The Vaucluse is more refined than its flashy counterpart, the Côte d’Azur, so take advantage of its gastronomic blessings and sign up for a wine tasting or cooking course. Hôtel de la Mirande in Avignon offers a superb roster for 6–12 people, in English, including courses around truffles, pastry, cheese, and wine. Or at La Maison sur la Sorgue, the owners will arrange visits (and be the designated drivers) to several of the local vineyards for a dose of viticulture and tasting. While you’re in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, arrange to stay over on a Saturday and wake up to the chatter and clatter of the Sunday antiques vendors. Avignon is almost a never-ending festival: Les Hivernales dance festival (February); Jazz Festival (July and August); Arts Festival (July); Le Off Festival (also July); and the Gastronomy Festival (September). On another musical note for July: Lacoste has a successful arts festival; Orange takes on opera; and noted dance troops take part in Vaison-la-Romaine’s Dance Festival, held at the town’s Roman theater. But if you want to tiptoe through the best lavender, keep in mind that claims of bizarre weather patterns are now faulted for smaller, less superior crops, so you’ll want to drive through the Luberon during July to take in endless rows of glorious lavender before it’s too late.
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