Stroll into Le Barroux
for the morning's croissants or for dinner at the local auberge.
Visit the château in Le Barroux.
It dates back to the 12th century and is an imposing building. Privately owned, it is open to the public and there are often art exhibitions held there during the summer.
Turn left out of the property and follow the winding country road
up into 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.
Try a pizza
at the restaurant in Suzette, which is very child-friendly.
The local tourist offices
(nearest being Caromb or Beaumes de Venise) have lots of maps for walkers and cyclists.
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 Les Ramiers - 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!
Visit the Abbaye Ste Madeleine (on the road to Suzette)
at 09.30 and you will hear the Benedictine monks sing. A magical sound in a beautiful setting - the monastery is surrounded by lavender fields and has stunning views.
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
which is near Le Barroux, on the road to Lac du Paty (the D19).
Or 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.
For a 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 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!
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.
Carpentras, 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.
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'.
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.
In Avignon, 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.
If you fancy trying your hand at some of the local Provençal dishes, why not take part in a cookery lesson? The owner of one of our other properties in Provence runs a cookery school in the nearby village of Crillon Le Brave every Friday morning (subject to demand). Please ask us for further details.
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