Bédoin is a village that grows on you. At first it may not appear to be as polished or refined as some of the other popular villages in the area. But give it a chance. Wander the streets and enjoy the atmosphere, the frenzy of excitement as cyclists come and go as they bike the iconic stage of the Tour de France—Mont Ventoux.
The main street is lined with some very nice shops and casual cafés. For some of the best olive bread in the region, stop in at Boulangerie Olivero Ravel.
On my last visit, I stumbled by chance on a marchéartisanal taking place in the village that day. The stands were filled with everything from pottery to children’s books to gorgeous rings made of clay to the beautiful works of Christine Juillan, who makes interesting jewelry from recycled wine bottles and perfume bottles.
For complete solitude and outstanding views, venture off the main street and walk up to the top of the village, where the golden and ochre-colored houses lie clustered basking under the Provençal sky. Ancient fountains and lavoirs add to the character and charm as you meander the narrow streets.
For an authentic French village experience, visit Bédoin. Take some time to sit at one of the café terraces to get the flavor of this village. And if cycling to the top of Mont Ventoux is not for you, why not drive to the top to be rewarded with some stunning scenery. You might even spot a wild goat on your way.
The small perched village of Banon, located in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department, is authentic Provence at its best. Banon wasn’t at the top of my list to see but was a spur-of-the-moment stop. What a surprise! I had no idea that it would prove to be the most photogenic village of the region. The walk up to the top is simply gorgeous!
A cobblestone path takes you up past ancient houses with colorful shutters, intricate doorways, and bountiful flowers to a bell tower and buildings dating back to the 17th century. Banon may now just be bumped to the top of my list as the prettiest village of the region.
In the center of the village, there are a few shops, a boulangerie, and an épicerie. You can purchase the famous goat cheese of Banon wrapped in chestnut leaves, which has received an AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) classification. We enjoyed sitting in the center of the village in front of a fountain while savoring the most delicious sandwiches to hold us over until dinner. In France, even the sandwiches are worth writing about. And while picking out a bottle of wine from the épicerie, it was as if I was transported back into a scene from the movie “A Good Year” and was charmed by the charismatic Uncle Henry who was running the shop. Softly singing, “Uncle Henry” pointed me toward the softer, more feminine wines. When I told him that I love the Ventoux, he gave me a hearty chuckle of approval and did a little dance in the aisle.
The countryside surrounding Banon is simpy beautiful with fields of lavender, poppies, and wheat along with restored farmhouses nestled in the hills.
Looking for authentic, peaceful, charming, and stunning? Banon is a village where not a single tour bus will be found.