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Things to do and see in the area

Sablet and nearby

In the village - Sablet is a very pretty, walled medieval village - just wandering the streets you will find architectural gems, from the fountains to the ancient doors of the some of the oldest houses.
From the Place des Barrys (old Provençal for 'ramparts'), inside the walls, you can watch the sunset across miles of vineyards from a medieval watch tower!
The church, at the heart of the village, dates from the Romanesque period. The clock on the tower was installed in 1816 and its four faces are large enough to be seen from the vineyards surrounding Sablet. The larger of its two bells was founded in 1694 and the smaller in 1818. There are also two chapels in the village: St Nazaire, built between the 12th and 14th centuries, now deconsecrated and used as an exhibition space; and St Roch, built in 1720 in thanks to the saint, whom the people of Sablet believed had spared the village from the plague.
The 'Compagnons des Barrys', the ramparts preservation society, is very active. Fund-raising over the past few years has enabled the restoration of a medieval watch tower and the Place des Barrys as public spaces; an ancient olive mill in the lower parts of one of the rampart houses, also open to the public, and the creation of 'L'Oustau di Barrys', an exhibition space for art, photography or objects of historical interest, within the rampart walls.
All year round there are events and festivals:
The 'Fête Votive', which takes place when the grapes have ripened and are nearly ready to be harvested, and lends the village a carnival atmosphere, with tables set up in the village square for an 'aïoli' dinner, followed by dancing.
The internationally renowned 'Journées du Livre' book festival, with hundreds of authors signing books and doing readings. The prize awarded for the 'best first novel' is the author's weight in wine - a giant set of scales is set up in the square for all to see!
There are frequent evening events at 'Le Gravillas', the village wine co-operative, with trestle tables put out for lengthy dinners in the shade of the trees, and plenty of wine flowing!
Live music and a simple fixed menu dinner at the bar usually takes place on Fridays, and draws young and old alike to the village square.
A mountain bike race round Sablet is run every year - quite a spectacle, as riders of all ages and abilities tackle the steep streets and even steps of the old village!

Walking, Climbing, Cycling - There are marked trails straight from the village into the famous 'Dentelles de Montmirail' hills, suitable for both walkers and cyclists, and ranging from a gentle stroll to a six-hour hike. For the more adventurous, there are rock climbing schools which take organised groups or individuals of all levels to the rocky crags of the Dentelles, which have become a world-renowned centre for climbing.
The neighbouring village of Séguret, with its cobbled lanes and broad square shaded by ancient plane trees, is a 20-30 minute stroll through the vineyards. Séguret has several pottery /craft shops and an excellent tea room as well as a bar.
Serious cyclists may want to attempt the ascent of the infamous Mont Ventoux, landmark of the Tour de France (training definitely required!). The bottom of the mountain is 20-30 minutes ride away - good for a warm-up! For the less serious, there many local routes to other villages (always with a bar at the other end to refresh yourself!) and to the nearby market town of Vaison-la-Romaine along the old railway track, or you can just ride around the beautiful provençal coutryside between vineyards and olive groves...
Mountain bike hire is available (pre-booking only). For road bike hire, we can recommend a good shop in Vaison (delivery possible). If you are bringing your own bike, secure garaging is available for no charge.

Horse riding - There is an equestrian centre in nearby Gigondas (three kilometres away) from which you can go trekking with ponies or horses through vineyards and shady wooded trails.

Swimming - There is an open-air public pool 10 minutes' drive away in the local town of Vaison-la-Romaine, open in the summer. There are also many local rivers which are tested and certified by the local authorities as safe for swimming. The nearest beaches on the Mediterranean are approximately an hour's drive. There is a covered pool in Orange, 20 minutes' drive and open all the year round.
Separate towels are provided in the house for you to take swimming.

Wine tasting - Sablet is in the heart of the Rhône Valley. The village has an excellent wine co-operative, Le Gravillas, as well as many world-renowned independant wine-makers. The first stop is the 'Syndicat d'Initiative' or Tourist Office, which sells the wines of many of the independent growers and can give details of where the different wineries are.
The Domaine de Piaugier, one of the village's top wineries, offers picnics in the vines, with views over the village, with a tasting of their range of wines accompanied by a traditional provençal meal - a really special event! (pre-booking only, ask us for more details)
Once you have sampled the delights of the AOC Côtes-du-Rhône Villages Sablet red, white and rosé wines, which offer excellent quality and value for money, and many of which are exported and sold all over the world, you may wish to wander further afield. Three kilometers to the south of Sablet lies the world famous wine village of Gigondas - well worth a visit, both for its wines and for its pretty streets. Vacqueyras, another well known name in Côtes du Rhone, is another three kilometers beyond. Beaumes de Venise, famous for its sweet Muscat wines, but also producing some very good reds, is 10 minutes' drive away, and Châteauneuf du Pape approximately 15 minutes' drive. All the wineries welcome visitors and you can taste before you buy.

