• Photo: Philip Lange / Shutterstock

Vaison-la-Romaine

In a river valley green with orchards of almonds and apricots, this ancient town thrives as a modern market center. The Provençal market on Tuesday is a major tourist draw (there is also a smaller organic farmers’ market on Thursday morning), as is the five-day food festival in early November. Yet it retains an irresistible Provençal charm, with medieval back streets, lively squares lined with cafés and, as its name implies, remains of its Roman past. Vaison’s well-established Celtic colony joined forces with Rome in the 2nd century BC and grew to powerful status in the empire’s glory days. No gargantuan monuments were raised, yet the luxurious villas surpassed those of Pompeii.

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