•Vaucluse (84600) • Population: 691 • Altitude: 150 m
Richerenches is a small walled town, once the walled Commanderie des Templiers (the fortified headquarters of the Knights Templars. In the 12th century, Richerenches became one of the most important Commanderies des Templiers in Provence. Today, the walls are mostly delineated by the houses around the periphery, the towers at the corners, and some of the Templiers buildings inside the walled town.
The vestiges and ruins of the Templiers are about the only touristique attraction for this village, and not much time is required for a fairly thorough visit. It is a picturesque place, though. The overall fortified aspect is maintained. The walls are 16th century and the round towers at the four corners are 14th century. The various fortified ports date variously from the 12th to 18th centuries.
There's not much in the way of village commerce, but the café is popular. The Saturday market, other than the special truffle part, isn't one of the biggest around. The produce is fresh, though, the cheeses, breads and other local products are excellent. And, if you don't think you can afford the little lumps of truffles, you can buy the trees here to plant a small truffle orchard and grow your own.
Truffles - Black Diamonds
A main attraction for Richerenches is the annual Truffle Market, that runs every Saturday from November to March. The Richerenches Truffle Market is the biggest in Beyond's Provence, and said to be even the most important in all of Europe. Truffles tend to be a bit pricey for the average market-browsing tourist and, sure enough, there aren't very many truffle stands visible along the main market street on a Saturday morning.
Since Beyond knew what to expect, we wandered around the corner from the market and saw the crowd of people along the tree-lined street along the northern walls of the Commanderie [photo-8]. Here the truffle sellers work out of the back of their cars and vans, and the crowds are mostly broken into small groups of sellers and the buyers from restaurants and other agents, negotiating prices and making deals.
In January, on the Sunday of Saint Antoine, a Truffle Mass (la messe de la truffe) is held in the little village church, near the café. The event, that's been celebrated for 50 years, begins with a procession of the Brotherhood of the Knights of the Black Diamond. At this Truffle-Mass Sunday, the church collection is for truffles instead of cash.
History of Richerenches
First record, 1135-1139 De Ricarenchis
An original hamlet at this site was attached to the Medieval commune of Bourbouton. In 1136, the Lord Hugues de Bourbouton gave some of his lands, including those of Richerenches, to the Order of the Templars, and the first Commanderie des Templiers of Provence was built.
In 1138, Hugues entered the Order as a knight (chevalier) and gave over all of his holdings to the Templars. He eventually became Commander.
At the end of the time of the Templars in the 13th century, Richerenches passed first to the Knights Hospitalers and then to the Saint-Siège. It finally became one of the communes of the Enclave des Papes (see also Valréas).
Sat, Nov-March - the largest Truffle Market of Provence
3rd Sun, Jan - Truffle Mass (la messe de la truffe)
First Sunday in May - Flower market (foire aux fleurs); 2006 will be the 17th annual.
Aug - Medieval festival.
The entire Enclave des Papes, a bubble of the Vaucluse inside the department of the Drôme, has a rich collection of Côte du Rhône wineries. A wall panel at the Place de l'Hotel de Ville shows 17 of them, around the villages of Valréas, Richerenches, Grillon and Visan. (see Rhone Wines)
• GPS: 44.3598, 4.911844
IGN (1/25,000) #3039 ET "Valréas, Enclave des Papes, Pierrelatte"
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.