Vaison-la-Romaine - the nearest city, 10 kilometres away, is full of history. Originally a bustling Roman town, then a medieval duke's fortress, it is now a sleepy Provençal market town. The street market takes place on Tuesday mornings and you can wander from stall to stall, all of them piled high with the freshest fruit, vegetables, olives and olive oil, charcuterie, cheeses, bread, soaps, perfume, lavender as well as carved wooden bowls, pottery, gifts of all sorts and much more. The city lies on both banks of the river Ouvèze, linked by a famous Roman bridge, with the roman ruins and the contemporary town with its market, cafés and shops on one side, and the pretty, winding, cobbled streets of the medieval town and ruined castle towering over it on the other.

Avignon - only half an hour's drive from Sablet, a visit to the historic city of Avignon is a must. Although famous for its bridge, whose stone arches span part of the river Rhône, Avignon has plenty more to offer. The Papal Palace dates from the period when the Papacy moved from Rome to Avignon in 1309, and Avignon was not only capital of Provence but of the Christian world. It is an incredibly impressive building, towering over the wide square below. Visits of the inside of the palace are reasonably priced and have commentaries in many languages. There are many other interesting museums and art galleries in Avignon (you will find details of some of our favourites in the house).
Within the medieval walls of the city is all the hustle and bustle you would expect to find in an important city - an international theatre festival takes place in July and the streets are filled with strolling players, jugglers and actors trying to tempt you to come and see their show. There are countless cafés and restaurants ranging from simple brasseries to haute cuisine (we can recommend!).
The shopping streets are very well served with lots of local goods, antiques and bric-à-brac, bookshops, speciality food and wine shops, clothes, and also international high-street brands - you can source anything you need here. There is also a covered market which supplies many of the local restaurants but sells to individuals too - a great place for a bargain if you're after the freshest fish, wild mushrooms or other specialities.

Orange - twenty minutes south west of Sablet, Orange is another Roman town, whose Roman Theatre boasts one of the best preserved stage walls of any in the world. Events are frequently staged here, including opera, theatre and concerts. There is a street market in Orange on Thursday mornings.

Carpentras - twenty minutes south of Sablet, Carpentras is another historic town, with many museums, galleries, shops and and restaurants. There is a street market on Fridays and a bric-à-brac market on Sundays (one of the few which starts late, so you can have a lie-in and still not miss the bargains!).

Mont Ventoux - famous as the hardest climb in the Tour de France, the 'Giant of Provence' towers 1912 metres above the plain of the southern Rhône Valley. Even if you prefer four wheels to two, sunset from the top on a clear day is unmissable - with views spanning from Mont Blanc, in the heart of the Alps, to the Mediterranean Sea. The drive to the top takes about 45 minutes from Sablet. The climb on a good road bike takes a minimum of around two hours for a very fit cyclist who is used to going up mountains!

Further afield

Canoeing, Kayaking - L'Isle sur la Sorgue, half an hour's drive south from Sablet, a pretty town famous also for its antiques markets and bric-à-brac shops, is a well known centre for canoeing and there are several companies offering trips down the Sorgue.
The Gorges of the Ardèche, an hour away to the west, offer both gentle and challenging sections with tuition if required.

Lavender - the lavender fields of Sault, 45 minutes' drive to the east, are an incredible sight. Mile after mile of rolling, purple fields and hills, with the fragrance filling the air. The village of Sault has many shops dedicated to lavender in all its forms - soaps, oils, cushions, even ice cream! A great place for provençal gifts.

Aix-en-Provence, Nîmes, Arles and Marseille are all within about an hour's drive from Sablet. Day trips to all these cities are recommended for their cultural and architectural treasures, as well as the eating, drinking and great shops. From Marseille you can take a boat trip to see the Calanques, the famous cliffs and coves along the Mediterranean coast towards the Côte d'Azur. The Roman amphitheatre in Nîmes, one of the best preserved in the world, has regular shows, concerts and events.

The Mediterranean Sea and the Camargue - An hour's drive south from Sablet lies the wild and marshy delta of the River Rhône, known as the Camargue. Populated by wild white horses, flamingos and cattle, it is a famous nature reserve. Its main town, Saintes Marie de la Mer, known for centuries as a haven for gypsies, is full of interesting buildings, shops and characters.
On the coast, there are miles and miles of beaches to explore, or you can just relax and have a picnic.

and much much more - please ask us for information