St Didier and Provence.

Saturday, June 15, 2013
Saint-Didier, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur, France
We knew we had to leave the coast eventually and this was the day we started inland. Our destination was St Didier, a small village about 20 km from Avignon. It had been our plan to stay out of the large towns if we could, so this was our first crack at it. It was a great choice as our hotel, Hôtel Côte Ventoux, turned out to be charming. St Didier has about 2000 inhabitants and the area is vineyards and cherry trees. On the drive here there are too many wineries to even start to mention, with a new Chateau every few kilometres. The village dates back to the 14th century and has a number of original buildings. There are also some nice local restaurants so it was an ideal place to stay.

The locals are very excited as this year, the Tour de France will be going through the area on 14th July, Bastille Day, the most important holiday in France . The stage finishes at the top of Mont Ventoux, about 15 km from here. The cyclists will ride 220 km to the base of the mountain and then 21 km up the 1,617 m (5,300 ft) of the mountain to the finish at the top. These guys really are freaks!!

Of course, you can't visit this area without visiting Avignon, the home of the Popes for part of the 14th century. The famous walled old town is dominated by the Palace of the Popes, a huge palace where seven Popes took residence during a conflict within the Catholic Church. Inside there are many rooms some of which were enormous. The most interesting part was the Treasury, which is where all the precious items were stored. There were four vaults dug into the floor of the room and then the whole floor covered with huge stones which could only be lifted using a crane system. The wall around the city is still largely intact and one of the best preserved in Europe. We actually found the carousel Rebecca rode 20 years ago.

The nearest major town to St Didier is Carpentras which we found out has a market every Friday morning. It turned out to be one of the biggest we have ever seen with the whole of the centre of the town filled with stalls selling every variety of food, jewellery and lots of local Provence craft such as the typical linen table clothes and dresses. The other enjoyable part was that the market was full of locals rather than tourists like us.
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2022-01-27