- Countryscape Fruitbowl of Provence
- Country life Petanque and pastis
Cultivated for centuries beneath the peak of the mighty Mont Ventoux, the Vaucluse is the earthy, abundant counterpart to the show-off glitz of the Riviera and the Côte d’Azur.
Melons from Cavaillon, truffles from Carpentras, lavender from Sault, classic Rhône wines – tempting produce is showcased daily in the local markets. The soft valleys and craggy peaks are diverse and beautiful, Provençal sunlight alchemising vineyards and villages into instant art; walkers and cyclists can tackle the Alpine foothills or laze in lavender fields. You could spend a lifetime sampling the culture – summer festivals, specialist honeys, Avignon’s mansions and museums – or you could simply tug the brim of your straw hat down a bit and lie back until it’s time for that apéritif.
Do go/Don’t go
Spring and autumn see the region in its sunniest mood. Only the postcard-prettiest villages get crowded, even in summer. Winter is chilly when the Mistral wind blows.
- Planes Nîmes and Marseille airports are best.
- Trains The train is a comfortable and convenient option. Eurostar from London takes seven hours, with a change in Paris. From July to September there’s a weekly direct train on Saturdays taking six hours.
- Automobiles Great for exploring the wine regions and the foothills of the Alps | but be careful in villages with steep | narrow streets.
- Taxis It’s best to book in advance. Your hotel should be able to arrange a pick-up from the train station in Avignon or the airport in Marseille.