Aerial view of MenerbesMénerbes proudly rides a hilltop ridge in the heart of the Parc Régional du Luberon (the Luberon Regional Park) and is officially one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France, or Most Beautiful Villages of France.

It was made famous (and, some claim, was thoroughly spoiled) by its use as a backdrop to Peter Mayle's 1989 international bestseller A Year in Provence and its two sequels.

But there's a good deal more to the village than gorgeous countryside, gargantuan lunches and eccentric locals. In fact several of its key attractions opened well after the publication of Mayle's trilogy. Think history, art, wine, corkscrews - and, not least, truffles.

Read all about Ménerbes itself in our guide below as well as about its beautiful Carmelite Abbaye Saint Hilaire and the painters who lived in and were inspired by the village.

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Menerbes general viewSprawling along the crest of its hill, with majestic views of the Luberon and Mont Ventoux, Ménerbes was once poetically - and accurately - compared by Nostradamus to a great ship floating in a sea of vines.

Jane Eakin Sylvie with grapesLike many villages in Provence, Ménerbes has been a magnet for artists, and its streets are still lined with galleries and studios. And more than in most villages, these creative visitors have left a permanent mark behind them.

abbaye de saint hilaire menerbes smallThe serene Abbaye Saint Hilaire, near Ménerbes, may not be as overrun with visitors as nearby Abbaye de Sénanque. But the remarkable architecture, setting and story behind it make this Carmelite abbey one of Vaucluse's best-kept secrets.

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