In my last post I mentioned that there are several places that we have to visit every time we are in the area and one of our favourites is Fontaine de Vaucluse. We usually walk to it through the woods from nearby Lagnes or cycle there after visiting the market in L’Isle sur La Sorgue
The village, sitting below the ruins of a castle, nestles around the incredibly clear River Sorgue, which bursts from a large cave at the bottom of a sheer cliff a short walk from its centre. It’s certainly quite a draw for tourists, with a range of riverside restaurants and cafes together with shops selling all manner of Provencal souvenirs. It is also rather charming and it’s really easy to while away an hour (or more) sitting in the shade of one of the massive plane trees, watching the world pass by to the gentle sound of running water, mingled with the happy chatter of voices from around the world.
There are a few museums in the village including one detailing the history of the Resistance, another dedicated to the ‘santons’ (little pottery figures) that are typical of the region and a delightful old working paper mill, where you can buy beautiful hand-made paper. More details about the village & its attractions can be found here http://www.avignon-et-provence.com/fontaine-de-vaucluse-france/#.VPShJD9ybrc
However its main attraction is the source of the river, which is the largest spring in France and one of the largest in the world. Over the years that we have been visiting we have seen it in all its states, from very low, where you have to scramble down over the rocks to get a good view of it…….
……to times when it is in full spate, roaring with intense pressure as it surges from its underground home and floods over the rocks, tumbling down its channel towards the village.
The first time I saw it in full flood I was overwhelmed by the noise and the power behind the water – it certainly came as quite a shock after so many years of scrambling down with the boys to throw stones into the source’s pool, metres below the level it reaches when in full flow
As you wander along the well-worn path towards the source there is a plaque set into the stone, which tells the legend of the spring. This tells the story of a nymph, who is the guardian of the spring and 7 diamonds, each time she removes a diamond the level of the river rises, until she removes the 7th, which is when the water is high enough to allow a fig, growing metres up the cliff face to drink and the water spills over the front of the basin.
There is also a lovely twitter account and facebook page that gives regular updates on the level of the spring, which is certainly worth a follow @vauclusolafont
Fontaine de Vaucluse has so many different faces it is always a delight to visit – there’s something about the emerald-green colour of the river here that sets it apart from other places.
Perhaps it’s simply the cooling presence of the flowing water in the summer, or the ever-changing nature of the river that makes it such a pleasure, whatever the reason I know that the next time we’re in the area this will be one of our first stops!!