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CIRCUIT 5 – VAUCLUSE

L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

Over the past forty years, the flea market has forged the identity of the city. It is the third European hub for the antiques trade (more than 350 antique and second-hand dealers spread over 7 villages) after Saint-Ouen (Paris) and London. The city is also nicknamed “the Comtadine Venice” because the river Sorgue and its canals cross and criss-cross the city. Superb colourful market on Sunday morning. In addition to the antique dealers, Isle Sur Sorgues is worth a visit for its dawn wheels, its tiny waterfalls, its restaurants and bars on the river banks, its galleries and art centre, its characterful shops, its lush vegetation along the river.

Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

It is in the village of Fontaine de Vaucluse that the source of the Sorgue River is located. An enchanting site that never stops intriguing and attracting visitors. Since antiquity, the site has been visited extensively. At the end of a deep green gorge, at the foot of a huge cliff sculpted by erosion (230 m high), the river ”la Sorgue” gushes out of an underground abyss a few hundred metres from the village. With a flow of 630 million m3 per year, this source is the first in Europe, and one of the largest in the world by its volume of water flow. It results from the emergence of a huge underground network. At the end of the 19th century, the first attempt was made to plunge into the drowned chasm of the Sorgue in the form of a vertical tunnel 308 m deep (reached in 1985). More than a century of explorations has led to a better understanding of the mystery of how it works. The water comes from the emergence of an immense underground network of rainwater and snowmelt from a very vast region (1240km2). A very pleasant walk from the village to the spring along the sorgue, peaceful in summer and winter, bubbling and impetuous in spring and autumn, with many bars, restaurants, shops, craftsmen  along the way.  

Gordes

One of the most beautiful villages in France and one of the most visited in the region. Clinging to a rocky promontory, Gordes overlooks the plain and the valley offering a breathtaking view of the Luberon mountain. The village grew from the 11th century around the fortified castle to become a real fortress protected by ramparts in the troubled times of the Middle Ages. During the renaissance the castle was redesigned and enlarged. At the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century the population declines following great upheavals: Earthquakes, diseases , a weakening of agriculture, the war of 14-18. It is only from the 1950’s that the village is revitalized, helped by a multitude of artists who settle there seduced by the beauty of the place. In addition to strolling through the small cobbled streets with donkeysteps (low and long steps that made it easier for the donkeys to walk) to admire the buildings and the panorama. There are several places to visit in Gordes and its surroundings, so you will have to make choices :

-The cellars of the Saint Firmin palace, a mysterious and bewitching place under the village (paying visit)

-The castle, more than 1000 years old (paying visit)

– Near Gordes, the Abbey of Sénanque, a Cistercian monastery since 1148, still inhabited by a community of monks. Lavender has been cultivated here since the end of the 1960s. (paying and guided visit)

– 4 km from Gordes, Le village des Bories (entrance fee). Restored towards the end of the 60s and classified as a historical monument in 1977.  The village was built at the beginning of the 17th century by piling up loose stones (without cement, lime or earth) extracted from the ground during the conquest of new land to cultivate in order to compensate for population growth and avoid famine. As a result, thousands of tons of limestone were used to build multiple constructions such as walls, terraces, enclosures, etc… and these houses (the bories) were used as temporary housing: as a refuge for shepherds and shelters for peasants. All these constructions contributed to the identity of the landscape of the region.

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