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Lourmarin

Regional Natural Park of Luberon, Vaucluse

43.769606,5.363045
43°46'10.58"N 5°21'46.96"E
Published: February 2010
last updated: March 2011
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The visit

This little village in the south of Luberon is a must-see for all seekers of Château de Lourmarin historical and cultural heritage of Provence. Reason number one to come to the village: Château de Lourmarin – this is the first Renaissance-style palace of Provence, built between XV and XVI centuries. The palace, erected in the fields a short walk from the village (in fact the palace preceded the village) is divided into the medieval part (Château Vieux), which is unfortunately not accessible to public, and the renaissance part (Châteauneuf), built in Italian style, which surprises visitors with its galleries and 93-step staircase. In the beginning of XX century the palace is restored by the effort of Robert Laurent-Vibert, a rich entrepreneur from Lyon, the producer of famous lotion for hair-loss prevention. Laurent-Vibert had a project to turn the Château into a “villa Médici”, which will assemble young artists and researchers (nowadays a private foundation, named in his honour, manages a summer school for young talents). If you want to visit the Château, take a close look at its opening hours. In summertime the Château hosts numerous concerts and art-exhibits, a part of it can be also rented for weddings, seminars and other events (see the details on the web-site.

Reason number two to come to Lourmarin: its cemetery, where lay Albert Camus and Henri Bosco.

Reason number three: the village itself with authentic Provencal calades, dividing the centre of the village into Lourmarin three concentric circles, pretty houses and terraces with the view on the plain of Luberon. The village has a Catholic church first built in XI century and enlarged in XVI century – a good mixture of roman and late gothic styles, so frequent in Provence. Next to the château – a Protestant temple built in the very beginning of XIX century (if you know a little bit the history of Lourmarin, you will be surprised to see the temple in this village). This temple possesses one of the biggest organs in the region.
The lovers of the fountains will find four in Lourmarin: the fountain of the château, which imitates antique style, was constructed in 1930 by Louis Didron, one of the young sculptors, spending his summer in Lourmarin. The fountain of three masks in front of the temple has the same author and was constructed after the World War II, when the sculptor returned to Lourmarin. The centre of the village has two older fountains: the fountain of the square and the fountain of the church. Considering the size of the village you will not miss other architectural landmarks: the belfry of XVII century and the ancient windmill.

History

The land of Lourmarin has the traces of Neolithic settlements. Later the valley was occupied by Romans, who have been chased from Luberon by the invasion of Sarasins in VII century. The ancient castle of Lourmarin was probably constructed in XI century and belonged to the bearers of the title “comtes de Forcalquier par la grâce de Dieu”. The glory and prosperity of Lourmarin is connected with the house of Agoult – one of the most Lourmarin powerful noble houses of Provence. In XV century Foulques III d’Agoult orders the reconstruction of the old castle and founds the village of Lourmarin. In 1470 Foulques III offers the land to the colony of Waldesians (the followers of one of the oldest european protestant churches) from Piémont. Thus Lourmarin becomes the centre of Waldesian settlement in Luberon. The new part of the castle – Châteauneuf – was built in XVI century by one of the late descendents of Agoult house - Anne-Blanche de Lévis-Ventadour.

XVI century marks the most tragic page in the history of Lourmarin – in 1545 the village is burned and the population is massacred by the troops under the orders of Jean Maynier, baron d’Oppède, the first president of the Parliament of Provence. During XVI century the war between catholic and protestant gangs ravage Provence and especially Luberon. In april 1545 3000 Waldesians were killed in Luberon. The survivors have massively immigrated back to Piémont and much farther – to Latin America. A new wave of persecution of Protestants, which started with the edict of Fountainbleu of 1685, chases Huguenot farmers of Luberon, who live France for Netherlands and later to South Africa. Hence the native of Lourmarin – Jean Roy – arrives to South Africa in 1688 and there plants one of the oldest and the most famous vines of this country.

Another sad page is the subsequent epidemics of plague: the plague of 1348, which has caused the death of a third of population, and the horrible plague of 1720. In fact, Lourmarin lived long time under the terror of the plague – the village was protected by the walls and the access of foreigners was strictly limited.

After turbulent medieval period, in XVII-XVIII centuries the population of Tomb d'Albert Camus Lourmarin lives quite life of farmers. The château changes hands and little by little falls into ruin; in the end of XIX century it is the refuge of gypsies and gangs, threatening the population of the village. And only in the beginning of XX century the effort of Robert Laurent-Vibert resurrects the château and turns Lourmarin into one of cultural centres of Provence.

Albert Camus in Lourmarin: the author of The Plague and The Stranger first came to Lourmarin as a lecturer on the invitation of Robert Laurent-Vibert Foundation. This must have been love from the first sight, as quite rapidly Camus has used the money he received as Nobel Prize winner to buy an old magnarerie (silk culture farm). Here in Lourmarin he wrote The First Man – his last unfinished novel, published posthumously. After his tragic death, Camus was buried on the cemetery of Lourmarin; his daughter still lives on the farm and in the village you can still meet people, who knew the writer personally.

Practical information

Situated on the south of Luberon valley, Lourmarin is easily accessible by car: from Apt (D943), from Marseille and Aix (D543), from Pertuis (D973).

The closest airport: Marseille-Provence.
The closest TGV train station: Aix-en-Provence. Closest TGV railway station is Aix-en-Provence. From there take a bus in the direction Pertius, where you can make a connection to Lourmarin. Closest SNCF train station is Pertuis. From Pertuis Gare SNCF you can take a bus in the direction Puyvert that passes by Lourmarin. Do plan your trip carefully, as there are only four buses per day!

Although Lourmarin is beautiful in any season, we advise you to avoid high touristic season, as the village is overwhelmed by tourists.
In the low season you will easily find a place on the free parking right outside the village.

Comment on this article

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Fountaine Fountaine de Louis Didron Lourmarin Lourmarin Fountaine de Louis Didron Lourmarin

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Lourmarin La tombe d'Albert Camus Château de Lourmarin Lourmarin Fountaine de Louis Didron Temple protestant

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Lourmarin Château de Lourmarin - le cour interne Lourmarin Lourmarin Eglise de Lourmarin Lourmarin

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Lourmarin Lourmarin Lourmarin Lourmarin Lourmarin Lourmarin

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Lourmarin

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