Vaucluse (84210) Population: 785 Altitude: 310 m
Venasque is a very pretty and picturesque village perched on a narrow ridge near the Plateau de Vaucluse, 35 km northeast of Avignon. Medieval streets and buildings, interesting sites and great views.
Venasque is one of the Most Beautiful Villages (Plus Beaux Villages) of France.
The village is small and compact, with a few shops, restaurants and hotels, and even it's own bureau de tourisme, and there are a lot of flowers decorating the neat streets.
This street (photo) starts at the 18th century fountain, and is deserted for the moment while everybody stops for their mid-day meal.
The ruins of the large chateau right in the village include thick walls connecting three towers, somewhat truncated, and two arched entrance "portes".
In contrast to the fine old medieval castle were the young men playing petanque at the base of the ancient walls and 12th century "Saracen" tower.
Venasque is very popular with cyclists touring the magnificient Vaucluse. Fountains, fresh water and restful cafés are a good incentive for a short stop here. Good cycling routes include a climb over Mont Ventoux or a ride along the Gorges de la Nesque.
The cyclists in our photo are arriving at the Place de l'Eglise at the north end of the village.
The 12th-century church is beautiful inside and outside, with a high bell tower and gargoyles.
The original cathedral and baptistery were built here in the 6th century. The cathedral is gone, replaced by the current church in 12th century. The church is open to visitors, but the 6th-century bapistery is closed.
The road from the southeast comes into Venasque along fairly level ground, but from the village you can see the deep, forested valleys and rocky cliffs flanking the sides of the village. Far below you have an aerial view of the Notre-Dame de Vie, an ancient monastery, that still has some Roman ruins.
The Gorges de Venasque is a deep, narrow gorge abutting the southwest side of the village. We found this painting of the Gorges de Venasque, by Gustave Giradon (1821-1887) at the Calvet museum in Avignon.
On a recent visit to Venasque we had lunch at Les Remparts, with a window view out across the gorges.
History of Venasque
First record, 4th century Vindasca; 11th century: Vennasca
Prehistoric: There are neolithic vestiges at the grotte de Quinsan, 1 km south of the village.
Gallo-Roman: Two oppidums are nearby, and a Celtic road passed south of the ramparts. Roman artifacts in the region include statuettes, bronzes, tombs, pottery and some walls.
Medieval: The Bishop of Carpentras established his diocese here from 580 to 982, following the barbarian invasions of Carpentras. Control passed to Thézan-Venasque in the 14th century by marriage, and was maintained until the 18th century.
Tel ( Mairie): 0490 66 11 66
Market day: Daily. daily in May and June, especially for the cherries.
• GPS: 43.995424, 5.147006
IGN (1/25,000) #3141 ouest "Carpentras"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #27 "Ventoux"
Venasque is on the western edge of the Plateau de Vaucluse where there are many great hiking trails.
There's a short, loop hike out to the southwest of the village.
• A trail south and east from Venasque connects with the GR91 (Grande Randonnée) which follows along the western edge of the plateau. Many smaller trails branch off the GR to go up through the forests to the top of the mountains.
• To the northwest, the GR trails pass Methamis and Villes-sur Auzon, or branch off through the Gorges de la Nesque or, even closer, up to the Col de Murs.
• To the south, the GR and other trails cross the hills to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, the Abbaye de Sénanque and Gordes.
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.