Thursday, 3 May 2012

Luxury holiday villas in the Luberon village of Goult

Deep in the Luberon is the village of Goult, right in the centre of the Parc Natural Regional de Luberon.  Located between Cavaillon and Apt, just 1km off the RN 100, it is named after the d'Goult family, whose private château is built into the rock in the village, but is not open to the public. Goult has an ancient feel, with quiet cobbled streets, old doorways and archways and is a very pretty place to walk around. Look out for the Conservatoire des Terrasses, cultivated terraces which are over 100 years old. A typical Provence landscape is on offer with olive tress and quiet atmospheric squares to get a coffee or a pastis, huge oak trees and other tall trees provide shade which is needed in the summer.

Settled by the Romans, there is a Roman church and the Roman chapel de St Veran to explore. Tennis, hiking and walking are all offered in profusion and there are annual festivals in mid June, mid July and throughout much of August, which of course are the busiest time of year down here. You can also visit the Priory ND de Les Lumières.  Perhaps not so welcome to those seeking the peace and quiet traditionally associated with a trip to Provence is the opportunity for motocross, however I am told it is well away from the village and does not impinge on the quintessentially Provencal experience otherwise offered by Goult.

Nearby are some equally quaint villages, Saint Pantaléon is said by one guide-book to be where trousers were invented, but frankly I doubt it, I think if it were the case the village might make more of it. Gordes has a little more about it, with a gallery dedicated to the contemporary Flemish artist Pol Para and is designated officially as "one of the most beautiful villages in France" a title only bestowed on the top 100 pretty villages in the country. At the top of the hill upon which this village is built is the inevitable church, with fantastic views over the Provencal landscape. In the green valley behind is the Abbey de le Senanque where Cistercian monks still produce a liquour and collect lavender and honey. The village was mentioned more than once in Peter Mailes book "A Year In Provence" which has increased its visitor flow somewhat.

Other than these villages, the attraction of the area is to sit back, relax watch the locals sip their pastis in the evening sunshine, but beware trying to keep up with them. Pastis is very strong and the locals know to mix it with lots of water, a mistake visitors sometimes make, topping up their glasses with more pastis, rather than as the locals do, topping it up with water. Don't forget also, that they have been doing it for years, even hundreds of years so their metabolisms can take it!

The local rose wines are also very good. Personally I do not believe their red wines carry the same weight in wine loving circles as they would like to believe, and the white wines are really not very good, it being too warm a climate to make good white wine, but the roses' of the Luberon are much under rated in my book.

To stay here in a hotel is almost impossible, there are very few if any hotels of note, so the easiest thing is to try to find a private villa to rent. That can be a lot easier than perhaps it sounds, as there are a number of agencies, some speaking English, some actually ex pat English themselves who can find you the perfect villa in which to unwind and relax, which, after all, is the main reason for exploring old Provence.

A car is vital and the nearest airport is over 70 km's away at Marseilles, but the drive is wonderful just don't expect to get there too fast!