Many of our first trips in this area used to start in Nice as there were direct flights from Canada to Nice. The Nice airport, with good car rental options was a great take-off point. Typically we used to stay just north of Nice in the beautiful town of St. Paul de Vence. Nice is great for shopping, restaurants and walking through the old town; however, we found being up in St. Paul de Vence more peaceful. We have also stayed in other towns just down the coast, such as Villefrance-sur-Mer.

On more recent trips we have stayed in areas near Avignon, a little further into the Region, and with less of the CÔTE D'AZURE influence. That is a nice way of saying a little more away from the crunch of tourists that travel to the sea-side.

Abbaye de Sénanque

Abbaye de Senanque



The Abbaye de Sénanque, located just outside of the town of Gordes, dates from the 12th Century. At that time there was a massive expansion to build monasteries across Europe. In the 12th Century over 700 are noted as being built.

In 1988, a community of cistercian monks returned to the abbaye and today live and pray in the abbaye. Guided tours of the abbaye are required to visit, as this is an "active" abbaye. More information on the abbaye is found in our website - Cloisters.

The church is plain, as nothing was to detract the monks from their prayers. Cistercian Abbayes are known for their extreme simplicity in design. Only light, a symbol of God, is allowed to transform the space.

There are lavender fields infront on the abbaye. When in the Spring 2022 we travelled to the Region again, I debated returning to the Abbaye, mainly to photograph the lavender field, which was not in bloom on previous visitsd. In the end, I found lavender fields at other abbayes in the Region.


Roman Area in Arles



Arles is a very interesting town and our first visit we were drawn to see the Roman Arena and experience a bull fight. The Roman Arena is impressive, but the bull fight, I don't think I want that experience again.

But years later we returned to see the Roman architecture of the city. Arles was once a major Roman city now it is a great destination within Provence.

The Boulevard des Lices is a good starting point, as this is where it all happens in this town. Lined with plane trees, cafés and markets (Wednesday and Saturday mornings). At the Place de la Républic is the obelisk that originally in the Roman Circus - in Rome.

The buildings from the Roman era include the arena, the theatre and the cryptoporticus. the baths of Constantine and the necropolis of Alyscamps.

This was an important location for the Romans. They even built a floating bridge to cross the Rhône and through Arles was the land route from Italy to Spain. So established was Arles that it was the first area outside of Italy that Roman officers were given land on which to retire.

In 1888, Vincent van Gogh came to Arles to live and created over 300 paintings and drawings here -- this is where Starry Night Over the Rhône was created. Despite this, don't be looking for exhibitions of his work. You'll have to go back to Paris for that!

The Cathédrale St.Trophime with its bell tower and Romanesque doorway is stunning. The cloister is considered one of the best in Southern France. Four galleries and a courtyard.

The Roman Theater, or Théâtre Antique is a semicircle of tiers facing towards the stage house with its Roman columns with two columns remaining. The Amphi Theater - the Arènes could hold 30.000 people. Two tiers of the arches remain as during Medieval times, the upper levels were taken away to build other buildings in Arles.In fact, in medieval times, the arena was used as for with more than 200 houses built inside.

Oh yeh, about that first visit. The bull fight was not something that I would want to see again. They basically torment the bull until it runs around the arena is a state of confusion. I particularly like the shot I captured of the man jumping for his life over the wooden fence. At the point the bull tried to jump the fence and came crashing down on the wood. Enough.


We visited Arles again in 1981. Arles is a World Heritage site due to the number of Roman monuments. The Cathédral Saint-Trophime, and its cloister are impressive and were the primary goal of our 1981 visit. Dating back to the Medieval times the Saint-Trophime and its cloister (11th and 12th centuries). The catherdral is considered one of Provence's major Romanesque monuments. On our 2011 visit to France we were staying near Avignon and traveled down to Arles for the day specifically to see the cloisters. Well worth the drive.

We returned in 2022 and 2023, Arles is a great town to visit and on the most recent trip in 2023 we hit market day! It is a big event with blocks and blocks of vendor stands.





On our 2022 visit to Provence I went to Carpentras twice. I liked the town that much. Located in the Vaucluse department of the Region, at one time this was the capital of the Comat Venaissin and it was frequently the residence of the Avignon popes. The Papal States retained possession of the VBenaissin until the French Revolution. Today, it is a beautiful town famous for its black truffle markets held from winter to spring. I found the town had a great vibe. The Cathedral, the Carpentras Synagogue and the just being in the historic centre make this place to visit.

