After Aix, it’s off to Saignon, a tiny hilltop village outside Apt. Saignon and Apt are in a region called the Luberon, popularized in Peter Mayle’s novel “A Year in Provence”. From May until September, the Luberon gets a lot of tourists but they congregate mostly in Bonnieux, Gordes and MÃ©nerbes, the towns mentioned in Mayle’s book (more on this in a later post).
The drive from Aix-en-Provence to Saignon is spectacular because it takes you through the hilly parc naturel du Luberon (a protected natural reserve where you can go on hikes).
Saignon is such a tiny village and so secluded that it has no Internet access and one (intermittently open and tiny grocery). It clings to the rocky side of a hill and if you are standing at the top of the ruined fortress, you see “Danger” signs posted right where you might be tempted to take a leap into the void.
Saignon is a very quiet place where you can get away from the world. And the bells of the 12th century church of Notre Dame de Pitiè are about the only thing you hear during the day and in the early evenings. Consider staying in Saignon for a week and use it as your base for exploring the Luberon.
Hotel and restaurant recommendations in Saignon
Consider staying at Chambre de sejour avec vue – Demeure d’art et d’hotes”, a B&B (which has one apartment as well) right next to the church. Run by Kamila Regent (who comes from Poland) and Pierre Jaccaud, this is not your typical B&B. It’s an eclectic, funky hideway with art gallery and sculpture installations in the garden. The owners renovated two houses next to one another and filled them with works of art. They host an artist-in-residence as well. This is one of the best places I have every stayed in and the only one you should seriously consider if you are in the Luberon.
Because Saignon is a tiny village, there are two restaurants – the Auberge du Presbytere (a hotel plus restaurant) and La Cave Gourmande- and a small cafe that serves salads and simple meals. Because it was very hot, the midday meal should be light but delicious. I did not try the Auberge but had a memorable dinner of veau Ã¡ la basquaise at the Cave Gourmand, followed by a tarte aux poires et au chocolat (see the recipe on Chocolate and Zucchini).