The Vaucluse region in the South of France blends perfectly Provence and the Rhone Valley. We visited the Vaucluse during the harvest seasons and were taken aback by the striking beauty and spectrum of things to do in this region
Vaucluse has so much to offer including wine, food and picturesque villages.
With its striking and diverse landscapes from the peak of Mont Ventoux (1,912m) to the Luberon range, or from the Nesque river canyons to the rolling hills of Danteilles de Mirailles and the lavender fields - the Vaucluse region is a popular destination for nature, bike and hiking lovers.
Wine & food lovers will equally appreciate the Vaucluse region for its exceptional wines and the organic local produce that is has to offer.
The red wines produced in the Vaucluse from the vin des pays (table wine) to the Cotes du Rhone and the aristocratic Chateauneuf du Pape are luscious and bursting with fruit. The reds are usually characterised by a rich, full-body texture with smooth tannins. The red and rosé wines are made from expressive grapes such as Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignane and Mourvèdre grapes varieties. Refreshing white and rosé wines include Coteaux des Baux-en-Provence, Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence, Côtes du Luberon and Côtes du Ventoux, not to forget the dessert wines from Beaumes-de-Venise Muscat.
The local farm produce is a classic ‘cuisine du soleil’ conveying a variety of flavours and colours characterised by its abundant herbs, olives, tomatoes, garlic, lavender and truffles. Try to sample some traditional Provencal dishes such as ratatouille, bouillabaisse (a fish soup) and daube (marinated beef).
Where to Go and What to See...
Top Left: Pont d'Avignon in the city of Avignon. Bottom Left: Roman amphitheatre in Orange. Top Right: Village of Gordes. Bottom Right: The Lavender fields
Avignon - the magnificent City of the Popes and the capital of the Vaucluse region. Do not miss the famous lyrical Pont d’Avignon and the Palais des Papes (Papal Palace).
Orange - worth a quick visit of the Roman amphitheatre and the Arc de Triomphe but also for the food market on Fridays.
Gordes - famed as the prettiest village in France. Visit the Abbaye de Senanque, north of Gordes, which is built in the local golden stone and set against a backdrop of lavender fields and oak groves.
Ménerbes - Pablo Picasso and his lover used to live in this unique village perched on top of a hill offering spectacular views of the region. Visit the Maison de la Truffe et du Vin to learn about truffle hunting and sample some delicious fresh truffles in their open air restaurant. Here is our review about the visit. The museum itself is very small but we spent about 2 hours in total with lunch admiring the views from the top of the village.
Lavender Museum - located in the village Coustellet, you can explore the history of the cultivation of this charming plant. Jean Giono, a French author even said that "Lavender is the soul of Provence"!
Where to Stay...
Budget: Mas du Clos de l’Escarrat, a rustic 17th century stone house lovingly run by a couple, Charles and Andrée. The place is surrounded by vineyards and Charles is an excellent wine connoisseur and guide too. Read the full Winerist review here. Prices from €85 per night (min 2 nights).
Mid-range: Metafort, unique Maison d’Hotes (B&B in French) combining luxury, minimalism, design in a 17th century old stone house in the village of Methamis. It’s perfect for a romantic escape and there is even a room where you can sleep under the stars. Read the rest of the review here. Prices from €140 per night.
Luxury: La Bastide de Marie, a creation of Maisons & Hotels Sibuet, a luxury hotel chain co-founded by Jocelyne Sibuet, France’s ultimate interior designer. The rooms are beautifully decorated with a Bohemian flare, soft earthy colours contrasted by bold red, green or blue details. It is also home to the Domaine de Marie winery and on-site restaurant where we had the full wine & food tourism experience. Read our full review. Prices from €380 per night.
Where to Taste?
Top Left: The facade of the Domaine de Marie. Bottom Left: The cellar at Chateau Pesquie. Top Right: The unique 'galets' that form the soil in the vineyards of Domaine de Vieux Lazaret in Chateauneuf du Pape. Bottom Right: Some of the unique corkscrews from the 10,000 strong collection of corkscrews at Domaine de la Citadelle
Domaine de Marie, in the heart of the Luberon and nearby the truffle village of Menerbes, has being producing exceptional wines since 2000, when the Sibuet family built a luxury wine hotel La Bastide de Marie.
Domaine du Vieux Lazaret of the Quitot Family, in Chateauneuf du Pape for a sampling of different appellations such as Vacqueyras, Rasteau and for something sweet and different – Beaumes de Venise.
Chateau Pesquie is a beautiful winery in the Ventoux AOC, offering free wine tastings and self-guided visits in the winery with booklets, or special wine & truffle picnics. You feel in the middle of nature in those vineyards!
Domaine de la Citadelle is a unique winery and place, located at the foot of the Menerbes village. It hosts the largest collection of corkscrews dating back to ancient times. Stop for a quick visit and wine tasting.
Cool things to do - wine tours, truffle hunting and more!
Here is a selection of some of our favourite wine and food tours throughout the Vaucluse:
Wine & Truffle Tour of Provence - a great gourmet tour to discover the Luberon hilltop village of Menerbes and enjoy a wine and truffles workshop.
Olive Picking & Tasting in Provence - do something unique and take part in a traditional harvest at an organic farm and discover the hand-picking harvest methods which have been used for centuries.
Insider’s Tour of Chateauneuf du Pape - visit 5 wineries in Chateauneuf du Pape and Vacqueyras, and taste up to 20 wines. This includes an initiation to wine tasting and a chocolate & wine pairing. Yum!
Wine, Creeks & Cooking Class - enjoy a special cooking classes "Bouillabaisse" in Marseille and a day tour in the Alpilles to visit hotspots, vineyards and exceptional domains of the Baux de Provence‘s valley.
Bike & Lavender Tour of Provence - discover the vineyards and wines of Provence from the Rhone Valley to the Haut-Vaucluse area to the Drome and back to Mont Ventoux. Taste the prestigious wines of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. Discover the wonderful lavender flavoured honey of this region in this one week biking tour.
Avignon Festival 2014 Tour - the festival is a big occasion in Southern France, and a great time to visit Provence. This four day tour is the perfect way for wine lovers to mix winery visits and tastings with the discovery of the magic of the Avignon festival and watch fantastic performances from skilled performers.
Written by: Tatiana Livesey, Winerist Co-founder.