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This grand, sunny village retains a welcoming freshness at the height of summer thanks to the many branches of the river Sorgue. Fishermen line the banks while canoes and kayaks glide across the clear waters. The river was once used by mills producing the dye called “madder” (garance in French), a root used to colour the pantaloons of the French infantry until 1915. Today, the waterwheel of La Garancine, located at the gateway to the village, is the most beautiful testimony to this craft.
The origins of the city date back to the Middle Ages, with its first mention appearing in a text in 1125, cited as a “bourg”.
In the centre of the old town stands the church, of Notre-Dame-du-Lac classified as a historical monuments, and a veritable jewel, built in the late twelfth century. Its curved, cross-ribbed vault reflects advanced Romanesque construction techniques, and its nave is over a hundred feet long. The waters of the Sorgue flowing at its foot, beneath the the roundness of the apse, might suggest a sort of stone ship which anchored one morning, having discovered that the welcoming meander in the river was the most beautiful place in the world.
The old centre, whose discovery deserves a long walk, was once surrounded by ramparts. The last vestige of the old city walls that protected Le Thor is the Porte de Douzabas, also called the Belfry Gate, whose square tower rears up, topped by a bulb-shaped bell tower.
The inter-war period was the heyday of Le Thor, with Chasselas grapes being exported around France, to Germany, Switzerland, Belgium and beyond.
A strong commercial activity with the development of trade in the Chasselas Doré table grape variety, brought acclaim to the town, which that is often referred to as the “Capital of the Chasselas.” With an ever increasing flow of trade, the city became very well-off indeed.
In the surrounding countryside, Thouzon Hill, two kilometres from Le Thor and occupied since Neolithic times, rises above the plain. At the top of the hill, the ruins of the fortified Benedictine priory of Thouzon, often called the “Château de Thouzon” still stand and includes two Romanesque chapels dedicated to St. Mary and St. Peter. From this vantage point there is an exceptional view of the Monts de Vaucluse and Mont Ventoux. At the foot of the hill, discover the fabulous Thouzon caves, discovered in 1902, the only horizontal network in the area — most subterranean passages here are vertical. They are specially adapted for tourist visits.
The Parc des Estourans is the place to learn about the Canal du Moulin, now commonly called the “Sorgue des Moulins”, this canal was dug in 1404 to supply Le Thor with water. It starts at Notre Dame and irrigates land between the canal and the grand Sorgue, which it connects to on the South-Eastern side of the Château de Courtet.
Where the park is today, and until not so long ago, the mill still stood, providing drinking water to Le Thor via the water tower which is still in place. It wasn't until 1922 that the water pipe network was installed at St Roch on the road to Velleron.
→ There is a trail for walks along the Sorgue, starting at the Tourist Office
Le Thor Tourist Office
Place du 11 Novembre 84250 Le Thor
Tel: +33 (0)4 90 33 92 31Contact
Tuesday to Friday: 9.30 am – 12.15 and 2 pm – 6 pm
Saturday: 9.30 am - 12.15, Closed on Sundays Mondays and French bank holidays.