• Luberon, France


Just 30 miles east of Avignon, the Luberon region hides some of France's most captivating hill towns and sensuous landscapes. The terrain itself — much of which is a French regional natural park — is as enticing as its villages. Gnarled vineyards and wind-sculpted trees separate tidy stone structures from abandoned buildings — little more than rock piles — that challenge city slickers to fix them up. Mountains of limestone bend along vast ridges, while colorful hot-air balloons survey the scene from above. There are no obligatory museums, monuments, or vineyards in the Luberon. Treat this area like a vacation from your vacation. Downshift your engine. Brake for views, and lose your car to take a walk. Get on a first-name basis with a village café.