In Provence’s Vaulcuse department, Carpentras is a town with something interesting or just plain adorable on almost every corner. It’s a one-of-a-kind town because it was the capital of Comtat Venaissin, a Papal Enclave that remained separate from France until the Revolution.
An unusual thing about Carpentras is that it has always tolerated people of the Jewish faith, and Carpentras is proud to have the oldest practising Synagogue in France. Also putting the town on the map is the precious black truffle, which is harvested from November to March and sells for eye-watering prices at the weekly market.
Lets explore the best things to do in Carpentras:
1. Carpentras Synagogue
The city has had a Jewish community since 1276 when the Jews were expelled from France by Philip the Fair.
This Papal Enclave was one of the only places to grant Jewish people freedom of worship at that time.
The town’s synagogue is from 1367 is the oldest one still used in France.
You can book a tour of the building from the tourist office, and will be led through the basement where the mikvah bath is set for ritual washing.
There’s also an antique instrument for making matzo flatbread here.
The interior of the synagogue upstairs was updated in the 18th century and, with chandeliers and columns, is a master-work of rococo religious design.