12 Best activities to do in Carpentras (Summer 2022)

Sub-prefecture of Vaucluse with a population of nearly 30,000, Carpentras is a city with a rich historical heritage, as you can discover by walking its streets. This papal land, located at the foot of the Mont-Ventoux, 25km from Avignon and 70km from Aix-en-Provence, has a certain Provencal charm. With its ochre facades, its ancient fountains, its alleys and its markets, it is as if time had stopped.

Embark on a stroll through the centuries, discover the traditions of this small southern town and soak up the atmosphere of the place. Here are 12 ideas to make the most of your stay in Carpentras.

1. The old episcopal palace of Carpentras

If you walk around the Place Charles de Gaulle, you might wonder what monument is next to it. It is the episcopal palace of the city, former residence of the bishop.

The old episcopal palace of Carpentras
@pierrick_plus

Built from 1640, inspired by the Italian architecture of the time, it now houses, since 1801, the courthouse of Carpentras.

Francois de Royers de La Valfenière and Giovanni Francesco Romanelli, bedroom of Cardinal Alessandro Bichi, 1640, north wall.
Francois de Royers de La Valfenière and Giovanni Francesco Romanelli, bedroom of Cardinal Alessandro Bichi, 1640, north wall. @pierrick_plus

Guided tours are sometimes organized to discover its ceremonial rooms, which have now been transformed into courtrooms. To learn more about it, please contact the tourist office.

2. The market of Carpentras

The reputation of the market of Carpentras is well known, located in the historical heart of the city, it is a real institution!

@tangi92

This market, whose origins date back to the 1st century BC, is the oldest in Provence. At that time, Carpentras was not called Carpentras, but Forum Neornis which means “Market of Nero”. It is such a tradition in the Provencal culture that in 1996, an anthropological study was even made about it.

So if you want to blend in with the locals, discover the Provencal way of life and especially taste the regional specialties, make sure you’re there.

Every Friday, enjoy the local smells and colors at this market where nearly 350 vendors invite you to taste the local specialties. Savor the taste of the fruits, especially the strawberries and melons of Carpentras in summer. Enjoy a good Ventoux wine, wake up your taste buds with the famous Berlingots de Carpentras and smell the truffles in the air.

When you’re not hungry anymore, you can also take the time to discover the pottery, leather goods or flower stands.

The market of Carpentras takes place every Friday from 8:30 am to 12:30 pm.

It is possible to leave your car at the parking of the sports complex and to take a shuttle which will drop you off for free next to the market.

The truffle market of Carpentras is also a reference in this field. It takes place every year from mid-November to the end of March, on the Place Aristide Briand.

@delabrebenoit

The truffle market of Carpentras takes place every Friday morning from 9am.

3. The ramparts of Carpentras and the Orange Gate

Carpentras is an ancient fortified city. Its ramparts were erected in the XIVᵉ century, at the request of Pope Innocent VI, to ensure the protection of the people. Just imagine the wall that surrounded the city, it was 1770m long and consisted of 4 towers and 32 gates

Carpentras, Porte d’Orange, rue de la Tour, December 7, 2021 @marchiavel

Today, the only witness of the presence of these ramparts is the Orange Gate that you will reach in 5 minutes on foot from the city center.

4. The Roman Arch

@phileole under CC BY 2.0         

In the heart of Carpentras, don’t miss this Roman arch built in the first century under the emperor Augustus. We don’t know much about it, but it’s well worth a visit, if only to discover its architectural subtleties.

@phileole under CC BY 2.0     

5. The synagogue of Carpentras

The presence of Jews in Provence dates back to the 1st century. By the XIIIᵉ century, virtually every town had Jewish communities within it. But in 1306, King Philip the Fair decided to expel the Jews from the kingdom of France. They then found refuge in the Comtat Venaissin (a papal state that was on part of what is now Vaucluse) welcomed by Pope Clement VI. Despite limited rights, they were allowed to build a synagogue, which began in 1367.

@yana.bystrova

With its discreet façade, it could easily go unnoticed, which was the goal at the time. But don’t miss it because it is one of the most exciting visits of the city.

The visit will allow you to discover its rich interior decoration, characterized by its rococo style, the basements as well as the synagogue’s worship room.

@stelaus

Two bakeries have been installed, one dedicated to the baking of daily and Shabbat bread, with its oven and kneading table, and the other, where unleavened bread is made.

@stelaus

The visit will also be an opportunity to see the mikveh, a Hebrew bath used for ablutions. It is dug directly into the ground and must be supplied with water by a natural spring.

Before going to the next step, think of taking a look at the rue de la juiverie located right next to the synagogue.

The Carpentras synagogue, which blew out its 680ᵉ candle in 2017, is the oldest synagogue still in operation in France.

It is open for tours Monday through Friday at 10am, 11am, 2pm, 3pm and 4pm.
Fee: 5€.

6. The Jewish cemetery of Carpentras

After visiting the synagogue, continue your discovery of Carpentras with its Jewish cemetery. After receiving permission to build a synagogue, the Jews of the Pope were allowed to build their own cemetery (for a fee).

