Why you should discover Bédoin in Provence

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In this article, I have chosen to tell you about the village of Bédoin, where we stayed for a fortnight in Spring. Situated at the foot of Mont Ventoux, the village benefits from many tourist assets. Here is a small summary of our stay in this little corner of paradise. Between vineyards, cherry orchards, lavender fields and pine forests… Provence the way we like it!

 

My discovery of the Provençal village of Bédoin

Bédoin is a small town of about 3,100 inhabitants, situated at an altitude of 300 metres at the foot of Mont Ventoux.

From Carpentras, it is reached by the D974 which crosses the Comtadine plain. Along the road, vineyards and orchards of cherry and olive trees follow one another for the pleasure of the eyes.

Vineyards near Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

Vineyards near Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

Not far from our gîte © French Moments

Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

On our walk to the village centre © French Moments

We have chosen a gîte situated 2 km from the village centre. A pretty location near the vineyard and on the edge of the woods.

The village centre

From our first visit, we understood that the Avenue Barral des Baux was the backbone of Bédoin.

Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

Avenue Barral des Baux in Bédoin © French Moments

The town’s shopping street is lined with venerable plane trees. There are restaurants, shops, bakeries…

The historic centre starts west of the avenue. With its narrow streets with colourful facades, the old town occupies the slopes of the Saint-Antonin hill.

Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

The hilltop village and its church © French Moments

A Provençal atmosphere is guaranteed on every corner.

Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

In the old part of the village © French Moments

Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

A very Provençal look! © French Moments

Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

Colourful façades typical of Provence © French Moments

Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

An old narrow street in Bédoin © French Moments

Not forgetting the fountains!

Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

One of the fountains in the old village centre © French Moments

The streets converge towards the Saint-Pierre church. The imposing Catholic sanctuary was built between 1708 and 1736. Its façade was designed in the Jesuit style.

The square bell tower is surmounted by a wrought iron campanile.

The church was under renovation at the time of our visit to Bédoin. The scaffolding was hiding the bell tower…

Here is a picture showing the church before the works:

Bédoin church © Christophe.Finot usio11 - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The parish church © Christophe.Finot usio11 – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The Saint-Antonin hill

The site of the old castle occupies the top of the hill, of which almost nothing remains. Except for a few sections of the old medieval ramparts.

Colline Saint-Antonin © French Moments

The Saint-Antonin hill © French Moments

The hill is called colline Saint-Antonin.

Colline Saint-Antonin © French Moments

A flowery hill © French Moments

Colline Saint-Antonin © French Moments

A prickly hill! © French Moments

Colline Saint-Antonin © French Moments

Red poppies © French Moments

The view of the surroundings and the Mont Ventoux is superb.

I particularly like the views over the roofs of the village with their typically Provençal tiles.

Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

The rooftops of Bédoin from Saint-Antonin hill © French Moments


Mont Ventoux and its forests

Of the 9,100 hectares or so that make up the commune of Bédoin, 6,280 ha are covered with forests. It is one of the largest communal forests in France. It extends between 350 and 1,900 m in altitude.

The forest is famous for its cedar trees, for its Austrian black pines, but also the 1,000 species of plants listed on the mountain.

A bald mountain!

Mont Ventoux, for its part, peaks at 1,910 m. Nicknamed the Giant of Provence, it has the particularity of being “bald”.

Hmmm, that is to say?

Well, as you can see in the photo, the summit of Mont Ventoux is bare of vegetation.

Mont Ventoux © French Moments

Mont Ventoux is bare of vegetation © French Moments

This character trait makes it a symbol of Provence, easily recognisable (especially from Avignon).

During a visit to Vénasque, a lady accosted me to ask me the question :

“Is it snow that you see on the summit of Mont Ventoux?”

Mont Ventoux from Vénasque © French Moments

Mont Ventoux from Vénasque © French Moments

Not at all, dear! It is not snow (in the summer) but limestone. In fact, the summit owes its vivid white colour to the many scree stones that make it up.

