Burcu Başar

Villages of Provence: From Marquis de Sade to Albert Camus

When you hear the mountain villages of Provence, what comes to your mind first? The movie “A Good Year” featuring Russel Crowe and Marion Cotillard? Maybe Villebelin where the famous author Albert Camus lost his life during a car accident? Or some of you may think of the chateau of Marquis de Sade, who is associated with the concept of sadism, located in Lacoste. I hope I did not hurt your pretty image of Provence with these last two anecdotes. Our road trip, which starts at Aix-en-Provence, includes many stops at various small towns which all have a story to tell. Our first stop is Lourmarin. This town that is easily reachable without starting the big climb up to the mountains amazes me with its narrow square. It sure looks very inviting for a long lunch with a wine. The next stop is Bonnieux – where a part of the movie A Good Year was filmed. The view of Bonnieux from afar is the exact image of what you may associate in your mind with the concept of mountain villages of Provence. Bonnieux – where I also spent two nights during my previous trips, is among the favorite accommodation stops along the way. The next stop is Lacoste hosting the chateau of Marquis de Sade. The chateau has been bought and restored by the famous fashion designer Yves Saint Laureant years ago. You can only see this chateau, which is in ruins, from outside. The locals criticize the purchase by Yves Saint Laurent, which substantially drove up the property prices in the region, for changing the spirit of the town. Lacoste is also home to many international study programs of US art schools. Roussillon, which is dominated by crimson color, is our next step. Roussillon makes you strangely feel like in one of those picturesque US national parks. It has such a distinct look, so different than the rest of Provence. Rousillon is our last stop during this road trip. During our drive down to Aix-en-Provence, we come across many bikers. I feel nothing but a great respect for these bikers for the effort on this road even the cars are having a hard time. I should note that sometimes part of the Tour de France also includes the mountain roads of Provence.

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