Named after France's most powerful natural spring, which wells up outside Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, the Vaucluse département sits on Provence's west side, sandwiched between the rumpled mountains of the Hautes-Alpes and the rocky Var coastline. Crossed by three great rivers – the Rhône, the Durance and the Sorgue – Vaucluse is renowned for its lavender fields and its vineyards, including the legendary Châteauneuf-du-Pape. The area has been occupied since ancient times, but it was the Romans who left the greatest mark in the form of Orange's ancient theatre and the remains of two Roman towns, Glanum and Vasio Vocontiorum. Centuries later, Avignon became the seat of papal power, and its crenellated ramparts and monumental Palais des Papes provide a glimpse of medieval majesty.
These days visitors come to explore Vaucluse's hilltop villages, elegant towns and excellent restaurants – as well as the snowcapped summit of the géant de Provence, Mont Ventoux.