In May 2017, Arthur and I travelled to south-eastern France to do research in various archives and explore the towns and countryside where my Vianot ancestors had lived during the 15th to 18th centuries prior to sailing to North America. We stayed in Bollène for a week and saw the sites of the town, visited the Municiple Archives and found a few parish records there. We took day trips to Saint-Paul-Trois-Châteaux, Donzère, Rochemaure, and Avignon, visiting local museums/archives and walking through the towns. The following week we revisited the Departmental Archives of Vaucluse (DAV) in Avignon, and then moved northward to visit the Departmental Archives of Ardèche (DAA) in Privas, and the Departmental Archives of Drôme (DAD) in Valence, before playing tourist and exploring other areas of France.
Highlights of our trip included finding two Marriage Contracts in our search through many Notorial Records and other sources in the various archives. Many of the Notorial Records had indices but some did not. It was the records of Jean Doulhon, Notary of Bollène located at DAV in Avignon, where we found the Marriage Contract dated 5th July 1705 for Antoine Vianot & his 2nd wife, Andrieue Lunel(le) (page 1 of 9 pages). Later, while looking at the Notorial Records for Etienne Barthélemy, Notary of Donzère on microfilm at DAD in Valence, we found the Marriage Contract dated 26th October 1638 for Andeol Vianot & his 1st wife, Catherine Barthélémy (page 1 and page 2 of 6 pages). Marriage Contracts reveal more information about the families and give the names of the parents of the bride and groom. Most marriage entries in parish registers around those dates do not provide the names of parents of the bride and groom.
With my limited French, we were still able to communicate with the staff at the various archives and found they went out of their way to welcome us. They were generous with their time to show us what was available in different groups of records and assisted with interpretation of several entries from these records. When they did not hold the records we sought, they referred us to other institutions that might hold them.
All in all it was an interesting trip as genealogists and as tourists.