It's fairy-tale beautiful, yet it's a real community, not just a tourist destination.
It's hard to imagine that Lourmarin just grew without anyone planning to make it so beautiful. It's almost as if it had been artfully arranged by a set designer: the profile of the village with the Luberon mountains in the background, the Renaissance chateau set off from the main village by that pretty meadow of tall grass, the narrow winding streets that join to form Place de l'Ormeau with its group of cafes at the heart of the village, the winding back streets with brightly colored or faded blue shutters on elegant old buildings, roses climbing stone walls.
The cafes in Place de l'Ormeau are full of charm and appeal for visitors, yet they are the community living room for the people who live here (and their dogs). Everyone seems to pass through, linger and chat several times a day. One big soft-eyed yellow dog knows that every cup of espresso comes with a "dog" cookie that is his by divine right. I don't argue with him because his face is too sweet.
The local school is in a building that is breathtakingly beautiful and austere, like a museum, yet filled with the sounds of children's laughter. The school playground is completely surrounded by buildings and sheltered from the view of strangers.
The dominant feature of Lourmarin is a clock tower, yet as hard as you try, you can't find its base. It's like it just magically appears over the village. I love this mystery! The clock tower chimes the hour, as does the Catholic Church tower, 2 or 3 minutes earlier or later. I don't know which is which, but the first one is anything but melodious. On our first visit, we were right in the center of the village and the bells startled me right out of bed every hour for the first few nights. Now, from a bit of a distance, the bells are familiar and restful.
There are fountains everywhere, mostly old ones covered with thick green moss. They are illuminated at night, and a walk through the winding back streets in the dark is magical.
The Friday market is arranged under a row of magnificent sycamores overlooking the meadow and the chateau.
Every morning we've been here I've walked into the village to explore for an hour or two before meeting Frank at the cafe. Every day I've been more charmed than the day before. We leave tomorrow, but I'm already thinking about when we can return.