The department of Vaucluse is the heart of inland Provence, offering all manner of outdoor pursuits to the visitor including climbing and hot air ballooning.
Throughout the summer the scent of lavender fills the air for walkers and cyclists passing through fields of amethyst en route to Mont Ventoux, and continues into Luberon’s hills and fertile valleys.
Alongside the lavender fields are vineyards for Cote du Luberon wine, and orchards around the crystallized fruit capital of Apt.
It’s worth the climb to hilltop villages such as Gordes, where the light has a magical quality and to wonder at Roussillon’s strange red ochre rocks rising out of dark green forests.
The Chateauneuf du Pape vineyards have many estates open to the public.
The capital, Avignon, the City of Popes, is brim full of museums, monuments and churches. Now listed as a fourteenth century World Heritage Site, Avignon holds regular markets and festivals, most famously the July Theatre Festival. Stroll through medieval streets to discover stylish boutiques, galleries and restaurants in Italianate squares, and don’t forget to visit the bridge made famous in the children’s song.
A trip to the Roman theatre and fine triumphal arch in Orange - both are mentioned on UNESCO’s World Heritage list - should be on the itinerary of everyone interested in Provence’s Roman heritage.
More ‘modern’ antiques can be found every weekend at L’Isle sur la Sorgue where over 350 dealers have permanent pitches around the canals. The large Provencal market here each Thursday and Sunday has a wonderful atmosphere and is the place to buy classic regional produce - black truffles, olive oil, scented herbs and tomatoes and local Cavaillon melons tasting of sunshine.