Mont Ventoux © French Moments

The ‘bare’ summit of Mont Ventoux © French Moments

Bédoin, a must for cyclists

This is what you may have discovered on TV while watching the Tour de France. The cyclists climbed it 16 times (and will be back in summer 2021). It offers a windfall of publicity for tourism and the local economy.

Mont Ventoux © French Moments

A courageous cyclist climbs Mont Ventoux © French Moments

In summer, the population of the commune thus increases from 3,000 to 12,000 inhabitants!

Back in Bédoin, cycling is the sports activity par excellence!

Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

Cycling is a favourite sport in Bédoin! © French Moments

What could be more normal since it is the starting point for cyclists who want to try the ascent of the Giant of Provence?

Sportsmen and women who are going to face its most difficult face:

  • 1,610 metres of difference in height
  • over 21.5 km,
  • i.e. a slope of about 7.5%.

The first ascent of 1336

The first documented (pedestrian) ascent of Mont Ventoux dates from 26th April 1336. The mountain was climbed by the Florentine poet Pétrarque (1304-1364). As for my first ascent, it dates from May 16, 2019! I couldn’t stay in Bédoin without climbing the mythical summit!

Mont Ventoux © French Moments

At the top of Mont Ventoux © French Moments

I chose to climb to the summit on a sunny morning. To discover a breathtaking panorama from the Provencal plains to the snow-capped peaks of the Alps in the far distance.

Mont Ventoux © French Moments

The panoramic view from the summit with the Alps in the distance © French Moments


The markets of Bédoin

This is an activity that Rachel and I love to do.

Going to the market.

The REAL market.

The one that is set up on the streets and squares of a village has become pedestrian for the occasion.

The Bédoin market is considered to be one of the most beautiful in Provence.

Provençal market in Bédoin © French Moments

The Provençal market in Bédoin © French Moments

It takes place every Monday morning and brings together many local producers and artisans that offer a wide range of seasonal farm produce and crafts, including hand-made soaps and colourful tablecloths.

Provençal market in Bédoin © French Moments

Saucissons at the market © French Moments

The farmers’ market

This weekly market is completed in the tourist season by a farmers’ market on Saturday evening.

It is held on the Place de la République every Saturday from 06/04 to 28/09/2019, from 5.30 pm to 7.30 pm.

French Countryside Market in Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

The Saturday market in late afternoon © French Moments

The farmers’ market brings together about twenty small local producers who offer a wide range of seasonal farm produce: fruit and vegetables, jams, quince paste, almonds, honey, fruit juices, shellfish, meat, eggs, cheese, flowers, olive oil and tapenade, basil, AOC Ventoux wines…

Just look at that:

French Countryside Market in Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

At the market of Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

French Countryside Market in Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

Late afternoon Saturday market © French Moments

French Countryside Market in Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

Melons and carrots at the market of Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

Market of Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

Carrots at the Saturday market © French Moments

Strawberries at the local market of Bédoin © French Moments

Carpentras strawberries at the local market of Bédoin © French Moments

French Countryside Market in Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

Local cherries at the market of Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

On the way out of the market, we would pass by the local boulangerie for some delicious French bread before heading back home.

Bédoin, Provence © French Moments

The boulangerie Olivero… their bread is divine! © French Moments

 

Under a late afternoon sun, we would set the table “à la bonne franquette” (casually, without fuss) with all the food and wine we gathered from the market.

And for a moment, experience the great “joie de vivre” of Provence.


What to see in the vicinity

We have chosen to stay in Bédoin to take advantage of its central position in the Vaucluse département.

The village is close to some remarkable sites… some examples:

Pernes-les-Fontaines and its 41 fountains!

