Essential food and wine experiences: Vaucluse, France
Vaucluse is one of the most beautiful areas of Provence with its craggy peaks, sweeping lavender fields, countless vineyards, dramatic perched villages and endless sunshine.
The département of Vaucluse runs from the main city Avignon in the south up past Orange in the north. It also takes in the giant Mont Ventoux and the slopes that sweep down towards the city of Apt. The mountain range that comprise the Luberon area mark the southern extent of the Vaucluse.
This is a very fertile area with some great markets, lots of orchards and farms and, of course, the famous vineyards including Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
Vaucluse's leading restaurants
We have chosen the restaurants that provide interesting and exciting dining experiences and that make good use of the wonderful produce that is available in Vaucluse. We have not recommended some of the biggest names in the area because we have found that the most expensive and well-credentialed restaurants rarely deliver on their promise.
There are two high-end restaurants that we are yet to visit - Auberge la Fenière (Reine Sammut) in Lourmarin and La Bastide de Capelongue (Edouard Loubert) near Bonnieux (which we will be reviewing soon).
The restaurants listed below are the ones we return to on each of our stays in this area.
These restaurants and cafes provide a relaxed and informal dining experience.
Vaucluse food shops
The quality of the food shops in Vaucluse is very high. There is one of the best cheese affineurs in France (Josiane Deal at Lou Canestou), a fabulous seafood market in Les Halles in Avignon, some wonderful charcuterie products that we drive high into the hills on the slopes of Mont Ventoux to find (in the town of Sault) and one of the best butchers in the south of France.
Restaurants in neighbouring areas
If you are going to stay in Vaucluse, the chances are you will be driving there through some of the neighbouring areas. This is a small selection of our favourite restaurants nearby.
We are very lucky when we stay in Caromb because there are so many choices for excellent bread both in our village and nearby.
Here are a few bars serving interesting wines that are well worth a visit.
Vaucluse wine appellations
Vaucluse is the centre of wine production in the southern Rhone. Some of the smartest wines in France can be found here. There is also a very strong movement towards the adoption of organic and biodynamic viticulture and natural wine making.
There are many good wine shops in the Vaucluse. We tend to go to those specialising in natural wines or at least who stock some natural wines.
One of the great attractions of the Vaucluse is the range of daily markets you can visit. It is also home to an unusual (for France) evening market in the small town of Velleron which is one of the best fruit and vegetable markets you will find anywhere.