The Medieval French Village of Fontaine-De-Vaucluse
The Provence region of France is full of surprises and charm with its quaint villages and beautiful landscape. But there’s one village in the area that easily stands out because of its rich medieval heritage. Tucked in the southwestern corner of Plateau de Vaucluse, this village called Fontaine-de-Vaucluse makes a wonderful stop to anyone exploring Provence. Fontaine-de-Vaucluse’s roots go all the way back to the ancient times, and is considered a precious little treasure of the past that can still be enjoyed in the modern times.
The highlight of a visit to the village is undoubtedly the spectacular yet very mysterious spring water that goes into the River Sorgue, and is situated below giant cliffs. The village actually took its name from this pool of spring water, which comes from very deep underground. Part of the big mystery surrounding this body of water is that no one really knows how deep it goes. The water that comes out of this pool can reach up to 52,000 gallons, especially during spring and after heavy downpour. This makes the Fontaine-de-Vaucluse’s spring one of the biggest of its kind in the world.
A number of village visitors spend of most of their time around this crystal clear pool and the beautiful Sorgue River, whose water features a striking emerald hue. You need to walk 15 to 20 minutes along the river to reach the actual spring area. Around this area are souvenir stalls that line up walkways. Some people do not like the vendors presence, but they offer excellent souvenir items if that is what you are looking for. Fontaine-de-Vaucluse can get busy with tourists at certain times of the year, especially summer. If you want to avoid the crowd, plan a visit to the river and the pool in the early morning or late afternoon, when tourists are heading back or leaving the village.
The old Paper Mill is another one of the attractions you can visit in the village. This mill is a reflection of the industrial revolution that the village experienced during the 15th century. For more shopping opportunities, proceed to the long and vibrant arcade called Vallis Clausa (closed valley). Here, you can find little boutiques that offer original souvenirs and gifts. Purchasing an item is a way of supporting the local economy of the village, which is now greatly reliant on tourism. If you get hungry after shopping, head over to the town center of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, which is filled with a wide range of restaurants. Some of these eateries specialize in gourmet food and Provencal cuisine, while others offer the usual fast foods.
The village has seven museums you can visit. These museums are said to have originality that will interest and fascinate those who are keen on literature, geology, and history. One of the museums is named Cristallerie des Papes, which highlights the art of glass-blowing. The museum, which has a wide collection of mouth blown crystal, is also equipped with a functional workshop, where you can watch people practising their craft.
The town of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is only a 15-minute drive to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. Take note that most of the parking lots in the village are paid ones. You can take the train and get off L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and then take a taxi or bus to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. There are also local buses from Avignon and within the TransVaucluse network that stop in and around the village.