I discovered Ansouis while visiting France for the first time with my husband. We were dating and I was here to meet the family. It was August, the cicadias were singing and like now it was hot. Days were spent cooling around the pool, visiting local villages and savoring Provençal food and wine through what seemed a non-stop rotation of scrumptious meals. One afternoon, to escape the family, my husband suggested that we venture out solo to discover a new village together, Ansouis. In the days prior, I remember seeing signs for Ansouis and wondering to myself how do you pronounce that name? While I didn't quite understand where we were going that day or what town my husband actually suggested, someplace "Swiss", it wasn't until I saw a street sign at the entrance of the village that I realized, oh that's how you pronounce Ansouis! Pronounced "on-swees" (roughly).
Walking into the village years ago I was charmed. In fact each time that I visit Ansouis I am still charmed. Named one of the "Plus Beaux Villages de France", it is a quiet town which sits on a dominant hill and is surrounded by vast lushness of vineyards, olive groves and fruit orchards. Overlooking the Luberon, with its castle perched at the pinnacle, the village is small and filled with cobblestone walls, stone houses, an old bell tower and probably more flower pots, boxes and vines than you can count. The views of the Provence countryside are beautiful as is the quietness that usually fills the sleepy village.
Ansouis is easy to explore, mainly due to its size, but also with few roads and no driving in the main center, it is a quick tour and simple to navigate without getting lost. The village hosts two good restaurants, La Closerie, a 1 Michelin-star and Le Grain de Sel, serving more simple Provençal fare, both good and both recommended. The village also hosts an annual flower show and different events throughout the year at the castle.
The castle of Ansouis which dates back to the 10 century has been restored but still retains some of its older walls and watch towers. Now privately owned, it is open to the public and events are often hosted in the park and garden. While on our last visit, I discovered the castle chapel, which has become the village church. Very old and small, it is filled with tapestries, chandeliers, paintings, arched stone walls and ornate details. I was there at dusk and was alone. The chapel was dimly lit with candles and the Provençal light filtered through the stained glass windows. Sitting in the shadows, surrounded by the history that lives there, I was enveloped by complete silence and thoughts of those that once sat in the same pews so long ago. I could feel the stillness and the past ever present around me as if the spirits of another lifetime were sitting with me on that quiet evening in Provence.
Ansouis is perhaps a lesser known village and a bit off the beaten path, but nonetheless worth a wander if you are nearby or want to dine at a good Provençal restaurant. What I have found to enjoy about Ansious is that it is quiet with usually no crowds but still shines some of that special Provence allure and is a peaceful escape if only for an hour...