My parents moved away from the hustle and bustle of London and decided to retire in sunny Provence. The south of France was never my top destination but as I have been visiting my parents, I can see the attraction of retiring in the area. I have visited many of the towns and villages near their house and wanted to share them with my readers.
Isle Sur La Sorgue
This beautiful town on the river Sorgue is twinned with Venice. The town is also know as the Venice of the Comtant and is home to one of the best Sunday markets in France. There are a variety of antique shops and brocant. The town sits right on the Sorgue river and is home to many of the water wheels that in the past, powered the textile industry. I love coming to Isle-sur-la-Sorgue for the market and also to buy souvenirs from Provence. For those looking to grab a bargain, there is a flea market every Sunday.
Fontaine de Vaucluse
This is a picturesque small town on the source of the sorgue. In spring, the water is very fast as it is full of the melted snow water. The river is crystal clear and is a constant temperature of 13 degrees. The town is situated alongside the river with restaurants and shops. It is also possible to go kayaking on the river from a company called Kayak Vert.
This village dating back to the 12th century has magnificent perched views over the Luberon. Gordes is on the southern edge of the Plateau de Vaucluse. It can get very busy in summer, making it hard to find a parking space. I recommend visiting during the off peak season to avoid the crowds.
This is a quaint village, 15 minutes from Gordes and has a stunning view of the surrounding countryside. There is a stone windmill on top of village where corn was ground in the past. The village is also home to the d’Agoult family chateau which is privately owned and so not open to the public. However, villagers can stroll through the village’s picturesque streets and visit the old church.
This village was a former ocre quary and is set in a pine forest surrounded by the ocre hills. Now it is possible to walk among the ocre cliffs. Ocre has been used for centuries in paint. The village is small but there are still a few restaurants and shops. There is also a Sentier des Ocres which is a natural park of cliffs and can be explored on foot through the former quary.
This is another fantastic stoned village way above the Luberon plain. They have markets on Fridays and the village has beautiful stone steps up to the peak with panoramic views of the area. When visiting the markets, make sure you arrive early to guarantee a parking spot.
This is a well known perched village, made famous by Peter Mayle’s book “A Year in Provence”. Panoramic views over the valley there is a truffle museum in the square. There are also a few small tourist shops and a beautiful and spacious terrace café that overlooks the country side.
This is a busy market town and there is a great market on Saturdays. On my way to Apt one Saturday I went for wine tasting in Sylla. It was delicious. Only 20 Euros for you can choose to have wine with 8 different types cheese or 8 different types of meat.
Home of the castle of the Marquis de Sade, dating from the 11the century, is at the peak of the village. It is now owned by Pierre Cardin the designer. The village has a market on Tuesday mornings and many people hike and mountain bike in the area, sometimes stoping in the village for a coffee.
Home of the Palais de Papes where the popes ruled in 14th century. The Palais is one of the largest and most important medieval buildings from the Gothic era in Europe. Avignon was made famous by the song “Sur le pont d’Avignon”. The famous bridge built in the 12th century was partially destroyed but remains as a monument to Saint Bénezet.
Have you been to Provence? If so, what places did you visit? I would like to hear from you, either on Facebook or via Twitter. I had never explored inland from the Southern French Riviera coast as I loved the beach, until now. Provence is worth going inland.