When you enter the center of the small village of Cucuron in the Luberon area of Provence, France, you are transported back to Medieval times, when houses and streets led their winding way up to a castle on top. This was usually the home of the fiefdom lord.
But what makes Cucuron such a delightful and charming village is the beautiful 14th century stone pool in the main square. Shaded by 200-year-old plane trees that make it look more like a lake than a pool, it is where locals gather each day for a bit of gossip, maybe some lunch (there are several restaurants lining the pool) or just to cool off on a hot summer day (the pool and shade definitely bring down the temperature). The pool is such a beautiful setting that it has been featured in several films, including The Good Year with Russell Crowe.
Just 10 minutes from the more popular town of Lourmarin, Cucuron is miles apart in beauty and tranquility. And has so many fewer tourists.
On our first trip, we wandered around the medieval streets of the village inside the ramparts. It’s there we found the best views of Cucuron. From here we could see Mont St Victoire (which Cezanne and Van Gogh painted in their time), the Alpilles, and nearby Luberon mountain.
And, of course, the village’s 13th century church – Notre Dame de Beaulieu. It’s here in on the first Saturday after May 21 that the village celebrates the Feast of Saint Tulle which commemorates the “intervention of the saint” to put an end to the 1720 plague. During the festival, the l’arbre de mai (tree of May) – a poplar at least as tall as the 80-foot church – is cut down and carried through the village with a young boy on top waving a flag. The tree is tied to the front of the church where it stays throughout the summer. Inside the church is a beautiful wood mural from the 16th century and the original Romanesque nave, as well as a magnificent restored organ from 1616.
From the ramparts we could also see the surrounding countryside full of sloped vineyards and cherry and olive tree orchards. The later prompted us to visit the Moulin Dauphin, a very interesting olive oil mill where the owner offers tastings from his vats.
For more information on Cucuron, visit www.cucuron-luberon.com (in French, with an English translation button on top left of each page).