The pretty town of Sault sits on a rocky outcrop to the South East of Mont Ventoux and is at the heart of local lavender production. It sits above the valley that takes its name and the shaded Promenade opposite the Tourist Office on the road towards Aurel offers incredible views across the Southern flank of Mont Ventoux, which in June and July is shaded in various tones of purple when the Lavender fields are in full flower.
It is also well-known for being at the start of one of the 3 iconic climbs up Mont Ventoux and draws cyclists from across the world, who want to tackle the ride to the summit of ‘Le Geant’.
To be honest this is my favourite route up the mountain (not that I have ridden either of the other ways yet) – but for a cyclist the road is quiet, the climbing is gentle (apart from the last 6 km in the ‘Death Zone’) and the sinewy road offers fantastic views back across to the town and beyond & it’s just nice to be able to enjoy the ride, although I never thought I’d say that after our first ride up the mountain ‘Hey Kids – Let’s do Mont Ventoux!!’
It’s easy to understand then why in Summer Sault explodes with bikes, but the town is well set up to support them, with cafes, shops and restaurants offering everything a weary rider may need.
However Sault is also worth a visit, even if you are not on a bike, especially on a Wednesday when it hosts its weekly market, which has been held in the town since 1515 (one of the oldest standing markets in Provence.)
The town is built up around the old Chateau, built in the 13th century and seat of a branch of the Agoult family that reigned this area throughout the Middle Ages, with their Coat of Arms (a blue rampant wolf on a yellow shield) appearing in many of the ancient towns and villages across the area.
At its height the Chateau must have been an imposing sight, however only one of the original towers has remained as it was built, whereas the others have been reduced in height over the years.
The old heart of the village is filled with pretty stone houses that sit in narrow streets leading away from the Place du Chateau and the neighbouring Place du Marché, which still plays a key part in the weekly market.
The pretty village church was built at the start of the 12th Century and was dedicated to Saint Sauveur, giving its name to the small square outside. However this changed during the Revolution , when the tombs of the Agoult family located in the Church were desecrated and their remains were laid out in the Public square, which was subsequently renamed Place Guion.
Sault is also home to a dramatic and very poignant memorial to those who died working as part of the Resistance in WW2. The village was ideally placed to play a pivotal role in the efforts with the Maquis having great knowledge of the local area and what could be done to disrupt the occupation there. It is incredibly sad to see all the local memorials around the area that now form part of the Chemin de La Memoire trail, marking specific actions and deaths in the cause. In the Footsteps of the Resistance
Located on the main road into the old village the main Memorial honours over 350 people from across the Region who were shot or deported to the Concentration Camps for their efforts to derail the German advances. The village was awarded the ‘Croix de Guerre’ for the support of the Resistance, despite being attacked & bombarded twice resulting in 20 being killed, 32 wounded and 5 deported. I still find it hard to comprehend that all this happened in living memory of people still residing there.
Sault though is most famous for its lavender and there are, of course plenty of shops dedicated to all things purple, as well as others selling some local handcrafted gifts too. It is a really nice place to amble around, especially on the market day, when its centre is filled with stalls that spread into almost every street.
Normally the main car park is filled with stalls, but at the moment this is closed for work, so last week, when I visited, The Promenade was packed with a lot of stalls under the shade of the trees, which to be honest seemed much nicer than ambling around the open space of the car park.
I also think this should give it the award as the marketplace with the best view in the area………
After an amble around the market & a leisurely lunch overlooking the view then there are local Lavender Farms or producers to visit, where you can get a better understanding of the crop and what it takes to distill the Essential Oil that has so many therapeutic uses.
Alternatively if you don’t fancy the cycle up the mountain, then take a drive to the summit of Mont Ventoux to see cyclists (and runners) celebrate their achievement under the iconic sign………
Marvel at the landscape laid out before you with the Luberon looking like a fold of material and the Mediterranean glinting in the distance…..
I think it would be fair to say that when you look at a map Sault may seem to some to be a little bit out of the way, but it really is worth the trip & don’t forget its Lavender Festival on 15th August each year….. A colourful & highly scented event that just has to be experienced! Fete de La Lavande – Sault
If you fancy exploring the town then a map is available from the local Tourist Office, which also has guides on the many other things to see and do in the area Sault Tourist Office
But if all you do is sit with a coffee and look at the view then that’s OK too!