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Carpentras - a tale of popes and truffles…

Carpentras, a town of the Vaucluse department of south-eastern France, has a long and colourful past, much of which can still be traced by the well maintained original buildings of the stunning historic centre. A favoured residence of the Popes of Avignon, Carpentras has lived through Roman and mediaeval times and today provides some superb examples of art, architecture and traditions.

Beautiful landscapes abound

The town is found amid spectacularly beautiful landscapes, with the typically Provencal views of vineyards, olive groves and lavender fields dominated by the massive Mont Ventoux, scourge of the Tour de France and the many dedicated cyclists who try to emulate their heroes and climb it each year.

Busy, well equipped town

Carpentras is quite a large and busy town, and has been an important commercial centre for the area since Roman times. There is a large, urbanised area that surrounds the historic centre of the town, and here you can find all the normal necessities of life such as services, commercial estates, industries, hospitals, schools and more. The town holds many colourful markets, with the emphasis on local specialities such as strawberries, candied sweets and truffles, with dedicated truffle markets being held weekly in the winter.

Wining and dining in Carpentras

Cultural events are also commonplace in Carpentras, and you should find a good choice of films (with an English language cinema in place), theatrical events, concerts, art exhibitions and festivals taking place at various times of year. Provence is always a wonderful place for food and wine aficionados, and Carpentras offers some of the best wining and dining experiences in the region, with many superb restaurants and a wide selection of very good, locally produced wines.

Sights and monuments to see

It is, however, the historic centre that is of the most interest to visitors, and rightly so, as Carpentras is richly packed with important monuments and deserves its classification as a "town of art and history". As there is plenty to see in the historic parts of Carpentras, allow at least a day for exploration. Among the more important sights is the Gothic Saint Siffrein Cathedral, built in the 15th and 16th centuries on the site of earlier religious buildings, traces of which can still be found.

Climb to the top of the Orange Gate for fantastic views

Another iconic sight of Carpentras is the last remaining tower of the ancient fortifications which once surrounded the centre, the Orange Gate. This is a 26-metre tall, crenellated tower, once the northern entrance to the town. A climb to the top is rewarded by awe-inspiring views of the beautiful Provencal countryside and Mont Ventoux, as well as a bird's eye view of the town. Further significant sights include the magnificent Hotel Dieu hospice, the Law courts (formerly the Episcopal Palace), the Synagogue (the oldest synagogue in regular use in France), and the Roman Arch.

Visit the Graineterie Roux

It is also possible to discover Carpentras's industrial heritage with a visit to the Graineterie Roux, housing a most impressive collection of agricultural machinery, and to gain an insight into the importance of water to the town, with views of the Aqueduct and the many fountains, wells and wash houses dotted around Carpentras.

Drive or cycle up Mont Ventoux

You can't help but be eager to get out and about from a base in Carpentras, not because the town is in any way deficient in interest, which it patently is not, but because there is simply such a wealth of things to do and places to go in the locality. Mont Ventoux exerts its siren call to all who see it, and its majestic size means that you cannot help but see it! If you are really brave, you could try, as many do, to cycle up the mountain as the intrepid riders in the Tour de France have done so often, or you can take the easy way and drive along the winding roads to discover the amazing views from the top.

Explore the towns and countryside of the region

Other than the massive mountain, great places to add to your itinerary could include the town of Avignon, immortalised in the song about its bridge, the fascinating mediaeval town of Orange and the wine town of Châteauneuf du Pape. Discover too the lavender fields and associated perfume industries, follow the Roman trail to see the vestiges, so plentiful in the locality, of the great Roman civilisations of Provence, or take a gastronomic trip around the markets, restaurants and speciality food shops to enjoy to the full the sunny flavours of this delicious region.

Sports on offer

Carpentras and its environs offer plenty of opportunities to indulge in sporting activities too. Nearby you can find golf, horse-riding, tennis, swimming, walking and cycling.

How to get there

To travel to the area from the UK by air you can fly into Avignon, Nîmes or Marseille. Avignon is served by Flybe and Jet2, Nîmes by Ryanair, and Marseille by Air France, British Airways, easyJet, Ryanair and Bmi Baby. The train will get you to Avignon from where you can take a bus link to Carpentras. Finally, if driving, follow the A7 auto route and then from Avignon, take the D942 road.

Property prices and availability in and around Carpentras

Of all the Provencal departments and areas, the Vaucluse is probably the least expensive. Prices around Carpentras can be quite reasonable (although unsurprisingly not as cheap as say, the Limousin), and property types vary from old village houses, country farms and wine estates through to modern villas on the lotissements on the outskirts.

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Carpentras AT A GLANCE

WHERE IS Carpentras?

Carpentras is situated in the south-east of France, slightly to the north-west of the centre of the Vaucluse department.

Carpentras Property Map


Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Guide

Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Property Map


Vaucluse Guide

  Vaucluse Map

Population: 28,445

Access: By air: Fly to Avignon, Nîmes or Marseille. By rail: You can take a train to Avignon, then link to a bus for Carpentras. By road: The town is found from the A7 auto route, 15 km from Avignon following the D942.

Economy: Carpentras has long been an important commercial centre. Wine and truffles are important products, and tourism is also significant to the economy.

Interesting fact: Carpentras hosts a famous truffle market every Friday during the winter.

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