At the heart of the Côtes de Rhone, Sablet is
a charming provençal village, with narrow streets, called calades.
These wind up to the church which is dominated by a squat bell tower,
topped by an open bell chamber. Here the sweetness of daily life comes
in a variety of forms. Besides, how can you not want to tarry in such
a village where the watchword “Fidelis et Tutis” is already
rich in promise?
The old village is circled by solid ramparts, the Barrys, built in the 11th century and enthusiastically restored by the association of the same name.
On the historical map, Sablet was in a leading position in the Comtat Venaissin that King Philippe III, called “The Bold”, ceded to Pope Gregory X in 1274 . The people of Sablet swore fidelity to him on 2nd February 1274 within the framework of Saint-André-des-Ramières. During the French revolution, when Avignon remained true to King Louis XVI, the Comtat chose to win or to die in a holy siege. But in May 1791 the National Assembly decreed the alliance of the Comtat and the states of Avignon to the French Empire.
The old buildings
The church, dedicated to St Nazaire, was at first a
roman chapel, built after the Saracen invasion. In the course of time
it has seen numerous demolitions and modifications. Inside, one can
see two statues, one of St Roche, the patron of the parish, and the
other of St Nazaire, the patron of the Church. The stone altar, with
carvings of wheat and vine branches and the lectern were made by local
craftsmen. At Christmas it is an absolute must to admire the crib where
the wax santons (carved figures) are more than a hundred years old.
On the road out of the village towards Carpentras, the St Roche chapel commemorates the plague of 1720 that devasted Provence. In order to protect themselves from the plague, the Walls of Venasque, the famous “Wall of the Plague”, were built. But the people of Sablet preferred to ask for the protection of their Saint, who they later thanked by building this modest and humble chapel, which is currently being restored.
A bit further away, adjacent to the cemetery, is the Chapel of St Nazaire, built between the XII and XIV centuries. For a long time lying disused, it has been restored by the Companions of the Barrys, and they have transformed it into a concert hall.
Another feature of the village is the fountains and the communal washing place fed by water springs which come down the Chevalong hills. Their role must have been essential in the daily life of the past centuries.
The Coco Café.
There was a time, already long past, when the restaurant “Les Abeilles” was called the Coco Café. Built just next to the railway station it was at that time a hotel, restaurant and dance hall well known for its 80 sq metre dance floor. This establishment renowned in the area, was at the leading edge of modernity, when it installed electricity in 1928. In this way the gramophone replaced the violin for the greater pleasure of the dancers! Roller skating events were also organised as well as boules and boxing matches. In winter during the war, the room was used as a co-operative for vines and also sometimes served as a classroom. Following on from that it was a private club at one time and then a discotheque, then the Coco Café began its decline. It is a pleasure for the village to see its new lease of life. The large branches of the plane trees tremble with happiness, ready again to offer their welcome shade during the heat of summer.
The summer festivities.
Sablet is at the heart of the summer festivities. Between
the famous Chorégies of Orange, the Festival of dance and music
of Vaison la Romaine and that of Carpentras dedicated to theatre, there
is no time to be bored! More than this, Sablet in its turn is amongst
the important festivals with its superb Day of Books.
This cultural event, which always takes place at the end of July, transforms the village into an enormous open air bookshop. Begun in 1987 by the Companions of the Barry, it attracts more than 15,000 visitors who mix with about a hundred writers of all kinds. The goal is to enhance the role of books and reading. One meanders around the stands to see, choose, discuss in a rare spirit of friendship and respect. One can, at the same time, take part in animated conversations in the shade of the gardens. This fantastic day ends with the awarding of the prize for the best novel, where the winning author can choose to have a cheque or his/her weight in beautiful and good bottles of wine! All the village welcomes you with enthusiasm.