Head north and east of Avignon and the landscape of Provence changes dramatically. The fertile plains of western Vaucluse, known as the Comtat Venaissin, give way to rising, forested hills and mountains. It is here that the South of France begins to lift itself into the first intimations of the Pre-Alpes. Vineyards, olive groves and orchards spread across valley floors. Three wine growing areas contribute to the region's prosperity. Both the Côtes du Ventoux and the Côtes du Lubéron produce delicate young wines, while several world-class Côte de Rhône vineyards are located within Vaucluse. The valleys and plains are also known for cherries, apricots, figs and melons, including the small, rich Cavaillon melons grown around their namesake town. Wild boars prowl the oak and chestnut forests of the uplands where farmers gather prized black truffles. Vaucluse is considered the centre of Provence and provides some of the region's most iconic images - from the rows of blooming lavender to the isolated summit of Mont Ventoux, scourge of cyclists and famous "killer" climb of many a Tour de France. The villages here are rich in medieval and Roman history. Mont Ventoux, at more than 6,200 feet, is sometimes snow-capped. Below it, the Côte de Ventoux vineyards and the fruit orchards of cherries, apricots and figs turn red and golden in the autumn. The area is rich in cycling and hiking paths - including mountain bike trails down the mountain (for the brave) and the Mont Ventoux circuit (for the very fit or slightly mad!). Lavender covers the hills in the Pays de Sault at the eastern reach of this area. Then there are the Monts de Vaucluse. Despite the use of "mountain," or sometimes "plateau," in its name, the range that gives this départment its name is a mass of small hills and bluffs hugging tight little valleys. Some of the prettiest perched villages in France, including Gordes and the ochre-colored Roussillon, are scattered along the crests of these steep hills. So are Roman antiquities and the dome-shaped dry-stone shelters called bories. L'Isle sur la Sorgue, a village situated on islands between five branches of the Sorgue River, is the unlikely antiquing capital of Provence. Separated from the Vaucluse by the broad expanse of the Calavon Valley and the Imergue, the Lubéron spreads across the landscape like a giant slab of bread dough. The mountain is divided in two by the Lourmarin Valley and the Aigue Brun River, with the higher peaks to the east and the Petit Luberon to the west. The entire area is included in a regional nature park, criss-crossed with well marked hiking and cycling trails, including an outstanding, 100-km/62-mile cycle circuit (see Adventures on wheels). It also has some outstanding rock climbing, notably at Buoux. Near Rustrel, the Provençal Colorado, a man-made "canyon" created by several hundred years of ochre mining, is a fascinating and colorful hike. Included here is the Fontaine de Vaucluse, a scenic, museum-filled village on the site of one of the most powerful natural springs in the world (see Author's choice). It is located in a dramatic closed valley, vallis clausa in Latin (the origin of the name Vaucluse), surrounded by towering limestone bluffs and steep, stony hills. Also covered is Chateauneuf du Pape, the 14th-century summer residence of the Avignon Popes (the name literally means the Pope's new castle), Châteauneuf du Pape now exists primarily as a place to taste and buy its famous Côtes de Rhône wine - with an opportunity to do both apparently every 50 feet. Dominated by the towering ruins of the Papal summer palace, the town's narrow streets of golden medieval houses, with their red tile roofs and pastel shutters, wind down into the vineyards. All the details you need are in this guide - the hotels, restaurants, what to see and do, how to get around. Color photos thr
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|Size: ||14.3 MB|
|Publisher: ||Hunter Publishing|
|Date published: || 2013|
|ISBN: ||9781556502217 (DRM-EPUB)|
|Read Aloud: ||not allowed|