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Saturday, 29 February 2020

Slow-Travel in Provence: The Farmers Markets, Wine Culture and the Special Village of Sablet

Written by Russ Firlik & Emily Firlik
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Our slow-travel experience led us to southern France, particularly to the village of Sablet in Provence where we spent two months: May and June. There are three Provinces which comprise the South of France: Provence, Languedoc and Gascony. We spent our time in both Provence and Languedoc.


Sablet village is situated in the Cotes du Rhone wine-producing Vaucluse area. Sablet is 20 kilometers from Orange with its excellent preserved Roman monuments, 10 km from Vaison - la - Romaine (more Roman - 2nd century monuments), 30 km from Avignon, and 25 km west of Mont Ventoux. Most visitors to the area are cyclists, climbers and hikers, as it is near here that one begins the trails to Mont Ventoux. The Tour de France passes through Malaucene, a village not far from Sablet. It is said that Mont Ventoux is the hardest of all to climb during the Tour de France with an elevation of 6,300 feet.


We rented a two bedroom stone house built into the 12th century ramparts of the medieval part of the village. The accommodations were spacious, clean and equipped with a French style washer and dryer. This was the perfect location to visit the 56 villages, towns and cities we made it to during our stay.


We purchased a brand new Peugeot via the “Peugeot Buy Back Scheme.” This program allowed us to have a new car, fully insured and with unlimited mileage. This subcompact Essence was small, with quick 6 gear - short-stroke shifting. It was imperative that we had such a small car in order to fit into those tight parking spaces, and negotiate those tiny medieval village streets and lanes. Once we completed our 61 days, we returned the car in Marseille, and Peugeot bought back our now “used car.” They will resell the used car at a considerably lower price as the taxes on a used car are much less than that on a brand new vehicle. It is a buyers dream!


The village of Sablet has a population of about 1,300. The oldest part of the village is inside its walls and made up of narrow streets which are built in a circular fashion around St. Nazaire, the 12th century church. Today, the village has extended beyond the walls, and several amenities that provide for the day-to-day needs of the residences include: two boulangeries, one butcher, a small fruit shop, drug store, florist, bank, pizzeria, and restaurant. In the village there is a tourist office that supplies information about where the wine tastings are located in and around Sablet, as wine production is the major industry. The lush hillsides around the village produce renowned wines of great quality. Every Friday morning, a small fresh market is in the village square selling fish, cheese, and seasonal fruits and vegetables.




The Six Famous Farmers Market Towns of Provence:




Our focus on our second day in Provence, a Tuesday, was to visit one of the largest and most famous markets in all of Provence in the prosperous town of Vaison-la-Romaine. Vaison has a population of 6,500 and was founded by the Romans in 2 BCE; it is packed with ancient Roman monuments which are spread over 37 acres. It also has Romanesque church with a pristine cloister.


The huge market winds around the streets of this Medieval town. We couldn’t possibly count the number of stalls with produce, spices, cheeses, clothing, fabrics, and baked goods. Our first real experience of strolling around such a massive farmers market was a truly sensory experience. The seasonal produce during May was asparagus and strawberries. Parking was always an issue, especially on market days; however, we found that if we went outside the Medieval walls, a parking space enviably appeared.




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Last modified on Tuesday, 03 March 2020

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