View on Gordes, a small typical town in Provence, France
lavender field and a small town in Provence
Pont du Gard - France
Pope palace in Avignon. Central square, Provence, Cote d'Azur, F
Ancient ruins of Glanum, France
The extensive Roman ruins at Vaison-La-Romaine, Provence, France
Roman amfitheatre in Orange, France
Villeneuve lès Avignon, old Provencal city, in front of the papal city of Avignon, on the right bank of the Rhone river
WEZ-DHL000076 - © - Heinz Linke
2000 years of colourful heritage
Cross no less than four departments to discover the soul of Provence with a thousand colours of earth ochre, hot stone and blue lavender. Palaces, thousand year old buildings, castles and fortresses testify to the thrilling history of its cities. And always there is a village in the heart of the winding roads which, behind their apparent humbleness, hide treasures from the past. Haute-Provence always knows how to charm the passer-by. But if you have the chance of a surprise visit after the summer madness, you will sense its scent of timelessness.
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If Avignon owes its glory to its medieval past as the Cité des Papes (‘City of the Popes’), the scope of its rich history spans from ancient times to the present day thanks to the European-wide reputation of its theatre festival. A single day won’t be enough to see everything, but be sure not to miss the Palais des Papes, along with the Musée du Petit Palais and Pont Saint-Bénezet, the famous Pont d’Avignon of our lullabies. Ensure time for a stroll through the historic centre and the promise of delicious breaks on the terraces and patios of charming restaurants.
Cross the Rhône to admire the Cité des Papes from Villeneuve-lez-Avignon; the more energetic can climb the 176 steps of the Tour Philippe-le-Bel for breathtaking views as far as the Alpilles. The Pont du Gard aqueduct, a stunning work of Roman times, is well worth the small 30 minute detour west. Visit the site’s cultural spaces to fully grasp its complexity. Orange also holds Roman treasures including Théâtre Antique, the best preserved Roman Theatre in Europe, and Arc de Triomphe. Enjoy an evening in the old town.
Heading up towards the canton of Valréas, explore the magnificent villages housing sites steeped in history: the Forteresse de Mornas, which comes alive during the summer with the presence of actors in period costume, the Château de Suze-la-Rousse and its many events or the Commanderie de Richerenches, famous for its truffle market. Here, you are in the Enclave des Papes, a little piece of Vaucluse enclosed in la Drôme, in the vineyards of Visan. Allow a full day for a visit to Vaison-la-Romaine with its Roman Theatre, vast ancient site and medieval Upper Town.
Reaching Apt means immersion in the land of lavender and the most beautiful hilltop villages. The spa town of Montbrun-les-Bains is a little gem. As is Sault with its historic streets and unusual museum. The more sporty will waver between the Gorges de la Nesque and a caving trip to the Plateau d’Albion. Taste cheese in Banon and browse for treasures in the amazing Le Bleuet bookstore. Simiane-la-Rotonde is also worth a look! Finally, the centre of Apt has something for everyone, the highlight of the show is the Saturday morning market.
Many exceptional sites mark this last stage! Roussillon is spellbinding in its red cloak; a walk on the Sentier des Ocres up to the Chaussée des Géants (‘Giant’s Causeway’) shows all the beauty of this timeless landscape. With magnificent historical heritage, the village of Gordes, its hamlet of Bories and the Abbaye de Sénanque rival each other for beauty when the tourist crowds subside. Thirty minutes from Avignon, the peaceful Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, a starting point for hikes in the Alpilles, owes its success to the Plateau des Antiques de Glanum, a wonderful archaeological site.
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