Pernes-les-Fontaines © French Moments

The medieval ramparts of Pernes-les-Fontaines © French Moments

Pernes-les-Fontaines © French Moments

In the historic village of Pernes-les-Fontaines © French Moments

Avignon, the Popes’ City

Popes' Palace in Avignon © French Moments

The famous Popes’ Palace in Avignon © French Moments

Pierre in Avignon © French Moments

Having a good time in Avignon! © French Moments

Vaison-la-Romaine and its Roman remains

Vaison-la-Romaine © French Moments

Vaison-la-Romaine © French Moments

Vaison-la-Romaine © French Moments

A quiet street in Vaison-la-Romaine © French Moments

The Dentelles de Montmirail massif

The village of La Roque Alric and the Dentelles de Montmirail in the background © French Moments

The village of La Roque Alric and the Dentelles de Montmirail in the background © French Moments

Vénasque, one of the most beautiful villages of France

Vénasque, Provence © French Moments

Vénasque, one of France’s most beautiful villages © French Moments

Vénasque, Provence © French Moments

The church’s portal of Vénasque © French Moments

L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and its Little Venice allure

L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue © French Moments

The Provençal Venice of l’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue © French Moments

The (extremely-touristic!) village of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

Fontaine-de-Vaucluse © French Moments

Fontaine-de-Vaucluse on a quiet day © French Moments

The hilltop village of Gordes

General view of Gordes © French Moments

General view of Gordes © French Moments

Gordes © French Moments

A vaulted passage in Gordes © French Moments

Gordes © French Moments

An old street in Gordes © French Moments

However, much closer to Bédoin, you can discover very picturesque Provençal villages: Flassan, Crillon-le-Brave, Mazan, Mormoiron, Le Barroux…

Village of Flassan in Provence © French Moments

The village square of Flassan © French Moments

Village of Flassan in Provence © French Moments

In the Provençal village of Flassan © French Moments

Mormoiron, Provence © French Moments

Lavender fields near Mormoiron © French Moments

Le Barroux © French Moments

The rooftops of Le Barroux © French Moments

Crillon le Brave © French Moments

Crillon-le-Brave © French Moments

Near the hamlet of Les Baux (commune of Bédoin), you will find the famous “demoiselles coiffées” (the ladies wearing hats). These strange rock formations are located in an old ochre quarry.

Les Demoiselles Coiffées near Bédoin © French Moments

Les Demoiselles Coiffées near Bédoin © French Moments


Find out more!

  • Read this article in French on our blog Mon Grand-Est
  • The page of Ventoux Provence about Bédoin
  • The Wikipedia article on the village [in French]
  • My friend Martine’s blog with beautiful reports about Provence [in French]
  • For your hikes in the region, don’t leave without good topographical maps! The village is one the IGN map “Mont Ventoux”, scale 1:25000, 3140ET

Where to stay in the region

Some addresses (affiliated links) on accommodation in the region (centred on Bédoin):


Booking.com


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Bédoin in Provence © French Moments


 

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of the Discovery Course on the Secrets of the Eiffel Tower and the Christmas book "Voyage au Pays de Noël".

2 Comments

  1. I’ve visited most of the villages you mention: in fact Provence was the first part of France I discovered after relocating to Paris: a colleague allowed me to use his house at Méthamis. I returned to Provence many times, particularly to the area around Gordes [with its village of bories] and the Abbey of Sénanque and Venasque, where I still remember the civet de sanglier! But my most striking memory of Provence is not one of the villages, but what I wrote about in my book, On the Trail in France in my chapter on Provence:

    “After having hiked all over France for over forty years, I can recommend to any walker the section of the GR 4 running from Montfuron to Cérest as one of the most unforgettable trails in France. The path runs east-west through a forest of oaks and boxwood along the narrow crest of a steep ridge about 600 meters above sea level. On the south side of the ridge, 200 meters below, is the bucolic, pristine valley of the Aiguebelle. On the north side of the ridge the little town of Reillanne dominates the wide valley of the Encrême dotted with poplar trees planted in rows to serve as windbreaks, their autumn foliage luminous and silvery. By zigzagging through the trees slightly left or right you can alternately view one valley or the other…”

    • Thank you Ronald… this section of the GR4 does look like a special Provençal treat. I Will have a look at it next time I’ll be exploring this corner of Provence! 🙂

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