The top 5 places to visit in Provence
The top 5 places to visit in Provence
Go to Provence, they said. You will love everything you see.
And they were right.
But Provence-Alpes-Côte d-Azur is a region of more than 31,000 km2 in the region and with more than 5 million inhabitants. It is close to the Italian Cinque Terre; it borders other beautiful regions of France, such as Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. When all is cream and everywhere is climbing to the top, how can you possibly ration your time to find the best of this best place in the world to visit?
Any list of the best places to visit in Provence is open to a wild and enjoyable discussion. Don’t hesitate to disagree and tell me your favorite sites. But for today, these five places are worthy of any “to visit” list you might have. Happy exploring!
Many artists choose this traditional village which sits on top of a hill. You may have heard of it in discussions of famous painters who have made this beautiful location their home to soak up the delightful light and expansive views.
The village of Gordes stands on a limestone rock in the Mont de Vaucluse. It’s a place of narrow streets and traditional white houses, and at the end of every alley is a view that will leave you stunned in the silence.
You can visit to simply soak up the environment and the quiet French life that attracted artists. However, you should really look for the 11e-the century castle, which is the most important monument in the village. You will be impressed by its towers and stone walls. In summer there are festivals and exhibitions.
It’s only 25 minutes from Avignon – and that’s a bonus because Avignon should really make a list of must-see places in Provence. Avignon is the seat of the papacy in France. The city retains all the beauty of the time with its churches and medieval streets.
It is a city surrounded by water. Indeed, you will find water everywhere, and it will give you the feeling of being lost on an island. Water is an element of tranquility, and it has undoubtedly had its impact on L’Isle-Sur-la-Sorgue. We mention this place not because there are some fantastic tourist attractions and cultural experiences you should not miss, but because it looks like a fairy tale. You can walk along the riverside and through random streets and everywhere will be a scene worthy of a photograph.
If you want something that draws you to a place, let’s call it a USP, then the little shops in town and the Sunday market will have you covered. There are a few cute bookstores and places to buy trinkets. The market is probably one of the best in France with everything from fresh food and textiles to local crafts.
Yes, you guessed right, I chose this delicious place for its wine. If you are going to Provence, you must spend at least a small part of your time tasting the grapes. This beautiful village is surrounded by vineyards, vineyards and caves. You can spend your days sightseeing for a tasting session of the delicious wine, and you will also be offered small bites to eat.
Although this is a place for wine lovers, there is no doubt that you can also visit the castle and the nearby town of Courthezon with its medieval beauty. I would always time my visit here for the first week of August, as there is a beautiful festival – the Fête de la Véaison – that will transport you to pure French culture.
If you are looking for something more metropolitan, the large city of Cavaillon might be the place for you. It is one of the largest towns in Provence and is cited between Mont Luberon and Saint-Jacques hill, making it one of the best places to base yourself if you like hiking. There are options for all levels of walker, from easy climbs of Saint Jacques to more ambitious hikes and trails on nearby Mont Luberon and along the Coulon River.
It may sound too energetic and you were looking for a laid back provincial life. If that’s you, keep browsing the morning market which is set up around the streets and downtown plaza. Then, join the shops along the Cours Léon Gambetta, the rue de la République and the Cours Bournissac. There are delightfully quaint shops filled with cheeses and lavender products, as well as breads, marmalades, and honey.
If you love food, you will be delighted to know that only 30 km away is Carpentras, famous for its truffles.
Last, but not least, is Lacoste. You must visit Lacoste for its castles and narrow winding lanes that will leave you feeling lost in a spy action thriller.
The castle was the home of the Marquis De Sade who wrote notoriously blasphemous books and was exiled to this location. The chateau was later bought by Pierre Cardin, French fashion designer, but is now more of a ruin than a luxurious home.
If you are an aspiring artist or writer, this is the perfect place for a retreat. Not only is it perched on a hill and so blessed with beautiful views – but it’s also a city with hidden nooks and crannies where you can hide away and get some much needed peace.
But what about…?
So any list like this will feel incomplete. Where, for example, are Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Saint-Tropez, Les Baux-de-Provence or Saint-Paul de Vence on this list? Then there is archeology in Vaison-la-Romaine; the artists’ village of Vence; Van Gogh’s greatest inspiration in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, and perfumes and art in Grasse? There is so much to take in when traveling to Provence that in reality, to do Provence justice, you need a “ must see list ” that includes well over 5 places! But, as a starting point, these five places will delight your heart and make you want to further explore this wonderful region of France.
Su Stephens is the owner of Olives & Vines. Olives & Vines is a luxury vacation company based in the South of France offering stays in their beautifully designed vacation home and boutique hotel in Le Castellet.
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