Q: Do you have a favorite town?
A: Probably Gordes. Gordes is a big tourist attraction, but for good reason. It's a magnificent medieval hilltop village. When you're just coming upon it in the morning, the entire village turns golden from the sun -- it's spectacular. If you get away from the normal sites where tourists go, there are narrow cobblestones paths that take you to great views of the countryside. Plus, it has a history. Chagall painted here. And during World War II, monks from the nearby abbey negotiated with the Germans to spare it. It was one of the few spared places in the area.
Q: What attracts tourists to Provence?
A: Some come for the historic value, especially the Roman ruins, many of which date back to Julius Caesar. At the time, Provence was right in the middle of the pilgrimage route between Spain and Rome. Romans built cities like nearby Arles, with large arenas and coliseums.
@rag:Others come for the food and wine and markets. In Provence, you can go to the local market any day of the week and get fresh produce. Farmers pull up in trucks and from the back sell cheese, fresh fish, vegetables. ... We buy wonderful ingredients, go back to the villa and cook whatever we get that day for our guests.
Many more come to explore the market town of l'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue -- meaning "Island on the Sorgue," a river there. It has the largest antique market in France outside of Paris. It's also a pretty village full of canals and old waterwheels. Sundays, they have a huge flea market where you can buy everything from antiques to food and pottery, or have lunch at a cafe along the river.
Q: What about the lavender thing?
A: It's pretty big. Tourists come just to follow a lavender route: We often meander from one magnificent purple field to another, picnicking on bread, cheese and wine along the way. Unfortunately, you can't always time peak season exactly, although it usually happens from late June to mid-July.