Carpentras is the capital of the Comtat Venaissin. The tourist destination has a rich historical heritage marked by the papal presence. Located in northern Avignon, in the heart of the Vaucluse department and at the foot of Mont Ventoux, Carpentras can be discovered by strolling through its town center, its narrow streets, the fountains and colorful facades.
Carpentras is marked by its belonging to the Holy See, from the 13th to the 18th century, as well as by the presence of the Jews. Today we can still see its emblematic monuments dating from this period, such as the synagogue, the oldest in France, the former Episcopal Palace, etc.
Your visit will also lead you to discover vestiges of the past such as the Hôtel Dieu of Carpentras and its 18th-century pharmacopeia, the Roman Arch, Porte d’Orange, Carpentras Cathedral or Passage Boyer with its glass roofs and stores.
The city is particularly famous for its land. The weekly market is a real tradition which goes back to the origin of the city and is classified as a “Marché d’exception” (exceptional market) for its atmosphere and the quality of the products. The local producers offer their products on their stalls: strawberries, melons, truffles, berlingots, candied fruits… The vineyards of Carpentras are also famous for their Ventoux AOC wine.
During your holidays in Carpentras, explore the exceptional natural sites located in the Vaucluse department. At Mont Ventoux, you can walk or ride a mountain bike along the hiking trails in summer or try your hand at skiing in winter. Climbing enthusiasts can go to the Dentelles de Montmirail and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.
Listed as a historical monument, the synagogue of Carpentras is the oldest synagogue in France still in operation. The worship room is decorated in the baroque style of the 18th century with columns and faux marble decorations. On the first floor of the building you can see the oldest parts: the ritual baths and the two bakeries. One was dedicated to the production of daily bread and the second to the production of unleavened bread. The Jews, expelled from the Kingdom of France, found refuge in the Comtat Venaissin.
The Hôtel Dieu
At the discretion of Joseph-Dominique d’Inguimbert, former bishop of Carpentras, the Hôtel-Dieu is built in the style of the 18th century. Today, the monument houses a multimedia library: the Bibliothèque Inguimbertine. The visit of the establishment allows you to admire the monumental staircase as well as the combination of the ancient and the modern. Before becoming a library, the Hôtel-Dieu was a hospital. The commune then decided to renovate the building to give it a cultural function. This monument participates in the development of the city and marks its identity.
Carpentras Cathedral was built under the orders of the Pope of Avignon Benedict XIII in the place where three other churches were built before. It was the seat of the former diocese of Carpentras, and it was built in the Southern French Gothic style. On the outside you can see Porte Notre Dame and the main door. Inside, wrought iron gates, marble altars, paintings by Mignard, Parrocel, Duplessis and gilded statues decorate the building. The cathedral is a listed historical monument.
Palais de justice
The Palais de Justice of Carpentras, built in the 17th century, is the former Episcopal Palace. Its architecture is similar to the Italian buildings of the time. The monument can be visited with a guide. Discover the state room of the bishops, with a French-style ceiling, the Salle des Assises, former meeting place of the States of the Comtat Venaissin and the Salle de la Correctionnelle with cartouches representing the villages of the former Comtat. Inside, you can admire different painted decorations and vestiges of the past.
Mont Ventoux Confectionery
The berlingots (hard triangle candies) are a real specialty of Carpentras. They are small colored candies with white stripes and are made from candied fruit syrup. At the time of the pontificate of Pope Clement V, in the 19th century, the berlingots were used for their medicinal virtues and were sold by apothecaries. You can enjoy a guided tour of the Mont Ventoux confectionery, the oldest factory still in operation, to learn about the secrets of production, from cooking to packaging. The Mont Ventoux confectionery also makes nougat, cookies, confectionery such as chocolate-coated dried fruit, calissons, marshmallows and fruit pastes.
- Tourist Office of Carpentras: http://www.ventouxprovence.fr/accueil.html
- Road service: A7 Highway (from Lyon or Marseille)
- Air access: Nîmes Airport (1 hour), Marseille Provence Airport (1 hour)
- Railroad access: train station