On the doorstep!
Fresh croissants from the bakery, a mini market for the essentials, a couple of restaurants, cafes by the main square, tennis courts just outside the village, a beauty place for a relaxing massage or a manicure, and a tourist office for information on the area.
Head into the Dentelles de Montmirail, the wonderful craggy limestone peaks that look like lace.
Suzette is the village perched on top of the hill and there are spectacular views all around. 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 La Demeure de Gilles- 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!
Carpentras, one of the main towns in the area,
has a large main square with cafes, lots of shops to choose from, and a great market on Friday mornings which takes over the whole town.
If you are staying at La Demeure de Gilles
the 3rd weekend in September, join in the celebrations in honour of the patron saint of Caromb, St. Maurice. After Mass, there is a procession through the village, various activities during the day and fireworks at night.
Visit L'Isle sur la Sorgue on a Sunday morning
for its wonderful antique market. The town is known as the 'Venice of Provence' for all the little canals that flow through and it is also the largest antique centre after Paris with lots and lots of antique shops. The huge open air market has stalls of fruit, veg, Provencal goods, paintings, antiques, 'brocante' (bric a brac) and is a melting pot of sounds, scents and textures.
Have a day in the city
- Avignon, the capital of the Vaucluse is less than an hour away by car. Situated on the Rhône, it is a beautiful city with impressive buildings including the Palais des Papes.
Take a boat trip on the River Rhône,
past the city walls and the St Bénezet Bridge, made famous in the children's song 'Sur le pont d'Avignon' (On the bridge of Avignon).
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!
Mont Ventoux is definitely a 'thing to do' whilst on holiday.
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.
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'.
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.
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.
On the way back from Vaison la Romaine,
stop in the hilltop village of Le Crestet. Park at the very top, by the château, and gaze at the view in front of you. On a clear day you will see for miles and will get an excellent view of Mont Ventoux.
At the end of June/early July,
the lavender comes into bloom and you will see a sea of purple fields. One of the best places to see the lavender is at the Abbaye de la Senaque, just below Gordes.
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.
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 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 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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