Exploring Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, France in Winter
Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is a perfect picturesque stop. We were drawn in by the promise of a river that appears from a rock face and stayed to enjoy a lovely river walk, a paper mill and small town exploration.
Fontaine-de-Vaucluse has several paid public lots. In February parking was no problem, but I’m sure in high season the town can get crowded. We found almost everything to be closed but headed up the river nonetheless to explore.
The walk up the river is mostly car free, perfect for little ones to run free. Restaurants line this walk and in high season it would be the perfect place to sit and enjoy a drink or bite. We just enjoyed the view. The river used to be lined with water wheels and you can still see many of the old inlets designed to bring water to the wheels.
The plan was to hike to the source of the Sorgue River. The river is fed up an underground spring that sits at the foot of a 230 meter high cliff. The spring is the fifth largest in the world and the largest in France, producing 630 million cubic meters. You’re supposed to be able to hike up to this cliff which surges in March each year. We however, arrived to find it blocked off and signs of a rock slide.
Several hikers were bypassing the sign so we sent Jeff ahead to check it out. He came back with a grim report that the pool was in fact empty. The river emerged in full force from under the rocks just before the trail was blocked off.
Vaucluse is home to a paper mill which you can pop into for free. They are making paper the old fashioned way! It is well marked sitting on the river path. You can’t take photos of any of the paper products they are making but you can see the paper making process, all done by hand with old machinery. The kids were interested so it was worth stopping in.
Vaucluse is another one of these towns in Provence that is just oozing charm. It is worth exploring on foot to peer into shops and restaurants.
The kids loved all the water wheels, which the Middle Little continued to call water windmills.
The freezing temperatures had painted most of them with stunning icesicles, adding to their charm.
When we come back to this area in warmer weather I’m going to make sure to get a seat on the bridge over the water. It looked like the perfect place to enjoy a meal and sunset.
Honestly, we felt like we were the only ones in town. Hardly anything was open leaving us to find gems like this moss covered fountain. Although I’d love to sit and enjoy a meal here there was something completely charming to exploring undisturbed. The kids could run free and we could poke around.
Vaucluse is not far from the Lavender Museum, which we enjoyed. The museum covers the process of distilling lavender. It was worth a visit even though it wasn’t lavender season. Admission includes a movie and an audioguide.
We were also completely charmed by Pont Julien, a two thousand year old Roman bridge that is still standing. There is so much to do in this area of France, you can’t help but find something that will fit your travel style!