La Tour d’Aigues and Ansouis : Two villages in Provence

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La Tour d’Aigues and Ansouis :Two villages in Provence

On the Route des Châteaux in the southern Luberon  


La Tour d’Aigues is a lovely medieval village in the southern Luberon, not far north of Aix-en-Provence. It has a prime spot on the Châteaux Route in the southern Luberon, along with neighboring Ansouis, Lourmarin, and Lauris. This is an area of Provence without the notoriety of St Rémy-de-Provence—whose fame partially relates to the years when Princess Caroline of Monaco lived here with her children—or the northern Luberon, whose villages of MenerbesGordes, Bonnieux, and others became known worldwide through Peter Mayle’s witty novels. Nevertheless the southern Luberon is a very attractive area for travelers, loaded with everything visitors love: excellent restaurants, many Provençal markets, stunning scenery, lavender fields, beautiful villages, wineries, historical sites but with generally fewer crowds, a blessing in summer.


Truly one of the most stunning sites in the area is the Renaissance Château de la Tour d’Aigues, located right in the middle of the town of La Tour d’Aigues on the D956. It is hard to drive through the village without the facade of the château pulling you in for a visit. The massive entry gate is sculpted and has the style of a Roman triumphal arch.  (Catherine de Medicis visited in 1579, and the entry gate had to have the sides carved out to allow her carriage to pass.) The entry courtyard of the château has become an open-air theater; the château was pillaged and burned during the Revolution and was never fully restored, but it provides a great open space for entertainment. Watching a dance or musical performance on a warm summer evening is magical.



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The château’s ruins are open for a visit, and there is a Musée de Faience, full of beautiful 18th century earthenware which now can be visited by appointment.


Also on the Châteaux route, Ansouis, one of “France’s most beautiful villages,” has an ancient 10th century fortress, refurbished in subsequent centuries. The village of Ansouis, at the intersection of the D56, D37 and D135, is well restored, with neat stone walls, and has a fair number of ancient little streets, just perfect for a quiet visit.


The Château d’Ansouis, an ancient medieval fortress, was the property of the Sabran Pontevès family for over 1,000 years; this is the family who created the château and gave it is spirit.  In 2008 a couple from Aix-en-Provence, enamoured of ancient buildings, bought the château from the heirs who were constantly fighting over their family property.  (Pierre Cardin, who had been buying up property in the Luberon, lost his bid to buy this chateau.) The new owners have spared no effort or money to restore the château. They found the original decorative plaster walls beneath wall coverings, and have furnished the rooms with lovely furniture.


Though the château is privately owned, it opens for visitors in the afternoons. Visitors must take a guided visit, which is given in French.


Another interesting visit in Ansouis is the Extraordinary Museum of Georges Mazoyer. Mazoyer was a Provencal painter and diver, who gave the enormous collection of fossilized sea creatures and pre-historic fragments that he gathered in his 47 years of diving all over the world. The museum is located below the village.


tour d aigues


L’Art Glacier, a well-known ice cream parlor with unique and delicious flavors, is located in the countryside outside Ansouis and La Tour d’Aigues; it is well worth the effort to find the shop. Enjoy the terrace overlooking the Petit Luberon while enjoying one of the dozens of unique flavors of ice cream.


For a change of pace, go a little further east of Tour d’Aigues and Ansouis and visit the well-known town of Manosque, in the Alps of Upper Provence  (Alpes-de-Hautes-Provence.) Manosque is the birthplace of the  famous  writer Jean Giono, well known for his evocative descriptions of  early 20th century life in Provence. (Giono wrote the novel upon which « The Horseman on the Roof » was based, and Marcel Pagnol based several films on Giono’s other novels.)  Be sure to visit the pretty squares and ancient gates of the city.   The Occitane company, world famous for its natural beauty products, has its factory and a museum that you can visit in Manosque.  From Pertuis either take exit 18 off the A51 autoroute, or  the more scenic D973 and D996.  Just east of Manosque is the huge Plateau of Valensole, renowned for its lavender fields—but you can only see lavender from about mid or late June to mid July.


South of Manosque are the famous « Gorges de Verdon »  the « Grand Canyon of France » ;  you can go swimming, hiking, canoeing, or just drive and enjoy the scenery. Just south of the western end of the gorge you  can watch the gliders fly out of Vinon-sur-Verdon, which has the largest gliding club and training centre in France.


Our luxury villas 


If you would like to spend some time exploring this spectacular region, we have beautiful luxury villas in the southern LuberonVilla Hélène in Peypin d’Aigues, Villa Domino in Cadenet, and Domaine Marderic in Ansouis.


villa Hélène

Villa Hélène


villa domino

Villa Domino


Domaine Marderic

Domaine Marderic




Local outdoor Provençal markets are held in the morning in many nearby villages: La Tour d’Aigues, Cucuron, and Gordes on Tuesday; Ansouis on Sunday; Pertuis on Wednesday and Saturday; Lourmarin on Friday; Cadenet on Monday; Aix-en-Provence on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday ; Manosque on Saturday.


Recommended: Restaurants, Ice cream shop,

Winery & Garden


La Closerie, one Michelin star,

Blvd des Platanes, 84240 Ansouis

Very good food, wine and service. Lunch is a great value. Need to reserve.


L’Auberge de Tilleuls, one Michelin star,

Moulin du Pas, 84240 Grambois

Tél.: 33 (0)4 90 77 93 11

Very good French food at reasonable prices, generally good service ; terrace for summer, fireplace indoors for winter.


Le Retro, +33 (0)6 69 63 55 30

95 Rue Antoine de Tres, 84240Tour d’Aigues.

Unassuming small bistro on the main street but serving very good food, with high quality ingredients.


L’Ange Gourmand,   33 (0)4 90 07 49 02

92 Rue Antoine de Tres, 84240 Tour d’Aigues

Good, simple, and well-priced food in the center of town.


Pizza La Rosa / Chez Nino (name has changed)  +33 4 90 79 08 42

25 Rue Antoine de Tres, 84240Tour d’Aigues.

Wood burning oven pizza; eat in, take out or delivery.


L’Art Glacier, only artisan ice cream in the Provencal countryside . Click here for map

Located in “Les Hautes Terres” hameau (hamlet) between Ansouis and La Tour d’Aigues on a hilltop just off the D9 on the D135;  from Ansouis, follow the signs “L’Art Glacier” for about 5 km.

GPS 5° 30’ 35”   East   43° 44’ 32” North

Tel +33 (0)4 90 77 75 72; for hours  +33 (0)4 90 77 75 70


Domaine Val Joanis,  well known winery with 988 acre  property of vineyards and gardens.

2404 Route de Villelaure, D973, 84120 Pertuis

Free tasting, 10-19H in July and August;  spring and fall, 10-13; 14:18:30.

The gardens are open from April until October and are €3 per adult. Free admission for children 18 or under.



Article submitted by: Sharon deRham

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