13 must-see things to do in Vaucluse

Avignon

Your stay in Provence is approaching. Discover the must-see sites in Vaucluse!

There’s never a dull moment in the Vaucluse! From historic monuments and picturesque villages to Roman ruins, magnificent and varied landscapes, vineyards and sporting activities, you’ll be spoilt for choice. We’ve put together a selection of the most beautiful places to visit in the Vaucluse!

1. Mont Ventoux

Le Mont Ventoux

Photo credit: Shutterstock – A.Basler

An absolute must-see when visiting the Vaucluse region, Mont Ventoux is a majestic peak rising to 1,910 metres. Its limestone, pebbly summit is tormented by the wind, particularly the Mistral, sometimes reaching record speeds.

But once you’ve reached the end of the road, take the observatory road (D974) to admire the breathtaking view over the entire valley. It’s also very popular with cyclists, as the ascent of the Col is both a challenge and a legendary climb, as a stage in the Tour de France. But you can also climb it on foot and discover the local flora and fauna, as well as the biosphere reserve.

2. The ancient theater of Orange

Le théâtre antique d'Orange

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Luca Quadrio

What to do in the Vaucluse when you’re in Orange? A visit to the magnificent ancient theater is an absolute must. This imposing monument is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dating from the 1st century BC, it is the best-preserved ancient theater in Europe. The jewel of the city, it is a magnificent legacy of Imperial Rome. Its imposing stage wall is particularly well preserved.

From the terraces on the hillside, you can enjoy a wide range of shows and concerts, particularly during the « Chorégies ». A visit to this exceptional monument should be complemented by a visit to the Museum of Art and History just opposite.

3. Avignon

Avignon is one of the must-sees in the Vaucluse region. Discover the city’s heritage and gems! There are many sites to see, including :

Popes’ Palace

Palais des Papes

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Magnificent 14th-century Gothic palace, former fortress and palace of the popes, one of France’s most visited monuments.

Pont d’Avignon or Pont Saint-Bénézet

Pont Avignon

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The famous Pont d’Avignon. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, it has been partly destroyed, and only 4 of the original 22 arches remain.

Notre-Dame-des-Doms Cathedral

Notre Dame des Doms

Photo credit: Flickr – Barry Cunningham

A historic monument dating back to the 12th, 14th and 17th centuries, it is adjacent to the Palais des Papes. You can admire the beautiful facade and bell tower, topped by a gilded Virgin Mary.

Petit Palais Museum

Musée du Petit Palais

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It is a Unesco World Heritage Site, where you can admire some very fine Italian paintings.

Avignon Festival

Festival Avignon

Photo credit: Flickr – _jaime1

World-famous annual festival, created in 1947. It’s a cultural event not to be missed in Avignon.

4. Colorado Provençal

Colorado Provençal

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Richard Semik

Exploring the Colorado Provençal is an outdoor activity to be enjoyed in the Vaucluse. The landscapes and colors of the site will not leave you indifferent. Located in the commune of Rustrel, this historic monument is a former ochre quarry. Remains of the quarrying process, such as old pipes and wagons, can still be seen.

The tours on offer take in the most beautiful viewpoints, geology, fairy chimneys and the warm colors typical of the site. The Sahara circuit is fairly easy and provides a wonderful change of scenery. As for the Belvederes circuit, it’s a little more difficult, but a must for the panorama and commanding views.

5. Luberon’s most beautiful villages and castles

Gordes

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The Luberon is a very touristy region, straddling two départements, Vaucluse and Alpes de Haute-Provence. Some villages are veritable jewels, sometimes embellished by a château. Such is the case of Lourmarin, one ofFrance’s prettiest villages, with a magnificent Renaissance château.

Albert Camus and Henri Bosco are also buried in the cemetery. This is a typical Provence village, with a medieval and Renaissance château. You can also visit the Sénanque Abbey in the Gordes commune.

Ansouis is still a beautiful village. Its château, complete with keep and formal gardens, dominates the valley. Other villages worth a visit include La-Tour-d’Aigues, Lacoste, Ménerbes, Lauris…

6. Lavender fields

visiter le Vaucluse Champs de Lavande

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Gordon Bell

Lavender fields are emblematic of southeastern France and Provence. Generally speaking, lavender is in flower from mid-June to early August (although this may vary slightly depending on the weather). A colorful and fragrant itinerary in the footsteps of this plant is waiting to be explored in the Vaucluse. You’ll be able to take some wonderful photos and be enchanted by the plant’s distinctive fragrance.

The Abbaye de Sénanque in Gordes, where Cistercian monks cultivate it, is one of the sites where it can be seen. You can also admire the fields in flower at Sault, near the Plateau d’Albion. Every year on August 15, the lavender festival is held there. And to round off your visit, stop off at the lavender museum in Coustellet. And don’t forget to visit the distilleries in the Vaucluse region, which are open to the public.

7. Sénanque Abbey

L'Abbaye de Sénanque

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The Abbey of Sénanque, founded in 1148, is located in the commune of Gordes. It is still occupied by Cistercian monks, who cultivate lavender, olive trees and beehives on their land. This farming activity, along with tours, a small store and the monastic guesthouse, provides them with an income that helps them maintain and restore the building.

You can visit part of the Romanesque abbey, including the cloister and the former dormitory. If you need to cut yourself off from everyday life and take a spiritual retreat, this is the experience for you in the Vaucluse. You can stay for up to 8 days at Sénanque Abbey.

