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Provence A Week in Sablet


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Friday September 23, 2022
Overcast and warm.

After 3 weeks in the Swiss alps, we drove 6 hours south to Sablet, a village near Vaison la Romaine. The drive went well and it got warmer as we drove.

We arrived at 5:30pm, couldn’t find the house, then found the house but no one was there, then found keys under the mat. I texted the owner and she arrived a few minutes later. They run an organic winery. The house we rented looks out over their vineyards.

The house is small but not too small and is very cute. One room downstairs with a small kitchen, eating area and living room. Upstairs two good sized bedrooms and two bathrooms. The Switzerland apartment was very bare - really needs more furniture - but this house is beautifully furnished. There is noise from the road because the harvest is happening and trucks full of grapes are rattling by. We could smell fermentation as we drove here.

We are on the edge of the village but it is only 2 blocks to the center. We stopped at the bakery (picked up some fruity things for dessert - bakery looks very good) and the village shop (good selection of fruits and vegetables and other grocery things). We got some of those picoline olives (small, green) that are so good. There is a nice looking cafe and a takeout pizza place.

Tonight I made a simple pasta with zucchini and that zucchini tasted better than what we got in Switzerland, plus was half the price.


View from house to the street.


View from house to the back.
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Saturday September 24, 2022
Heavy rain all morning, then overcast and drizzle, sun came out later afternoon

We are both tired from yesterday’s drive and it was really raining so we didn’t do anything until midday when the heavy rain stopped. We walked around the town, up in the older part on the hill. It is a small town. All the businesses are on the road that circles the older part.

Later in the day, when the drizzle stopped we drove to the next town north, Séguret. We parked in one of the three lots (they must get a lot of visitors) and walked around the town. It is prettier than Sablet but is a bit too pretty. No food shops, just galleries and one cafe.


Sablet, the small gate into the old town.


Sablet, view from Sablet to Séguret from the orientation table.


Sablet, the orientation table.


Sablet, in the old town.


Sablet, in the old town.


Sablet, the bakery.


Sablet, the historic washing basins.


Séguret, view to the mountains.


Séguret, the church, Eglise St Denis, 10th, 13th and 17th century.






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Sunday September 25, 2022
Sunny and warm (70F)

There was rain last night but woke up to sun. The village shops are open in the morning until 1:30. The small grocery shop is closed Monday so we stocked up on vegetables.

We went for a nice walk, through vineyards and olive groves, from Sablet to Séguret, 3 miles round trip, not much ascent. It was a delightful walk. The sun was shining and it was warm but not hot. We saw a few other people out on the trail.

We decided on a lazy afternoon, sitting outside and reading. There are two nice areas to sit out here - the terrace and further out a platform with loungers. The latter got better sun in the afternoon so that is where we were.

I finished reading Elizabeth Strout’s new book “Lucy By the Sea” which was very good. It is set in the first year of Covid and brings back memories of that time.

Now I’ve started Sarah Winman’s “Stiil Life” which starts in Florence at the end of WWII then moves on to London.


View of Sablet from the trail.


View of Séguret where we turned around.


This is a GR trail that goes for much longer. A very nice trail to walk but not always well marked. We took a wrong turn at one point but found the trail again using my Outdoor Active app.


Sablet, shop on the corner.


Sablet, the street we are on.


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Monday September 26, 2022
Warm and sunny, mid 60sF.

The pound went down to $1.04 today! When we moved there in May 2010, the day the coalition government was voted in (and Labour voted out), it was nearly $2.00. When we bought our house, just before the Brexit vote, it was $1.40. And it has been going down since. Things are not going well in the UK. It is all very upsetting.

On the other hand, we had a nice day. We started out having coffee sitting outside at the local cafe. Finally a perfect cafe crème for me! We avoided the cafe over the weekend because it was always full outside and we are trying to not sit in groups of people even if outside. Today there was only one other table with people.

Then we drove into Vaison la Romaine. It is only 15 minutes from here with easy, free parking. We spent three hours there, first visiting the tourist office, then doing the walk around town they recommend, then touring the ancient Roman ruins. We ended up at a BioCoop to pick up a few things. I’ve never been to one of these and it was very good. Good fruits and vegetables, good selection of natural foods. We walked 4 miles doing all this.

We went home for a late lunch and a rest. Later in the afternoon we drove 5 minutes to Gigondas, the next village south of us. It is a small village and charming. We had a good walk around.


Sablet, espresso and cafe crème.


Sablet, the cafe and pizzeria.


Vaison la Romaine, the Roman Bridge.


Vaison la Romaine, 12th century cloisters.


Vaison la Romaine, Roman street.


Vaison la Romaine, Roman theatre (much restored).


Vaison la Romaine, Roman ruins.


Gigondas, church at top of village.


Gigondas, view from main square.


