Avanti Destinations: Lavender in the LuberonDay 1 Avignon Pick up your rental car. Your hotel, Mas de Guilles, is a 17th-Century Provençal farmhouse located just outside the village of Lourmarin, frequently voted as one of the most beautiful villages in France. During the drive, you will see vineyards, fields of flowers, and village churches topped with traditional Provençal bell towers. Your hotel is on the road that leads to the next charming village, Cucuron. Spend some time today walking around the very pedestrian-friendly Lourmarin with several art galleries, specialty shops and, of course, a half-dozen very good restaurants. But tonight, you'll have dinner at your hotel's excellent restaurant. Centrally Located Hotel In Avignon, (D) Day 2 Avignon After breakfast at your hotel, you have a full day to explore this beautiful region. Every day of the week, one or more of the villages has a farmer's market in the center. Lourmarin's is on Friday, while nearby Cucuron's is on Tuesday. Here you'll find fresh fruit and vegetables, freshly-baked bread, cheese and meat from the region, and flowers. Usually you can also find local handicrafts, including tablecloths and napkins made from Provençal fabric. The markets generally run from about 9:00am until noon, with some local variation. Try to catch one or two of these markets, to get a real feel for village life. After visiting a market, you'll visit the Lavender Museum at Coustellet. This small village is on the north side of the Luberon Mountain, about 20 miles north and west of Lourmarin. It's located on the D2 road, the Route de Gordes, very near its intersection with the main east-west road, N100. Depending on where you are in the morning, you can also approach the Museum from Cavaillon. At the Museum, you'll learn about the history of lavender's uses in perfumes and fragrance, and how it's grown now on lavender farms, and not just picked wild. Lavender is one of the most important crops in Provence; the museum started as an extension of a family-owned farm. Museum staff will explain the difference between “true lavender” and the wild lavender; they will also explain how it is distilled into the liquid prized by perfume blenders. As you head back towards Lourmarin, you'll cross over the Luberon Mountain and drive down its southern flank. On the way, you may have time to explore one or more of the exceptionally pretty villages in this area: Ménerbes, Lacoste, or Bonnieux. If wine interests you, Domaine de la Citadelle is an important winery, just outside Ménerbes on the Route de Cavaillon. Centrally Located Hotel In Avignon, (B) Day 3 Avignon After breakfast at your hotel, head back to Avignon to return your rental car, or continue on to your next Avanti adventure! Centrally Located Hotel In Avignon, (B)
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