Marcus Travel Journal
2023 - Provence Drives
We plan to relax on this tour of France. Our house in Vedène is our base to travel through Provence. A pleasant drive to explore the charming towns of Provence, then to return and enjoy our maison et piscine!
Ménerbes, located about 40 km from Vedène (45 minutes), is home to many famous artists, became famous again when author Peter Mayle wrote about life in Provence. TimeOut lists this town as one of the must see villages of France (March 2023). Let's go! Scenic walled town, Le Castelet is a small château build on the ruins of an ancient fortress. There is a rickly decorated 14th C church. Not far from the vilage is Saint Hilaire Abbey, now a designated historical monument.
We will be sure to return to this charning town. Our visit in 2022 was far too short. It is located about 60 km (1 hr) from Vedène.
Brantes will also be worth a drive. It is a small village, located about 47km (45 minutes) from Vedène, is a town of only 50 people. Wild flowers border the paved streets of the walled village which clings to the side of the mnountain. There are lots of steps and then terraces to enjoy the views.
Le Crestet is also on my list. The town is just a few kilometres south of Vaison-la-Romaine id about 160 kilometres (2 hours) from Vedène. It is a beautiful village with sloping cobbled streets, no cars. There are vaulted passageways, stone archways and restored Renaissance buildings. This fountain dasters to 1843 with the old washhouse.
Ansouis is a small village I hope to visit. It is filled with boutiques and artist workshops. The village square is said to be very pleasant with plane trees. There is a medieval (12C) castle. It is located about 64 km (1.15 hrs) from Vedène.
Séguret will be worth a drive. It is a village perched on the slopes of a mountain surrounded by vineyards. The medieval village is what we would expect: cobbled stone streets lined with old houses. What is not to like! It is located about 40 km (45 minutes) from our maison in Vedène. The town has steep streets and a number of noted sights. One is the Fountain of Mascarons and a Middle Age washouse at the end of Rue des Poternes, and the town hall. The Sainte Thècle Chapel is also a noted structure. The bell tower is from the 17th Century. The old village can only be visted on foot, cars are parked in one of the lots neare the entrance to the north through the Porte Reynier (12th Century).
Le Barroux, one of the many noted beautiful villages of the Vauluse, is noted for the impressive castle. This is another climbing village... climb through the mazes of terraces houses. Numerous fountains with their running water is said to create a great mood. Located about 35 km north east of Vedène it would ber a 45 minute or so drive.
Aqueduc de Roquefavour
This three-tiered acqueduc is 83 metres in height, is the world's largest stone aqueduct. Not Roman, but planned in the 16th century to bring water to Marseille, but not built until 1847. It will be a morning outing taking the D64 13 lm west of Aix-en-Provence. It is about 85 km (1:15 hrs) from Vedène.
Abbaye de Silvacane
The abbaye dates back to the 11th C. It grew in power, declining in the 13th C with an invation by the monks of Montmajour (monks attacking monks?), theGreat Plague, civil disorder and then the 100 Years Wars. By the 16th Century the abbaye was reduced to being a source of stone. During the French Revolution the abbey became a farm. But, in 1846 the State bought all lands and restoration began. In 1945 it was designated a Historic Monument.
The cloisters have Romanesque and Gothic stylistic styles. The barrel vault pierced with semicircular bays each with a pair of ogival bays separated by elegant columns and surmounted by an oculus. Many were destroyed and there is reconstruction at the level of the north gallery. The other openings still show, like scars, the start of the ogival arches and, in some cases, the feet of the small columns.
The sink stands in front of the door leading to the north wing of the cloister and the refectory, so that the monks purify their hands before touching the bread, a sacred symbol. Okay, get the camera ready! Located South East of Vedène, it is about 68 km/1 hr.
A scenic town that overlooks Bonnieux that is worth a visit will be Lacoste. This is no hidden treasure as articles reference how the populations doubles in size during the summer tourist season! Cobblestone streets, buildings that date to the 9th C. Nearby is the Pont Julien, a 1st Century Roman bridge that was visisted last year.
