Last time on our tour of the Luberon’s perched villages we visited Lacoste and Ménerbes, maybe you missed our next two stops? The mystical ghost town, Oppède-le-Vieux and Gordes, perhaps the Luberon’s most magnificent perched village. (Click on the village names to view).

From Gordes, the next stop has to be L’Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, photos of which dominate postcard displays all over Provence; stunning images normally taken in early summer when the abbey is surrounded by a carpet of fragrant lavender blooms.

This mystical Cistercian Abbey was founded in 1148 under the Bishop of Cavillon, an isolated shrine dominating the small valley floor, just a short drive from Gordes.

It is definitely worth stopping at the Abbey, even if you don’t wish to take tour or attend a service

l'Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, abbey tower

Those that do cannot but help but become immersed in its serenity. The centuries old tranquility of a place dedicated to God. Within the Abbey’s sacred cloisters listen to its fascinating history, amidst the lavender, fragrant pines and olive trees of the Luberon.

Cloisters of l'Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque,
Throughout the centuries L’Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque provided shelter and livelihood for a devout group of men who adhered to its the rigid religious discipline.

At its peak, in the 13th and 14th centuries, L’Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque owned several local estates, including 4 mills and 7 granges. At the end of the day when those that toiled the land returned to the abbey grounds, voices became hushed, if seldom heard at all.
View at the cloisters of l'Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, Provence, France
After the French Revolution the abbey’s lands were nationalized and Sénanque was sold to an individual. In 1858 a new Cistercian order returned but only until 1908 when the Abbey doors were closed once more and the abbey bells fell silent. In 1998 a small group of Cistercian monks returned, they have remained there since tending the lavender and bees to earn a living.

L’Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque is a truly special place, one that you won’t regret taking the time to include during a visit to Provence’s beautiful Luberon valley in the Vaucluse.

When you are in the area you should also visit le Village des Bories to learn the story of how these amazing little stone huts, whose origins date back to Roman times, came to be in the Luberon!

Our next stop will be the village of Roussillon, poised dramatically on a dominant burnt ochre ridge, it’s another Luberon treasure!

Download the printable The Lourmarin Travel Guide for information about this region