On the road
Prefecture : Avignon.
Sub-prefectures : Apt, Carpentras.
Population : 555,000
Website : www.vaucluse.fr
Vaucluse comes from Latin Vallis Clausa, meaning closed valley. From the top of the Ventoux (1,912 m), to the hills of Luberon, from the plateau of Sault to the gorges of the Nesque, between the rivers of the Sorgues area and the scrubs fot he Mounts of Vaucluse, a varied natural universe opens up. The department, one the gardens of France and a heaven for aromatic plants, is home to some 1,500 vegetal species. In the same time, 545 monuments and cultural sites are listed as Historic Monuments and three on UNESCO's World Heritage list. Castles, churches, Roman theatres in Orange or Vaison-la-Romaine, perched villages (Gordes, Lourmarin) are also sites to see.
The smallest department in Provence is also proud of its products: muscat grape of the Ventoux , olive of Nyons, melon in Cavaillon, strawberries in Carpentras, cherry or truffle in the Mounts of Venasque. And of course its wines, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, Vacqueyras, Cairanne, Rasteau or Beaumes-de-Venise, are world famous. Avignon is famous for its theatre festival but also boasts nine star chefs.
In this department of about 550,000, four towns have a population of over 20,000 : Avignon, Orange, Carpentras et Cavaillon.
Population : 483,000
Prefecture : Valence
Sub-prefectures : Die, Nyons
Website : www.ladrome.fr
Mountainous in the Vercors and Devoluy, provençal to the South, busy and dynamic in the plains, in Valence, Romans or Montelimar, Drome is a summary of the whole Rhone-Alps region
Its industrial vocation – textile, aeronautics - is still vivid and adapts to the times while its agriculture retains its high standards, symbolised by its fine wines – Hermitage, Die clairette – its olive oil in Nyons or its truffles. For the tourist, the reasons to stop are plenty, from the Grignan castle, to the surrealistic Palace of Postman Cheval or the picturesque village of Mirmande. Yet nature is probably Drome's main asset, in the beautiful Vercors massif especially.
Prefecture : Gap
Subprefecture : Briancon
Population : 140,000
Website : www.hautes-alpes.net
Hautes-Alpes (High Alps) is the highest department in France in average. The Durance river is the backbone of its territory, on which live a population of 118,000. Isolated until the arrival of the train, the department has learnt through history to live on its own resources, which helped in hard times. It is a mainly farming area – forests, pastures, fruit, milk – but tourism has been developing quickly thanks to the ski resorts of Serre-Chevalier Vars, les Orres or Montgenevre and in the summer to the many campsites around the Serre-Poncon artificial lake.
Km 4 : Puymeras
Population : 650
The village appears on a hilltop, below the ruins of its castle. Small streets, stairs, lovely old houses, fountains and lavoirs compose the village, along with the belfry and the Romanesque church. The commune was for a long time under the domination of the Counts of Toulouse. Then it went by marriages and alliances to the Taulignan or Montauban families. Nowadays, with its AOC vineyards, its olive trees, its apricots and its forest, Piymeras is essentially rural. Three domains in Puymeras grow organic wine.
Website : www.mairiepuymeras.com
PACA is the third biggest region in France. Its population of nearly 5 million mainly live in or around its four major cities, Marseille, Nice, Toulon and Avignon. Comprising most of the South-East of France, it is bathed by the Mediterranean in the South and bordered by the Alps in the East.
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