•Vaucluse (84400) • Population: 11,979 • Altitude: 253 m
Apt is a fabulous market town. It's a large town, not a village; the surrounding apartment blocks are prominent, and the main road past the town and along the concrete-channeled river is pretty industrial. The beauty of Apt is the old town (vieille ville), hidden behind the walled buildings. Long, narrow streets winding between the houses, with interesting little nooks here and there waiting for discovery.
On market day, the squares are filled, outside the old ports (see photo) and inside the town, and there are kilometers of streets packed with market stalls and lined with shops.
The old town is centered around the 11th-century Cathedral, on what was once an island between two branches of the river. Two ancient towers, the 18th-century Bouquerie tower and the 16th-century Tour de l'Horloge both have lovely campaniles. In some of the narrow, paved streets you'll see vaulted passages and some very lovely fountains.
Great museums in Apt.
Port de Siagnon
In the 14th century Apt was a completely walled town, with 27 towers incorporated into the ramparts, and six fortified portals giving access into the center. Today on the Porte de Saignon remains of the fortified entries. It's located at the end of Rue Saint-Pierre, opening out onto the main parking lot and main Saturday market. Relatively "new", the current Port de Siagnon was built during the 14th century, replacing the original 12th-century gateway.
Apt Bell Tower
The tall, 16th-century bell tower of Apt has a round campanile at the top, only ocassionally visible from over the rooftops within the town. The base of the bell tower has an arched passage along a cobblestone street, with the appearance of a fortified gateway. In fact, the tower is in the center of the old town, on Rue des Marchands (Merchants Street).
Apt has been known for its basket- and wicker-work and hat industries since the 17th century. Apt is the capital of candied fruits (fruit-confits), with the Aptuinion billed as the world leader in fruit-confits production.
Salignan, BP 137; 84405 APT Cedex, France
Tel: (33) 490 76 31 31; Fax: (33) 490 74 43 48
Apt, in the Vaucluse, has several very interesting old sundials. Seven of the most well-known sundials, located in various places through the old town, were made in the early part of the 19th century.
The town of Apt makes a great base for visiting the Vaucluse and Luberon areas, with medieval villages and lavender fields among the various sights to see.
On our most recent visit (Aug 2015) we stayed in Apt for five days, for visiting the nearby villages with a theme of Sundials. We lunched in an outlying village every day, and had dinner in Apt, with a different style of restaurant every night.
Our visiting schedule days included:
- 1 full day (and many evenings) for Apt
- Villars, Rustrel and Lagarde-d'Apt
- Caseneuve, Saint Martin-de-Castillon and Viens
- Gargas, Goult and Lumières
- Bonnieux for a day
Some interesting people originated in Apt.
Joseph Aude (1760-1840), writer
François Carrière (..-1664) Franciscan Friar and King's preacher
Marc-Antoine Grossy (1604-1687), theologian
Joseph-Jean Rive, bibliographer
Joseph-Elzéar-Noël Sollier, student of David
Hadrian's horse Borysthenes died here in 121 AD.
History of Apt
First record, Roman: Apta Julia
Prehistoric: There was paleolithic habitation in the Aiguebrun valley (see Fort de Buoux), just to the south. A Druids temple was located in the Rocsaliére Valley, and a Celtic-Ligurian oppidum was at Perréal.
Gallo-Roman: "colonia Apta Julia" was an important Gallo-Roman city. The Calavon river valley was part of the Roman Domitienne Way between Italy and Spain. The location was actually an island between two branches of the river when the Romans built Apta Julia to garde the road and pacify the local Albici tribe, based on a hillfort at Perréal, 6 km to the north (near St.Saturnin). Barbarian invasions beginning in the 5th century pretty much destroyed the city, which was deserted and eventually covered over by silt from the river and the hillsides. The Roman remains are still buried around 5-10 m below the current basements. Paleo-Christian (4th, 5th, 6th c.) sarcophagi can be seen in the Chapelle St. Jean and Chapelle St. Pierre.
Medieval: In the 10th century, the Bishops and Lords of Agoult-Simiane ruled Apt, bringing it back to life again. From the 13th century, Apt was ruled by a consular administration, growing steadily in prosperity, until stopped by the conflicts resulting from the succession of Reine Jeanne. During the Wars of Religion Apt was a Catholic town, in conflict with the Baron of Adrets. At the end of the 16th century, the Calavon flooded and seriously damaged the town. And after the floods, two successive plague epidemics devastated Apt, followed by a third in 1720.
Tel (+CDT): 04 90 74 03 18; Fax: 04 90 04 64 30
Every Tue - (Mar-Oct) Brocante, Place St.Pierre
Every Sat - Marché - Morning, through the entire town center, and it takes all morning to see it all; come early to get a parking place. One of the biggest and best.
Last Sun Apr - Fête de Sainte Anne
Every May - La cavalcade (corso)
Every May - Salon des produits du terroir
Every May - Festival de jazz (www.jazz.free.fr)
3rd Sun Oct - Fête de la Vendange
Some great museums here.