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Tuesday September 27, 2022
Warm (65F) and partial sunny, windy

I am low on energy this week but I am still happy that we added this extra week to the trip. The weather isn’t perfect but it is pretty nice. The forecast has it better next week. The house we rented is comfortable and I like this village.

We started the day up at the cafe again. They don’t sell croissants but you can get them from the bakery and have them with your coffee. We were the only ones sitting outside.

We took a nice drive today. We drove through Vaison and continued to Malaucène, a small town on the other side of the mountains from us. On the way we started the drive up to Crestet but turned around before reaching the town. The road was narrow and was going up and up.

We parked in Malaucène and had a good walk around. They have the most amazing, old Plane Trees. There was a long stretch along the road as we drove into town, then they lined the main road in town. We walked through the old part of town and climbed up to the remains of a chateau, now with the stations of the cross. (We’ve walked the REAL stations of the cross in Jerusalem :). )

We drove back through the mountains on route 90 as Ann recommended. It was a lovely drive. The road was good and there was not much traffic. The town of Suzette about midway was pretty. Vines grow on the west side of the mountains but not as much on the east side. That side is more trees. We had good views of the rocky Dentelles on the drive.

Today’s theme was work. As we were finishing our coffee a guy was setting up a ladder right beside me to start work on the windows. When I was sitting out on the terrace, guys at the next house were working on the wall between us about 4 feet from me. Later in the day I was sitting out in the garden and some major weed whacking started at the house on the other side. When I took a late afternoon nap I was woken by noises on the other side of the bedroom wall. This house is in the complex that has their winery shop and either a winemaking room, or maybe it is the olive press. That part isn’t being used yet. The shop isn’t used much either. But every morning 4 or 5 cars park in the lot (an olive grove) and they leave in the late afternoon. Not sure what they are doing but it doesn’t interfere with us.


Streets lined with Plane Trees in Malaucène.


View from the top of the hill in Malaucène.


The stations of the cross in Malaucène.


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I am really enjoying your photos and report! It has been too long since our last trip anywhere (!) but especially to this part of France. Thank you for taking us along vicariously!


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Wednesday September 28, 2022
Mostly sunny and warm (70F)

For a long time I have wanted to see the remains of the Ancient Roman theatre in Orange. We’ve seen the other major Roman sites in this area - Roman amphitheaters in Nimes and Arles, the Roman aqueduct Pont du Gard and the Roman city of Glanum - but we’ve never made it to Orange, until today! Orange is only a 20 minute drive from Sablet and it is a small, manageable town (population 28,000).

We drove in and easily found parking near the theatre. Walking to the theatre you can see how huge it is. The city is built around the theatre on three sides and it backs onto a hillside and park. The theatre was built into the hillside to make construction easier - the seats slope down the hillside. The seats are new because it is still in use but the backdrop of the stage is ancient. It is big and really impressive. 1st century AD.

Beside the theatre are the remains of a temple and part of a forum. Part of one wall remains.

The other main Roman site is a 10 minute walk, the Triumphal Arch (Arc de Triomphe), 1st century AD. It is at the edge of the old town, in a pretty setting with roads going well away from it.

Orange is a pretty town and very lively. Many restaurants and shops. There is a museum but we avoided it because we are still cautious about Covid. I bet it was interesting.

From Orange we drove north east to Nyons (45 minute drive), another town I’ve wanted to see. It is over the border of Provence, in the Auverge-Rhône-Alps. The area around Orange is the Rhone River valley and is flat. The Rhône River starts in the Swiss Alps, goes through Lake Geneva then down through France to the Mediterranean. Nyons is in the mountains.

It took us two tries to find a parking spot! This whole week has been easy for parking but Nyons was full.

We went to the tourist office where I learned (or re-learned because I must have known this at one time) that a Pont Roman is not an Ancient Roman bridge which is a Pont Romain. So the bridge in Nyons is medieval (1400s) not Roman. Still we looked at it. The bridge in Vaison is Ancient Roman.

We had a good walk around the old town area, sitting on a bench to have our sandwiches and stopping for a coffee at the end of the walk. It is built on a hill, so lots of climbing. We stopped at the Chapelle Notre Dame which is a old tower with a top added in the 18th century, then it was turned into a church. It stands high up overlooking the town. Small but dramatic.

It was only 30 minutes to drive home. We drove through lots of olive groves around Nyons - this is an olive oil area - but it soon turned back to vineyards.

Everywhere you drive here is vineyards. And Plane Tree lined roads. And beautiful villages. Grape harvest is in full swing. People are out in the fields and tractors pulling things* full of grapes are on the roads. * can’t think of the word for what tractors pull - containers? I can smell the fermenting as we drive through the towns.

