Since we didn't have any food in the house and we prefer to buy our fresh fruits and vegetables at the weekly markets, we headed for Bédoin on Monday morning where a market is held on that day throughout the year. Bédoin is about a 40 minute drive around the Dentelles de Montmirail from our house in Sablet.
Located at the base of Mont Ventoux, Bédoin is the starting point for one of the three routes to the summit of the mountain. The route from Bédoin will take you up 5,305 feet over 13.5 miles to the summit. This is the most famous and difficult ascent. The road to the summit has an average gradient of 7.43%. The other routes start in Malaucène and Sault.
Mont Ventoux is well known as one of the most grueling climbs on the Tour de France. A climb up Mont Ventoux has been a stage on the Tour fifteen times since 1951; the peloton has raced to finish at the summit nine times and crossed over the summit to a finish in a town below six times.
Except for the first ascent in 1951 when the approach to the summit was from Malaucène in all other years the approach to the summit has been from Bédoin. So it is very fitting that the roundabout at the entrance to Bédoin depicts a cyclist riding up hill with the sign Bédoin Mont Ventoux.
|Roundabout at the entrance to Bédoin|
The first thing you'll notice when you get close to Bédoin is a large, imposing, Spanish-looking church, quite different from most others in Provence. In fact, Saint-Pierre Church is Jesuit, built in 1702 and restored in the 19th century. In spite of the different style, the church does have a wrought-iron belfry so typical of the region.
From a distance the houses of this compact, old village look small compared to the church, and are clustered up against the hill. Inside the old village it's looks typically Medieval, with long, narrow streets between tall old buildings, many with ancient stone doorways and some colorful Provencal facades.
|Bédoin and Saint-Pierre Church|
As I said, we went to Bédoin this fall while the vendange, French for "grape harvest" was underway. The Bédoin vignerons have planted approximately 2021 acres of vineyards, classified AOC Côtes du Ventoux and Vin de Pays, around the village.
|Grapes ready for harvest outside Bédoin|
Market stalls are set up along the main street of Bédoin every Monday morning. This is the route followed by the Tour de France as the peloton passes through the village on its way to the summit of Mont Ventoux.
I know I am repeating myself but Bédoin has a lovely Medieval core with narrow streets, old fountains and ancient doorways. The main road has terrace cafés, shops and lots of activity.
|Market stall with various types of peppers|
|Strands of red peppers for sale|
|Street musician playing harpiscord|
|White and red table grapes|
|Market stall with strands of garlic for sale|
|Bédoin village houses|
After wandering through the market and buying fresh fruit and vegetables, we hiked up Saint Antonin Hill to Saint-Pierre Church. The façade of the church is inspired by the Jesuit church of Gesu in Rome erected by the architects Vignole and della Porta in 1568 to 1584.
From the top of Saint Antonin Hill, there are great views across the roofs of the village and the surrounding countryside. The village of Crillon-le-Brave is visible across the fields to the southwest, while Mont Ventoux towers above Bédoin to the northeast.
|Shirley stands at the entrance to the cemetery on Saint Antonin Hill|
There are a lot of old stone fountains and lavoirs in Bédoin including the fountain and lavoir at Place de la Bourgade seen below.
|Bédoin's Place de la Bourgade fountain and lavoir|
We have driven through the perched village of Crillon-le-Brave several times on the way to and from Bédoin but never stopped to visit the village or dine at the Hotel Crillon-le-Brave Restaurant which several friends had recommended to us.
|Crillon-le-Brave Town Hall|
In the center of Crillon-le-Brave is a statue of "Brave Crillon". Louis de Balbe-Berton was born in March, 1541, in the village of Murs. He spent his youth in Avignon while the town was controlled by the Popes of Avignon. Louis apparently had a rather aggressive attitude; he killed one of his companions and had to flee Avignon for "France".
Louis joined the army and was quickly distinguished for his bravery. At the age of 15 he became an Aide de Camp of the Duc de Guise. In 1557, at the age of 16, he was the first to enter into Calais that was being held by the English. His exploits and his bravery continued, and Henri IV named him "the greatest captain in the world".
Brave Crillon died in Avignon in 1602. He was buried at the Église des Cordeliers, then moved to Avignon's Notre-Dame des Doms. A bronze statue of Crillon le Brave, created by Louis Veray, was installed at Avignon's Place de l'Horloge in 1858, and transferred to the Place du Palais des Papes in 1891.
Near the end of the 19th century, the village of Crillon changed its name to Crillon-le-Brave in honor of the heroic soldier. In May 1980, the bronze statue seen below was moved from Avignon to its current place in the heart of the village.
|Statue of The Brave Crillon|
We had come to Crillon-le-Brave to have lunch at the Hotel Crillon-le-Brave Restaurant, part of 32 room Hotel Crillon-le-Brave, a member of “Relais and Châteaux” association since 1995.
|Entrance to Hotel Crillon-le-Brave Restaurant|
We arrived without a reservation but no matter we were warmly welcomed and immediately shown to a table on the terrace. We were in full Provence mode so we ordered a bottle of 2013 Château d'Astros, Côtes de Provence, Rosé to accompany lunch. The wine was a delicious and beautiful pale rosé blended of Cabernet-Sauvignon, Cinsault, Grenache, and Syrah.
|One of the terraces at Hotel Crillon-le-Brave Restaurant|
From our seat on the terrace, we had a beautiful view of Mont Ventoux. The top of the mountain is bare limestone without vegetation or trees, which makes the mountain's barren peak appear from a distance to be snow-capped all year round.
|A view of Mont Ventoux from the terrace of Hotel Crillon-le-Brave Restaurant|
In addition to two evening dining options at Hotel Crillon-le-Brave, Restaurant Jérôme Blanchet, a gastronomic restaurant and the more casual Bistrot 40K, a moderately priced à la carte lunch menu is served from 12h30 – 15h30 at Bar La Grange and on the main terraces of the hotel.
|Parsnip velouté with root vegetable chips|
|Tomato buffalo mozzarella salad with balsamic vinegar and pesto|
|Lentil salad with melted shallots, pork belly, and spinach parsley sauce|
|Shirley and I relaxing at Hotel Crillon-le-Brave Bar La Grange and Terrace|
|Spelt risotto with wild mushrooms and arugula|
|Fish bouillabaisse, potatoes, fennel and rouille with saffron|
|Mussels in papillote|
|Fries that accompanied the mussels|
Sit yourself down in a French restaurant and you will not see a single French person using a fork. They all eat with the shells.
1. Find yourself a big empty shell that is not broken and is a good shape to hold onto (or use the technique to remove the meat from a perfect shell). This will be your eating implement.
2. Hold the empty shell between your thumb and forefinger so you can open and close it in a pincer motion.
3. Use the shell to grip onto and gently pull the orange meat out of another shell.
4. Eat the piece of mussel from the shell as you would if your eating shell was a fork.
|How to eat mussels like a French person|
|Chocolate club sandwich, pear compote and chocolate ice cream|
|Raspberry and lime sorbet|
|One of the Hotel Crillon-le-Brave dining rooms|
Hotel Crillon-le-Brave was our culinary find of this last sejour in Sablet. The food and setting were wonderful, so good that we returned for a second meal. I am sure that during the summer, reservations at lunch or dinner are strongly recommended.
Place de l'Église
Tel: 04 90 65 61 61