Bonnieux is one of the most impressive Luberon villages, in size and amenities, with plenty of restaurants and cafes to choose from, a really good market, even a bakery museum!
The view from Bonnieux is wonderful, out across the valley floor with its patchwork of orchards and vineyards, towards the equally picturesque perched village of Lacoste across the Vaucluse plateau.
At the top of the village, as ever, is a church, the 12th century, Roman/Gothic ‘Vieille Eglise’ (old church), and near the bottom is the much newer (1870) New Church (‘Eglise Neuve’) – no great beauty but home to some intensely painted scenes of the Passion of Christ.
In the 19th century the villagers started coming down from the top of Bonnieux, as plagues and persecutions had dried up. It took 10 years to even reach agreement on building the new church, a debate possibly swung by a doctor’s note stating: “the old church is so insalubrious that it causes 80 cases of cold, catarrh, stomach ailments and rheumatism per year”.
So the old church, surrounded by cedars, is now out of use. But it is well worth climbing up through Bonnieux to the top for the views of the Monts de Vaucluse, Mont Ventoux, and also Lacoste, Gordes and Roussillon. The altitude here is 425 metres (1,394 ft). In July the church is an atmospheric setting for classical music concerts.
There are some fine houses in Bonnieux dating back to the 16th century, and the village’s relative opulence dates back to this period when several bishops chose to live in Bonnieux when this area belonged to the Popes.
Bonnieux was a fortified village as early as 972 AD. It started off lower down the hill, but inched its way up the slope as events got hairier in the 13th century, and barricaded itself against invaders and attackers with ramparts, which sometimes kept them out and sometimes did not.
Market day is Friday mornings. A pretty market at the bottom of the village with local crafts and produce.
Bonnieux, uniquely, has a bread museum, the Musée de la Boulangerie, in a village house, in the rue de la République. This will tell you all about how bread is made in the artisanal manner, should that be of interest to you.