Vaucluse: tourism and sightseeing
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The Vaucluse department of Provence is the ideal destination if you enjoy visiting traditional Provencal villages perched on craggy hilltops and important historical sites such as Avignon and Orange, set in impressive natural scenery.
The Vaucluse department of France is situated in north-west Provence and includes numerous attractions for visitors.
Among the popular highlights are the lovely villages in the Luberon region to the south, the lavender fields of the Drome-Provencal to the east, the towns of Avignon and Orange to the west, and Mont Ventoux to the north.
The most visited areas in the Vaucluse are the towns of Orange and Avignon to the west and the villages of the Luberon to the south, and these are a good place to start if this is your first visit to Vaucluse. Cyclists visit the mythical climb up Mont Ventoux in large numbers!
To help you plan your visit we have grouped the principal highlights and places to visit in Vaucluse by region.
Vaucluse: north and east
From many places in the north-east of the Vaucluse you can see the landmark mountain of Provence at Mont Ventoux. The top of the mountain has an exposed landscape with extensive views.
Cycling Mont Ventoux: Mont Ventoux is best known as being a very popular mountain ascent during the Tour de France and as a result it is a mecca for cyclists from all over the world. The mountain can be climbed by bike from either Bedoin or Malaucene, about 22 kilometres at an average gradient of 7.6%. That is, very challenging!
To the south of Mont Ventoux you can explore the dramatic rocky landscape of the Dentelles de Montmirail, always popular with hikers and perhaps explored from Seguret, listed as one of the 'most beautiful villages in France'.
Another attractive town close to here is Le Barroux, the village dominated by a medieval castle, while the village of Beaumes-de-Venise at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail is a pleasant village with a good reputation for producing the local muscat wine.
The north-east Vaucluse is also referred to as the Drome-Provencal region, best known for its beautiful lavender fields which are a very beautiful sight in late May and early June.
We have a photo gallery of Provencal lavender fields that shows why they are so popular!
These can be seen across much of the area between the attractive town of Vaison la Romaine and Sault, towards the eastern edge of the department. Close to Vaison-la-Romaine we also enjoyed a stroll around the small and very quiet perched village of Puymeras.
South-west of Sault visit Monieux then take a drive along the Gorges de la Nesque, with sheer cliffs and steep slopes in one of the scenic highlights of the vaucluse department.
Vaucluse: west and central
Towards the centre of Vaucluse the landscape remains picturesque, and the two most important towns in the department are also to be found:
- To the west of Vaucluse the bustling city and important regional centre of Avignon is an unmissable highlight of your visit, to see the grand Pope's Palace (one of the most impressive buildings in France) and the famous bridge (as in the nursery rhyme 'Sur le pont d'Avignon'), as well as the busy historical centre.
- To the north of Avignon at Orange there are important Roman ruins, including a Roman theatre which is one of the most complete to be found anywhere in the world.
Between Carpentras and Pernes-les-Fontaines take a short detour to see Monteux which preserves part of a medieval castle and the defensive walls to enter the town as well as several other historic monuments.
The villages in and around the Luberon Regional Natural Park attract visitors from all over the world, due to their unspoiled traditional character and the stunning landscapes around the villages.
There are lots of these so-called 'perched' (hilltop) villages across the region including several that are classified as 'most beautiful villages of France' each with their own special attraction and characteristics.
There is so much of interest here that we have a separate travel guide that gives lots more details of the many attractions and places to visit in this exceptional region. See Luberon travel guide.
Almost all the villages are well worth visiting and typically they are quite close together so we haven't tried to select or recommend our personal 'favourites'!
Also close by are Menerbes, Oppede-le-Vieux and Lourmarin, while close to Lourmarin you can explore the the small villages of Ansouis, Grambois and Cucuron. Other pretty villages of particular interest in the 'petit Luberon' include Bonnieux and Lacoste.
From Gordes be sure to take the short detour to see the picturesque Senanque Abbey in a quiet valley surrounded by lavender fields, and also to visit the 'village des bories', an entire small village of traditional small huts and museum celebrating local traditions.
After exploring the Luberon, towards the east of the Vaucluse department you can visit the town of Apt. We also recommend a visit to the village of Saint-Saturnin-les-Apt a few kilometres to the north of Apt.
Map of places to visit near Vaucluse
See more places, tourist attractions and local markets at visiting Vaucluse
See an index of all Vaucluse communes
French version: Vaucluse (Francais)