I wasn’t crazy about the village of Bonnieux. I thought it was a little too busy, a little rougher around the edges than some of my favorites in Provence. But after staying two weeks just below the village, I am now smitten.

Each day as I walked the steep street up into the village and took my time slowly exploring the narrow cobbled streets, I began to get this village. Now it is a part of me, a place I can’t wait to return to.

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With cascading houses clustered on the side of a hill, Bonnieux is filled with cafés, excellent dining, boulangeries, and views, views, and more views. The photogenic walk up the 86 steps to the top is a must with views over the Luberon valley to Lacoste, Gordes, and beyond.

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But the best is walking up the road behind the village against the Luberon mountain. Once you get close to the top, duck into the narrow alleys to explore and discover the charming doors, windows, and pots of flowers. You will have this all to yourself. This side of the village is even more stunning than the valley side.

There is no shortage of places to eat. As mentioned before, our new gold standard for the region is le Fournil. Also, la Bergerie is fantastic. And simple yet delicious Bretagne crêpes can be had at le Tinel crêperie.

Bonnieux is truly belle Provence. A place to return to again and again. A place that stays with you.

À bientôt!

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RESTAURANTS:

Le Fournil: Place Carnot; phone: +33 (0) 4 90 75 83 62; closed all day Monday and for lunch on Saturday.

La Bergerie: Chemin des Claparedes; phone: +33 (0) 4 90 75 89 78; closed Sunday evening and all day Monday.

Le Tinel:  Place Gambetta; phone: +33 (0) 4 90 75 61 28.

L’Arôme: I have not dined here yet, but it looks wonderful. The most charming setting with tables spilling out onto a narrow street.  2 rue Lucien Blanc; phone: +33 (0) 4 90 75 88 62; closed all day Wednesday and for lunch on Thursday.

A Gîte That Comes With a Dog and Two Cats!

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On our last visit to Provence, we stayed at a little oasis of tranquility tucked away just below the village of Bonnieux. Each day began with a short yet very steep five-minute walk up to the boulangerie for fresh croissants. Lazy afternoons were spent lounging by a pool gazing up at the enchanting rooftops of Bonnieux.

And in the evenings, it was hard to break away with a view like this from our rental terrace. Vineyards and the village of Lacoste illuminated on one side and the sun setting over the rooftops of Bonnieux on the other.

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But the best part of all was the lovable Bambou and her two companions who came to visit us each day. From the moment we got up in the morning, Bambou was anxiously waiting outside our door to come in. And each day when we returned, we were visited by Bambou and a cat or two. This all added to our French village experience. Warm memories that will stay with us along with our newfound attachment to the village of Bonnieux.

For those looking to find a nice gîte rental in Provence, we have had much success finding good ones on HomeAway, or VRBO, where you can search by village and see many reviews. It is also helpful that you can pay by credit card instead of by bank transfer. Additionally, the Luberon.com offers a very, very nice selection of rentals specifically in the Luberon area.

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À bientôt!

Le Fournil—The New Gold Standard

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Over the last few years, I’d been hearing mention of le Fournil in several gite rental binders, and it had been on my list of restaurants to try. It did not disappoint! In fact, with each bite we were asking, “How soon can we get back?”

Le Fournil is located in the center of the beautiful village of Bonnieux and set in a natural troglodytic cave. The menu is Mediterranean inspired with the freshest ingredients and the most simple yet refined dishes.

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During the summer months, it is absolutely enchanting to sit at a table outside in the evening by the 17th-century fountain.

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For our menu, we chose the poisson du jour and the porc du Ventoux with pommes de terre. Both were outstanding!

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And for dessert, the chocolat du jour with apricot sauce was crazy good.

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Thanks to le Fournil, nothing tastes as good since returning to the States. Now, we can’t help but compare everything to it. It’s hard to choose between le Fournil and our other favorite restaurant in Provence, les Remparts, written about here. But I think you will agree that le Fournil deserves to be the new gold standard.

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À bientôt!

Encounters at a French Market

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There is nothing like wandering through a French market, filled with fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, bread, soap, honey, and so much more. It’s a lively place—the heart of France, the heart of the village.

Today, I was meandering a French market in the stunning hilltop village of Bonnieux in the Vaucluse department of Provence, keen with excitement to pick out the freshest of fruits and vegetables, to smell the lavender sachets and soaps, to stop and enjoy an espresso, and to watch village life unfold.

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Naturally, my lack of French language skill got me into some interesting encounters. I knew I was in trouble when I went to pay for my fruit and vegetables and realized I only had 50 euros and nothing smaller on me, at least to my knowledge that is. I held out my 50 saying, “desole.” The owner of the stand started speaking rapidly, going on and on and pointing to my wallet. I said, “So sorry, but I only have this.” He continued to speak rapidly and walked over and reached in my wallet and pulled out 20 euros. Oops. I laughed. He laughed. The whole line of people waiting laughed. To me, all the money looks the same. After all, it’s “play” money, right?

Next, I venture on to buy a loaf of bread for dinner. I approach a beautiful stand of delicious looking bread and point to the loaf I want. “No!” I am told. I can not buy the loaf. OK. That makes perfect sense. I am at a stand that is selling bread but cannot buy it. Why of course, this is France! There must be something I don’t know. I just pause trying to figure out how I can get some bread. But then the very kind woman proceeds to make a cutting motion with her hand. Apparently, I can only buy slices of bread? Still not sure what that was all about. So I asked for four slices.

So many “rules.” So many interesting encounters. Yet, I love this place. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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À bientôt!