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Sunday, 2 October 2016

A Visit To Flassan, Vaucluse

A week in Flassan, Vaucluse

Jancis Robinson once summed up Provence aptly as a dusty, lavender-scented corner of France.

At the foot of Mont Ventoux, Flassan is geographically in Provence, even if oenologically in the Rhone.

If you live in the South East of England, the Channel Tunnel is only a couple of hours away, meaning that, with an early start, you can be in Calais for breakfast and Burgundy for a civilised stop-over by mid-afternoon.

A further day's driving - or continuing until late evening if you keep the stops brief - will get you to Provence with its a combination of guaranteed hot weather, rural location, hills and lots of wine-making.

Needing a family-friendly, one-week summer break, we rented a cottage in Flassan, Les Hirondelles, with a heated pool and table tennis in the back garden, plus football / basketball opposite and a tennis court nearby.

Flassan is no more than a village, just a few hundred ochre-coloured houses set around a small but neat central square with hills on one side and vineyards on the other.

The village shop is a source of freshly-baked bread and a few essentials, but a better stop for basics is the Carrefour in Bedouin or Intermarche in Sarrians if you are coming via the A7.


Of the two must-sees in the area, one is in full sight from Flassan itself - Mont Ventoux. The highest mountain in this part of France and a mecca for cyclists who do not so much disdain cars as not quite understand why they seem to be there, the views are spectacular.
Equally picture-postcard stunning are the Gorges de la Nesque, a winding road that hugs a dramatic hillside with plenty of view points. Start, if you can at the lower end in Villes-sur-Auzon and the drive becomes ever more dramatic as you climb before descending tothe medieval village of Monieux which is worth a stop-and-stroll.


A walk into and around Flassan takes no more than a few minutes; but head up the road from the town square and keep walking along the footpath that it leads to and there are view points along the D217, as well as plenty of vineyards to stroll through of an evening.


Good, inexpensive wine is plentiful in this part of France - €5 or €6 will get you a Gold Medal bottle of something local of pretty much any colour.
If you want to visit a winery, your options are almost overwhelming, with offers of caves-degustation-vente popping up on almost every country road.

If you have time for just one visit, I recommend local co-op Cellier Des Princes just off the A7 south of Orange in Courthezon whose wines are notable for their consistency and freshness.


To the south, Avignon was the home of the papacy for seven decades in the fourteenth century and has a bridge celebrated in song.

Even older is the Roman amphitheatre in Orange - the best preserved in the west and an easy half-day visit on the return journey if you a re breaking the drive up into a couple of days.
Other related articles
Cellier Des Princes Cellier Des Princes: Chateauneuf du Pape
Afternoon Tea With the MW Students
Domaine St Jacques, Cotes Du Rhone - 2014
La Princesse IGP Vaucluse 2015

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