Friday, July 30, 2021
Wednesday, July 28, 2021
Sunday, July 25, 2021
Thursday, July 22, 2021
|View of Patchwork of Lavender Fields near Sault|
We were worried that because harvest starts mid-July that we might have missed the lavender season for this year. But fortunately as you can see in the pictures which follow, we found plenty of lavender.
Monday, June 21, 2021
The amazing region of Provence France has so many wonderful places to explore and points of interest to check out that it is almost impossible to decide which are my favorites. After not going to Sablet because of the pandemic for more than 1 year and 1/2, I am trying to figure out how get to as many places as possible, but leaving lots of time to spend with family and friends.
If you don't know, the Romans spent hundreds of years in Provence and left many ruins for travelers to visit. Before them were the Greeks. Many years later, seven popes resided in Avignon and artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cezanne did most of their work in Provence.
Lovers of fine wine can spend their entire visit going to wineries and tasting some of the best wines produced in France. The region offers dramatic scenery at every turn. For beach lovers, the Mediterranean Sea is just a short drive. If your tastes go more to exploring cities or charming hill top villages, they are mere minutes away.
We were first attracted to Sablet because of its convenient location to most of the wonderful attractions in Provence. That and all of the wonderful friends we have made in Sablet and the surrounding area keeps us coming back.
For those of you who read my posts about Provence, it should not come as any surprise that my favorite place is our village of Sablet. For those who don't know, Sablet is a small village located at the base of the jagged Dentelles de Montmirail west of Mont Ventoux. You can find out more here.
|Sablet under the Dentelles de Montmirail|
#2. Pont du Gard
Shirley says our favorite Roman ruin in the South of France is the Pont du Gard, the aqueduct bridge that crosses the Gardon River about 37 miles from our house in Sablet between the towns of Remoulins and Uzès. I can't disagree.
The Pont du Gard is part of a 50 km (31 mile) aqueduct constructed by the Romans in the middle of the 1st century to bring fresh water from the Eure spring near Uzès, to the Roman city of Nîmes where it supplied running water to fountains, baths and private homes around the city. You can find out more here.
|Pont du Gard|
Vaison-la-Romaine is a quick 6 mile trip from Sablet down a winding road and then left across the Ouvèze River. The town is known for its Roman ruins, medieval town and cathedral.
|The Castle of the Counts of Toulouse above Vaison-la-Romain|
|Roman Bridge across Ouvèze River in Vaison-la-Romaine|
The basic level consist of 171 communes (similar to a township in the US) in the French departments of Ardèche, Bouche du Rhône, Drôme, Gard, Loire, and Vaucluse that produce wine. The average production of Côtes du Rhône wine is about 419 million bottles a year, making this one of the largest appellations in the world. Level 2 is Côtes du Rhône-Villages and includes 95 communes around the region which supposedly produce a higher quality of wine.
From the road, Gigondas (2.5 miles) seems little more than a cluster of stone houses set on a hillside with a church below the Dentelles de Montmirail Mountains overlooking vineyard covered slopes and valley below.
Cassis is on a steep hillside with vineyards and pastel-colored houses that tumble down to a seaside port lined with more pastel-colored houses, shops and restaurants with 8,000 inhabitants. The wineries of Cassis make some of our favorite white and rose wines.
|Avignon from across the Rhone River|
Notre-Dame des Doms Cathedral is a Romanesque building, mainly built during the 12th century. The most prominent feature of the cathedral is the 19th century gilded statue of the Virgin which surmounts the western tower. The mausoleum of Pope John XXII (1334) is one of the most beautiful works within the cathedral. During the 14th century, this became the world’s most important church, home to seven different popes.
|Notre-Dame des Doms Cathedral and Pope's Palace|
As I said above, our other favorite town in Provence is Aix-en-Provence. The capitol of Provence in the middle ages, it is located about 1 hour and 15 minutes from our home in Sablet. Cousin Annick lives in a nearby village.
Aix-en-Provence is famous for its outdoor markets, shopping and beautiful people, and as the home of Paul Cézanne (1839-1906) who lived and did most of his work here. Unusual for Provence, there are no ancient historical sights to see.
Aix-en-Provence is often referred to as the city of a thousand fountains (a slight exaggeration). The construction of the Rotonde fountain in 1860 at the end of Cours Mirabeau was unusual for Aix-en-Provence because of its size and because it was the first to have a water basin.
|The Rotonde fountain in Aix-en-Provence|
The Cours Mirabeau divides Aix into two parts, the Quartier Mazarin, or "new town", which extends to the south and west, and the Ville Comtale, or "old town", which lies to the north. The Cours Mirabeau is decorated by four fountains, the most impressive of which is La Rotonde.
Sunflowers generally grow to between 5 and 12 feet tall and bloom from late June to the end of July with harvest occurring at the beginning of August.
|Field of Sunflowers|
It's a toss up between coquelicots (red poppies) and lavender but probably no other scent or sight says Provence better than the pungent aroma of a purple field of lavender growing in mounded rows under a brilliant blue summer sky.
|Lavender Field near Aurel|
One of things that we consider as we set our dates for summer visits to Sablet is the route for the annual Tour de France bike race. If they are going to be riding through Provence, especially climbing to the summit of Mount Ventoux, we try to be there.
|Les Baux de Provence village as seen from the plateau|
Venasque (19 miles) is a small pretty village that clings to a rocky hillside overlooking vineyards, garrigue and cherry trees. It is classified as one of the "Plus Beaux Villages de France", one of seven villages with that designation in the Vaucluse region where Sablet is located.
|Hilltop Village of Venasque|
Nyons sits in a natural basin on the right bank of the Eygues river, surrounded by hills and small mountains, which provides shelter from wind. The town gets an unusual amount of sunshine, earning Nyons the nickname "Little Nice" for its great climate.
|Nyons with Randonne Tower at the highest point|
Frequently on Thursday mornings, we head to Nyons (17 miles) so we can wander around the bustling Provençal market that takes place in the center of town throughout the year. In 1994, Nyons became the first region in France to be awarded its own appellation or AOC, for olives and oil, similar to that of wine regions.
|Obelisk in Arles|
Nîmes (46 miles) has a very long and rich history, dating back to the Roman Empire when the city was home to between 50-60,000 people. There are several famous monuments, such as the Nîmes Arena and the Maison Carrée and because of this, Nîmes is often referred to as the French Rome.
Orange is about 25 minutes from Sablet and best known to us as the exit off the A7 and A9 for home to Sablet. Orange is best known to most people for its Roman ruins, especially the Roman theater and the Triumphal Arch of Orange.
|Triumphal Arch of Orange|
The Théâtre Antique d'Orange - literally translated as the Ancient Theater of Orange is a Roman Theater built in the 1st century between A.D. 10 and 25 under the reign of Augustus in the heart of the town of Orange. It is now owned by the town and is the home of the summer opera festival, the Chorégies d'Orange. It is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
|Théâtre Antique d'Orange|
Well there you have it, my top 10 list of favorite places to visit and activities when we are in Provence. I could add festivals, more charming villages, towns, restaurants, activities, special shops and wonderful wineries but decided to stop at 10.