Going to be staying in this area for about a week would like some advice for small 1/2 trips by car to see the surrounding area. Any advice appreciated.
For sure, see the Roman theatre in Orange.
We stayed in Vaison la Romaine on a RS tour and really enjoyed the town. There are Roman ruins there that are very interesting and a small museum on the site. The small piazza in the town was fun to relax, have a drink and watch the locals visiting with each other. The young teenagers were skateboarding and putting on a show for us.
We stayed at Hostellerie Le Beffroie. The hotel was nice, all of the rooms that we saw were different and interesting, but comfortable. I don't remember an elevator. BUT, the standout about the hotel was the food. We had a group dinner there 2 nights and it was outstanding. Dinner was in a courtyard that was beautiful! If I were within 50 miles of there I would make a reservation and eat there again. I would also love to stay in the hotel again.
One of our activities was to go to a vineyard close by in an extremely small town that I can't remember the name of. The vineyard was Domaine de Mourchon. It was one of the most enjoyable vineyard that we've been to in Europe. The guide had reserved a lunch for us there served by the Owner Wife and it was wonderful. They walked us in the vineyards and then to show us the process that the grapes go through to make the wine. and then the tasting. The wine was very nice. If traveling on your own, I would contact them and make arrangements for a tour if possible. It was a highlight day.
And I agree the theatre in Orange was very interesting, also!
Whatever you decide to do I hope you have a Great Time!
The town MImi is talking about is Seguret. I know, because I have a bottle of Domaine Mourchon sitting on my counter from last's year RS tour of this area. We'd been in this area 7 years ago, but somehow ended up with a guide that was a Chinese student studying in Avignon and all we knew about this town was "it is most beautiful town in Provence" For 7 years I'd been searching for the name of this town until we visited with the RS Eastern France tour -mystery solved. Anyway, Seguret is lovely, winery as well and we enjoyed a stop at Le 3 Souquets D977 Route de Vaison La Romaine, Seguret that had olive oil, fabulous lotions and santons made on the premises. The amphitheater in Orange is breath-taking and you aren't far from either Gigondas or Chateau Neuf de Pape, if you like wine.
Last year we took a day trip from Nyons to the valley below Mount Ventoux, and it was spectacular. You can easily do the same thing from Vaison, and make it 1/2 day or a full day, depending on how many stops you want to make. I'm attaching the link to my blog covering that day. If you take part of this trip, I'd make sure to include Brantes.
You will be right near the Cotes du Rhone Wine Road, which is described in RS France book. We took this road trip last week, and it was a highlight of our visit. It lasts about a half a day but can be extended depending upon what else you do. The villages along the circular route are Seguret, which is really lovely, Crestet, Suzette, and Gigondas, and RS notes several wineries that are in between them which you can also visit. We did not get to Crestet, but the other villages are well worth a visit. We also picked up picnic food in Vaison la Romaine (at the Bio Coop) and ate it on a beautiful hillside at Col de la Chaine nearby. Gigondas is definitely worth a view, and has several really nice restaurants and a great wine tasting center. It also has walking/hiking trails for enjoying beautiful scenery - you can get a map at the Tourist Info in the town center.
The Ancient theater is Orange is very interesting
Mont Ventoux (especially if you are a fan of the TDF)
Vaison is a great town - great location for day trips
Thanks to everyone for the answers and to the OP for the question; I've taken notes and read Robert's blog.
We'll be two weeks in Villedieu and Malaucène in September; we haven't done much exploration of this area since 2000.