The town is noted as this is where the Marquis de Sade had his cast;e. Pierre Cardin owns the ruined castle and holds a cultural festival each summer - but those take place in August, long after we leave. About a 45 minute drive (40 km) from our house in Vedène.
Abbaye de Montmajour
Another visit, about an hours drdive, is this large complex built over the period from 1000 to the 18th C. Required tickets can be booked on-line. Hours are 10-5 Apr 1 to May 30. No tripods. The abbey complex consists of six sections:
- the hermitage, dating from the 11th century, which includes the Chapel of St. Peter;
- the cloister, built during the 12th and 13th centuries with detailed carvings;
- the adjacent Chapel of the Holy Cross, built during the 12th century;
- the fortified Monastery of St. Peter, built during the 14th century;
- the Tower of Abbot Pons de l'Orme, dating from the same period;
- the Maurist monastery, a massive, unfinished church, built in the 17th century, now in ruin.
A small village on a hill between Forcalquier and the Luberon would be a slightly longer drive. Here is what remains of the 12th Century chateau is part of the rotunda. There are 16th century covered market place, stalls and boutiques. Along the streets are beautiful facades, sculptured doors and window frames. The town is lovcated about 78 kk from Vedène (1 1/4 hour, 74 km drive).
It is said you will see the church tower well before you see the town. Bonnieux is considered one of the finest villages in the area. There are some elegant residences from the 16m 17 and 18th C as this was a wealthy village, in the Comtat Venaissin, which belonged to the Popes. Several bishops chose to live here.
Climb the 86 stone steps to the old church that will give a view of the Vaucluse and the villages of Gordes and Roussillon.
Small village and a handfull of old houses, and the ru ins of a fort which Louis XIV ordered destroyed. Noted here as it was on a list of sights of a walking tour to see Hidden Gems.
Mornas - Look forward to walking through the Gate that remains from the medieval walls into the village. It will be a significant walk up to the fortress at the top of the cliffs. We will see. The town is located north-east of Orange, about 35 km from Vedène on the A7 Autoroute.
Malaucène - located 9 km south of Vaison la Romaine, and 18 km north of Carpentras is another scenic town to visit. Malaucène is the capital of the Ventoux. It surrounds the ancient fort, which stands at the highest point of the village. The old town is partly surrounded by an avenue lined with old plane trees. A few old gates remain of the ancient walls. The Soubeyran gate was used as gallows for public hangings! n the 14th Century, Pope Clement V ha his summer residence here. He left the church of Saint Michel. There is a military feel. The organ has beautiful wood work, the pulpit sculpted, and a stone bench, 41.7 meters long, one of the longest in France.
In the town are houses from the 16th to 18th centuries, fountains and wash-houses. The clock tower dates to 1539.
A few kilometers on D97 on the road to Mont Ventoux, is the chapel of Groseau, it is all that remains of the 7th Century monastery. It was destroyed and rebuilt ion the 11th Century.
Aramon is known as the "balcony of the Languedoc Provence", located on the Rhône, down down from Avignon. The sights include the 13th C Castle (altered in the 18th & 19th C), the 12th C St. Pancras Church, an old covered market, and a number of old mansions.
About 35 km from Vedène is the small town of Mormoiron. It is said to be a small charming village with narrow lanes, numerous covered passageways and beautiful old fountains. a town of atmospher versus noted sights. It is very close to the entrance to the Gorges dela Nesque.
South is the city of Cavaillon. it has all the ugly but necessary stuff for the Luberon region - supermarkets, big box stores, materials and supplies, etc. These are all on the outskirts of town, leaving the centre of Cavaillon looking like the pleasant Provence market town it is, with two main shopping streets fulfilling every need and appetite, shuttered windows and terracotta roofs baking slowly in the southern sun. The old district has small streets and flowers and one of the most beautiful synagogues in Europe. Just to the west of the synagogue is Cavaillon cathedral (12C) with its cloister garden and mix of styles from different rebuilds through the centuries. Write-ups on the town note it is not a tourist destination. Monday is market day and may be a good day to visit as this is said to be a serious market town and there will be lots of activity.