Ancient landmarks, coastal scenery, beautiful mountains, glorious lavender fields, vines and wonderful cuisine. Well, this region is all these things and many more.
It is an amazing part of southern France, which has been attracting visitors to their droves since the Romans. Artists, writers, wealthy and famous tourists, and typically all have found a fabulous atmosphere, great weather, and hospitality.
With unreal light and unique landscapes, unparalleled wines and dishes, and proverbial savoire-vivre of the Provence people, a holiday in Provence means to enjoy the beauty of life.
How to get here
There are many low-cost flights from various UK airports to Marseille, Avignon, Nimes or Montpellier. On arrival you would rent a car to get around. British Airways also has flights from London to Marseille, and if you book far ahead this would not necessarily cost more than a budget airline.
You also have the option of taking a Eurostar train to Lille and then TGV train down to Avignon or Aix. On Saturdays there is a direct Eurostar train from London to Avignon that takes about 6 hours.
With the car. Tourist attractions such as Camargue can be better admired by the car, and visiting the small rural settlements is a delight, as you will not be the slave of the bus timetable. Get ready for the frustration that you will lack parking: especially in Arles, where the streets are narrow, and the spaces reserved for parking only a few. Many cities have parking away from downtown, so if you rent a car, you will have to cross the narrow alleys and climb the stairs.
Bicycle. If the weather is good, the two wheels option is the most appropriate. Plan a bicycle trip through Véloroutes or join a cyclist tour if you are a sociable person.
By public transport: it organizes everything ahead of time, as small towns are served only by a few bus lines that do not have a very precise timetable. Join a key city and take part in one day trips to points of interest in the region.
The best places to visit in Provence
Here you will find several of the most beautiful cities in the country here. The French Riviera includes luxury and luxury resort towns. St. Tropez, and Cannes, while further west along the coast are the larger cities of Toulon and Marseilles.
Interior, landscape and culture change as it grows at altitudes higher than the position in the mountains; cities such as Aix-en-Provence and Avignon are popular, as is the beautiful hill town of Gordes.
Saint Paul de Vence is also a beautiful village attracting artists from around the world.
- Lavender fields
The lavender fields are everywhere in Provence. The classic view of the Provence region in violet colors can be admired alive at the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque in summer. The lavish view and smell will impress you on the Valensole Plateau.
Lavender, which became the fragrant emblem of the land, would have been brought here by the Romans who, four centuries after the Greeks, laid the foundations of a rich colony – the Roman province – hence the name of Provence, and built amphitheaters, temples, aqueducts, baths and stadiums at Orange, Arles, Aix-en-Provence and Nimes.
2. The Camargue National Park
In the south-west of the Provence region has extensive marshland areas, where hundreds of bird species live: go to the Pont de Gau Ornithological Park to admire the flamingo birds.
3. The charm of small towns
The most specific Provencal attractions are the small villages and the towns with their unique atmosphere, the traditions of a quiet life, good wines and tasty dishes, which can be discovered by car or by bicycle, traveling on the country roads, among the lavender plantations, vineyards or olive trees.
Forget about the maps. Wherever you go in Provence, you will meet everywhere asleep settlements as if they are in places that are breathtaking with their beauty. Try L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Fontaine de Vaucluse in the west of the region for a welcome break away from Avignon. The charming seaside resort of Les Stes-Maries-de-la-Mer has wonderful beaches, splendid scents and a delicious ice cream, whose taste you will not forget too soon. And if you want to admire the mountain scenery, do not miss Moustiers Ste-Marie.
4. Roman Ruins
If you’re passionate about history, go to Arles and Orange. Ancient Theater in Orange is undoubtedly the most famous Romanian arena between the two cities, and Orange boasts a triumphant amphitheater. There are many Roman vestiges in Arles, and its mysterious streets have inspired many of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings.
5. The Luberon
The Luberon is characterized by a series of strikingly picturesque perched, hill-top villages, dating back 1000 years or more – famous names like Gordes, Roussillon, Bonnieux, Lacoste and Menerbes of course, but also a host of beautiful villages that are relatively unknown, which you can explore here…
In the 14th century Avignon was the capital of the Catholic world, the leaders of the Catholic church living in this city, not Rome. The attractions are: The Papale Palace, Avignon Bridge.
The port harbor, the second largest city in France, was described by Dumas as “the meeting point of the whole world.” The city is also known because of France’s “La Marseillaise”, when 500 revolutionaries marched to Paris. The most colorful area of the city is Le Vieux Porte.
Montpellier is a sunny city in southern France, located on the Mediterranean coast, between Marseilles and the Spanish border, with a population of about 250,000. The main tourist attractions are: Fabre Art Museum, Jardin de Plantes, St. Peter’s Cathedral and Esplanada Europe’s historic street.
