Provence is in South-eastern France and borders Italy and the Mediterannean sea. Having visited France a few times over the years and I agree Provence really is one of the most beautiful regions of France.
For many years I have wanted to visit Provence and this Summer, I finally got to go. It was everything I hoped for with its beautiful landscape scenery, rolling hills, olive trees, vineyards and lavender fields just starting to come out.
After flying into into Marseilles, the largest city in Provence, we took a 10 minute bus to collect our hire car. We based ourselves in St Remy and visited lots of the pretty towns and villages. In this post I am sharing some of those we visited with you, in case you want to visit.
Aix en Provence
Aix en Provence (pronounced X) used to be the capital of Provence, a University town and really vibrant. It is full of many beautiful old buildings every street you turn in the old part of town.. We stayed 2 nights there in a hotel on the Cours Mirebeau, the main tree lined avenue.
There are lots of very attractive shops full of lavender, oils, cheeses and wine. All these Provencal goods are prettily packaged for you to bring home as gifts,
The restaurant above, we chose to eat in a couple of times, we enjoyed it so much. We loved the food, the service and the buzz around the square.
Bonnieux is another pretty perched village. It is so tiny, one half day is enough to visit. The architecture is wonderful and the streets picturesque. We climbed 86 stone steps to the “Vieille Eglise” . Once up here, we saw spectacular views of the Monts du Vacluse, as well as the villages of Gordes and Roussillon.
Lots of lovely painted shutters on the buildings throughout all the villages and towns we visited.
We loved Gordes! It is another ‘perched’ hilltop village in the gorgeous Luberon region, which is full of wonderful views, vineyards and orchards. This village is so charming and I am not surprised that it is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France. If you only pick one or two places to see in Provence, this is a must! Just outside the village you get the panoramic views, which we spotted when driving in. In the movie “A Good Year”, the character Fanny Chanel’s cafe was filmed here in the centre of the village.
Les Baux de Provence is a pretty medieval village, 15km from Arles in the heart of the Alpilles, a low mountain region that is truly what you think of when you think Provence. Les Baux is another village that has been classified as ‘one of the most beautiful villages in France’ and I can see why. You cannot drive through the village, but you can easily park outside. The village is so small, we spent a wonderful afternoon just wandering through the streets. There is plenty to wander through such as visiting the medieval church, craft shops, art galleries. The”Citadelle des Baux” at the summit of the village, you can learn all about the history.
L’isle sur la Sorgue
I know I have said it before, but this is another one of those places in Provence, one should visit. L’isle sur la Sorgue is 25km from Avignon and sits on the river Sorgue. It is full of ancient streets and little bridges
This pretty town is full of Art Galleries. I did a bit of research before we went and found that they hold the largest market outside Paris on Sundays. So of course, we set off from our base in St Remy de Provence and arrived at 9:30 in the morning, just to ensure we could get parking, which we did no problem.
The market had every type of stall you could think of. I thought it was amazing, the stalls winded all along the main roads, through the ancient streets, along the river and on the bridges. There were antiques, soaps, provencal food, fruit, vegetables, hot food, scarves, hats, bags, everything you can think of! I loved it here.
Roussillon is situated in the Luberon. A small village right in the heart of the biggest Ochre deposits in the world, with impressive red clifs. Hence, the buildings here range from yellow to pink to red.
I did find it expensive here and a ½ day was plenty to visit for. But it certainly is pretty.
So, these are some of the towns and villages we visited, I hope it gives you some inspiration if you choose to visit Provence.