Provence Truffle Lover’s Itinerary
This is a chance to explore Provence in the off-season, where you’ll feel like you have the region to yourself. The winter brings one of the world’s most expensive foods: the black truffle. It’s the perfect time for truffle lover’s and Francophiles to indulge on a delicious French culinary holiday. On this 5-day Provence itinerary you’ll experience the beautiful Provencal countryside, quaint Provencal villages, delicious cuisine highlighting the black truffle and Côte du Rhône wines.
Day 1 – Arrive at Marseilles or Avignon
The best airports to fly in to for a Provence holiday in the Vaucluse are Marseilles or Avignon, with Marseilles located about 1 hour 30 minutes from the Vaucluse and Avignon located just 30 minutes away. Marseilles receives international flights via connections from Paris. Avignon receives domestic flights and some direct flights from within Europe such as from London.
You’ll want to rent a car for this adventure as Provence’s small villages aren’t serviced by train and it’s best to travel by car.
Make the drive through the Provencal countryside to Auberge du Vin, located just a few minutes from the town of Carpentras. Relax by the fire, have a mini WSET course with Linda Field, a certified WSET educator.
Book a table at Chez Serge in Carpentras. On Thursday evenings Chez Serge hosts a special Vins & Truffes soiree from January to March with a truffle inspired wine pairing menu and a chance to meet wine makers.
Day 2 – Carpentras Truffle Market and Truffle Hunting
Two of the most important truffle markets in France happen in the Vaucluse. On Friday morning, head to Carpentras for the truffle market that takes place outside the Carpentras Office of Tourism.
Friday is also the weekly market, which winds all throughout the old town of Carpentras. You can find local Provencal products like the chick pea, French saffron and nougat.
Visit Fromagerie Vigier, where you can sample cheese from one of France’s best cheese makers. In winter, you’ll find special truffle cheeses.
Some cheese, a baguette and some other small bites from the market make an excellent light lunch, especially since you’ll have a few truffle dishes after truffle hunting. Pick up something sweet from the fabulous selection of pastries at Pâtisserie Jouvaud.
Head to La Truffe du Ventoux for truffle hunting in the early afternoon. You’ll learn about the history of truffles, how dogs are trained to sniff out truffles and take part in a truffle hunt with the truffle-loving dogs. After truffle hunting, warm up with the rewards of your truffle hunting efforts as you sample a variety of truffle dishes paired with TerraVentoux wine.
Make the drive to Séguret, where you’ll stay at a wine hotel for the evening. Have a wine tasting before heading to dinner in the hotel’s restaurant.
Meal recommendations: Domaine de Cabasse
Accommodation: Domaine de Cabasse for 1 night
Day 3 – Richerenches Truffle Market and Olive Oil Tasting
The largest and most important truffle market in France takes place every Saturday in Richerenches from November to March.
Start the morning with a truffle toast and wine tasting at Cellier des Templiers, just outside the village of Richerences. The winery offers the truffle toast by booking only on Saturdays during the truffle market.
Head to the Marché aux Truffe in the center of Richerenches. Be sure to also have a look at the professional truffle market, where truffles are sold in bulk right out of the back of the producer’s vans. You can find it set up along Cours du Mistral, though you can only purchase truffles in bulk quantities here.
Visit the small Truffles & Wine Museum, which is free to enter in the Tourism Office. The displays are in both French and English and give a brief look at the history of truffles and their importance in Richerenches, which is known as the Truffle Capital of the World. There’s a short video showing the Truffle Mass, which takes place on the third Sunday in January at the church where truffles are offered instead of cash during the offering and then auctioned off to the public following the mass.
For lunch, head to L’Escapade in Richerenches. A reservation is necessary as this is the most popular restaurant in Richerenches and all the locals head here for a truffle menu lunch following the market. A good alternative is Cafe De La Paix in Valréas, just a few minutes drive from Richerenches.
After lunch, visit Domaine Lis Andi. This is the only olive farm and mill in Valréas and you may have the opportunity to see the production as olive farmers bring their olives to the mill for pressing. You’ll be able to taste Lis Andi’s olive oils and olives.
Drive to L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, where you’ll stay at Grand Hôtel Henri for the night.
Day 4 – L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse and Avignon
L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is known as the Venice of Provence with it’s lovely canals snaking throughout the Medieval town built on a series of islands on the Sorgue River. Sundays see the largest outdoor market in the Luberon with food, artisan wears like Provencal soaps and olive wood, and antiques.
L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is also famous for its many permanent antiques shops, many of which are open on Sundays. And much of anything open on a Sunday in France is a rare find, so this is definitely the place to be when in Provence.
Just a few kilometers away is Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, which lends its name to the Vaucluse department. The village is built around the water source of the Sorgue River and is actually the fifth largest spring in the world. Have a walk around the quaint village and walk along the emerald green river up to the water source. If you visit in March, you can see the spring that surges for five weeks.
Have a leisurely lunch at Chez Dominique in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse before making the drive to Avignon.
If you arrive in Avignon in the afternoon, you’ll have time to visit the Palais des Papes. This was the seat of Western Christianity during the 14th century when the Popes moved from Italy to Avignon. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the largest Gothic palace in the world.
Cap off the evening at Maison de la Tour, a newer restaurant in Avignon by Chef Pascal Barnouin.
Day 5 – Avignon
Depending on the time of your flight, you may have time to stroll about Avignon, visit the Palais des Papes and the famous Medieval Pont d’Avignon.
If flying out of Marseilles, make the drive back to Marseilles allowing plenty of time to return the rental car and catch your flight.
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