•Vaucluse (84240) • Population: 892 • Altitude: 365 m
Ansouis is a very pretty old village, perched on a low hill with a nicely restored chateau. The village is located 25 km north of Aix-en-Provence, 8 km southeast of Lourmarin (north of the Durance river and south of the Luberon mountains). The village is well restored, with neat stone walls, and has a fair number of ancient little streets for a wandering visit.
Built in amongst the houses is a beautiful half-round bell tower, dating from the 16th century and topped with a rather angular campanile.
The town's chateau is impressive, but fairly stark from the outside. Ansouis is best visited in the afternoons: the chateau is open in the afternoons only, and some of the more interesting village sights are in the chateau grounds.
There are a lot of flowers in the village. Some are in gardens along the stone-walled terraces and in the neat gardens of the village houses. There are also little gardens around the village with hand-lettered signs giving the names of the regional wild flowers; an in-town botanical walk with a personal touch.
Commerce is minimal, but there are all the basic shops, including a terrace café. A [santon] maker has his atelier here, which opens every summer at the beginning of July.
The town's Musée Extraordinaire has a varied collection, from treasures picked up on distant sea voyages to local geological artifacts. The museum is (like the chateau) open in the afternoons.
We visited on a Sunday morning in June, and there was a market set up at the road junction just outside the village to the north (the Cucuron road).
There were one or two restaurants, but we didn't stay long enough to try any of them. Ansouis is worth stopping by for a short visit if you're in the area, but we it's not the sort of place we would seek out to spend a half-day.
The Chateau d'Ansouis was build as a hilltop fortification sometime before the year 961. It has evolved over the centuries to its current form of a fabulous estate-house, but retains some of the fortified walls and watchtowers of the earlier versions, and is classified as a national site et monument historique.
Visiting hours are afternoons only (14h30 - 18h30); in the winter only on Tuesday.
Plus Beaux (Loveliest)
Ansouis is rated one of the Plus Beaux (Lovliests) villages of France. The Plus Beaux Villages de France association rates 141 villages with this honor. The initial requirements are: popoulation under 2000, having at least two "protected" sites, and the municipality requesting they be considered.
History of Ansouis
First record, 961 Ansoyse
Prehistoric: Vestiges include pottery, signs of a lithic (stoneware) industry and millstones.
Medieval: Ansoui belonged to the counts of Forcalquier until the 13th century, when it was aquired by the Sabran, a powerful Provençal family, who still own the chateau.
Tel : 0490 075 029
• GPS: 43.738029, 5.463632
IGN (1/25,000) #3243 OT "Pertuis, Lourmarin"
Department 84, Vaucluse Buses
- See Beyond's Bus Schedules Page 2: Vaucluse Department for downloading Vaucluse bus-lines map [Plan global des lignes] and bus-line schedules [pdf for each line] (link for PDF files).
• Avignon has train or bus connections to Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Nîmes, Saint Remy-de-Provence, Paris.
• Cavaillon has bus connections to Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Saint Remy-de-Provence.
• Pertuis has bus connections to Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.