Vaucluse (84210) Population: 10,170 Altitude: 82 m
Pernes-les-Fontaines is a lovely medieval fortified town. The remaining fortifications include defensive walls dating back to the 16th century, and several defensive "portes" dating to the 14th and 16th centuries. The town is fairly large, with a well defined Medieval center and, as the name implies, there are a fair number of fountains to be seen. There are over thirty 18th-century fountains in the town, and several of them are declared French historical monuments.
There are many nice squares inside the historical old town of Pernes-les-Fontaines. This one [photo] is the Place Cormoran, just inside Porte Notre-Dame. Center-left is the 17th-century Covered Market, and in the foreground the 18th-century Fountain du Cormoron.
The Nesque river runs through the town. The river is channeled well, and much of the wider river bed has been made into a pleasant park area.
This is a great farming area, and Pernes has excellent grapes, for eating and for wine. One of the wines is the only bubbly wine produced in the Vaucluse. Orchards produce apple, cherry, pear and almonds, and other crops include strawberry, cantaloupe and vegetables, and the region's largest asparagus market is located here.
Fountains of Pernes
The tourist office of Pernes-les-Fontaines lists 40 fountains, but this includes lavoirs and some fountains a bit out of town. There are well over 30, and many dating to the 18th century. We've done a tour, finding as many as we could with resorting to a location map of them, and we have this Beyond page for The Fountains of Pernes.
Porte Notre-Dame is the main entry on the north side of town, crossing the Nesque river from the Place Notre-Dame. The entry fortifications were built in 1548, with the central square tower flanked by a pair of round towers.
The Chapelle Notre-Dame, just in front of the gates, was built on the bridge in 1510-1516, a half century before the towers.
Porte Villeneuve is an 11th-century fortified entry on the west side of town in the northwest corner. The large square just outside Porte Villeneuve includes the main roads to Avignon and Carpentras.
Just inside the gateway is Rue Emile Zola and a couple of colorful village shops, a butcher and a patissery-chocolate shop.
A lovely, old mossy fountain stands just outside the entry. In the summer of 2002 the moss was thick and green. In early Spring of 2016 it was dry and the moss was thin and brown; we'll have to wait and see if it recovers.
Sundials of Pernes
This pair of matching sundials are located on the tower of the large Notre-Dame-de-Nazareth church, on the north side of town just outside the Porte Notre-Dame. One of the sundials is designed to work during the morning, and the other to work during the afternoon.
Our photo was taken at 13h04 (four minutes after One PM), with the sun on both sundials. With local daylight saving time, the two shadows indicating just after noon seems pretty accurate.
History of Pernes-les-Fontaines
First record, 994 Paternis
Medieval: A castle was built here in the 10th century by the Counts of Toulouse, who ruled a fief named "Senescallia Venaissini". In 1274, the domain fell under the rule of Saint-Siège, and Pernes became the capital of the Comtat Venaissin, until 1320 when the capital was transferred to Carpentras. During the 15th and 16th centuries, rule of Pernes changed several times between Saint-Siège and several other lords.
Place Gabriel Moutte - Northwest side of town, just across the river.
Tel : 04 90 61 31 04; Fax: 04 90 61 33 23
The Office de Tourisme didn't have any historical information to offer, except two booklets, at 3.50 and 7.50 euros. It could just be a question of timing and mood, so give it a try. [That was in 2002; we haven't stopped in there on our more recent trips.]
Market day: Sat.
Puces (flea market): Every Wed
Jan - Fete de la Truffe, Truffle Market
Aug (Last weekend) - Fête Traditionelle
• GPS: 43.997361, 5.059054
IGN (1/25,000) #3141 ouest "Carpentras"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #27 "Ventoux"
Pernes-les-Fontaines is in a forested and agricultural area. Immediately to the east is the Plateau de Vaucluse where there are many great hiking trails.
One trail, 3 km east, goes southeast, past a Gîte, onto the Plateau de Vaucluse, joining the GR 91 just north of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse.
Southeast of the town there's a loop hike of about 11 km (3 hr) to the tiny village of La Roque-Sur-Pernes, with a few variants that can make it a bit longer if you like. Other variants include further loop hikes east and SE of La Roque-Sur-Pernes, including bories and the abandonded village of Barbarenque.
Department 84, Vaucluse Buses
- See Beyond's Bus Schedules Page 2: Vaucluse Department for downloading Vaucluse bus-lines map [Plan global des lignes] and bus-line schedules [pdf for each line] (link for PDF files).
• Avignon has train or bus connections to Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Nîmes, Saint Remy-de-Provence, Paris.
• Cavaillon has bus connections to Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Saint Remy-de-Provence.
• Pertuis has bus connections to Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.