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A Little Guide to Cavaillon
Cavaillon is a provencal town with a pretty centre, on a plain near the Luberon hills in the South of France. The Luberon National Park is a region attracting tourers to its beautiful towns and villages. It is known as an area which surpasses in its views and quaint traditional villages. Cavaillon has some of the traditional shades of pastel here and there on its buildings and shop fronts which are divided in the centre by avenues, alleys and courtyards shaded by trees. Some good restaurants in the town provide fine/bistro style dining which we experienced when we visited. It has a few shops, particularly grocery stores and bakers therefore being also a good resource for self catering tourists and there are hotels dotted around the area which is not too far away from the main A7 autoroute connecting the coast of the south of France and the Provence region. There are larger stores outside of the town centre. Due to its local harvest, it is known as the 'Town of Melons'.
The town was historically a ferry crossing point of the Durance river. Old bridges have been replaced by modern suspension bridges. The area is popular for tourers in motor traffic and cyclists. The town is overlooked by the St Jacques Hill which is part of the Luberon range of hills. It measures about 180m in height over a long distance giving it a 'table-like' appearance.
How to Get to Cavaillon
People fly to the South of France via several main airports including Lyon, Marseille and Toulouse and then either hire a car or use a taxi, bus or rail service. Cavaillon is just north of Marseille and south of Lyon where there are airports. We flew to Marseille and travelled by road using the A7 motorway, known as the Autoroute du Soleil which has an exit leading to Cavaillon. The journey took about 40 minutes by car. It is also possible to take a train and the station at Vitrolles airport at Marseille has regular trains running to Cavaillon. Car hire is available at the airport. The A7 can be a busy autoroute, leading from Marseille, France's second largest city, eventually to the city of Lyon which is France's third largest city.
Things to See and Do in Cavaillon
It appears to be a quiet place, first of all. It has its busy times like anywhere else. There are nice little things to do here and that is the beauty of the town. There is a Town Hall, an archeological museum in an old hospital and a baroque and gothic mansion built over an old roman site, known as the the Hotel D'Agar. We found the cafes sociable with people getting about their business. The town is a good place for grocery shopping for self catering tourists and locals alike and just for wandering around. It has a market day and some niche stores.
Cavaillon's centre is built in a traditional style with some picturesque buildings and shops. For me I found it just as relaxing to stroll about as to shop and recall just standing in a queue with the locals in a small store clutching a baguette and some fruit, while considering how to form the correct phrases at the cash desk. There are also a number of cafes and restaurants with the opportunity to sit outside and we visited some of these. In the north eastern part of town we found some new bistro style restaurants with reasonably priced menus to choose from.
A tourist office for the Luberon valley is located in the town and is a good point for gathering information. A nearby ancient arch in the square dates back to Roman times and became part of an medieval palace for a while until it was dismantled after the late 18th century. The arch was then brought to the square.
The cathedral of St Veran was built in the 11th century, extended in the 12th century with more rebuilding in the 1700s. It has an octagonal bell tower dating form the 13th century. St Veran was a bishop who died in the 6th century and is known as the patron saint of shepherds. He was said to have performed miracles and someone also once wrote that he also expelled a dragon. The church was built in a romanesque style and has ornate decoration within and some artwork.
A small synagogue is located in the Jewish part of the town and the small cool alleys are pleasant for a sightseeing stroll.
Map of Cavaillon
Do you like quiet places?
Cavaillon and the Surrounding area
Cavaillon is situated in the Luberon National Park in Provence and there are many places of interest to see in the area such as pretty provencal villages like Gordes and Menerbes, famous for 'A Year in Provence'. There are areas of geological beauty including the Luberon Massif itself and also places such as the Vendon Gorge, a deep canyon. It is not far from Lyon, which is just further North, and Marseille in the south. There are larger towns such as Aix en Provence and Avignon in the Provence region. The South of France coast and its resorts can be accessed by train or via the autoroute.