@olivia.mahieu

Covering an area of 2 hectares, this cemetery dating from the XIVᵉ century is among the most important Jewish sites in the department. It is also the oldest surviving Jewish cemetery in France, infamous for being desecrated in May 1990.

@olivia.mahieu

Located 5 minutes by car from the city center, the Jewish cemetery is at the foot of the Aqueduct of Carpentras. Classified as a historical monument since 1947, the Aqueduct is 729m long and 23m high!

@olivia.mahieu

7. The Hôtel-Dieu of Carpentras

The Hôtel-Dieu of Carpentras was one of the largest hospitals in the Comtat Venaissin. It was the bishop of the city, Joseph-Dominique d’Inguimbert, who was behind the project to build this hospital in the XVIIIᵉ century.

@marchiavel

And it was not until much later, in 2002, that the Hotel-Dieu definitively ceased its functions as a hospital center. Subject to lengthy rehabilitation work, the Hôtel-Dieu now houses the Inguimbertine Library-Museum, named after its founder, relocated in 2017.

@jmt13

It is a modern and very rich library, both from a cultural and artistic point of view, and contributes greatly to the development and attractiveness of the city. A museum is also planned to be built in the building in the near future.

The library is open from Tuesday to Friday from 12:00 to 18:00, Saturday from 14:00 to 18:00 and Sunday from 9:00 to 12:00.

8. Discover the Via Venaissia

@velocsud

To discover the surroundings of Carpentras, there is nothing better than cycling! Go for a short ride on the Via Venaissia, a greenway inaugurated in 2018, which follows the route of the old railroad. This 14km secure route will allow you to explore what was once the Comtat Venaissin. You will discover the most beautiful panoramas of the region from Carpentras to Jonquières with the Ouvèze river, the Mont-Ventoux, the vineyards and the cliffs of the Dentelles de Montmirail.

9. The Cathedral Saint-Siffrein of Carpentras

Built in 1405, on the site of an ancient Romanesque cathedral, the Saint-Siffrein cathedral is characteristic of the southern gothic style of the time.

@mamzllek84

Located next to the courthouse, it is accessed through beautifully decorated walnut doors. On the south side, there is the door of the Jews above which one can see a rat ball. The Saint-Siffrein cathedral is, in fact, one of the few religious buildings in France where you can see one. For some, it would represent human sins while for others it would have served as a talisman protecting the people at a time when the plague was raging.

@provencallife

With its paintings, stained glass windows and various marble structures, the interior decoration of the cathedral is really worth seeing! One of the two organs inside is even listed as a historical monument.

But the real treasure of the Saint-Siffrein cathedral lies in the Saint Clou chapel. It is here that the Saint Mors is found, which has become the emblem of the city, even to the point of being found on its coat of arms. It is the mother of the Roman emperor Constantine who would have had a horse bit forged for her son from two of the nails used in the crucifixion of Christ!

10. The old town of Carpentras

To discover the city of Carpentras and its main historical monuments, there is nothing better than to stroll through its narrow streets. Come and admire its 22m high belfry, classified as a historical monument in 1987. It marks the location of the first city hall.

Then take the rue des Halles, it is exactly where the first ramparts had been erected in the XIIᵉ century, then explore the magnificent Passage Boyer, covered with a glass roof. It dates from the XIXᵉ century and now houses small stores as well as an exhibition of hanging painted umbrellas. Finally, take Rue d’Inguimbert to the lovely Place Maurice Charretier and admire the Angel Fountain built in 1731.

11. The Comtadin-Duplessis museum

To learn more about the history of the Comtat Venaissin, there is only one address: the Comtadin-Duplessis museum. This municipal museum in Carpentras, which has been awarded the title of “Musée de France”, is part of the Inguimbertine Library-Museum. The museum is divided into two parts: the ethnography collections and the fine arts collections where you will find sculptures and paintings, notably the famous Gamines by the painter Louise Catherine Breslau.

The Comtadin-Duplessis museum is located at 234 boulevard Albin Durand, but its works are gradually being moved to the museum that will soon be housed in the Hôtel-Dieu.

© Wikipédia

12. Visit The Berlingot factory

@rghgraul

Do you know the Berlingots of Carpentras? They are small colored candies with white stripes and a pyramid shape. Made from candied fruit syrup, they are also available in mint, aniseed or violet flavors. This tradition was born in 1844 under the pontificate of Pope Clement V. At the time, these Berlingots were said to have medicinal properties and were sold by apothecaries.

@esprit_brocante_62

Today, the Confiserie du Mont Ventoux, founded in 1946, is the oldest Berlingot factory in Carpentras still in operation. They offer free visits to discover the factory, to learn about the different stages of production, from cooking to packaging, ending with a small tasting.

The Confiserie du Mont Ventoux is open from Tuesday to Saturday, from 9am to 12pm and from 2pm to 6:45pm.
Address : 184, Avenue Dwight Eisenhower

 

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.