If you love picturesque villages, historic towns, lavender fields, Roman ruins, quaint cobbled streets, scrumptious restaurants, head-turning vineyards and the most divine gastronomy, then Vaucluse will make you truly happy.
Where is Vaucluse?
Vaucluse is a department in the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur in the south east of France. It’s named after the Fontaine de Vaucluse, a famous spring with fast flowing water which feeds the river Sorgue. It’s home to many of the most beautiful villages of France and is peppered with breath-takingly pretty hamlets and a lush landscape which turns purple in summer when the lavender blooms.
Seven must-sees in Vaucluse
Avignon: The capital of the department of Vaucluse, Avignon is a former Papal city and home to the monumental Palais des Papes. Explore its winding streets lined with boutiques and restaurants, museums, boat rides and a stunning garden with views over the river Rhone which is crossed by the famous Pont d’Avignon.
Gorgeous Gordes: Listed as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages of France”, Gordes is a captivating hilltop village that looks like something off the front of a postcard or chocolate box lid. From its dramatic position on a steep slope, Gordes is dominated by a 16th-century Château. It’s a town that has inspired artists through the centuries from Van Gogh to Picasso.
Roman ruins: In the small town of Orange you’ll see some of the most impressive archaeological sites in France. The most famous is the UNESCO-listed Théâtre Antique (ancient Roman theatre) that dates to the 1st century AD. It’s incredibly well preserved and hosts multiple public events from pop concerts to Shakespeare.
Abbaye de Sénanque: It’s one of the most scenic abbeys in France, and an iconic site of Provence when in summer, it’s surrounded by fields of lavender from the end of June through to the beginning of August. Founded in 1148, the Abbey of Sénanque is still a working monastery for Cistercian monks.
Carpentras: This sunny town has rather an exotic air with its terracotta roofed buildings and winding alleyways. At the centre is the flamboyant Gothic Cathédrale Saint-Siffrein, built between 1406 and 1519. There is a superb weekly market in the town (Friday mornings) which spreads out through cobbled streets. Don’t miss a chance to visit the cheese shop Fromagerie Vigier run by Claudine Vigier, master cheese-maker!
The antiques capital of Provence: Isle-sur-la-Sorgue was once a tranquil fishing village, which developed along the watery arteries of the Sorgue River which gives it its nickname of the Venice of Provence. It’s fabulously pretty, a vivacious sort of place where antiques fans will be in seventh heaven. There are seven “antiques villages”, more than 350 antique dealers open all year round, a weekly antiques market (Sundays) and several big antiques events each year. Leave room in your suitcase for that must-have souvenir when you come here!
Fountains and fortifications: Pernes-les-Fontaines is a lovely medieval town with a relaxing ambience and many ancient fountains. Old stone houses, cobbled streets and medieval town gates = lots of olde worlde charm which make it the perfect location to sit and watch the world go by from a café, especially on Saturday – market day!
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