FROM MONT-VENTOUX TO THE LUBERON… PURE PROVENCE!
The mountain is a very steep and almost inaccessible mass of stony soil. But, as the poet well said, “Remorseless toil conquers all.
The poet Petrarch described his ascension of Mont Ventoux in 1336 – way before it was hoisted to today’s mythical status by the Tour de France! (the most popular bicycle race in the world)!
The giant of Provence rises to a height of 1912 metres and offers exceptional panoramic views over the whole area, from the Rhône valley to Mont Blanc. Crowned with a rocky dome reminiscent of a lunar landscape, this mountain is simply unmissable! This is one of the Tour de France’s iconic stop-off points.
Its southern slopes are covered with Mediterranean vegetation, and are home to the Sault plateau lavender fields and, lower down, magnificent Luberon Regional Nature Park.
Much sought after for its tranquil atmosphere, the Luberon area attracts artists from the world over. Peter Mayle brought it to international fame with his book “A Year in Provence”.
The valleys and cliffs of the Luberon offer a delicious palette of colours and moods!
Roussillon and its ochre quarries: this village, with its pretty houses painted every imaginable shade of ochre, is set against the backdrop of the ancient ochre quarries. On exiting the village, you will come to the Val des Fées (ochre mountains cliffs), before going to the Conservatory of Ochre and Colour to learn all about this famous pigment which livens up Mediterranean façades.
And, offering a fascinating insight into every aspect of this typical Provencal pigment.
At Rustrel, follow the extraordinary Colorado of Provence and in Gargas, explore the former underground mines of Bruoux, truly a cathedral of colour.
Gordes: officially ranked as one of France’s Most Beautiful Villages, is set clinging to a sun-drenched rock. Linger awhile to admire its centuries-old houses, now tastefully restored, before heading on to the Renaissance castle, home to one of France’s largest sculpted fireplaces. After a drink at the “Cercle Républicain” club, you may like to visit the “Bories” village and its curious, conical dry-stone houses, witness to the life of peasant families several centuries ago.
Then take the winding road to the “Abbaye de Sénanque”. This magnificent Cistercian Abbey, nestling at the bottom of a valley, is truly breath-taking and instilled with sereneness.
Ménerbes: ranked among Provence’s Most Beautiful Villages, this site was described by Nostradamus (who was born in Provence) as “a ship resting on a rocky outcrop”. Many artists and writers have taken their inspiration from this site, such as Peter Mayle who lived here and Picasso, who stayed here in 1945, in the house of his lover and muse Dora Maar. Once you’ve had your fill of the atmosphere, it’s time for some wine and truffle tasting at the Maison de la Truffe et du Vin, set inside an ancient, 17th-century hospice home!
The village is also home to a unique Corkscrew Museum (“Musée du Tire-Bouchon”), situated at the Citadelle vineyard.
The Luberon Regional Nature Reserve harbours a wealth of plant and animal species, plus a unique archaeological and geological heritage that has earned it the title of “Unesco Biosphere Reserve”. Located in the middle of the largest ochre deposits in the world, the Apt region is known for the variety and contrasts of its colours, which you can explore on foot on the many footpaths, by bike or car.
Cavaillon, capital of the melon fruit and France’s garden since the 19th century, is today one of the largest centres of agricultural production. In Roman times, it was a stopping point on Via Domitia and then it became a large mediaeval town at the time the Popes were in Avignon.