8. Gorges de la Nesque

visiter le Vaucluse Gorges de Nesque

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Sylvie Lebchek

Would you like to visit the Vaucluse and discover its most beautiful landscapes? Then head for the Gorges de la Nesque! A picturesque road winding through the canyon between Monieux and Villes-sur-Auzon. Stop off for a panoramic view at the Castellaras belvedere.

Then, if you like walking, follow the path to the 12th-century Romanesque chapel of Saint-Michel-de-Anesca (accessible only on foot). Archaeology enthusiasts will want to explore the Neanderthal shelters. It’s also possible to make a loop through the Nesque gorges, then Méthamis, for a pleasant ride by car or even by bike.

9. Vaison-la-Romaine

visiter le Vaucluse Vaison La Romaine

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Vaison-la-Romaine is a must-visit town in the Vaucluse region. A veritable jewel in the region’s crown, it boasts some of the finest Roman remains in the world. History, architecture and archaeology enthusiasts can contemplate an ancient town, a medieval town and a more modern town.

It is renowned for its archaeological remains at the Puymin and Villasse sites. Not to mention its Roman arch bridge. In the upper town, an ancient medieval city, other monuments include the Romanesque Notre-Dame de Nazareth cathedral, cloister and chapel.

The upper town, dominated by the 12th/16th-century castle, offers a magnificent panoramic view. For a more in-depth look at the town’s history, visit the Théo Desplans archaeological museum. Built on the banks of the Ouveze river, Vaison-la-Romaine is also at the foot of two of the region’s natural beauties, Mont Ventoux and the Dentelles de Montmirail.

Other Roman remains in Vaucluse

Other attractions include the Arc de Triomphe, the Roman bridge at Bonnieux and the Roman garden and pool at Caumont-sur-Durance.

10. Luberon Regional Nature Park

Parc Naturel Régional Luberon

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The Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon is a protected area covering 185,000 hectares straddling two départements, Vaucluse and Alpes de Haute-Provence. The site is home to many animal species, as well as interesting geology and plant life.

In fact, it has been classified as a Biosphere Reserve by Unesco. The highest peak is the Mourre Nègre, at 1,125 metres above sea level. Hiking enthusiasts will find plenty to do in the Vaucluse region, particularly in the Parc Naturel Régional du Luberon. A number of trails lead to the famous summit, offering 360° panoramic views. Cyclists can follow the « Autour du Luberon à vélo » tourist trail.

Horseback riding, donkey rides, water sports and guided tours of picturesque villages are also available.

11. The village of Les Bories

visiter le Vaucluse Village Bories

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Roen

The village of Les Bories in Gordes is a Monument Historique, a jewel of the region, and a must-see in the Vaucluse. It’s a group of bories, also known as « cabanes », stone constructions typical of the region.

This village or hamlet, in the heart of the Luberon, is part of the local heritage. Most of the buildings date from the 17th & 18th centuries, and served as temporary housing for seasonal field workers. They were built from local limestone and assembled without mortar.

Their structure and distribution also vary according to their function. You can see workers’ lodgings, sheepfolds, bread ovens, enclosures, walls…

12. The Dentelles de Montmirail

visiter le Vaucluse Dentelle Montmirail

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Kamilalala

For outdoor enthusiasts, there’s the Dentelles de Montmirail massif. If you’re a sporty type, there are some great places to go in the Vaucluse and in this massif, especially for climbing, hiking and mountain biking.

Indeed, the Dentelles de Montmirail offer magnificent panoramic views and steep cliffs. Erosion has sculpted the landscape and these mountains. Their Latin name « Mons Mirabilis » means « admirable mountain », and it’s true that the site is a thing of beauty. The highest peak is the Crête Saint-Amand (730 m).

At the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail, the valley is home to Mediterranean vegetation and prestigious vineyards.

13. Vaucluse vineyards

visiter le Vaucluse Vignoble Vaucluse

Photo credit: Shutterstock – Oleg Znamenskiy

Vaucluse is a department in the south of France, with a sunny climate ideal for vineyards. Wine lovers will be delighted with a visit to the Vaucluse vineyards and wine tasting. The vineyards boast several Appellations d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC): Côtes du Luberon, Ventoux and Rhône.

But above all, world-famous grands crus, such as Gigondas, Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Vacqueyras. Viticulture is very important in the Vaucluse, constituting one of the main agricultural activities. It’s possible to take a tour of the estates open to visitors for wine tasting and purchase of fine wines.

How to get to Vaucluse

Would you like to visit the Vaucluse and its most beautiful sites? The department is easy to get to:

  • By plane: the nearest airport with the most destinations is Marseille-Provence airport. The Skyscanner comparator will help you find the best fares according to your travel dates;
  • By train: several direct TGV lines serve Avignon station, and you can get off at any of the SNCF stations in the main towns;
  • Buses: several routes link the main towns in the Vaucluse region;
  • Car: Marseille is about an hour’s drive and Lyon two hours. If you don’t have your own car, you can also rent one. You can also carpool.

Where to stay in Vaucluse?

Whatever your budget and the type of comfort you’re looking for, you’re sure to find the right accommodation in Vaucluse. It’s up to you to decide whether you prefer to live in the city, to enjoy the lively atmosphere of the south and be as close as possible to all amenities.

Or if you prefer the peace and quiet of the countryside and are just a stone’s throw from the great outdoors. It’s up to you to choose between hotels, Airbnb accommodation, camping, youth hostels, residences & vacation villages… A hotel comparator will help you find the best accommodation to suit your needs and budget.

Map of hotels and accommodation – Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur