Fontaine de Vaucluse – Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, France - Atlas Obscura

Fontaine de Vaucluse

Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, France

Even France's favorite aquatic son Jacques Cousteau, couldn't get to the bottom of it. 


Fontaine de Vaucluse is a small town with a big secret – the source of the Sorgue River.

Occupation of the small town began in the Neolithic era and continues today. In ancient times, the massive, gurgling spring was a religious site. Over 1,600 coins dating from the 1st c. BC to the 5th c. AD have been recovered from the spring. The spring, with its glorious turquoise water, is the fifth largest in the world with an annual flow of 630 million cubic meters.

In 1946, Jacques Cousteau and another diver attempted to discover the source of the spring, but failed and nearly drowned at 100 m. in the process. It was only in 1986 that a diving robot successfully reached its deepest point of 306 m. and found that the great quantity of water that sprang from this spring was due to it being the only exit point of a subterranean basin from Mount Ventoux.

Also of interest in the town is a lovely ruined chateau that towers above the town. The poet Petrarch lived here in exile from Florence and composed many poems about his unrequited love for Laura, his muse.  His former home is now a museum. There is also an ancient paper mill you can visit as well as a few small museums.

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December 1, 2013

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