With Caromb on your doorstep,
there is no real need to stray very far from the pool and the courtyard garden at Mas St Siffrein, especially with the stunning view over the countryside as well. The village boulangerie supplies the fresh croissants for breakfast, the open air market on a Tuesday morning will provide the fresh salad, goats cheese and olives for a light lunch, and dinner can be found at one of the lovely restaurants in the village, all walking distance so you don't need to worrying whose turn it is to drive home!
The summit of Mont Ventoux,
seen from Mas St Siffrein, is a definite must to visit. Choose a clear day and drive to the top (you can cycle but it is so much easier driving!). It may be hot down in the valley but you will definitely feel the difference in temperature at the top! As you drive up, note the amazing changes in landscape. Picnic spots under the trees are dotted along the wayside and there are large information panels about the amazing and varied flora and fauna.
The Dentelles de Montmirail,
the wonderful craggy limestone peaks that look like lace. Head for Suzette, the highest village, which boasts wonderful views. The café there has a lovely panoramic terrace and serves nice salads in the summer. The information panel in the car park details colour coded walking routes through the vineyards if you feel inclined for a walk.
For the wine lovers amongst you,
stop at any of the tourist offices and pick up the leaflets entitled Route des Vins. There are various colour-coded routes - the turquoise, purple and lilac routes are the closest to Mas St Siffrein - each covering a slightly different area. Follow the map and the signs on the road, and you will discover the many 'domaines' around, all offering wine tastings. BUT make sure you have one designated driver, French laws about drink driving are as strict, if not stricter, than ours!
Book a table at L'Hostellerie de Crillon le Brave,
in the village of the same name, and you won't be disappointed. This lovely hotel has a renowned restaurant, simply called 'Le Restaurant' serving fine Provençal cuisine. During the summer months, dinner is served on the terrace where the view over the vineyards to Mont Ventoux is a fitting backdrop to dinner. Reservations necessary.
The owner of the property runs a cookery school in the nearby village of Crillon Le Brave. Learn how to cook typical Provençcal dishes in a relaxed ambience in groups of 3 - 6 people. Courses are taught in English and French. At the end of the morning, lunch is served! Please ask us for more details.
one of the main towns in the area, has a lovely main square with cafes, lots of shops to choose from, and a great market on Friday mornings which takes over the whole town.
Vaison La Romaine,
to the north, has something for everyone in the group. Roman ruins, pretty cobbled streets leading up to a medieval castle, shops, and a great market every Tuesday morning which takes over the whole town. In addition, many festivals are held here from music and dance in July and August, to the 'Soup Festival' in October - a competition between the local villages to make the best /most unusual soup.
Take the children to the llama farm,
yes llamas in Provence, which is near Le Barroux, on the road to Lac du Paty.
Count the Fontaines at Pernes Les Fontaines
Take the children to Pernes Les Fontaines to count the fountains. There are 40 in total dotted around the village. To help you, the town's tourist office has printed a map on which they are all marked.
Notre Dame d'Aubune
On the hillside overlooking the road between Vacqueyras and Beaumes de Venise, there is a small church called Notre Dame d'Aubune, the bell tower of which is a lovely example of 9th century Romanesque art. Take the time to enjoy a walk on the path over the hill behind the chapel or, occasionally concerts take place in the church itself. Enquire at the Tourist Office in Beaumes de Venise for further details.
L'Isle sur la Sorgue
A trip to L'Isle sur la Sorgue is a must on a Sunday morning. Known as the 'Venice of Provence' for all the little canals that run through the town, it is also the largest antique centre after Paris with lots and lots of antique shops. Each Sunday morning there is a huge open air market with stalls of fruit, veg, Provencal goods, paintings, antiques, 'brocante', - a fantastic melting of sounds, scents and textures.
Visit the Luberon valley,
home to vineyards and very chic and pretty stone villages such as Gordes, Ménerbes, Roussillon, Lourmarin, - the setting for many of the chapters in that famous book by Peter Mayle, 'A Year in Provence'.
Visit the nearby village of Le Barroux
(3km) - you will spot its imposing chateau that dominates the skyline. You can look around the castle, and the village itself has a lovely auberge and a salon du thé for tea and coffee in the afternoon.
A must-do on any list is a trip to Avignon,
the capital of the Vaucluse. Head for the car park called 'Parking Palais des Papes'. This underground car park is underneath the Palais des Papes square and so when you surface, you greeted with an awe inspiring view of the Palais itself.
St Rémy de Provence
For a slight change in scenery, go to St Rémy de Provence (about 1hr's drive), at the bottom of the Alpilles hills. A chic and pretty town, for a time, it was once home to Van Gogh. Follow the self-guided walking trail around the town - 21 signposts are dotted around the town, each with a reproduction of one of his paintings and an explanation in French and English.
Les Baux de Provence,
due south of St Rémy de Provence, is an amazing ruin of a castle atop a huge rock. The village clings to the rock side and streets lead up to the plateau with the ruins. It is worth paying for the audio guide around the castle, as it is truly fascinating. However, make sure you either go early in the morning or late afternoon to avoid the tour coaches, of which there are plenty.
If you don't mind winding, twisting roads and love impressive scenery,
then follow the D942 through the Gorges de la Nesque and see the 985 ft high Rocher du Cire. Carry on and you will end up at Sault, the home of lavender!
walk on the St Bénezet Bridge, made famous in the children's song 'Sur le pont d'Avignon' (On the bridge of Avignon).
Whilst in Avignon, take the 'Petit Train', the little white train that takes you around Avignon, which the children will love, or go on a boat trip along the River Rhône to give you a different view of this beautiful city.
Sit in the garden at Mas de Siffrein
on the shortest night in June and watch the 'Feux de la Saint-Jean' at the top of Mont Ventoux. Once the fire has been lit at the top of the mountain, it is the signal for the villages in the valley (such as Caromb) to light their bonfires and start the celebrations.
There are plenty of festivals and celebrations
throughout the year in the villages of Provence, ranging from local wine events to major musical events in Orange, Vaison la Romaine, the Luberon&.
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