Day trips from La Verrière

The scenic views and stunning landscape around Domaine de la Verrière are a fitting backdrop for the fantasy world created here, just for you. At times you will be in your element, lost in the enchanted forest, or lazing beside the infinity pool. However, fun escapades also exist beyond the realm of this eco-luxury retreat and vineyard. Provence is yours to encounter! Make a break for Marseilles, Avignon and Orange for the day, or simply explore the charming Medieval towns of nearby Sablet and Seguret.

As a starting point, aim for the village of Malaucene, which puts you at the foot of Mont Ventoux. Nobody should spend any time in the region without at least driving up the ‘Beast of Provence’. There are also secret picnic areas on the banks of the river. Ask the team to draw you a confidential map, and pack you a delicious picnic just for good measure.

Outdoor activities

In addition to the many things you can amuse yourself with in La Verrière’s outdoor spaces, this area of southern France has a range of activities to get the heart pumping and the adrenaline flowing.

Head south towards Fontaine de Vaucluse, a family-friendly destination. Hire canoes or kayaks and drift slowly (safely) down its little river; a refreshing respite when the summer’s heat in the valley is intense. From here you’ll also be close to Aix en Provence and Les Baux de Provence. When combined, they create the perfect activity-filled day trip.

Families may also wish to drive halfway between Orange and Montelimar, to the crocodile farm, home to giant tortoises, lizards, snakes, fish and birds, and where hot water is created by a nuclear power plant.

Looking for something more challenging? No cyclist’s pilgrimage would be complete without an attempt on the testing climb up Mont Ventoux, one of the most celebrated sites in the Tour de France race.

If your fantasy holiday includes a round of 18 holes on the golf course, then the fairways and bunkers of the Grand Golf Avignon are roughly 50 minutes from La Verrière, close to the airport.

Further afield, beyond Avignon and Nimes, you can go horse riding in Camargue. Channel your inner cowboy and ride bareback along the beaches of the Mediterranean Sea.

For serious hikers and rock climbers, you are in proximity to the jagged peaks of the Dentelles de Montmirail which attract climbers from all over the world. Arrangements can be made with climbing guides who provide equipment and will take you on excursions to more challenging climbs. Regular hiking tour guides, cycling guides and history guides can also be organised.

If you fancy taking a four-wheel drive Land Rover Discovery across the steep slopes of the vineyard to visit some of the friendly neighbours, just ask. Go-karting, quad biking, hot-air ballooning and helicopter rides can also be arranged for hi-octane thrill seekers.

In the heart of Ardèche (an hour and a half drive away), the Grotte Chauvet 2 Ardèche, the largest decorated cave replica in the world features an extraordinary collection of paintings, drawings, and engravings reproduced from the Chauvet Cave, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

History and culture

With such a rich historical and cultural significance, this area of Provence has an abundance of interesting attractions, sites and events to experience.

photograph by Julie du Bellaing

photograph by Julie du Bellaing

Cycle roughly 3kms down to the village of Crestet, which regularly appears on the list of the most charming villages in France. It has been preserved in its original Medieval character and is unspoiled by commercial modernity.

Head north towards Vaison la Romaine and discover an archeological museum plus one of the largest concentrations of Roman ruins outside of Italy. The Roman amphitheatre hosts a range of cultural programs during summer.

Passing through Vaison, towards the Drome, find yourself near the little pottery village of Dieulefit, which routinely inspires painters, some of whom host watercolour seminars.

To the south, the famous synagogue in Carpentras is a lasting example of the first Jewish community in the area, who settled in the 13th-century. There is also an aqueduct in the town worth seeing.

From there you’re close to the villages of Gordes and Lubéron, where you can breathe the perfumes of the Route de La Lavande in the famous lavender fields.

Turning west, press on to Avignon, the fortress town that has retained many of its charms, and a treasure trove of historical activities. Tour the Palais des Papes, one of Europe’s most important Medieval gothic buildings (top tip: stop off at nearby Hotel la Mirande whilst in the vicinity).

Avignon is also very progressive and fun for young adults. It has upbeat bars, restaurants, cafes and clubs. Also look out for the la Maison des Vins in the Hotel du Marquis de Rochegurde which showcases wines from this part of France.

Beyond Avignon, climb the castle ruins of the Chateau des Baux de Provence.

There is a full calendar of events in Provence which includes the Avignon arts festival; the Choregies d’Orange summer opera festival; the dance festival in Vaison la Romaine; the Medieval festival in Le Barroux; and the Medieval Veraison festival in Chateauneuf de Pape. Find more events throughout the year.

market

Food and shopping

The process of growing, preparing and serving food is high on everyone’s agenda (visitors and residents), and there are plenty of ways to challenge the palate within the local area.

Visit the chocolaterie at the base of the mountain where they make special homemade chocolates and artisanal ice cream. Adventurous souls will cycle down and back up! Luckily, there are rental bicycles fitted with small motors in nearby Malaucene that make the job more enjoyable.

Also visit the wonderful cheese shop run by famous master of cheese, Joisianne Deal, in Vaison le Romaine. Visit on a Tuesday and also browse the market.

Find some of the best restaurants near La Verrière. There are also a variety of food-related events in the Provence calendar.

Personalised shopping itineraries can be arranged if you would like to visit the small market towns and villages of Provence, or the thriving fashion cities of Marseille and Cannes. Alternatively, if you’d prefer to explore by yourself, raid the chic shops in Aix-en-Provence; buy pottery and Nyons olive oil (known for its elegance and fine aromatic flavours) in Dieulefit; and make a deal with the antique dealers of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and the deco destinations of Lubéron; all less than two hours away.

Take a wine tour

The viticultural industry of Provence is split into nine regions, or Appellation d’Origine Controlée (AOC). Avid wine enthusiasts can tour each area, learning how the taste of the wine is affected by the landscape, the environmental conditions and the weather patterns in each. For example, La Verrière is in the Coteaux d’Aix-en- Provence, where the famous Mistral winds blow, impacting on the grapes grown on its ancient vines. Learn more about the award-winning, biodynamic Chene Bleu wines and find out how to book your place on the extreme wine tasting course.

Other AOC regions within a few hours’ drive include Les Baux de Provence, where a wide range of biodynamic and organic wines flourish in the hot climate; Coteaux Varois, known as the heart of Provence, benefiting from high altitudes (great for rose wines); and Sainte-Victorie, a sub region of the Cotes de Provence, and an area that was painted by famous artists such as Cezanne, Matisse, and Van Gogh.

Wine lovers hunting for top syrah and grenache wines will note that the famous Rhone wine region is also close by. Wine enthusiasts should not miss the oenologically significant villages of Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Beaume de Venise. Châteauneuf du Pape is not much further afield as well. Arrangements can be made with local wine guides if you would like to visit top private vineyards in the local area, such as Domaine de Santa Duc and Domaine de Mourchon.