Our region

Provence is the most South-eastern area of France. It is comprised of five major departments or areas. These are Vaucluse, Bouches-du-Rhone, Alpes-des-Haute-Provence, Var and Alpes-Maritimes.

VAUCLUSE

The Vaucluse is the north-western section of Provence. Here you will find Avignon (one of the three “A’s” of Provence along with Arles and Aix-en-Provence), Orange, Carpentras, Apt, Cavaillon, the smaller villages of Villeneuve-les-Avignon, Vasion-la- Romaine, Seguret, Isle-sur-la-Sorgues, Fontaine-de-Vacluse, Gordes, Rousillion and the town/wine area of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. From Avignon in the southwestern corner of the area to Vaison-la-Romaine in the northeastern section.
 
Vaison la Romaine

Located about 18 miles NE of Orange is this small medieval village with a population of just over 5,500. It is divided into two parts, separated by the Ouveze River. Pont Romain (a 2,000 year old Roman bridge) connects the present day town with the medieval town (Haute-Ville or upper town) which is perched on a hill. The climb is steep, so take a deep breath. It is worth a visit to walk the cobblestone streets of this small village with 13-14th century homes. At the top of the village are ruins of a 12th century castle built by the Count of Toulouse.
Sites:
Roman Ruins – avenue General-de-Gaulle (Open daily – entrance $10) in the Ville-Basse or lower town includes, on one side of the road, a theatre, courthouse, homes and temples. This is called the Quartier de Puyim. The Musee Theo-Desplans can be found in this section. On the other side of the street is the Quartier de la Villasse, the remains of a Roman village which includes Roman baths.
Cathedral Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth – avenue Jules-Ferry, known for its cloister, the cathedral entrance is included in the fee for the ruins.
Parking – there is a public parking lot in the lower town.

The Mont Ventoux

Located slightly south and east of Vaison. This mount of chalk rises 6,300 feet, providing spectacular views of the surrounding area. On a good day, there are views of the sea. For the brave (and physically fit!) there are hiking and biking trails to the top.
Those who love to ride their mountain bike off the beaten path are in for a treat: going through the cedar forest in the Ventoux, stopping on the banks of the Toulourenc river and enjoying the coolness, admiring panoramas of the lavender fields, taking a grand tour of the Mont Ventoux, etc. All itineraries are waymarked, so hop on!
 
Avignon

A small city of just over 87,000. A UNESCO World Heritage site, it is best known for the Palais des Papes or Pope’s Palace, which is a beautiful complex at one side of the city overlooking the Rhone River. In 1309, the popes moved from Rome to Avignon. They ruled from Avignon until 1378, when a pope also ruled from Rome. The third pope to rule from Avignon, Benedict XII was responsible for the construction of the Palace. The Palace, which is mostly empty, can be visited for an entrance fee or around $14. If you visit only the Palace, there are outdoor cafes slightly downhill from the Palace. There is also a shop with good quality souvenirs. They carry bookmarks with scenes of Provence which make great (low-cost) gifts.
The town itself is worth a stroll. As you leave the Palace, head slightly downhill and to the left. You will immediately see the brightly colored carousel. There is typically a small artists’ market as you head into the Place de l’Horgue. It is a good place to find a watercolor or two as a souvenir. Look for Cate Helia. Her paintings can be a great souvenir of the area and also make wonderful gifts, too. Cate’s paintings range in price from 20-90 Euro. If you buy more than one, she typically reduces the total price by a few Euro.

There are several streets that branch off the Place de l’Horgue, where you will find a variety of shops and restaurants. Some upscale shops such as a small Hermes can be found and then the local (French) Monoprix, a department store of sorts. Visit the food hall, if not for the food for the plants growing in the building’s façade.
 On the outskirts of town, you will find a shopping center that includes a branch of the Paris department store, Galeries Lafayette. Along this same road is a mall (of sorts) that includes an Auchan. Think Super Target. There is a fairly large food section to stock up on picnic supplies.

Sites:
Cathedrale Notre –Dame-des-Doms
Pont St-Benezet – remnants of a bridge started in 1177 (entrance $7)
La Foundation Angladon-Dubrujead , a museum with pieces by Picasso, Degas, Cezanne,
Modigliani and others (Closed Mondays – entrance $7.25)
Musee Lapidaire, 27 rue de la Republique houses artifacts, mostly stone, from the first and second centuries (Closed Tuesday – entrance $2.80)
Petit Palais, place du Palais, museum includes paintings by Botticelli and Carpaccio (Closed Tuesday –entrance $8.50)
 
Parking

If you are headed primarily to the Pope’s Palace, follow the city wall around to the river side. You will find a public parking garage. You will exit at the top of steps at the Palace. Remember to take your ticket. Most parking garages have machines that you insert your parking ticket to pay. You then use the paid ticket to exit the garage. If you have problems, there is usually an office staffed by an attendant.

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