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 Fontaine de Vaucluse

Fontaine de Vaucluse, in France

Fontaine de Vaucluse

 Fontaine de Vaucluse - the castle

Approaching the mythic source, visitors enter a place of ancient pilgrimage. Instinctively, arriving at the end of the path and overlooking the chasm, they give the Fontaine a sacred meaning.

In the guides for Provence, invariably, they learn that the spring had been celebrated by Seneca, Petrarch and René Char. From historical sources, they'll also know that "Vallis Clausa" was the original name, from 979 AD, for this site blessed by the gods. In 1946, It was decided to call it Fontaine de Vaucluse to avoid any confusion with the name of the department...

The source of Fontaine de Vaucluse, in France
The Sorgue comes from an immense underground network of waters, and has an average flow of 630 million m3 per year, the biggest in France and one of the biggest worldwide. The river is cool and peaceful in the summer, surging and impetuous in spring and fall. The Fontaine de Vaucluse, in France, a true whim of nature, continues to challenge researchers and curious minds, as it has since time immemorial.
The waters which surge forth from the base of the cliff come from the rainwater and snow melt which infiltrate the ground as they run off Mont Ventoux, the Monts de Vaucluse and Lure Mountain - accounting for a catchment area of 1100 km. The only place this water comes out of the ground is at the Fontaine de Vaucluse, in France.

Fontaine de Vaucluse in spring
Fontaine de Vaucluse - France
The spring overflows following heavy spring rains in 2008.
Fontaine de Vaucluse : the spring in winter
Fontaine de Vaucluse - France
The spring in winter, at a low level.

The secret of the Fontaine de Vaucluse, in France
Having gone out to dance with the girls of Isle sur la Sorgue one hot day, the old fiddler Basile fell asleep in the shade, on the road called Chemin de Vaucluse. A nymph as beautiful as the clear waters appeared, took the sleeping man's hand and led him to the edge of the basin where the Sorgue river opens out. Before them, the waters parted and let them descend between two walls of liquid crystal to the bottom of the chasm. After a long underground walk, the nymph, in the middle of a cheerful prairie sown with supernatural flowers, stopped the fiddler in front of 7 big diamonds. Lifting one of them, she made a strong fountain of water gush forth. And lo, she said, the secret of the spring of which I am the guardian. To make it swell, I take away the diamonds ; with the seventh, the water reaches "the fig tree that drinks only once a year", and she disappeared as she awoke Basile from his slumber.

Fontaine de Vaucluse in spring

 © Photos A and JP Fizet - François Lochon (Gamma)

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