There’s something about Provence. Those who visit, long to return, charmed by its beauty, wowed by its markets, awed by the sight of fields of lavender, poppies, sunflowers… and much much more.
We asked long term expat in Provence, as well as renowned tour guide, Emily Durand of Your Private Provence to share her top tips for visiting and reasons to fall in love with Provence:
Sitting at an outside café sipping a coffee or a glass of wine and soaking up the ambiance of a village square..
Provencal markets are a cultural experience as much as a shopping experience. Almost every village has a market ranging for small and cute to rather grand as in Apt and Aix-en-Provence. Get your basket ready and head off to meet the locals and buy delicious bread, cheese, pastries, fruit, olive oils and wine. LINK MARKETS
Truly great gastronomy
Savouring baguettes, cheese, saucissons, fresh fruit and sweet macarons or madeleines, tangy tapenade and the ripest of olives, chilled wine and local dishes flavoured with herbes de Provence and locally picked truffles. Provence is a land made for those who love great food.
The passion of growers and artisans
Getting to know a French person and their passion. On my wine tour, this is what stuck out the most. At the end of week, everyone talked about their highlights. It was all about the people they met, and how each person, each story was different and of how the passion of the wine growers left a special memory.
The internet is awash with photos of Provence’s lavender fields – but nothing is as good as the real thing. The scent, the sight the magic of the lavender fields…
Read more on the best places to see lavender fields in Provence
Picnic in Provence
Enjoying a catered picnic in a vineyard, under the shade of a plane trees, or anywhere with stunning views (or enjoy lunch at a winegrower’s home).
Seeing French life go on… The other day we were in Les Baux and there was a group of French high school students waiting for their bus. They turned on their music, played it through a speaker, and started doing a group dance and singing to the Macarena. After a round of applause, a nice officer came over to say that they would have to stop. Oh, they were so disappointed. The officer understood their disappointment but he had no choice but to tell them to stop. It was a scene of life going on before the eyes. Lovely, simple life going on all over the world for the spectator to absorb and treasure as moments to remember.
The people, the history, the food – everything is connected here, but it’s the people that make it truly special.
A-list cities Arles, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence are every bit as fabulous as you’d expect, wide boulevards, wonderful architecture, restaurants that look like a dream film set. For more traditional Provence visit some of the smaller villages – there’s a lot of choice, from perched villages with panoramic views to historic towns you’ll never forget. Read more about the most beautiful villages of Provence
Provence loves its details
Details are everywhere in Provence for instance, you go to the bakery and they wrap your mille-feuille in a cute little box tied with a ribbon. The way the table is set, the cheese after your meal, the small cups of coffee, the French greetings, the intonation of the language and Provencal accent, the coloured shutters and tight knitted cobblestone lanes. So much for the senses to take in…
So much diversity is at your fingertips and ready to be explored in so many different ways. Light hikes, by bike, or just cruising by in the car. The diverse landscapes that change with every season keep people coming back for more…because if you have seen the poppies you’ll be back to see the Lavender and vice versa.
So much to see and do
There are multiple activities that allow one to not just see but also experience the region. Cooking lessons, agricultural tours, gourmet meals at a local’s house, meet the potter, the cheese monger or the artist. There is so much fun to be had in Provence.
Provence is romantic! There are so many places to stop and smell the roses, literally. Or a bench to sit down on with a view. Or a picnic spot under an olive tree with local rosé. Strolls through picturesque villages and photoshoots in wide open fields of red poppies or blue lavender. Sunrise or sunset, there is always a spot nearby to capture the beauty of Provence.
Provence is a photographer’s paradise. So much to capture with incredible light.
The colour of Autumn
The colours of the countryside and the vineyards at fall are just magical – especially for a photographer.
Walking in the footsteps of Van Gogh
Vincent Van Gogh loved Provence and painted it endlessly, creating hundreds of artworks. The visitor’s centre in Arles provides a walking tour map of the places he painted. At the Fondation Van Gogh, some of his best-loved works are on display. Retrace the steps of Van Gogh and stand before elements that he painted and feel the magic.
Contemplating that Avignon was actually the “Vatican” for almost nearly 70 years. The monumental Palais des Papes is every bit as impressive today as it was 700 years ago when the popes lived here.
Miles and miles of beautiful golden sands, the sparkling blue Mediterranean sea and masses of choice for seaside lovers from St Tropez, Cannes and Nice to tiny seaside villages, hidden away, waiting to be discovered…
Provence is famous not just for its lavender fields but for its poppies too! In May the area bursts into bloom and the sight of acres of red dancing heads of the pretty flowers fill you’re your heart with joy. Find out more about poppies in Provence
Wine of Provence
Rosé wine is what we all normally think of when we consider the vineyards in Provence, it’s like bottled sunshine! But red wine and white is also produced here and there are so many places to taste the wines and enjoy the beautiful views from Chateauneuf du Pape to the little vineyards of Nice and all the way in between!