Along the coast there is a wonderful Mediterranean climate with gentle weather throughout the year, including warm and relatively dry summers with mild and humid winters. The Mistral winds are a distinctive feature of the Provence climate – it is a cold and dry wind that blows especially in winter.
In the larger mountains Alpine climate change with much snow and cooler temperatures – there are some excellent ski resorts to try if you can enjoy skiing.
Best time to visit Provence
The famous lavender fields bloom during the summer, so if you want to admire the violet vision, come here from June to August. But keep in mind that you have to deal with the crowd: you will share the view with many admirers.
If you want more a peaceful vacation, you can try to visit Provence in September-October. The huge crowds of late July and August have departed and the seasonable food is as good as it gets. No lavender fields, but you can try the wine tasting.
If you get to Provence, do not leave without doing some wine tasting. Provence capitalizes its vineyards and tourists, and the wine route passes from Nisei to Camargue, through 430 wine fields and private wine cellars, where visitors can discover the history of each of them, its wine culture or heritage and can do personalized tasting.
The rosé wine is best suited to Provencal cuisine, especially those containing garlic, Cotes de Provence and Cotes Varois wines are proudly offered to oenological specialists, and Bandol and Cassis wines are among the best of Provence.
Where to eat?
Taste the local flavors
Lavender lovers will be in taste bud heaven in Provence: the aromatic plant is used to flavor everything from ice cream to crème brulee to infused teas and honey.
Dishes served “a la Provençale”, meaning they are prepared in the style of Provence, typically feature garlic, olive oil and olives. A Mediterranean influence is not hard to spot: many sauces are tomato-based, chunky with vegetables and seasoned with zesty “herbes de Provence”. Ratatouille is very popular.
Naturally you’ll find an abundance of all kinds of cheese – this is France, after all – though goat cheese, or chevre, is mainly produced here.
Here are the best places where you can eat in Provence
- Le Bouche a Oreille
For a variety of main courses, you can try to eat here if you stay in Aix. Very good food at reasonable prices. The waiters are friendly, hard-working and efficient and you will have a lovely dinner in this place.
Food is well presented, fresh and unique in the combination of tastes and textures. Prices are very fair and well worth it. Nothing but good here.
- L’Epicurien Restaurant
This is a very small restaurant with good service and good food. The prices are reasonable. Staff is friendly and we recommend to try the local wine. All are very delicious and affordable.
- Chez Thomé
Lovely atmosphere for lunch and dining outside with sentiment of peace and calm. Lovely menu, but special thumbs up for the Squid entrée and a must: the chocolate mousse with the ginger sauce. You will not be disappointed.
Where to stay?
Gather a dozen friends or family members to split the cost of renting a private villa in Provence and it becomes a lot more affordable. Popular for milestone birthday celebrations, destination weddings and hang-the-expense retirement trips, Provence villa rentals are in highest demand from May to September. Some of the options include homesteads on olive farms, restored medieval cottages surrounded by lavender fields and sleek, modern hilltop homes with infinity pools.
- Villa – La Grimpante
Located on the outskirts of Les Baux de Provence on the road leading to The Alpilles, La Grimpante is an independent house with private pool able to accommodate up to 6 people. The house offers a beautiful surrounding with views on the Alpilles. With The Alpilles Park nearby and the Provencal towns of Saint Remy de Provence, Avignon, Arles and Nimes a short drive away the villa will offer you a tranquil holiday.
- Villa – La Cigale
Surrounded by vineyards on a hilly site between Vaison La Romaine and Gigondas, La Cigale is a semi-detached house with private pool for 8 people. Within close distance to The Mont Ventoux (the highest mount in Provence), Les Dentelles de Montmirail (both ideal places for hiking and riding) and Vaison La Romaine the area will offer a selection of activities for all tastes from historical sites to wine tasting visits or siesta under the song of the cicadas.
- Villa – La Vauclusienne
Located in a 17th century village covering 7 hectares area, La Vauclusienne is a combination of one main house and four cottages with private pool suited for 25 people. The area is offering many touristic attractions and places to visit amongst which Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and Marseille.
- Villa Le Mistral
Located on the outskirts of Les Baux de Provence, in an Alpilles village, Le Mistral is an independent house with private pool for 10 people. The area is offering a vast variety of activities from hiking, riding to cultural, historical and gastronomic visits. Avignon, Nimes and other touristic cities are a short drive away from Le Mistral.
- Villa Le Grillon
Located between Vaison La Romaine and Gigondas, Le Grillon is a semi-detached house with shared pool for 4 people. Within close distance to The Mont Ventoux (the highest mount in Provence), Les Dentelles de Montmirail (both ideal places for hiking and riding) and Vaison La Romaine the area will offer a selection of activities for all tastes.