Vaucluse and Mont Ventoux

No trip to the South East of France is complete without a visit to Vaucluse and Mont Ventoux, which stands an impressive1912 metres high. The many trails around the region will delight both mountain bikers and hikers. Road cyclists will know it as being the host to stages of the Tour de France on eight separate occasions. These stages have climaxed at the very peak of Mont Ventoux, after a 21km gruelling ascent up an average gradient of 7.5%. Those who cycle for fun like to challenge themselves to this climb, the average time being between two and three hours for an amateur. There is a memorial on the summit dedicated to Tom Simpson. He was a cyclist from the UK who, sadly, lost his life ascending the mountain during the 1967 Tour de France.

Avignon is the most notable town in the area and its famous bridge, which was immortalised in the children’s’ song, is one of the town’s main tourist attractions, despite there being very little left of it. You can walk on the remains and it makes for some great photo opportunities. Many 14th and 15th century popes resided at the Palais des Papes and the impressive building, full of furniture and art is open to visitors. The 12th century Gothic cathedral is a must see, and much of the ornate carvings can still be seen.

The architecture in the nearby town of Orange dates back to Roman times, and thirty years ago UNESCO designated the areas surrounding the theatre and arch as World Heritage Sites. An impressive display of all types of Roman artefacts can be seen in the town’s museum. One of main attractions at the museum are the giant maps which are etched into marble. They are the biggest ever found that have been made this way.