Roman Theater Museum - In the Nassau mansion, built (inadvertently) over the remains of the Roman theater.
Rue de l'Amphithéatre
Open, Summer: 10h-12h, 14h30-17h30 daily;
Open, Winter: 14h30-16h30 except Tuesday; 10h-12h, 4h30-17h30 Saturday
- Swimming Pools (Piscines)
- Piscine Viton
- Open: end July to beginning Sept
- Plan d'eau
- Open: mid June to beginning Sept
The Luberon en Vélo cycling path runs 100 km between Cavaillon, Apt and Forcalquier.
• GPS: 43.876502, 5.393848
IGN (1/25,000) #3242 OT "Apt, Luberon"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #14 "Luberon, Sainte-Victoire"
The GR9 (Grande Randonnée) passes through the center of Apt. To the north, the GR9 follows small roads up the wide valleys and fields to join cross the GR6 Hiking Trail between Villars and St Saturnin-les-Apt, then climbs the slopes of the Plateau de Vaucluse.
Yellow-marked PR (Petite Randonnée) hiking trails are available for shorter hikes. A signpost in the center of Villars, for example, indicates a PR trail to Rustrel, 9 km.
Apt is a great town for dining. We've made our base here for visiting the area, not only because of hotels but because of the variety of dining differently every evening.
The Rue de la République has a string of restaurants, all with sidewalk terraces, and each with a different style - and most offering unique, home-cooked meals.
The Place Carnot, just around the corner, with its iron swan fountain, has the justifiablly-popular Le Carnot Set, where we had a home-made roasted chicken lunch (Aug 2015). This restaurant, for the past seven years, has provided a free lunch for 40 and free dinner for 40 every Christmast. Close to the northwest corner of town, the Place Gabriel-Peri and Place de la Bouquerie have numerous terrace restaurants, some classic and some with specialities.
In the heart of Apt old town is the restaurant Au Platane, slightly hidden on a square of Rue Jules Ferry. It was slightly up-market for us, with 30-euro menus, but well, well worth it, with lovely garden dining and great food.
Our stay in Provence was for a week at a house rental in Apt, actually it was a short drive down a dirt road just below the hilltop town of Saignon. This rental was arranged locally through an agent for vacation rentals in Western Europe.
It is too bad that the town of Saignon doesn't have a web site or you have a picture of it because it is certainly a small but interesting town to tour its streets and view the valley from its high viewpoint above Apt. Its ruins are lit up at night as well.
From here we used this as our home base to visit many of the hilltop or perched villages of the Luberon and onward to Aix-en-Provence and even a day trip to Saint Tropez! This was a little too far, especially having to travel over the Luberon Mtns. and down through Aix to get to the A-8!
Avignon - Apt - La Brillane Bus
- Bus line 22A (Avignon - La Brillane - Digne) has two parts:
(1) Avignon, Cavaillon, Apt, Forcalquier, La Brillanne;
(2) La Brillanne, Chateau-Arnoux, Digne-les-Bains.
On the LER-PACA webpage, click on the Lignes & horaires for a list of the bus-line schedules.
Click on Ligne 22 : Avignon - La Brillanne - Digne-les-Bains for the PDF schedule.
The complete route for part-1 is: Avignon, Caumont, Cavaillon, Robion, Coustellet, Lumières, Apt, St Martin-de-Castillon, Cereste, Reillanne, Les Granons, St Michel l'Observatoire, Mane, Forcalquier, Niozelles La Brillanne, Oraison.
Avignon - Apt Bus 15.1
- Vaucluse bus line 15.1 connects Avignon, Coustellet, Les Beaumettes, Goult/Lumières, Gare de Bonnieux, Bonnieux Pont Julien, Apt Le Chêne, Apt. The trip between Avignon and Apt is about 1 hour.
A list of schedules for the Vaucluse bus line are at the bottom of the Vaucluse department transport page (http://www.vaucluse.fr/1119-recherche-de-lignes.htm") - click on the link 15.1 Avignon Apt to download the bus schedule PDF file.
Cavaillon - Bonnieux - Apt Bus 15.2
- Vaucluse bus line 15.2 serves the towns and villages: Cavaillon, Les Taillades, Robion, Coustellet, Maubec, Oppède, Ménerbes, Les Beaumettes, Goult, Lacoste, Bonnieux, Gargas, Apt.
The trip between Cavaillon and Apt is about 1h45.
Cavaillon has links to Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.
A list of schedules for the Vaucluse bus line are at the bottom of the Vaucluse department transport page (http://www.vaucluse.fr/1119-recherche-de-lignes.htm") - click on the link 15.2 Apt - Bonnieux - Cavaillon to download the bus schedule PDF file.
Department 84, Vaucluse Buses
- See Beyond's Bus Schedules Page 2: Vaucluse Department for downloading Vaucluse bus-lines map [Plan global des lignes] and bus-line schedules [pdf for each line] (link for PDF files).
• Avignon has train or bus connections to Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Nîmes, Saint Remy-de-Provence, Paris.
• Cavaillon has bus connections to Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Saint Remy-de-Provence.
• Pertuis has bus connections to Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.