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Interesting Visit to Carpentras France’s Oldest Synagogue

A Visit to Carpentras

It is not unusual to find us headed to Carpentras on Friday mornings for the weekly market or shopping for kid’s clothes. Carpentras is a 25-minute ride down the D-7 from the village of Sablet. As we get near, we see Notre Dame de l’Observance Church towering over Carpentras.

The city of Carpentras is located along the banks of the Auzon River. Carpentras was a commercial site used by Greek merchants in ancient times and known to Romans, first as Carpentoracte Meminorum, mentioned by Pliny, then renamed Forum Neronis (“Forum of Nero”).

Pope Clement V took up residence in Carpentras at the beginning of the Avignon Papacy, along with the Roman Curia, in 1313. It was his successor Pope John XXII who settled definitively in Avignon. Nowadays, Carpentras is a commercial center for Comtat Venaissin and is famous for the black truffle market that takes place every Friday morning during the winter months. In May and June, the strawberries from the fields around Carpentras are juicy red treats.

The Oldest Synagogue in France

The synagogue in Carpentras was built in 1367 and is France’s oldest Jewish house of worship today. Richly decorated interiors are highlighted by deep red wall hangings and a turquoise-blue domed roof. The building has several points of interest, including a 30-foot-deep ritual bath fed by a natural spring and two bakeries. Portions of the structure were restored in the 18th century and declared a historical monument in 1924.

The Carpentras tourist office offers guided tours of the synagogue.


Place Maurice Charretier
84200, Carpentras
Tel: +33 (0)4 90 63 39 97

The Jewish cemetery in Carpentras is also worth a visit. In 1343, Bishop Hughes, the nephew of Pope Clement VI, who held the seat of power in Avignon then, allowed the Jewish community access to land to build the synagogue and establish a cemetery.

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Michel and Shirley

Michel and Shirley, live in wine country, in Windsor, California. They have a full family with two beautiful daughters and five amazing grandchildren. Michel's day job is as CEO of Chancellor Health Care, a company which provides housing and services to older adults.

Previously a co-owner of a popular French bistro called Bistro des Copains located in Western Sonoma County California. The Bistro was closed in early 2015, after nine years!

In 2008, after searching for years and visiting many houses they bought a 17th century stone village house in the medieval village of Sablet which is in the Vaucluse region of Provence France.

Please read about the Sablet House (available for rent) and follow their blog Our House in Provence.

1 Comment

  1. Barry Hoffman
    October 6, 2019 at 6:35 am — Reply

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