•Vaucluse (84290) • Population: 863 • Altitude: 184 m
Cairanne is a lovely old village set in the heart of the wine country, on the D8 road crossing the broad Aigues river valley, northeast of Orange and west of Vaison-la-Romaine.
The center of the new village is low and open, lighted by the Provencal sun. The long school building, neat little shops and the old and new Mairies are pretty and tasteful, giving the village a "local" feel that isn't at all touristique.
The old village (photo above) sits on a low hilltop that commands a magnificent view out across the broad landscape of fields and vineyards, with views of other tiny villages scattered out in the distance. The old village is beautifully restored, keeping the feeling of when the Knights Hospitalers lived here in the 12th century. Of those ancient days, only some of the walls remain from the days of the knights. The Chapelle St. Roch, built into the old wall beside the Porte d'Autanne, was constructed in the 18th century.
If the mistral is blowing, the sound of the wind through the trees and the ancient stone buildings adds to the atmosphere.
On the northwest side of the old village, opposite the Chapelle St. Roch, 17th-century chapel Notre-Dame des Exés is built outside ("exés") the walls. People catching the plague (La Peste) were placed here in an attempt to prevent contaminating the rest of the population.
History of Cairanne
First record, 1123 Cairanne
Prehistoric: neolithic remains, including of cave dwellers.
Gallo-Roman: artifacts include coins, bronze, pottery and columns
Tel : 0490 30 76 53
Tel: 04 90 30 82 12; Fax: 04 90 30 73 86
Every Thur - Marché
Fête: 4th Sunday in July
Cairanne is in the region of the Rhône Valley wines, with several good vineyards in the commune. (see Rhone Wines)
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.
• Latitude, Longitude: 44.229948, 4.931891
IGN (1/25,000) #3040 ET "Carpantras, Vaison-la-Romaine"
Didier Richard (1/50,000) #27 "Ventoux"
The GR4 hiking trail passes through Cairanne east-west, and the GR trail goes through the ancient, arched Porte d'Autanne and directly past the old donjon with its clock tower.
To the west, the GR4 crosses the Aigue river and it's rich lands of vineyards, following the roads until the village of Lagarde-Paréol, where the trail passes through the woods.
To the east, the GR4 passes along the base of a wooded hill (that peaks at 395 m), going by the villages of Rasteau and Roaix before crossing the Ouvèze river and going up into the hills south of Vaison-la-Romaine.
There are several long, loop hikes up on the hills north of Cairanne-Rasteau-Roaix. Some of these trails follow the small roads, but some of the area is forested, and the view is magnificent.
The village of Cairanne has some excellent little brochures, including one for short, local hikes (Cairanne - Paysages) to discover the regional countryside and flora, and the famous local wines. The text is in French, but the maps are detailed and clear.