The Vaucluse

It is 16 years since we were last in this area- when we took the girls out of school for 2 months to travel in Italy, Switzerland and France. This time, having done lots of research, we picked a campground to Isle sur la Sorgue and were very happy with our decision. The first afternoon was spent wandering around the many antique shops which are mostly clustered together in “villages” within the town. The town is known as the best place outside Paris to buy antiques and classic 1930’s to 1960’s furniture etc but prices were high. The only item purchased was a new hat for Richard. As the name suggests, the old town is an island surrounded by the River Sorgue. 

The next day we decided to go “village tasting” as opposed to wine tasting. We mainly visited villages and towns that we had not been to on our previous trip including some that are not so touristy but very pretty. Bonnieux was nice but not as good as the others nearby – Lourmarin and Saignon. 

Bonnieux – lots of narrow steep alleys. And yes it was cool.



From Saignon we crossed to the other side of the valley to see famous Roussillon, the “red” village because of the high concentrations of ochre in the local stone.

From Roussillon we stopped briefly in Gordes but found it very busy with traffic directed right through the centre of the old town and major construction work happening on the church in the centre. It was very touristy and not nearly as attractive as the other places we had visited. 

Our last stop was Venasque on the recommendation of the Cullens who had stayed there in 2000. It was almost deserted but was very pretty. 

After such an intense day we decided to treat ourselves to a good dinner in Isle sur la Sorgue at Restaurant Islo. It is small and run by a husband and wife team but the food was excellent and only 29 euros for 3 courses.

For those of you who have asked for details of the special meals we have enjoyed, the entree was an asparagus mousse on a parmesan wafer with dried duck around the outside. My main was a prawn risotto- very good. 

Next on our itinerary was a visit to Avignon. Having parked the car to visit the Papal Palace we thought maybe lunch first would be a good idea. We hadn’t intended on a big lunch after our meal the night before but we just happened to find ourselves close to one of the best restaurants in Avignon, L’Essentiel.  So we thought – why not, you only live once. The meal was superb in all respects.

Salmon crudo on a vegetable cream a bit like a thick gazpacho followed by a cod dish. 

The Papal Palace was well worth visiting – a huge structure added to by succcessive popes in medieval times. 

The internal court yard contained an interesting display of sculpture. 

Our last day in the Vaucluse was a lazy day with just a trip to Fontaine de la Sorgue – the location of the large spring which feeds the River Sorgue. Given that we had heavy rain the night before, it was disappointing with lots of tourists, although a pleasant walk. We think a large slip has blocked the top where the spring was coming out.

Next stop – Nice.

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