Local Area Information
Local Area Information
The hamlet of Pont Royal dates back to the 13th century. Le Moulin de Vernègue (now a 5 star hotel, restaurant and spa located within the Domaine) was originally a grain mill for the Archbishop of Arles. The surrounding lands were used as hunting grounds by King René.
The village within the Domaine has restaurants, mini supermarket, gift shop, newsagent, tourist office, tapas & wine bar.
There are a number of sports activities available (payable locally to Pierre & Vacances) – Golf and Golf practice area, Driving range, Horse Riding, Bike Hire, Tennis, Pedal boats & Quad Bikes.
During the summer months there are twice weekly Provencal markets throughout the village. The numerous, colourful stalls offer all types of fresh food produce, gifts, clothing etc.
GOLF: The world renowned 18 hole championship course, designed by the late Seve Ballesteros, is a Par 72 and extends over 6,300 metres. It is one of the most highly rated in the South of France. A Masters event is hosted on the course in October with European Professionals and is open to the public. The excellent facilities include Pro Shop, Clubhouse, Bar and Restaurant which is open to non-members. A new 6 hole course with one par 4 extending over 930 metres and practice range of 260 metres with 42 mats (12 on an upper level) is less than 10 minute walk away. This course has a small clubhouse serving cold drinks and snacks.
Mallemort is a pleasant market town approximately 5 kms from the Domaine. The old village was built on a rocky spur to provide protection when the Durance burst its banks.
As you stroll around, you'll discover Mallemort's delightful narrow old streets, you can admire a beautiful 17th century house and an interesting 17th century church topped by a steeple and a spire.
In the Juiverie quarter you'll discover Roman remains as well as the ruins of the castle that once belonged to the bishops of Marseilles, from 1260 to 1789.
From the village you have a superb panoramic view of the agricultural plain and the Durance valley. You'll be able to spot the old 19th century suspension bridge, with its original wooden roadway (now closed to traffic due to its condition).
A new bridge has been built parallel to it so you can admire the old bridge along its entire length.
The Luberon is a massif of the Pre-Alps situated in Provence, straddling the departments of the Vaucluse and the Alpes de Haute Provence. The mountain range is located in the heart of the Regional Natural Park of the Luberon. Thanks to the many beautiful Provencal hilltop villages, spectacular countryside of vineyards and orchards, chateaux, historic monuments and festivals there is always something to do and see here. This area is also deservedly famous for its Provencal markets where you will find superb local produce, crafts, pottery and gift ideas.
The Luberon has numerous trails for walkers, hikers and cyclists of all abilities. The tourist office offers leaflets and guides for these trails. We also have details of many of our favourite trails in the villa available for guests' use.
Aix en Provence
This is a vibrant university city, full of shops, bars, restaurants and has a typical Provencal feel to it. It was the birthplace of Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne. A walking trail links sites including his childhood home, Jas de Bouffan, and his former studio, Atelier Cézanne. The white limestone mountain Sainte-Victoire overlooking the city as well as the surrounding countryside were frequent subjects of his works.There are daily markets, but by far, the best market day is Saturday, where there are stalls throughout the city's cobbled streets and main thoroughfares. The Cours Mirabeau is a wide thoroughfare, planted with double rows of plane trees, bordered by fine houses and decorated by fountains - the most idyllic place to have a coffee or drink while engaging in the French past time of people watching while soaking up the sun.
No list of Provence’s most beautiful towns could truly be complete without including Avignon, the region’s cultural hub. Having once been the center of the Christian religion, it overflows with stunning chapels and churches and is crowned by the gigantic Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), an architectural masterpiece. These historic buildings blend charmingly with the serene waters of the River Rhône and the famous medieval bridge, which has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was immortalized in the song Sur le Pont d’Avignon. Nowadays, the city is a focal point for culture and wine. The theatre and music festivals are world-renowned, while thousands of visitors flock to the Côtes du Rhône vineyards every year.
