The Luberon in Autumn
and why it may be your favourite time to visit
Autumn in the Luberon is a magical time, here are the most compelling reasons to time your trip right after the summer season...
1. Far from the madding crowds
The first thing you will notice when you visit the Luberon in the fall is that the crowds of summer have vanished. You can park where you want, turn up for dinner without a reservation, and feel you are almost alone at a village or attraction. Peak season ends in August, which means that in autumn prices are distinctly lower for accommodation, flights, car rental, etc.
2. Idyllic temperatures
But isn't it cold and rainy in autumn? No! Although autumn is when the most rain falls in the Luberon, that is still only a small amount, and most days will be sunny and warm so you can comfortably eat outside in a T-shirt. It is not unusual in September and October for the temperature to reach the low 80s (30C). And you won't need a/c because the nights are cool.
3. The perfect time for hiking and biking
Spring and autumn are the best times for hiking and biking in the Luberon. First of all, it is not too hot, but also the trails on the Luberon mountain are closed in summer due to fire risk. Spring gives you the bright greens of a landscape coming to life, but you may prefer the autumnal displays of yellows and ochres, mist hanging in the valleys, and the faint smell of wood-smoke, as you hike or bike through the magical landscapes of the Luberon.
4. That light
The Luberon and Provence are famous for the clarity of the light. In summer in the middle part of the day the sun beats you down, so you just want to find some shade by the pool. In autumn the sun stays lower, casting longer shadows and giving an extended, gentler 'golden light'. Not just a pleasure to be in but a photographer's delight.
5. Day-trip delights
Autumn is a great time for day-trips beyond the Luberon. City explorations of Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and Arles for example are much more relaxed affairs when tourists don't outnumber the populations, and lower temperatures make day-long city strolls a real delight. On the coast, the beaches are practically deserted but the sea stays warm well into the autumn.
6. Autumn treasure in the markets
Markets run as normal through the autumn, minus the crowds, and while they won't have the summer fruits Provence is famed for, there are seasonal consolations like the cornucopia of mushrooms, and as we get into November it is the turn of the truffle to reappear on the stalls.
7. Opening doors with Heritage Days
The third weekend in September gives you a great opportunity to see places that are normally closed to the public. The European Heritage Days (Journées Européennes du Patrimoine) sees castles, parks, monuments, churches, gardens, museums throw their doors open, usually for free entrance. For example, in 2022 you could visit the Laboratoire souterrain à bas bruit (Underground low-noise laboratory), which are kilometres of underground tunnels that used to host France's nuclear deterrent command centre in the cold war. Details of the Heritage Days are here: https://journeesdupatrimoine.culture.gouv.fr/en/
8. Wine bargains
Autumn is a time for wine! All the big supermarkets hold an autumn 'wine fair' (Foire aux Vins) where they give good discounts on their wine stocks - they are not just getting rid of bad wine they can't shift, there are many very good wines and well-known names at reduced prices. This is also the time they sell wine from small producers who don't make enough to stock all year, and some of these can be really interesting too. The Foire aux Vins happens in September and October (and there is also a smaller springtime edition).