Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is a commune in the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France. The name Vaucluse comes from the Latin phrase vallis clausa or “closed valley”. Wikipedia
This village of 600 inhabitants was once called Vaucluse or the closed valley (Vallis Clausa in Latin) and it gave its name to the French department of Vaucluse. Several trails indicate human occupation in the area since the neolithic era. Its spring has been the object of a major cult since Antiquity, and the Sorgue was used as a trade route by the Phoenicians of Massalia and later the Romans. Following some major discoveries from two cave dives by the SSFV, two archaeological sites under the protection of the SRA PACA has allowed more than 1600 antique coins from the first century BC to the 5th century AD to be brought back up to the surface.
In the Middle Ages, a hermit supposedly lived in the spot. Eventually, he performed miracles that led to his being consecrated as Bishop of Cavaillon. His successor, Walcaudus, received the consent of the ruling counts of the area to settle monks there. A monastery was constructed, but was ruined by the 11th century. Clement, the Bishop of Cavaillon, ordered its reconstruction by Isarn, abbot of Sainte-Victoire. The poet Petrarch made it his preferred residence in the 14th century, writing, “The illustrious source of the Sorgue, famous for itself long ago, became even more famous by my long stay and my songs.” (Petrarch, Seniles, X, 2).
The poet left in 1353 after his son’s death. The village was razed shortly afterward by bandits, who withdrew at the sight of the intimidating episcopal seat. A museum stands on the spot of Petrarch’s house today, and the town is twinned with Arquà Petrarca, where the poet died. Following this attack, the village and valley fell into oblivion. Thought of as a wild place, it was avoided through the 16th and 17th centuries. Vaucluse was again popularized by a duel between the famous Honore Gabriel Riqueti and Louis-Francois de Galliffet. A letter published by Riqueti brought fame to the area again, and a column was built to honour Petrarch in the eighteenth century.
In 1946, Jacques Cousteau and another diver were almost killed while searching for the bottom of the spring. An air compressor used to fill their tanks had taken in its own exhaust fumes and produced carbon monoxide—nearly killing them before they could return to the surface from a depth of approximately 100 meters.