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Lively Luberon Village for Winter Stay?

Jim Thorpe...
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223 posts
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Lively Luberon Village for Winter Stay?

Hello~

We'll be in Provence for 10 days next January. We'll have a car.

I'd like to stay in Bonnieux for 3 nights, but am concerned that things will be locked up for the winter season -- is this true? Or, will the town have a bit of local activity? I'm concerned about restaurants and food shops being open, and I don't mind quiet -- I just don't want the town to feel like a neutron bomb went off. I also don't care about touristy shops.

If Bonnieux is a bad winter choice, can you recommend another larger, livelier town? My entire itinerary is as follows, if that helps:

4 nights Arles (with daytrips to Pont du Gard, Uzes, Nimes, Avignon, etc)

3 nights Luberon (Luberon villages, plus St. Remy en route)

2 nights Aix

Finish up with a few days in Paris

Thanks so much, in advance!

Destination Expert
for Provence-Alpes-Cote d'Azur
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1. Re: Lively Luberon Village for Winter Stay?

Hi Less,

Many of the smaller places that you have mentioned are quite likely to be pretty / super quiet in January.

I urge you to get the 2011 Red Guide Michelin, as it will list the seasonal closing dates for restaurants and accomodations - you will see that many places that primarily cater to tourists during the "high season" close for a rather extended period during the winter (ie. January, February and even a part of March).

However, even in January, a small city like Arles, will be OK, as will Aix.

Personally, I suggest that you seriously consider staying in St. Remy, as opposed to someplace up in the Luberon, as it is a somewhat larger town, as opposed to being a smaller village, it has a bit more going on, even in the off season. While you can easily explore the Luberon villages via day-trips from St. Remy, they are probably not good places to think about staying in January.

The other thing that you may want to consider, is establishing a single base, as opposed to relocating every couple of days. Western Provence is relatively compact, and is easily explored via a series of day-trips from a single, well-centered base.

California
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for Grasse
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2. Re: Lively Luberon Village for Winter Stay?

If the Lubéron is what you want, Bonnieux is, I believe, the largest of the villages. I do, however, agree that something like St-Rémy would offer more opportunities for you.

Jim Thorpe...
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3. Re: Lively Luberon Village for Winter Stay?

Thanks, both of you!

St. Remy was my initial plan, but I didn't want to schlep back and forth (despite it only being an hour) each way from the Luberon villages. (I'd rather move hotels than drive.) But your advice makes sense. Thanks again!

maine
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4. Re: Lively Luberon Village for Winter Stay?

We have been in Provence in January. You may have some glorious sunny and warm days but it can be very chilly. We have been happier along the coast and if you are not set on le vrai Provence, would recommend you consider Nice and the lovely towns nearby. The quirky La Perouse in Nice is our favorite hotel. The nearby towns of St. Paul de Vence, Vence with the Matisse Chapel (check open times), Cagnes, and Eze in the winter are wonderfully untouristy but much warmer than the inland towns. If you are commited to inland Provence, the triad of La Coste, Bonnieux and Menerbes is terrific. With 10 days in Provence we always stay in hotels for 3 nights but rent a house or apartment for a week....it is lovely to have a private place to relax after touring or hiking, and we like being able to have dinners "at home". A good souce for houses is vrbo.com.

Jim Thorpe...
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5. Re: Lively Luberon Village for Winter Stay?

Thanks, puddleduc. I appreciate your thoughts.

Vancouver, Canada
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6. Re: Lively Luberon Village for Winter Stay?

I'm not sure how accurate this is, but we were in Lourmarin last week and were talking to the owners about someone that had just booked for 2 months in winter. They said they specifically picked Lourmarin as it wasn't dead in the winter, the said Bonnieux pretty much closes down. Personally, we love St. Remy and I don't think you could go wrong, but I'd be tempted to stay out of Bonnieux

California
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7. Re: Lively Luberon Village for Winter Stay?

If you're planing to stay only 3 nights in the Lubéron I really don't think you have to worry. Villages will not be completely shut down; after all, the local residents still need to buy food, have the occasional meal out, and so on. What will be shut down is the tourist traffic; so you could end up having quite a nice time.

provence
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8. Re: Lively Luberon Village for Winter Stay?

Sorry I have to put a reality check in here.

January is not a good time to visit rural Provence.

It will be cold and when the mistral blows it will go right through you. Yes you might get the odd day when the sun is out and the sky is blue but it will still be cold.

I remember a conversation with a local in a supermarket shortly after we had bought our place there saying that the Luberon virtually shuts down in the winter

I would pick some of the larger towns (Avignon, Arles, Aix) to base yourself in as at least you will have a selection of restaurants to eat in after a days sight seeing, and use them as a base to visit the Luberon etc.

That is the down side but there is still much to do - nothing like a good Daube with a hearty Chateau Neuf is a cosy restaurant at lunch followed by a walk (weather permitting).

Sorry to appear negative as we love Provence in any season but my advice would be to go to the Alps and ski and come back to Provence in May or September to really get the atmosphere of the place.

9. Re: Lively Luberon Village for Winter Stay?

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