Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Encore Provence; part 3. Villages nearby to Sablet

Nearby to Sablet are towns such as Beaumes de Venise, Vaison la Romain with its Roman ruins and lovely Roman bridge, Malaucene where we visited a market, Seguret which requires a walk from a lower parking lot for visitors and seemed to be totally closed when we arrived and pretty Gigondas with a number of lovely restaurants and cafes in a plane tree lined square. Nearby, the gorgeous old church of Notre Dame sits among the vineyards.

Beaumes de Venise was setting up for a bicycle race the next day, from Beaumes up Mt Ventoux (more of which later) so lots of bicyclists in town and they were even cleaning the town fountain. The wine made here is a naturally sweet wine, one of only two in the area, and the one you are most likely to be served if you ask for a dessert wine in France, excluding the very expensive Sauternes of course.

Church, Beaumes de Venise

Restaurants under the plane trees in Gigondas

Pretty Gigondas
The Dentelles behind neat rows of vines
Yellow house, Beaumes de Venise
Old church in the vines, Notre dame d’Aubune
House backed by the Dentelles
New wine in the making

The other mountains of note in the area, apart from Mt Ventoux, is the Dentelles, the French name for lace (but also for teeth), seen above.

We went to Seguret for lunch at a recommended restaurant, neglecting to check the days of closure. Alas, closed for lunch, as was most of the rest of the village. Incredibly picturesque, but the inhabitants seem to survive on this one tea room. We didn’t find a shop anywhere. Sometimes the old towns become residential only and the new towns with easier access become places of business.

Fountain, Seguret
Church tower, Suzettevaison-bridge
Old Roman bridge, Vaison-la-Romaine
Part of the extensive Roman remains at Vaison
Roses and chairs at the tea rooms
The lavoir at Malalucene
Clocher and bell at Vaison

In Vaison, a disastrous flood in 1992 covered this bridge by about two feet and 30 residents of the town died. No one expected that a town so well protected by its deep walls for the river could possibly flood. The bridge survived intact.

In Suzette we found a sweet restaurant with a view out over the vineyards and lunched well. The English  bicyclists also eating there had stories to tell of cycling up the three routes of Mt Ventoux in one day and the previous day cycling up to be hit by hail and rain, their gloves and goggles covered in ice. Otherwise, they seemed quite sane.

Next post, Mt Ventoux itself.

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