More photos of Carpentras

Châteauneuf du Pape

Chateauneuf du Pape Castle



Located about 10 km south of the city of Orange, or 12 km north of Avignon in the Region of Provence-Alpes-Côte D'Azur, on the D68. When I was there early in the morning on our Spring 2022 trip it was a sleepy pleasant town. I think I was expecting crowds of people, but there is an advantage of visiting the towns early while people sleep!

Châteauneuf-du-Pape has the remains of it's fortress castle located at the top of the hill. It is always a big sad reading about this massive castles and their demise. This castle was built in the 14th Century for Pope John XCXII, the second of the Popes to reside in Avignon. With the departure of the Popes the castle was passed to the archbishop of Avignon, but in the end was too big and expensive to maintain. It became a source for stones used for various buildings in the village. During World War II German soldiers destroyed the north section of the castle.

A walk up the main street towards the Château is pleasant. The appellation "Châteauneuf-du-Pape" means the wine production meets the controls of some 55 vineyards. Because of the time of by visit all the wine stores were closed, but during regular hours I could see this walk being quite busy.


Don't miss the village of Crestet. It is described as a secret village with charm. That it is. Maybe not a total secret as on our 2023 vist to Provence I met a small group of visitors there, but you will not be fighting the crowds of other locations in France. The remains of the castle is one of the oldes in the Comtat Venaissain, and it dates back to 860. As you walk the narrow cobblestone streets, with plenty of stairs and through the numerous stone arches to explore the town. Don't expect alot of retail here. This is a village of ambiance. The old centre of the village is around the Romanesque Saint-Sauveur Church. The beautiful fountain (1843) stands in the small square and then to the side is the old washouse. So part you car and walk up and into the village.

Noted archited Roger Anger renovated the historic castle which was once the residence of the Bishop of Vaison las Romaine. It is pricey but you can rent it for a week! Walk aslong the Chemin de La Verrière and visit the Notre-Dame de Prébayon Chapel. A monastery had been built in the 7th century. There is a 'miraculous' spring called Malézieux, and the thin stream of water that trickles past the altar is credited with healing the eyes and sight. I wish I had known that when I was there or I would a sprinkled a little water over my eyes! For thousands of years every Easter Monday a pilgrimage to the chapel is organised.





This is a very popular site in France, worth a detour as they say in the Michelin books. Well, I am not sure what we were expecting, but it was not what we found. But on our Spring 2022 travels through this area I stopped by again. It was early in the day with only a few of the cafes open but I could sense the traffic was starting to pick up.

The Fontaine de Vaucluse is where a subterranean river, one that drains the water from the linestone plateaux of the Vaucluse comes out of the ground.

On our first visit we had unlreasitic expectations. We saw one of the pools being filled by this underground spring/water system. It is actually one of the most powerful springs in the world. How deep is the pool? We were told that in 1985 they sent a small robot submarine down 315 meters and it still did not find the bottom. On my 2022 visit I found the stream running through the town to be soothing and very scenic.





Gordes is located about 38 km from Avignon.

Perched on the edge of the Plateau de Vaucluse its stone stark buildings say you are in the inland of Provence. Like most small towns, there are cobbled stone streets, narrow passageways, and the streets and roadway wind their way to the top there there is a church and a castle.

The castle has been restored. IT was rebuilt back in 1525 and some of the features of note include an impressive renaaissance-styled staircase and ornate fireplace. The homes are made from white stone and they have been very carefully restored.

The town has a starkness about it, but at the same time there are interesting arches and doorways to keep most photographers happy. Some of the travel books refer to this as the most visited of the villages in this area. It is one of the "Plus Beaux Villages de France" so it is on the list to see!

But don't rush to get the village. Take your time as it is most impressive to see from the distance. The views of Gordes on the approach really bring out the hill and stark look of the village.

From the town there is an incredible view out to the valley and the mountains of the Luberon.

More photos of Gordes on My Travelling Lens.

The Abbaye de Sénanque is only 4 km from here, that that was part of our Cloisters Tour and well worth a vist.





The town of L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is known as The Island of Venice. Here, the river Sorgue divides making a number of canals which run through the town creating a beautiful scene of canals and bridges. While the river and canals are great tourist features now, in the 12th Century, the Sorgue River served to defend the town by creating moats along the defense walls. Later the water powered the mills and supported the industry of the town. Now the town is known for its art galleries and more than 350 antique and boric-a-brac dealers.

We have been here befor and it was great to get return. This year we again visited the town on a Sunday - Market Day - and it was packed. Too packed for my comfort. The market is one of the larger ones in the area and includes not only food and clothing but antiques and interesting boric-a- brac.


