Northern Provence Must do's

Old Sep 5th, 2023, 07:37 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 162
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Northern Provence Must do's

Hello
We are holidaying in the Mount Ventoux region this year and are looking for any suggestions of things to see and do and places to eat. We have previously been to the more southern part of that area ie Aix en Provence, Luberon, Avignon, Uzes, Pont du Gard, St. Remy etc so are keen to explore the area around Orange. We are basing ourselves in a village in the heart of the wine producing villages (Sainte Cecile Les Vignes) and plan on doing a wine tour. One of our party in a keen cyclist and plans to do Ventoux from the 3 different starting points. We like walks and a couple of us love wild swimming in lakes and rivers so would love to know if there are any good spots to do that. And we love food and wine so any suggestions for places to eat would be welcome too!! Anything at all that you think might be of interest. Thanks so much.

CailinDeas is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2023, 10:09 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 251
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
It looks like you're interested primarily in outdoor activities like swimming and hiking, in which case I will be absolutely no help whatsoever. But I can suggest a couple of things you might enjoy on other days.

First, I think you've picked a wonderful spot to base in. St. Cecile is a lovely village well located for exploring this less crowded but very beautiful part of Provence.

The biggest market in the area is the one in Vaison on Tuesday mornings (parking is difficult, so get there early). The town itself is very much worth visiting, both the lower section, where the market (and the Roman ruins) are located and the medieval upper town, across the river, Lots of restaurants and a great cheese shop (Lou Canesteou, 10, rue Raspail). There are also lots of pretty small villages in the area, including the wine villages of Gigondas, Seguret, and Sablet, where we always stay; Le Barroux, which I love for its very photographable doors; and Le Crestet. Seguret in particular is a bit museum-y in feel; I don't think I've ever seen another person there, but it's been restored well and is gorgeous. It also has great views out toward Sablet over the vines.

Two particularly stunning drives: the D90 though the Dentelles de Montmirail and along the D40 through the Toulourenc Valley just opposite Mont Ventoux; you can visit the tiny village of Brantes, which is quite beautiful.

You could also head a bit north into the Drome Provencale, in particular, the villages of Nyons (famous for its olives), Le Poet-Laval (has a great restaurant, Les Hospitaliers, bit pricey but manageable for lunch), and Grignan, the site of the beautiful 18th-century chateau of Mme de Sevigne, which is open for visits. The Drome is hilly and the scenery is lovely (I'm running out of adjectives). There are a number of other villages worth stopping by also, including La Garde-Adhemar, and, to the west, La Rocque-sur-Ceze and Aigueze.

We haven't been to the area since 2018 (guess why), so I can't really recommend restaurants, altho there's one in Vaison that I know is still there--Les Maisons Du'O, which we loved. (caution: they've expanded and changed the menu, so I don't know about this new iteration).L'Oustalet is the gourmet restaurant in Gigondas; we never ate there, but it has an excellent reputation. Also in Gigondas, Du Verre a l'Assiette, just across the place from L'Oustalet, was always our go-to place for a casual lunch--excellent salades composees and lots of excellent Gigondas by the glass, all in a (I need a new adjective for beautiful) setting. There's a wine tasting room right across the place.

We've stayed in different parts of Provence over the years,and this is far and away my favorite. I hope you have a wonderful trip.
frenchaucoeur is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2023, 11:51 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 304
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If you visit Carpentras, Chez Serge restaurant is apparently still great. The Friday market is huge. Shuttle buses run from parking lots, if that gives you an idea.

Beaches, hm. The Cêze and Ardèche rivers do have them. Near Pierrelatte there is also Lac du Pignedoré. Only you know if swimming in any of these is worth the trip.
FTOttawa is online now  
Old Sep 5th, 2023, 01:22 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,480
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I second frenchaucoeur’s recommendations, we spent two weeks in Sarrians in 2018. Gigondas wines are excellent, the wine coop has an extensive selection. Just across from it is L’Oustalet, a Michelin star restaurant which you shouldn’t miss. The village is in a beautiful setting, the start of the circular drive round the Dentelles de Miromail. En route are Seguret, Sablet and Vaison la Romaine, all gorgeous little places.

Beaumes de Vénise and Vacqueras also have good wines and coops which do tastings, I preferred the latter’s wines.

