A beastly past to a beautiful present…
Lacoste has lived through bloody massacres, wars, pillaging and a creepy sadist. But its dark ages are over; it has been transformed into a trendy ‘St Tropez in a village’ hosting art, architecture and luxury shopping.
Lacoste is a pretty village perched on a hillside in the Luberon valley of Provence. It faces the equally beautiful village of Bonnieux, with the Luberon Cedar Forest dominating its surroundings.
Tip: You can follow the 45 minute path to Bonnieux from Lacoste.
Start your trip at the 12th century Saint Trophime church. Once used to lay the Lords of Lacoste to rest and now admired for its Romanesque frescos.
Stroll past the washhouses and fountains till you reach the Portail de la Garde gate where you enter into the medieval village with a gruesome past…
It was at this very gate, in 1545, that Meynier d’Oppède fooled the residents of Lacoste into allowing his soldiers to entre -with the promise that the people would be spared…Not true!
They went on to confiscate land, rape women then wiped out the entire population in an attempt to rid the region of heretics. Meynier was supported by the crown and the Pope for his religious cleansing and was awarded imperial honours for his efforts!
Amble along the paved street of Sainte Trophime, push on past the Cafés and bars (or stop off for a drink and snack), go through vaulted passageways and admire the beautiful 16th century houses of ochre and limestone with finely decorated doors, pass the belfry till you reach the castle…
Within the castle walls once lived Marquis de Sade; known for his erotic novels that put 50 Shades of Grey to Shame. These books were undoubtedly inspired by the abusive deeds that took place here…
Growing up, Sade’s father abandoned the family and his mother joined the convent. He was raised by servants who pampered him into a ‘rebellious and spoiled child with an ever-growing temper’. His tutor, a priest, described him as having a ‘passionate temperament which made him eager in the pursuit of pleasure’. At College he endured ‘severe corporal punishment’, in particular whipping; this act then turned into a passion…
Where do you think the word Sadism comes from?!
Away from the family home, Sade kept a secret apartment in Paris where it is alleged that prostitutes were severely abused. He avoided prison and instead was exiled to his castle in Lacoste were his practises intensified.
He was hunted down, he fled and he returned but spent most of his life in and out of prison where he wrote his famous erotic novels inspired by his own twisted experiences.
Beauty or the Beast?
Cardin Festival, Lacoste
Lacoste is now quite the stylish and artsy place to be!
80 of the 400 inhabitants attend classes at the American School of Art here. The castle of Lacoste, plots of agricultural land and 30 buildings are now owned by the famous stylist Pierre Cardin. Many locals are opposed to his influence in the village; he has given the castle and houses face lifts, established an opera festival in the castle and nearby quarry, turned the train station into a 3D cinema, transformed shops into art galleries and a baker’s into a Pierre Cardin branded sunglasses shop!
- Saint Trophime church.
- Lacoste Festival in the quarry (by Pierre Cardin)
- The Castle of Sade (or Pierre Cardin)
- Buy something stylish (from Pierre Cardin)
- Trek across to the village of Bonnieux. 45 minute walk
- Visit Ménerbes. 7 km
- Eat out in Goult. 7.4 km
- Go on the oche rock trail in Roussillion. 11.3 km
- Walk in the Cedre Forest. 13.6 km
- Visit Gordes: 15.3 km
- Visit Lourmarin. 19.5 km