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Day 10 South of France: Village Hopping in Provence - 23 May

Ahh, another day in Provence, another day in Paradise!

Today, Peter and I planned on keeping well away from the larger towns to concentrate on the smaller, character filled villages in between the Plateau de Vaucluse and Montagn du Luberon. This was going to be difficult as there are so many of them, and all of them character-filled! Unlike Alsace, where there was a somewhat uniformed look to the villages and architecture, these villages had their own unique “look” and characteristic, based on their geography and the quality of the soil and rock used for building materials used through the ages. These were our pick:
  • L’isle sur la Sorgue - L'Isle sur la Sorgue means "the Island in the Sorgue", which refers to the river Sorgue. The river flows through and around the town, in various natural beds and canals. The water is crystal clear and its source is located in a gorge of the Plateau de Vaucluse near the village of Fontaine de Vaucluse, 7 km East of l'Isle sur la Sorgue. l'Isle sur la Sorgue is not only a beautiful town, but it has an undisputed reputation as the place in Southern France to shop for antiquities. It also has one of the best Provençal markets, similar in size and variety to the famous markets in Vaison la Romaine and Carpentras. The historic center between the two arms of the river Sorgue is exquisite, filled with quaint boutiques, gourmand specialty stores, stores that specialize in soaps and scents, and interesting restaurants. While it can get very, very busy over the weekend, we visited on a Tuesday and the foot traffic was mostly local. Don’t miss the town church, named Notre Dames des Anges, which dates back to the 17th century. May I recommend an outstanding restaurant, “L’Art de Vivre” on 3 rue Moliere, 84800 Isle sur la Sorgue. www.lart-devivre.com
  • Fontaine de Vaucluse - Fontaine de Vaucluse is an intriguing village 25 kilometers to the east of Avignon. Built around the largest spring in France, the spring is the source of the Sorgue River and flows at the astonishing rate of about 22 cubic metres of water per second. The source of the water is rainfall and snow melt from the nearby Mount Ventoux (of Tour de France fame). In the center of the village stands a tall column erected on the 500th anniversary of the birth of the Italian poet, Petrarque. Petrarque retreated often to Vaucluse to contemplate his love for Laure de Noves, daughter of the knight Audibert de Noves and the wife of Hugues II de Sade. He wrote many poems about this forbidden love. The church at Fontaine de Vaucluse, Notre Dame de Saint Véran was built in the Romanesque style of the 16th century at a site that formerly celebrated the water gods. It was later modified in the 17th century.
  • Gordes - Gordes is an exquisite old village that is perched on the southern edge of the high Plateau de Vaucluse. Amazing stone buildings are built against the base of the cliffs, while those perched on top of the rock main rock, including the 12th-century castle, are made of a beige stone that glows orange first thing in the morning. The view from the village is a breathtaking vista across fields and forests and other perched villages to the Montagne du Luberon. Classed as one of the “Plus Beaux Villages de France ”, it has no shortage of gobsmacked tourists, snapping away at the incredible views. Just out of Gordes is the Abbaye de Senanque. Founded in the 12th century, Notre-Dame-de-Sénanque is a very well preserved, and unique example of, a Cistercian abbey. It is still an active monastery today. If you visit during the lavender season, you will enjoy a true sensory experience! 
  • Roussillon - Situated at the foot of the Monts de Vaucluse in the Luberon, the village of Roussillon is known for its red cliffs and ochre quarries, hence the red, brown and yellow shades of the town homes and structures. In contrast with the green pine trees and the clear blue Provencal skies, this village is one of the loveliest in the district. You can enjoy a hike to the ochre quarries nearby, if you have the energy, or just enjoy the breathtaking views and a leisurely meal at one of the restaurants in town.
I ask you, how much natural beauty and rich culture can one country be blessed with?!

Posted by Victoria Ugarte on 23rd May, 2012 | Trackbacks
Categories: France

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