Discover Fontaine de Vaucluse, an emblematic Luberon village that gave the department its name and where the famous source of the Sorgue bubbles out of the ground.
The source of the Sorgue, the most important resurgence in Europe, is a geological curiosity that has long challenged man. The flow of water pouring out of the chasm is a popular crowd-puller, especially in spring, when it bubbles up fiercely, offering a spectacle of rare intensity. The beauty of this natural site, now jealously preserved, made it a favourite with poets such as Petrarch, Boccace, Chateaubriand, Mistral and Char.
Many traces of the village's glorious past have survived to the present day and visitors will be charmed by sites such as the remains of the Castle of the Bishops of Cavaillon (12th century). The Church of St. Véran-Sainte Marie, classified as a Historic Monument, was built on the ruins of a pagan temple. It is dedicated to the saint who, as legend has it, delivered the land from a terrible monster, the Couloubre. A column standing in the village centre was erected in 1804 to commemorate the 500th anniversary of Petrarch's birth. At the time, the village was the site of a literary and romantic pilgrimage that attracted some of France's greatest writers, among them Lamartine, Chateaubriand, Stendhal and Georges Sand. Farther on, the remains of a Roman canal recall the vital importance of the site in providing water for the surrounding farmland. The paper industry may still attract many curious people today, but it is not the only craft that visitors come to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse to discover; here, skilled artisans work in a variety of fields, including spun glass and crystal, wood art, pottery, jewellery , cutlery, leatherwork and the art of stained glass.
Visitors to the François Pétrarque Museum-Library, on the left bank of the Sorgue, will discover the work of the famous Italian Renaissance poet and humanist, echoing that of another great (and local) poet, René Char, who was born in nearby L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. Lastly, we have the Jean Garcin 39-45 History Museum, recalling the daily lives of the local people under Nazi occupation, while simultaneously transmitting a humanist message that is universal in its scope.
Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, the former Vallis Clausa (Closed Valley) and the cradle of the Vaucluse, is a place replete with history, where the memory of Petrarch lives on alongside the remains of a heritage industrial activity closely connected to the river.