Just 5 kilometres from La Bastide de Marie is the quaint hilltop village of Menerbes that dates back to Roman times. By 1960 Ménerbes was half depopulated but was the residence of Dora Maar, who was an artist as well as a lover and muse of Picasso, and the widow of artist Nicolas de Staël. But Ménerbes became more well known to tourists in 1990 through the books of British author Peter Mayle, tales of a British expatriate who settled in the village of Ménerbes. One of his books was made into a film A Good Year (2006), directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe, which was filmed nearby in the Provence region. I also visited the Chateau La Canorgue where they filmed most of the movie, but all of that in my next post. We also spotted the house of the artist Joe Downing whilst touring the tiny village. With a population of less than 1200 people, there isn’t a lot to do in Menerbes, but it’s definitely worth visiting for a coffee, lunch or for dinner. But make sure to book in advance, since we struggled to find a place to eat at night.
After a coffee in the beautiful terrace of Bistro Le 5 that offers panoramic views of the countryside, we made our way to another village called Lacoste, just 15-minute drive from Menerbes. The village is probably best known for the castle of the Marquis de Sade that stands above the village. Did you know the legendary fashion designer Pierre Cardin has purchased a vast array of buildings there, including the château of the Marquis de Sade? After a short walk we decided to have lunch in the picturesque restaurant Cafe de France and we were more than pleased with our choice - great food and wine paired with incredible views. On the way back to our romantic vineyard hotel La Bastide de Marie we also stopped quickly at the beautiful Abbaye de Saint-Hilaire dating back to the 13th century.