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Photo: Raina StinsonMagnificent Mont VentouxMont Ventoux is the highest point inProvence. If you’re a fan of the Tour deFrance on TV, the chances are you’ll haveseen this mountain – it’s steep inclines havebeen included in 16 races from 1958 –2016.A road was created in 1879 and a weatherstation established on its slopes. It feels likewherever you are in Provence you can seeMont Ventoux and its “steeple”, transmissionpole. In fact the locals have nicknamed themountain “the Eye” as it feels like it’swatching over everyone. Though the peaksdo get a covering of snow from winter tospring, it looks snow-covered year roundthanks to the limestone which reflects thesunlight.Getting to the top of the Mont Ventoux ismore than a drive. It’s an experience. Youleave village life behind and emerge into alunar-like clearing among the trees. There aremore than 400 types of flora and fauna andspotting mountain flowers is a joy. The viewscircle around you and step out into the coolfresh high altitude air, even in the height ofsummer.
Photo: Raina StinsonSuperb Simiane-la-RotondeDon’t miss a visit to one of the oldestMedieval castles in Provence. Simiane-le-Rotonde’s fortress castle is unique. It has around, dome-like Roman style donjon, that’saround 1000 years old. The views from thishilltop village overlook a valley of fields ofclary sage herb (photo above), lavender, spelt,chickpeas, and sheep prairies. It’s like a livingnatural patchwork of textures and colours.To the east, on a clear day you can see as faras the jagged peaks of the Alpes.Along its cobblestone lanes, houses from the16th to 18th centuries make you feel as ifyou’ve stepped back in time. It was oncefamous for its glassware, tile making andcloth weaving making it a prosperous anddesirable place to live. A few kilometres awayis a beautiful valley where a sundial, carvedinto the rock in prehistoric times can still beseen. In the sandstone floor, egg-likeformations gave birth to the belief that thegoddess of fertility laid her eggs here. In the12th century, Cistercian monks arrived to livein this sacred spot. In 1660 they founded anabbey which has been restored. It has a mostbeautiful garden with 500 varieties of roses.And, in the 12th century Romanesquechurch an acoustic surprise can beexperienced - if you know the right people!
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