On 9am sharp, we were picked up from the Avignon Tourism Office by a white minivan. There were only 7 tourists in the van, with Mr. Jeremy as our tour guide + driver. Where to? I had no idea. I intended to keep the itinerary a secret from myself, why did I do that? I guess I just like surprises (a surprise from myself and the universe, how romantic! ), and indeed, a stream of surprises, in coming!
Fontaine de VaucluseWe arrived at Fontaine de Vaucluse not long after. One step into the village and we were immediately greeted by the charming sight of an old water wheel in front of an abandoned mill. This humble village is a feast for the eyes, with a fascinating history to tell. Best of all, it is not overrun by tourist… Sure, it is quite a popular hotspot, but still far from being a tourist mecca. The whole village is still oozing authenticity and prices are reasonable, which is great. The waterfront is lined with a plethora of artisans ice cream stands, cafes, and restaurants. After a refreshing cup of coffee, we leisurely strolled up to the famous water source where the La Sorgue River emerges from. The path took us approximately 20 minutes. The scenery along the way blew my mind: the crystal clear spring water, the serene riverside park with a lot of shades, the gigantic water wheels… Every few steps I took, I was inspired by the breathtaking view presented right in front of my eyes. I was trying hard to hold back the urge to sit down and sketch the landscape, too bad I didn’t have time for that! Also, don’t miss a visit to The Paper Mill on your way back!
GordesThe hilltop village of Gordes was a sight to behold. I’ve seen beautiful photos posted by my favorite Emirates ex-cabin crew, Ticha and I was so inspired to photograph this site! The cascade of beige stone houses that cling on the southern edge of the Plateau de Vaucluse, the 12th-century castle and church were especially photogenic under the soft morning light. It is also considered by many as the most beautiful village in France.
Some Pretty Random Stops for the Lavender FieldAlong the way, we managed to stop by a lavender field for some photos.
RoussillonRoussillon— this rustic, quaint village set on the world’s largest ochre rock of amazing ombré color, was the highlight of this trip.
Walking to the south end of the Village, you’ll start noticing the richly colored orange cliff. Walk further in until you are greeted by a small booth collecting entrance fees to the Ochre Trails (only 2.50 Euro). Given the limited time, we embarked on the shorter hiking trail called “The Ochre Path”, although I wished we had time to do the longer one. The hiking trail was pretty straightforward as it is well signposted, not over-demanding so it is great for family-outings. The sight along the trail is pretty spectacular, although beware that the walk includes many steps, dry sand or silica on rocks, which may cause you to slip. Hence, be careful. Put on your best walking shoes! However, I advise you against white shoes because the ochre does stain. There was a fountain near to the entrance right in front of the cemetery where we rinsed our orange-caked hands and feet. Jeanne took the chance to fill up our water bottles too!
- Get an Ochre Cola! Yea, it is a thing.
- Buy your crafty friend a box of natural pigments, I am sure he/she would appreciate it much!
- In terms of jaw-dropping views, you could probably find some of the best by taking on the longer trail, which you would end up at Chausse des Geants.
In Rousillon, the unexpected happened: we lost our way back to the minivan. Our bad sense of direction to be blamed! Luckily I kept the contact number of Provence Reservation and immediately called for help. Our tour guide, Jeremy came to our location to meet us and reunite us with the rest of the group. This experience was quite an embarrassing one but it managed to show me how efficient customer service of Provence Reservation could be.
BonnieuxOn the way to Bonnieux, we passed by one of the great Roman remains in the region, Pont Julien. I actually didn’t get a good look because I was so distracted by how orange my white shoes were at the moment and only lifted a glance when Jeremy pointed out the bridge to us. We had some free time in Bonnieux, this time, I was so focused on trying to memorize every turn I was absolutely sure that I looked silly. The windy narrow streets leading towards the 12th-century church were pretty confusing, I was glad the german guy in our tour group didn’t mind us staying close to him (side note: really nice guy). This perched village is situated on the Luberon promontory, this village offers exceptional view of the region from the church.
LacosteLacoste the hilltop village was an interesting photo stop where a chateau is perched on the very top. The view was stunning, my photos wouldn’t do it justice. The place is interestingly used as a college facility for art students, cheekily integrating modern art into the ancient setting. If you are going to hike, make sure to take a pair of good walking shoes with you and be prepared for the steep cobblestone streets on the way down (or up).
MenerbesAnother good book to read before your dream trip to Provence— by Peter Mayle. This book describes the expatriate’s life in Menerbes. This village is famous for truffles production, although we haven’t seen any on that particular day. What we did notice was how colorful and neat the doors and windows were. We ended our brilliant day trip with a wine-tasting session. We first had the chance to tour around a quirky corkscrew exhibition, walked through the barrel room then headed over to the counter for the tasting. 3 types of wine produced by the winery Le Domaine de la Citadel were presented, each one full of character.
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Thank You for Reading!
Miss Happy Feet was a guest of Vaucluse Tourism Board and Provence Reservation, however all photos and opinion are as always, my own.