Lots of hikes and trails, plus biking on Mont Ventoux, so you should find several activities to your liking. You’ll love your stay in the area and will definitely want to go back, just as we do!

geetika is online now  
Old Sep 5th, 2023, 02:42 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 162
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Oh wow!! I love all of those suggestions Frenchaucoeur. I'm putting them on the list!! We love exploring pretty villages and definitely plan to visit some markets so Vaison sounds like a good shout. May also check out Carpentras too and will put Chez Serge on the list too FTOttawa. Those swimming spots might work too. Have always enjoyed Vacqueras, Rasteau and Gigondas wines ar home so very much looking forward to trying a variety of them!! That drive sounds great too around the Dentelles Geetika. You have all got me buzzing to go now. Can't wait. Thank you all so much!
CailinDeas is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2023, 05:03 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 235
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hi CailinDeas - I will re-post part of what I wrote to you in August 2022, since the Cascades du Sautadet and WONDERFUL for wild swimming. It's a bit south of where you'll be, but I think it's definitely worth the trip. Here it is...

I was just in Provence for the month of June and I found some really great swimming spots! The most unusual was the Cascades du Sautadet, near La Roque-sur-Cèze. Really amazing. There are little waterfalls and various little swimming holes and people sunbathing on the rocks. I visited on a hot weekend so there were quite a few locals there. (It didn't seem there were any tourists there except for me!) But even then it was not super crowded, and I imagine a visit mid-week would be pretty low-key. Also it should be noted there is a big sign on the way in that it is a dangerous spot and swimming is forbidden (it says something like 31 people have died there since 1960!), but as I said there were lots of families there, and even the little ones were getting in. It was really fun! I've never had so many fish nibbling at my toes.


Another spot that you might already know about (since you've stayed at Isle-sur-la-Sorgue) is the nearby Le Partage des Eaux, which is within walking distance from the town and there's parking there as well. It's a great spot for swimming and a picnic, and there's even a relaxed little restaurant there where you could grab a snack if you don't want to bring your own food. Also there's of course swimming at the Pont du Gard, which makes for a memorable day.

Hope this helps. Bon Voyage!
LunaBella is offline  
Old Sep 5th, 2023, 09:54 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 24,264
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Les Hospitaliers, in le Poët Laval, has more than a good restaurant: it's also a fine hotel. Ask for an upstairs room, unless you prefer one right off the swimming pool. This is our favorite hotel anywhere in the world, especially at night when the lights gradually come on over the valley as you sit outside at the restaurant.
Underhill is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2023, 12:45 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 180
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We rented a home in Sainte-Cécile (for a year and a half) in between selling our house in Bédoin and buying a different house in a different region of France.

The Saturday morning market is excellent (center of town). If you stop in the Vival small supermarket in the heart of town, please say hello to Cathy & Giles from Lori. They are incredibly friendly.

The Bar (Café le Commerce) at the corner of Cours du Portalet and Ave Jean Jaurès is a great place for a beer or other refreshment. Le P'tit Grain is excellent for a coffee and pastry (they have a few tables outside on Cours du Portalet). The supermarket U Express will have all the provisions you should need and is very convenient (also has a gas station and laundry machines outside).

The restaurant CVG (Campagne, Vignes et Gourmandises) in Ste-Cécile, is excellent and depending upon your location in Ste-Cécile, you may be able to walk to it. https://www.restaurant-cvg.com/

There are many good restaurants in the region, but I can also recommend the nearby Côteaux et Fourchettes in Cairanne. https://www.coteauxetfourchettes.com/ And just across the street a touch is the Château la Courançonne (fantastic wines - I'm especially fond of their whites). And Domaine de la Presidente right in Ste-Cécile has excellent wines also. Again, depending upon where you are staying, you could walk to them. Of course if you plan to buy lots of bottles of wine, driving might be the better option. We would take a rolling shopping cart when we walked there.

I could go on and on but you are well placed and there will be SO much for you to enjoy.






1994 is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2023, 05:01 AM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 162
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by LunaBella
Hi CailinDeas - I will re-post part of what I wrote to you in August 2022, since the Cascades du Sautadet and WONDERFUL for wild swimming. It's a bit south of where you'll be, but I think it's definitely worth the trip. Here it is...

I was just in Provence for the month of June and I found some really great swimming spots! The most unusual was the Cascades du Sautadet, near La Roque-sur-Cèze. Really amazing. There are little waterfalls and various little swimming holes and people sunbathing on the rocks. I visited on a hot weekend so there were quite a few locals there. (It didn't seem there were any tourists there except for me!) But even then it was not super crowded, and I imagine a visit mid-week would be pretty low-key. Also it should be noted there is a big sign on the way in that it is a dangerous spot and swimming is forbidden (it says something like 31 people have died there since 1960!), but as I said there were lots of families there, and even the little ones were getting in. It was really fun! I've never had so many fish nibbling at my toes.


Another spot that you might already know about (since you've stayed at Isle-sur-la-Sorgue) is the nearby Le Partage des Eaux, which is within walking distance from the town and there's parking there as well. It's a great spot for swimming and a picnic, and there's even a relaxed little restaurant there where you could grab a snack if you don't want to bring your own food. Also there's of course swimming at the Pont du Gard, which makes for a memorable day.

