May 17-19 2007: Mini-Vacation in Provence

Among the many benefits we love about living in Biot in the Cote d'Azur is how close we are by car or plane to so many incredible places. The possibilities are endless. This weekend we traveled by car to Provence. This time we chose Orange, Vaison la Romaine, Chateauneuf du Pape and Mount Ventoux where we indulged in our passions for archaeology, wine tasting and natural wonders.



John and I hopped in the car at 10:30 am and by lunchtime we were in Orange for lunch. Orange, 20 minutes north of Avignon, is famous for its Roman Theater built around 1 ad. It is the only remaining ancient Roman Theatre in Europe with the wall intact making for astounding acoustics. In fact today it is the site for many a show with top artists.

Crillon le Brave and Mount Ventoux

After Orange, John and took off for our hotel in the foothills of Mount Ventoux in an unbelievably charming and small village and hotel called "Crillon le Brave." The accommodations are listed in "1001 Places to go Before You Die" a book given to me by my dear friend René Rodman and we are glad we made it this place of rustic elegance with superior service. We highly recommend it as a base to explore the region.

Vaison la Romaine

This town was popular with the retired Roman military and is today popular with Parisians' for second homes. Archaeologically, it boasts some nicely excavated villas, a bridge and a museum. There is an upper medieval village but we concentrated on the lower regions where the Romans had settled. As usual one can see evidence of the sophisticated water systems that gave Roman's such a good standard of living wherever they colonized. Since in France the site closed down at lunchtime we had one of our more memorable French meals at a restaurant called "Le Brin d'Olivier."

Seguret and the Dentelles of Montmirial

The drive back to our hotel from Vaison la Romaine features many charming wine villages. We chose to stop by Seguret a medieval village based on the top of a hill with narrow winding streets and fortified with narrow gates leading to and from the village. The village had a cozy and communal feeling with many communal basins and water sources. Of all the little villages I have visited and once stayed in, (6 months in college at nearby Lacoste with pop. 100) this one, with all its basins and water, gave me the strongest impression of community.

Chateuneuf du Pape

Reading that 2005 was a stellar year for the region's wine I wanted to load up our car before our return home. The two vineyards I wanted to go to: Vieux Donjon and Rayas are closed on weekends so always call ahead or you might be disappointed! Unfortunately only the 2005 whites have been released so far but we were able to do some tasting at "Le Verges des Papes" located near the Pope's Chateau which is now in ruins.

Provence 2007 - Orange - Mt. Ventoux - Vaison la Romaine - Seguret - Chateuneuf - Coker Family Home