Discovering the real Provence:
If you explored the Lavender Fields of Provence and enjoyed them, but now you want something else to do, here are five more ideas…
1) Take time to taste the excellent and famous local wines of the Côtes du Rhones region. I recommend a wine tour around the towns of Gigondas and Vaqueras (big powerful wines – watch out if you are driving as they are high in alcohol).
2) If you like a sweet fruity wine then stop in Beaumes-de-Venise for a must taste of the delicious «Muscat ». My favorite place to try these wines is the wine shop right in the village at Nuances du Sud on boulevard Raspail. It’s on the way to the Dentelles de Montmirail anyways, which is my next favorite stop when I’m in the area.
3) The Dentelles de Montmirail is a magnificent natural site that I highly recommend. The road is a bit narrow, and it goes to dirt at the very end (drive all the way to the parking lot at the top), but it is quite manageable even in my putt-putt car as long as the weather is dry. If you want just a quick stop, hike about 15 minutes (straight) up for a gorgeous view of the valley. Its breathtaking views will make you glad you made the short but steep hike up. Bring a picnic lunch and you can pause to watch the rock climbers for entertainment while snacking on lunch and admiring the views.
4) If you want a real adventure, take the 11km hike around the Dentelles de Montmirail and try to track down “La Chambre des Turcs” where in the Middle Ages the Moors (also known as the Sarrasins locally) used to hide out and watch for enemies. I’ve never actually found it but then I have zero sense of direction. If you do find it, then send me some pics and I will post them on the site. Don’t bring your little ones though as it’s a little precarious. Click here for topo map. If you have a GPS, the coordinates are: WPT LAT=”44.155448405072093″ LON=”5.024112677201629″.
5) Finally, don’t miss the lovely perched villages of Gordes and Rousillon, and the Abbaye of Senanque (arrive early on the weekend as all the parking lots fills up quickly during tourist season). You can also try the Dentelles de Montmirail Perched Village Circular Route starting in Malaucene northwest of the Luberon and taking you through Gigondas and Beaumes de Venise.
That should keep you busy for a few days and help you in discovering the real Provence !
Also, don’t forget to take all those tiny back roads (they begin with a “D” for departmental) – there is always something new to discover around every corner like the Chateau Javon (private – no visits) that I came across driving on D43 in Lioux going towards Sault. It became a stronghold for the Resistance and you can see gun slits on either side of the main entrance.
Let me know how your travel goes, and should you discover something new and exciting, make sure that you share with all of us !
– Girl Gone Gallic