Hope this helps. Bon Voyage!
HI LunaBella,
Thanks for reposting. I took your advice last year ( very remiss of me not to thank you afterwards- apologies) and we went to Cascades du Sautadet. What an absolutely stunning spot. There were not many people there and nobody was swimming but I did venture in in the part at the end with the pebbly shore where you can walk in. We weren't so lucky with the weather last September with the mistral making it really quite cool. The water was lovely but I felt like a bit of a rebel getting in with those signs though it was very shallow in the bit where I went in.
Thanks for reposting- weather looking quite hot this year so a revisit is a strong possibility.
Underhill that sounds like a great shout for food. Sadly we have a Gite rental so won't need hotel accommodation but it looks fab- perhaps I could pick a fight with the group and storm off and book myself into a hotel for a night!!
Delighted 1994 to hear that Ste Cecile is a good location form someone who knows it. I wasn't sure so I feel very reassured now. Fantastic to have some local knowledge. Thanks everyone.

CailinDeas is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2023, 09:33 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 251
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Another thought. Don't know whether you're interested and what your level of knowledge is, but we took a wine tour with Olivier Hickman (half-French, half-English, in case your French isn't fluent enough for a tour in French) that we really enjoyed. It was just us and one other couple. We have spent a fair amount of time in Burgundy and some time in the Loire valley, know a decent amount about wine, and really enjoy it, and we thought this might be a way to learn a bit more and just have a pleasant experience. Well, check and check. You seem to be pretty sophisticated about wine and perhaps this would be a waste of time for you, but if you think it might be fun check him out. I don't remember the first vineyard we visited, but the second was the Chateau de Nalys, in Chateauneuf du Pape, where we had a light lunch and very pleasant conversation. We've since had a few bottles of their wine at home, but it ain't the same!

https://www.wine-uncovered.com/
frenchaucoeur is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2023, 10:17 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 387
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Just to add, I had assumed you will go to Chateauneuf du Pape. I quite enjoyed Domaine Olivier Hillaire, a young winery with a different (and very good) expression of CdP. Enjoyed it so much I bought a case and gave them as gifts.

You may also check out the hiking in the Barronnies Regional Park. If you do go to Orange, the walk up the hill above the theatre is an important perspective.
gooster is offline  
Old Sep 6th, 2023, 11:50 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,480
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a fun day trip, the ruins of the château in the upper town are interesting. You can drive up there and explore then drive down to the town and multiple tasting rooms. Or park in town and walk up to the old château.

We did a tour at Beaucastel, probably one of the largest producers in the area. You can’t but anything there, but there’s a sales outlet in town, where you can sample the wines. We particularly liked Beaucastel, though we did a couple of other random tastings in town.


Château de Beaucastel
Chemin de Beaucastel
84350 Courthezon
geetika is online now  
Old Oct 2nd, 2023, 02:58 PM
  #13  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 162
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks so much everyone. Would you believe Frenchaucoeur that I had a tour booked with Olivier!!
Sadly my husband's mother was taken very ill just before we were due to leave and so we did not travel. She passed away 10 days later so while we were disappointed not to get our much needed break, we were so happy to have been able to be around during her final days- It really was precious. There will be other holidays. I'll definitely be referring back here for a return visit. We might have to give France a skip next year though as that was the 3rd trip to France that we have had to cancel due to pretty grim circumstances! We might have to fool the gods and fly to a different country and sneak over the border into france when they're not looking!!! Thanks again everyone.
CailinDeas is offline  
Old Oct 2nd, 2023, 04:45 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Sep 2019
Posts: 304
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Sincere condolences on your loss. Indeed, those last days are precious. You made the right decision.
FTOttawa is online now  
Old Oct 2nd, 2023, 06:11 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 622
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Condolences to you and your family. My mother is 93 and we are always concerned when we travel so far away. We thought long and hard before we travelled to France this year and it has been a concern the last few trips. She is a sprightly lady still living on her own, and tells us if we sit around waiting for something to happen, we are just getting older as well. But I was worried especially as we were away ten weeks.
It is lovely you had those last days with her.
rhon is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2023, 07:08 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 180
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I'm so sorry for your loss Cailin. At least you hadn't already begun your travel. Glad you were able to spend those days with her.

1994 is offline  
Old Oct 3rd, 2023, 07:26 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,480
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Condolences, both your husband and you will always be grateful you got to spend the last days with your mother-in-law. Provence isn’t going anywhere and there will always be other trips…
geetika is online now  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Manage Preferences - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell or Share My Personal Information -