If you're talking Provence, you're probably talking about the Vaucluse département. Artists are drawn to the hilltop villages of Provence, in particular Gordes and Bonnieux. The surrealistic landscape of the ochre quarries near Roussillon and the glowing hues of this natural pigment give us many colourful and picturesque towns and villages. The bell-towers (known as les clochettes du Seigneur) are very distinctive in this part of France. Made out of wrought iron, their cage-like structure protects the bell from the destructive force of the Mistral. Bories, stone-built structures dating from the Middle Ages, exist all over France, but near Gordes stands the Village des Bories, consisting of about twenty of these primitive shelters.
Orange, noted for its Roman remains, became French in only 1713. Indeed, there are Roman remains wherever you go in Vaucluse. Vaison-la-Romaine is a delightful town in three distinct parts: the Roman city, the medieval hilltop town, and the new town.
Avignon is most famous for its bridge, originally consisting of 22 arches, of which only 4 now remain after a flood in 1668. The 14th-century Palais des Papes, which overlooks the bridge, is testament to the fact that the city was for a short time the capital of Catholicism.
Châteauneuf-du-Pape, named after a papal fortress built there in the 14th century, is one of the best known French wines and is a byword for quality and character. This is largely thanks to a group of vignerons who in 1923 drew up a charter which is the basis of the Appellation Contrôlée. Another speciality of the area comes from the town of Cavaillon: it lives and breathes melons, which have been providing the inhabitants with a livelihood for centuries. Every year the melon is celebrated with a festival.