Formerly a nautical village, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is now a major attraction for antiques-lovers and anyone wishing to experience the scenery of a bygone time. It hosts vibrant traditional markets every Sunday and its yearly antiques fair is considered to be second only in the world to London’s. Over 450 dealers come laden with curiosities, making for hours of fascinating browsing for those who love learning about the art and fashions of the past. Even if the fair is not for you, you can explore the classic riverside cafés, the quaint clusters of shops, or the winding stretches of water with their historic boats, which have caused the town to be nicknamed The Venice of Provence.
Named as one of France’s Most Beautiful Villages, Gordes is a remote delight amidst the rugged landscapes of the Luberon Regional Nature Park. Cobbled streets and stone houses wind their way around a mountaintop, culminating in the majestic 16th-century château. The town has been home to several celebrated French painters, including André Lhote, Marc Chagall, Jean Deyrolle, Victor Vasarely and Pol Mara. With the sun-baked greenery and jagged rocks surrounding it, it is easy to see how it could provide inspiration. Highlights for visitors are the Pol Mara Museum, the ancient, preserved settlements known as Bories, and the joyful summer music festival.
Another Most Beautiful Village award winner, Lourmarin can be found nestled under the Luberon mountain range as it opens out into a lush valley. It is a real cross section of history, featuring a Neolithic cemetery, the remains of a Roman city, a grand Renaissance château, and quaint stone homes from various eras. Art lovers and bookworms alike can find much to interest them, as several galleries and the tombs of writers Albert Camus and Henri Bosco are located here. Food connoisseurs will be surrounded by temptation as one of France’s most prestigious chefs, Reine Sammut, runs a restaurant in an historic building just outside the town, and a plethora of traditional cafés and bistros are dotted around the centre.
Along with Gordes, Roussillon is the most popular destination for visitors in the Luberon area of Provence. Set at the top of a cliff on the world’s largest ochre vein, it offers an awe inspiring example of the beauty of this rust coloured rock, which is perfectly complemented by mountain vegetation and charming 17th and 18th century dwellings. The rugged panoramas have attracted a succession of artists over the years, meaning that the town now has an impressive art scene for its size. Its 15 galleries represent over 50 painters and sculptors. Tourists can also explore ochre through a variety of activities, such as cycling tours along the cliff and pigment-making workshops.
The small mountain community of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is a must see destination for art and history lovers. Not only does it have sun-warmed medieval walls, ornate fountains and one of the oldest ‘Arcs de Triomphe’ in the country (which has survived from Roman times) it can also claim to be the place that inspired some of Van Gogh’s most celebrated works. While living here as a patient of the local asylum, he produced The Starry Night; his famous Wheat Field series; numerous depictions of roses, irises and forest trees; and some haunting views of the hospital itself. It is also possible to visit the birthplace of another legendary town resident, the philosopher Nostradamus, and enjoy some excellent cuisine in the cosy cafés.
Marseilles is France's oldest city and provides the visitor with much to see and do. Stroll through the ancient neighbourhood of Le Pannier, settled over 2,600 years ago or take Le Petit Train up to Marseille's most iconic building, Cathedrale Notre Dame de la Garde. Dine at the vibrant Vieux-Port and watch yachts and fishing boats or take a boat trip in the turquoise waters of the Calanques National Park. The Park is named for its many calanques or narrrow inlets surrounded by steep-walled rocky promontories. You will stop at a number of hidden beaches only accessible by boat, with opportunities to swim, hike, or simply relax and take in the unique Mediterranean scenery.
Gorges du Verdon
Gorges du Verdon, the largest canyon in Europe, reaches depths of up to 2,200 feet (700m) and opens into Lac de Sainte Croix. It is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts offering a plethora of adventurous activities like hiking, kayaking, and rock climbing, just to name a few. For a more relaxed day, hire a pedal boat at the lake and travel up the gorge enjoying its beauty from the water.
Within the house, on the bookshelves you will find two files of information with maps of local towns, leaflets on nearby walks, details of markets and general information which may be useful to you. Please feel free to take the maps if you’re visiting a town for the first time but please replace in the file afterwards for other guests. There are tourist offices in most towns where you can get a “Plan de Ville” / street map.
If you would like any further information or have a question regarding a particular place or activity, please feel free to e-mail or call as there are just too many lovely places in the vicinity to list above.