“A center for Jewish culture, history, and religion.” Provence has always been revered for its breathtaking landscapes and historic structures that are still intact throughout the centuries. It is a destination you’ll continually daydream about even after your Jewish heritage tour. Since the middle ages, Provence has been home to one of the first and still flourishing Jewish communities in the world.
Journey to the Carpentras and the Holy Communities
Take a religious heritage tour to the four Holy Communities or the Arba Kehilot — the Jewish quarters in Provence, Carpentras, Avignon, and Cavaillon.
In the heart of Provence, Carpentras stands as colossal as the Roman architecture that served as the cornerstone of its historic beauty. This vibrant city is oozing with all sorts of homegrown produce — from honey, wheat, strawberries, and livestock. On Fridays, you’ll witness the colorful and vibrant and signature Carpentras market, with locals gathering to trade resources and stock up for the next weeks’ consumption. This active commerce in Carpentras dates back to the Middle Ages, with the Phocaeans and the Greeks coming to the market for their daily bread.
The history behind the colorful market of Carpentras lies in the year 1155, when the Marquis of the Provence sent the Bishop of Carpentras, Raous Raymond I, the confirmation to hold the market in the cemetery of Saint-Siffrein. By that time, there had been 200 stallholders that gave the market life and vibrancy.
Eventually, the market expanded in 1385 in Place des Pénitents Noirs. Since then, they’ve held the weekly tradition of gathering every Friday.
Along with Carpentras, is Avignon, which is still part of the holy communities. It is considered as one of the major cities in France, famous for the residency of the popes in the 14th century. It’s particularly famous for the ‘Le Palais des Papes, the Pope’s Palace, which is considered as the world’s largest Gothic edifice. Avignon is said to have a strategic location between two mighty rivers: the Rhône and Durance rivers, both significant routes for trade and communication.
Famous for its Lavender fields, rare excursions such as the ochers of Rousillion, stained glass windows of Gordes, and its finest export, Melons, is a city below the heart of Provence. Cavaillon was named after the French term of the word ‘melons’. So make sure you take a slice whenever you’re in town.
Walk around the old city, discover the 19th-century synagogue, and delight at the beautiful afternoon sunlight as you reconnect with your past in this all-inclusive Kosher Tour.
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