Lovely view of Mont Ventoux through a lavender field
Here are some ideas - in no particular order - for day trips from Le Bijou to explore the area. We have never been disappointed exploring a new town, having a leisurely lunch or driving around taking in the sights.
The scenic town of Gordes is situated on the edge of the plateau of the Vaucluse. It was featured in the film A Good Year as well as Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence. The Cistercian Abbey of Senanque is close by, making a visit to both an easy day trip.
The ruins of the château of the Marquis de Sade are found in Lacoste, atop a hill facing the charming village of Bonnieux. Enjoy the panoramic views from both villages, well worth the rather steep climbs twisting through the streets which are lined with ancient, restored buildings.
The village of Lourmarin is found amidst olive groves and vineyards. It was home to Albert Camus who is buried there. This is a typical Mediterranean town, with shopping and dining options. There is also a castle to visit. It's a very scenic drive through a gorge from Bonnieux.
Mont Ventoux looms over the Vaucluse. It is a legendary stage on the Tour de France. As you drive up the mountain - the average grade on the route leaving the town of Bedoin is nearly 8% - you will wonder how cyclists can make it. You are likely to see plenty, as they challenge Mont Ventoux regularly.
At the Fontaine de Vaucluse is the source of the Sorgue and one of the most visited places in the region. Visit in the morning to beat the crowds. The spring flows from a 230m cliff, visited via a walkway. To this day the source of this forceful spring is a mystery. There is an excellent museum of the French Résistance in WW II.
Arles is 35 km south of Avignon. If you have an interest in Roman artifacts, you will want to visit. There is an amphitheater, baths and a museum. Van Gogh and Gaugin were residents at one time.
The Palais des Papes (Pope?s Palace) in Avignon is a massive testament to the wealth and power of the Catholic Church in the14th century. The Pont d'Avignon, or Pont de St. Benezet, is the famous bridge that does not reach the other side of the river. Avignon is the largest city in the area and the central part of the town is still within the protective walls.
Gigondas, Châteauneuf du Pape, Vacqueyras and other vineyards of the southern Rhône valley are a short drive from L'Isle sur la Sorgue.
Pernes le Fontaines is a short drive from Le Bijou. There are 40 fountains dispersed throughout the town, hence the name. From the Ferrande tower, experience a spectacular view of the area and Mont Ventoux. If climbing to the top of the tower is not for you, there is a nice park and shaded walkway. We have often taken the short drive to this village for lunch and a stroll.
The perched village of Gordes