Theatre in Orange, France



Orange is located 31 kim from Avignon. We have enjoyed previously visiting this town and it was good to return in 2022. I had read about the Roman Theatre and was thinking that the theatre may be something like structures in Rome or Arles. But the theatre in Orange is a theatre that was used to stage plays. The Théâtre Antique and the Arc de Triomphe are two of the largest Roman structures standing in in Western Europe and worth seeing.

The theatre was built in pre-christian times, with the rise of Christianity, the theatre was ordered closed after the fall of Rome. In fact, it stood idle for years. Then the town of Orange was invaded and the theatre was sacked and burned.

During Medieval times it became its own fortified town with houses and streets. Later during the French Revolution it was converted into a prison. Then, thankfully for us today, in the 1800's, while it was still serving as a prison, efforts were made to reconstruct what could be back to its status as theatre.

From taking our tour we found our some of the history and character of a Roman Theatre. The productions would have lasted an entire day. The original theatre also had a retractable canvas roof. It was built into the side of a hill, and the hill forms the nature slope for the rows of seats to rise from ground level to a significant height. I was impressed and glad we spent some time here.


The other significant Roman structure is the Arch de Triomphe. The Arch was built around 20 BC. Get up close as the structure is covered with intricate frieze and relief work.

The Arch was originally built by the Romans to celebrate their victories against the Gauls. When it was first built, it was well outside the walls of the town. Today, it sits in a traffic circle. I guess is it is okay to have a famous Arch in Paris be in a traffic circule, then what is so wrong with leaving this as is. But, despite its location, it still stands a regal as ever. I must say that on my 2022 visit the road is more visible, but they have build a park around the arch and it looks very good.

More photos of Orange on My Travelling Lens

Le Beaucet

Le Beaucet


One morning I was on the hunt for a couple of very small old villages. Le Beaucert was one, and I enjoyed my morning walk through the old town as well as to the top of the hill. A pedestrianised -- little old streets are too small and steep for cars -- village running down the side of a hill. It is situated south-east of Carpentras and east of Pernes-les-Fontaines in the centre of the Vaucluse department of Provence. Park outside below the village and walk in. I enjoyed it. Walk the streets and then follow the path that leads to the castle. No big monuments, although this square with its old fountain appeased me, there is a little hotel but other than that it it just you and the atmosphere.

I was there very early in the morning so the 12th century Church of Saint-Etienne, the belltower and a typical Provencal campanile were closed of course. It started as a rather plain church in the 12th century but expanded in the 15th century, and the tower added in the 19th century to be used as a watchtower for fires. In the 1650's relics of Saint-Gens were brought here from the sanctuary of Saint-Gens so they would be protected from pillage, and they remaind here until the 1960's when the risk of pillage was deemed to have passed!


Porte Notre Dame Pernesp-les-Fontains



The town has a walking circuit that will take you by most of the 40 fountains in this town. Some are active with water trickling out, and others have been left unused, but they are all scenic. The circuit starts in the historic centre of Pernes. Two signposted routes allow you not only to discover the 40 fountains of the village, but also to walk through the narrow cobbled streets, to see the monuments and private mansions, the gardens and medieval remains. Make sure to visit the impressive Porte Notre Dame. I enjoyed my visit in 2022 and this will be a town that I will be pleased to revisit.

More Photos of Pernes-les-Fontains


Ménerbes, Provence



On our 2023 trip to France I visited Ménerbes. Returning home I see that Time Out lists this as one of the prettiest villages in France. The article notes "fewer than 1,000 people are lucky enough to call Ménerbes their full-time home, and oh my, are we jealous of those lucky ducks. A walled village at the foothills of the Alps, this Provence pearler makes the most of its dramatic location with stunning views and tranquillity that belies its often turbulent history. Picasso’s muse lived here, which shouldn’t be a huge surprise."

My early mornng visit measnt I had the town to myself. I enjoyed walking the pleasant streets and taking in the old architecture. There is climbing of course, but not that hard of a walk to the top of the town. There, walk along the old walls and see some of the buildings, like the old prison, that is built right into the wall. You can also see the old Citadelle, the cemetry and the Chateau du Castellet where the expresionist painter Nicola de Stael once lived. There is plenty of 16th and 17th architecture to enjoy.

While all is calm now, at one time not so. In the 16th Century the town withstood the force of some 12,000 Catholic troops raging against the town's defenses for 14 months. The poor chateau du Castellet received the greatest attention. It ended bad as the village ran out of water.

In the centre of the village you will find some restaurants, a bakery, a small food store and of course, an ice cream parlour. So with your essential needs covered you can walk the old streets and enjoy the ambiance.