Sunday, August 05, 2007


On the southern flank of the Luberon mountain overlooking the Durance River we found the small, quiet town of Lauris. Back in 1993, this town wasn't a destination for art, shopping, or food. It's not even in our Michelin Guide. I don't know if that's changed in the fourteen years since.

The town of Lauris rises on a hill above vineyards in the valley below.

According to Wikipedia, the population of the town is just over 3,000, which is about 500 more than when we were there in '93 and nearly double what it was in 1975. Its primary economic activity in agriculture is by far wine production (Côtes du Luberon rouge, A.O.C.), and the town's largest employer is a hospital.

The name of the town derives from the Latin for laurel, as in bay laurel. Bay, along with thyme and rosemary, grows almost wild all over this part of France.

The valley of the Durance near Lauris.

We stopped and parked and, even though it was June, we hardly saw anyone else on the streets of town.

I guess I should take a moment to discuss accents. No, not the French midi accent, but the accent aigu on the "e" in the word Luberon. I started out spelling it Lubéron, with the accent, since I've seen it written that way and that's how I learned to say it. However, I've also seen it written without the accent. The accent is the orthographic representation of the difference in the way the word is pronounced : loo-bay-ron (with é) vs. loo-buh-ron (with e)*.

Agriculture in the Durance Valley below Lauris.

The French Wikipedia entry omits the accent and says that the name comes from the old Occitan provençal Leberon. But it also states that the big French dictionaries allow both spellings and pronunciations, stipulating however that the accented version is a Parisian deformation of the spelling and pronunciation favored by the people who live there.

The characteristic lavender color abounds in Provence on shutters and doors.

I tend to think that the local folks know how to pronounce the names of the places they live, so I will respect that and spell and say Luberon from now on.

Occasionally you will see shutters painted in other colors.

I've noticed in scanning these slides that several of my pictures are mixed up, out of order, and/or missing altogether. I don't know what I did to this tray, but I did something and I'm stuck with it now. Since I'm scanning and posting in the order that the slides come out of the tray, you may notice some weirdness in the time-space continuum. Especially if I mis-identify an image. I'm counting on you to catch my mistakes...

* Ok, I don't want to get too technical here, especially since I'm not a trained linguist. However, my little phonetic spellings are not accurate. I did nothing to indicate that the "oo" in the first syllable is not pronounced like "choo," but rather the French "u" which has no equivalent in English, nor did I indicate that the last syllable contains the nasal vowel "on," which means that you don't pronounce the consonant "n" at the end.


  1. I was really excited to see your piece on Lauris. Several years ago we rented an apt in a farmhouse just west of Lauris. We used to go to town on a regular basis to have dinner at a small restaurant at the easterly end of town that was run by a young couple. Amazing food an great prices.

  2. Glad you liked it. I think it's great when you can find a place that's kind of out of the way and not a prime destination. Then it kind of becomes your very own.

  3. Nice door and window...I didn't think anyone took that sort of shot in the pre-digital age!

  4. Love those colourful shutters!
    Had never heard of Laurens before. Looks attractive


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