Steve and I have never been big drinkers but we did enjoy some wine back in our early days of Italy travel. About 15 years ago we decided to stop drinking wine. It just didn’t appeal anymore and it was too easy to drink more than we wanted to. We’ve probably drank some during that time. I like a beer every now and then. But now I can’t drink anything because of the medication that I am on. It’s been a year since I’ve had a drop of alcohol. I wonder if breathing in all these wine-making fumes counts?

We were a little more active today than we’ve been so far this week. I felt very well in Switzerland but haven’t felt as well this week. It felt good to do a few more things today, especially since they were things I’ve wanted to do for awhile. We are contemplating takeout pizza tonight. Second dinner “out” the whole trip.


Orange, Roman Theatre, 1st century AD.


Orange, Roman Theatre.


Orange, Roman Theatre from the street.


Orange, Triumphal Arch, 1st century AD.


Nyons, Chapelle du Notre Dame.


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Thursday September 29, 2022
Warm (65F) and mostly sunny

The last day! The last cafe crème at the cafe with a croissant from the bakery. The last visit to the village shop (fresh cepes - porcini!). The last walk around town - the ramparts of the old town seen from below are amazing.

We went for a nice hike, similar to the one we did Sunday but heading in the other direction with a bit more climbing. Out through the vineyards, up into the forest, back down through vineyards. 3.6miles, 467ft ascent. We saw a few other hikers. There is very good hiking here. If we were in better shape we could have hiked for miles. Trails go up into the mountains and to other villages.

We walked by the Cohola château from the winery we are staying with. It is up in the hills above Sablet. They were out harvesting grapes. There has been activity across from the house we are in - cleaning equipment and wood barrels.

Home for a late lunch of cepes, potatoes, eggs and toast. The cepes were fantastic! I sautéed them in olive oil with onion and garlic.

Now, packing up and getting organised for three days on the road. We are doing easy driving days, each 4.5 - 6 hours of driving. Friday night in Semur-en-Auxois near Dijon, Saturday in Arras, Sunday the Chunnel and home.


Sablet, Ramparts of the old town. A British car, not ours!


Sablet, wine making was happening in this building in town. We could smell it.




Sablet, hiking in the forest above the vineyards.


Sablet, a view from the vineyards.


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Sounds as though you had a very pleasant week. Have a safe trip home and back to the real world!! We are heading to France next year. We decided we would have to brave this post Covid era if we want to travel before we are too old.


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Friday September 30, 2022
Rain all morning, then cool and sunny

We are in Semur-en-Auxois for the night, on our drive home. We are staying in a boring Logis hotel just outside of town because it has good parking.

We left Sablet just after 10am and didn’t arrive until nearly 5pm. Traffic was very thick for most of the day with many trucks. We were on autoroute most of 5hr time. We took several breaks and switched drivers every hour or two.

After checking into the hotel we drove to Semur which was a 3 minute drive or a 20 minute walk. Then we explored the town for an hour. It is small and the center is like a mini-Carcassonne - walled with towers and well preserved medieval buildings. It felt a little more “real” than Carcassonne - more non-tourists about. The river below the town is nice and we walked along it.

There are several restaurants in Semur but we had thermoses of soup in our hotel room.

After being so careful about covid on this trip, we’ve lowered our standards this past week in France. We wore our masks only once when going into the Bio supermarket. We didn’t wear them in the small shops in Sablet. And today there we were sitting inside a cafe in a rest area having coffee. On the trip out it was masks-on for the rest areas and hotels but now it seems like we don’t care. Our Covid boosters are scheduled for next week.


Semur-en-Auxois, in the medieval center.


Semur-en-Auxois, along the river.


Semur-en-Auxois, along the river.


A pizza machine! Cold pizza in 30 seconds. Hot pizza in 3 minutes. What the heck?


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Saturday October 1, 2022

From Semur we drove north through the countryside for 1hr30min to get to the autoroute near Troyes. Beautiful countryside and villages. From then on it was autoroute. It was a 4hr30min drive to Arras and we briefly considered driving straight through to home, but it was raining and we were both tired. I didn’t think I could power through the drive.

We spent the night in Arras, had a good rest, Chinese takeout for dinner. We thought about exploring Arras a bit more but it was wet. Next time! I don’t want to see their underground tunnels that were used in WWI (I’m a bit claustrophobic) but I would like to see the Citadel.






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Thanks for a wonderful trip report, Pauline, and great photos. It seems like you and Steve really enjoyed your week in Sablet -- which doesn't surprise me at all! Maybe someday we'll get to go back for our fifth stay there.


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It seems like you and Steve really enjoyed your week in Sablet -- which doesn't surprise me at all!
Thank you so much for your recommendation of Sablet! We loved it. While we did not take advantage of the food and wine opportunities in the area, we loved this small town and the area.

Our vacation rental was nice but not ideal for a longer stay. I tried to contact the owner from the place that you like (http://houseinprovence.net/), but did not hear back. Maybe his contact form doesn't work. I did "drop" your name hoping that would help, but I was booking at the last minute.

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