France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Lacoste, Luberon, Provence, France




Driving through the Luberon, en route from Ménerbes to Bonnieux (map), we suddenly saw another hilltop town rising dramatically on the horizon. With its ruined château and steep slopes, it was a sight to behold.

It turned out to be Lacoste, a tiny village that happens to be home to the château that once belonged to the Marquis de Sade (1740 - 1814). The famous marquis, who gave us the word sadism, apparently used to host orgies and other gatherings here.

Apart from that, Lacoste has had a rather quiet history, with a small market on Tuesdays but few other attractions.

However, in recent years fashion designer Pierre Cardin has bought and is restoring the Marquis de Sade's château, as well as about forty other buildings in the village. He's created cafés, galleries, and guest houses in the small village.

In addition to the restoration work, Cardin has started a significant cultural program, centered around the annual Lacoste Festival. The Marquis de Sade is known to have liked theater—erotic and otherwise—and the festival acknowledges this. Offerings may range from opera to pop, an eclectic mix.

Cardin's work has drawn mixed reviews from the local residents, who are concerned about the changing character of the village. At the same time, the Festival and other offerings have brought income to the area. As in much of Provence, the challenge is to find the right balance.

Fun note: When I learned that Pierre Cardin had bought up much of Lacoste, in my fashion ignorance I thought Cardin owned the Lacoste clothing line, with the familiar crocodile logo. Not so! Lacoste shirts was started by tennis champion René Lacoste. It's owned today by Maus Frères, a Swiss company.

Hilltop Towns of the Luberon

About the Luberon

About Provence




About the Vaucluse


Paris Girls Secret Society, the new novel by Tom Brosnahan


Lacoste, France

The hilltop town of Lacoste, topped with the ruins of the château of the Marquis de Sade.





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