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The very official French association ‚ÄúLes Plus Beaux Villages de France‚ÄĚ (see http://www.france-beautiful-villages.org/en lists 155 villages in France of exceptional beauty. Of these, 18 are in Provence. Lourmarin is one of them, as are Ansouis, Gordes, M√©nerbes, Roussillon, Les Baux de Provence and Moustiers Ste Marie. All of these are within easy striking distance of Les Olivettes. Ansouis is only 10 minutes away, and Moustiers Ste Marie is the furthest - an hour and a half across lavender fields, with dramatic backdrop of the Alps.

Each village has its particular charm. Roussillon has ochre quarries, and presents a palette of hues from deep purple to pale, subtle pink. Les Baux is dramatic, perched on a rocky promontory in the Alpilles, the jagged, olive-covered hills beloved of Van Gogh. Gordes is chic and photographic, Ménerbes is quiet and mysterious, and Ansouis has a spectacular castle which until very recently had been inhabited by the same family for over 1000 years. And Moustiers, high in the hills, is famous for its decorative pottery and the golden star that hangs on a chain suspended between two cliffs, high above the village.

Of course, we believe that Lourmarin is the most beautiful of all, but it is one of the many pleasures of staying at Les Olivettes that each day can bring another village, another market, another vine-shaded café terrace for sipping rosé and watching the local world go by.