The sun being quite shy this spring, I decided to head a bit south to try and see if I could find it there. What a good idea it was!
I didn’t really plan my trip: a few pocket queries to load my GPS with local caches, my sleeping bag and cooking stove thrown in the trunk of my car and I was on the road. It took me a few hours of car to reach the French Vaucluse – famous for its vineyards and mountains such as the Ventoux or the Dentelles de Montmirail, amongst other things – and to finally have a taste of spring.
I will not describe each and every cache I visited during my short trip, I selected a few cool spots to share with you, in no particular order.
I took a break during the trip near Donzere and took the opportunity to look for a few caches and admire the gorge and the river.
The sun was finally shining, I took my sweater off and kept driving with my window open and my hair flying in the wind. It felt good!
I set up camp at a nice little camping site near Vaison la Romaine: Les 3 rivières. The hosts are a very nice couple who welcomed me with a friendly smile and lots of great tips to fully enjoy my stay. The site itself is very nice, there are lots of trees and the camping is set near three rivers in which you can cool down during summer. It was nearly empty, so it was all the better!
On my first real day of vacation there, I’d decided to get up early and watch the sun rise from the Mount Ventoux. I got lucky as no cloud were floating around the summit and I could fully enjoy the view! Click here to have a peek at the beautiful panoramic view from up there at 5 o’clock in the morning.
There’s an Earthcache at the summit, but it was so cold and windy – my parked car was rocking from side to side with the bursts of wind – that I almost gave up on finding the info to answer the questions. Being up there early, I missed one information sign as I didn’t want to 1) lose my fingers from the cold and 2) trespass more than I already did to take pictures. It was an overall very great decision to forego sleep and go there. I briefly shared the exhilaration with three German guys who were there to watch the sun rise as well, it was fun!
I’m not kidding when I say it’s cold up there despite being in may.
On the way back on the southern road, I found some geocaches including Tom Simpson‘s memorial, which is beautiful. I then stopped at Rolland’s cabin cache, kept there as a souvenir of the man who brought trees back on the Mount Ventoux.
I hadn’t really planned any geocaching stop, I just looked at my GPS while driving and decided to go for it when I felt like it. There is this one cache near Bedoin that’s really worth it. It leads you to beautiful earth pillars made of ochre (or something resembling it). There are lots of them, and you just walk in the pine forest and find another one, and another one, and it’s simply magical when the sun is rising in between the trees.
I took pleasure in discovering a Madeleine pass, which is a somewhat high and famous pass in the Alps.
I stumbled upon a strange rocky hill where another cache was hidden. Stairs are carved in stone and there’s even a small room with a window and a door.
One cache I particularly enjoyed finding was the one near Clansayes’ Templar tower, both for the cache and the spot. After some time spent trying to locate the cache with a non-compliant GPS (batteries were almost flat and my Etrex doesn’t take it well), I finally grabbed it right when two tourists arrived. I quickly hid the box in my bag and played paparazzi for the good 10 minutes they looked around. I was hoping they were geocachers, but they were not. Once they left I logged the cache, left a TB and got back on the road.
I went on a very short hike on the Roque-Alric, the cache had good logs and someone advised me to go there, so I did. The cache is quite big – which is rare from what I saw until now – and the view is amazing!
Those are the Dentelles de Montmirail, where I went on my second (and last) morning to avoid the crowd. I was alone up there and took my time to take pictures and enjoy the scenery. Click here to see the panoramic view bigger.
Of course, I visited the medieval part of Vaison-la-Romaine, where the streets are quiet and empty in the morning. Only once arrived at the castle I remembered I’d already been there a few years back!
Another village is worth visiting, despite the lack of cache there: Crestet. Park your car on the tourist parking a few meters below the village and go there by foot. The buildings are made of stones, the streets are narrow and paved, and there’s a beautiful view from the top of the village, on a place near the castle.
Finally, I kept my best memory for the end: a cache brought me to an amazing ghost Knights Templar site: Notre Dame de Toronne. I’m a ruins lover, so you can imagine how thrilled I was when I reached the site. Click here for a bigger panoramic picture.
The path that leads there is strewed with perfumed flowers and plants and several big cross made of stones guide you there. Once on the site, a beautiful chapel and several oratories and altars stand, forgotten. If you look around, you can see remnants of former gardens and alleys bordered with colorful bushes.
The site was build in the 13th century and was a Knights Templar site before being abandoned and used again by Knights Hospitallers. There is now a yearly pilgrimage to honor the site.
This short geocaching road-trip in the French Vaucluse was a really great and I hope to go back there very soon. The caches were fun to find, the area is beautiful to visit and the people I met were very nice and chatty!