Market days are a great way to experience the villages of France. Below are the market days for some local villages.
- PIERRELATTE Friday
- UZES Saturday
- PONT ST.ESPIRIT Saturday
- VAISON LA ROMAINE Tuesday
- ISLE-SUR-LA-SORGUE Sunday
- ORANGE Thursday
- AVIGNON Wednesday
Southern France offers endless sightseeing opportunities. Unless you’re intending to stay for months, the main problem with the south of France is choosing where to go. Within 30 to 60 minutes’ drive, there is a choice of the Papal city of Avignon, with its fantastic summer festival and chic shops, the Roman towns of Vaison-la-Romaine (which has the best Provençal market in the region on Tuesday mornings), and Orange, all of which have historic sites, Roman ruins and ancient theatres where a plethora of music festivals are staged throughout the summer months.
The pretty town of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a haven of antique dealers and brocante shops. Close to Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is the small village of Fontaine du Vaucluse that hosts an impressive spring which flows out of a 230 m high cliff.
Along the seacoast is the French Riviera and the ports of Marseille,Toulon and the pretty little seaside village of Cassis. Cassis is a good place to relax, have a provençal meal, people watch and take in the amazing scenery, or do something more seaworthy and take sailing lessons, go windsurfing or catch a tour ferry to the nearby famous Calanques. The Calanques are deep narrow inlets, sort of Provençal fiords, in the rocky cliffs along the coast between Cassis and Marseilles. The long narrow inlets in the high white rocks are truly impressive, some with tiny harbors or beaches at the ends, and rock climbers scaling the walls along the sides. They’ve provided safe haven for sailors during storms for millennia, and today the clear blue-green waters are even more popular in good weather.
Heading south to the sea, are the lesser known, but quite lovely, seaside fortress town of Aigues-Mortes and Stes Maries de la Mer, known for its black Madonna.
Some of the world’s most famous wine labels come from this region, including Chateauneuf-du-Pape, Tavel, and Gigondas. The area around Pierrelatte contains some of the oldest vineyards in France—indeed the heyday of some of the Rhône Valley wines was 2,000 years ago, around the time of the Roman conquest of France.
Next to Provence is the region named, the Gard; also rich in history and beauty and a reasonable drive from Pierrelatte. On the border between Provence and Languedoc, the name of NÎMES is inescapably linked to two things—denim and Rome. The latter’s influence is highly visible in some of the most extensive Roman remains in Europe, while the former (de Nîmes), equally visible on the backsides of the populace, was first manufactured in the city’s textile mills, and exported to the southern USA in the nineteenth century to clothe slaves. Some twenty kilometers from Nimes, is the magnificent Pont du Gard. It is the greatest surviving stretch of a fifty-kilometer-long aqueduct built by the Romans in the middle of the first century to supply fresh water to the city. Is is a supreme piece of engineering, a brilliant combination of function and aesthetics.
Near Nimes and Avignon is the medieval, elegant city of Uzes. Under the arcades of the Place aux Herbes and along the neighboring streets a market takes places every Saturday whose reputation has for a long time stretched beyond the region.
For nature lovers, the flamingo-filled lagoons of the Camargue must be experienced. The spectacular canyons of the Ardèche and Verdon rivers are a geological perfection, ideal for canoeing, and hiking. The wild countryside of the Drome with its lavender fields is magnificent.
The entire area abounds with flower fields, vineyards, orchards, and olive and mulberry groves and lavender fields.
In short, it is not possible to describe the endless array of things to do and places to go. One must simply go and experience, if only for a short time, the beautiful scenery, magnificent ruins, and fabulous food and wine of southern France.
Links to Local Villages and Shops
- PIERRELATTE www.office-tourisme-pierrelatte.com
- 152 BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES www.les-plus-beaux-villages-de-france.org
- AIGUEZE www.france-for-visitors.com/provence/orange/index.html
- ARDECHE GORGE www.experienceardeche.com | www.ardeche-guide.com
- ARLES www.tourisme.ville-arles.fr
- AVIGNON www.ot-avignon.fr | www.avignon-tourisme.com
- BORG ST ANDEOL www.france-for-visitors.com/provence/orange/index.html
- CASSIS www.beyond.fr/villages/cassis.html
- CHATEAUNEUF DE PAPE www.provence-hideaway.com/242.html
- DIEULEFIT www.provenceweb.fr/e/drome-provencale/dieulefit/dieulefit.htm
- GRIGNON www.provenceweb.fr/e/drome-provencale/grignan/grignan.htm
- GORDES www.gordes-village.com
- LES BAUX DE PROVENCE www.chateau-baux-provence.com
- L’ISLE SUR LA SORGUE www.provence-hideaway.com/242.html
- LA GARDE ADEHMAR www.la-garde-adhemar-ot.com
- LE POET-LEVAL www.provenceweb.fr/e/drome-provencale/poet-laval/poet-laval.htm
- NIMES www.nimes-romaine.com
- ORANGE www.otorange.fr
- PONT DU GARD www.pontdugard.fr
- ST PAUL TROIS CHATEAUX www.france-voyage.com/towns/saint-paul-trois-chateaux-7550.htm
- ST REMY DE PROVENCE www.saintremy-de-provence.com
- SUZE LA ROUSSE www.mairie-suze-la-rousse.fr
- UZES www.uzes-tourisme.com
- VAISON LA ROMAINE www.france-for-visitors.com/provence/orange/index.html