Hidden away on a small place, although sign-posted is the ancient mill where the villagers used to bring their olives to be crushed for the oil. We were lucky to be there on the heritage weekend as the house and cave have been on sale for years. It has recently been bought and work has commenced on the renovation, but there is still a lot to do.
It may or may not be open, but after having a chat with the new owner, she assured me that if possible she would show anyone around that was interested, even during the work.
Down from the church is a steep and slippery stairway (This is why they stopped bringing the coffins up here) which takes you down to a belvedere where there is a great view across the plain to Lacoste. This is the village and castle that Pierre Cardin owns. When someone in the village dies off, he immediately buys the land or house and renovates it for the Tout-Paris to come down in the Summer. From the belvedere take a left further down the hill and you'll find the old town hall, the Hotel de Rouvil, a 17th c house that was used as the town hall until 2006. It has a campanile (bell-tower) on top that is still used to rally the people from the village. At the bottom turn right where there is a lovely old house, sitting on the angle.
Built in a mixed style, notably Roman in the 12th c and Gothic in the 14th and 15th c, the church of St Sauveur sits at 429 metres high. Disaffected at the end of the 19th c because it was becoming so hard to carry the coffins up to the cemetery, that it was said that the "Dead were burying the living" and the new church (1870) was built at the bottom of the village. The statue of the Virgin was added to the belfry in 1865. Also contains an Isnard organ dating from 1778.
The church still has it's own bellringer, no cassettes or CD's here.
Arriving from Apt on the winding roads you get a good view of the village on its medieval side. As you reach the village you can either take the left fork and go down through Bonnieux to the bottom, but it is some climb back up. We reasonably took the right fork which led to a large parking lot and saves a hell of a lot of climbing. After a short walk go through the arch to the right, probably the only entry into the "Castrum", and you'll find a calvary and a small oratory dating from 1839, both standing on the ancient "Castrum" or chateau, buried some 28 metres underneath. Another couple of hundred metres will take you past a superb cedar tree to the St Sauveur church (High church). Church built over 3 centuries with different small chapels from the 1400's.
This village is small, and was built on the side of a steep, rocky hill. Not being a touristy village makes it more fun as you discover the shops and walk to the next level of structures.
Eventually you will take the stairs to the top of the hill and have a terrific vantage point looking over what feels like all of Provence. This is not geographically true, but you can see far beyond normal, and at night the whole valley is covered with twinkling lights, while across the valley you can see a huge castle that they light up very colorfully. It makes for a lovely romantic scene.
Originally I went her for the painting possibilities as I paint watercolors. I was not disappointed with the many chances for a good painting.
Through the narrow streets and up the stairs and in the end we reach the top of Bonnieux. There was a great view of the surrounding countryside from the small park. People were playing with dogs, happy families...
You could see all the way to Lacoste on another hill (where Marquis de Sade lived for a while - they are restoring the castle, their claim to fame) and to Mont Ventoux in the far distance.
We saw cats all around the town. They were everywhere! Some were sunning themselves, some were lying in the shade, some where wandering around just like us. And some where observing us from their place in the window...
We found a little restaurant open and enjoyed a bottle of wine and just soaked in the ambiance. I believe the Tour de France comes through here. We were told that the next day they were expected...
Bonnieux is built on a hill on the northern side of the Luberon mountains.
We parked our car and went for a walk around the town