Check out these top tips for Provence visits. The prettiest towns, the best shops and antique hunting, amazing attractions and more…
The heart of Provence is found in the countryside and its hilltop villages. Beyond the big famous cities like Aix or Avignon (both of which are certainly stupendous) a village stay or a farmhouse rental can be glorious.
Top tips to make your trip to Provence tip top
Don’t go in the summer if you don’t like it crowded and very hot! July, August and early September can be scalding. The only reason to go in July is if you insist on getting those lavender photos you’ve dreamed of. But in spring you can tromp through fields of red poppies!
It’s all about timing! Hit Roussillon in the early morning to walk the Ochre trail and stay for lunch. If you head to touristy Les Baux, go at the end of the day to avoid the hordes. And don’t forget to go see The Carrierre des Lumieres, just outside of Les Baux, an interactive sound and light show which is a new kind of museum which is situated in a limestone quarry.
After visiting Van Gogh’s Asylum, St. Paul de Mausole where he completed some of his most famous works, be sure to stop into Soleaido in St. Remy, the quintessential Provençal fabric place. Their men’s shirts are fabulous and make for an ideal gift and pick up a scarf for yourself.
Head to Ile sur la Sorgue to peruse the antiques markets but be sure to arrive on a Saturday or preferably a Sunday when they are open. Sunday is market day so it’ll be crowded but a lot of fun. Tea and tarts (both savouyy and sweet) at Jouvaud is de rigeur.
Lourmarin one of Peter Mayle’s favorites is a picture perfect village which has excellent shops. Try La Recrée for lunch – their Provençal tart is perfection.
Captivating and alluring Provence
Cassis is the most beautiful, picturesque town on the French Mediterranean and – wait for it – the best rosé wines are from Cassis and are hard to find elsewhere so stock up!
Further afield but worth the drive is the Gorge du Verdon with its sparkling blue waters. This is a mecca for hiking enthusiasts but don’t spend too much time in the hills the must see village of Marie des Moustiers awaits with its famous hand painted ceramics and charming cafes.
Try your hardest to visit Cezanne’s atelier in the hills above Aix. They’ve kept it just the way he had it with the same objects he painted in his still life’s down to the skull and pitcher. It looks as if he’s just stepped out for lunch.
More on Provence
Magnificent Mont Ventoux – the giant of Provence