My name is Sonia and welcome to my Provence travel guide! I first went to Provence five years ago and since I’ve been back a handful of times. This is one of my top destinations for a relaxing time, to enjoy history, landscapes and food & wine. I love strolling around the Provencal hilltop villages, their quietness, and the limestone facades adorned with vines and flowers.
One of my favorite things to do is to hit the markets in the different towns and buy the local produce, which is then always a challenge to carry back home in my luggage! But I simply can’t resist the smells and tastes. I also love visiting new wineries and olive groves, and discovering more about the wide variety of wines and olive oils produced in the region.
Why Provence is Such a Special Destination
Provence is the type of place you’ll want to visit if you like slow-paced trips – one where you aren’t bound by time, where you can roam schedule-free. You’ll enjoy the most of the Provence region by taking your time while walking around and discovering the small medieval hill-top villages, by spending the mornings at the markets and visiting the vineyards in the afternoon, by taking your time, and really enjoying your lunch or dinner with incredible views of the valleys and hills surrounding them.
Provence is for those who like picturesque landscapes and towns, for those who are patient enough to see the beauty in the little things that most people don’t notice and for those who enjoy the comfort of a good meal that isn’t rushed. These things combine to make Provence truly special!
Favorite Part of Provence: The Small Villages
It’s hard to pick one aspect of Provence that has my heart. As I said before, Provence is less about a single place or landmark and more about the experience as a whole. However, I do love the medieval towns – and there’s so many to discover and I keep discovering more everytime I go!
Each one of the villages has a unique atmosphere, a slightly differentiated architecture and style of houses/streets, definitely each one has a different view to the surrounding landscapes and each one has its own weekly market – and that makes them all very special! These small villages are probably the one thing I would feature the most in Provence if I had to.
5 Quintessential Things To Do in Provence
1. Explore the Small, Medieval Villages of Provence
Visiting the small villages will take a good part of your time in Provence if you’re staying for one or two weeks. And you should take your time, that’s how you get the best of them! Places like Gordes, Lourmarin, Bonnieux, Venasque, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie and Roussillon are all delightful!
2. Visit the Larger Towns/Cities of Provence
Then you have the larger towns that are also spectacular, like Saint-Remy and L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue – both of which have such a lively atmosphere, especially on market days when the streets are full of people and offer a great variety of delicious food, vegetables and all sorts of other treats.
Aix-en-Provence is another place I like. It’s a larger city but its architecture is incredible. The town is quiet and tranquil during the day. And then in the early evening it transforms with lots of energy coming out onto the streets, the restaurant terraces full of diners and music everywhere!
3. Experience the Lavender Fields of Provence
During June and July, you can’t miss the lavender fields – especially around the Valensole Plateau. These attract many tourists but the sights are really so beautiful! The whole atmosphere here is infused with the calming and soothing scent of lavender, and you could definitely say you arrived at Valensole even with a blindfold on. The colors are most vivid at sunset (or sunrise, if you’re adventurous enough to wake up before dawn).
4. Visit Vineyards, Do Wine and Olive Oil Tastings
Visiting the vineyards and doing wine tasting tours has to be one of the most quintessential things to do in Provence! The many colors, tastes and personalities that rose offers in this part of the country is simply magical. Another must-do is olive oil tastings. In addition to sampling the delicious olive oil, you can buy bottles of this liquid gold to take back home with you.
5. Enjoy Your Stay at the Charming Little Hotels
You must enjoy the charming small hotels, family-run chateaus and secluded domaines. At these accommodations, you can find yourself immersed in the landscape and purely relax for a few days. Some of these properties are attractions in themselves and will be highlights of your trip!
The Best Accommodation Options in Provence
There are so many amazing places to stay in Provence, and I would highlight maybe three or four which cover a range of options in terms of types of accommodation. One of the most beautiful places I stayed in was Mas Estello, a villa surrounded by forest, at the foothills of the Les Alpilles. It offers a nice ambiance and seclusion, making it the perfect place to go if you want to spend a tranquil week with your family in Provence!
Then there’s Chateau des Alpilles, on the north side of the Alpilles, close to Saint-Remy. It’s a small Chateau run by a family who are always there to make sure you’re welcomed as if you were their family. The service is perfect, and the whole Chateau and the surrounding property is romantic!
The Domaine de Marie, close to Menerbes in the Luberon Valley, is also a beautiful spot. With a fantastic vineyard, and an idyllic relaxation/spa area and restaurant – this is the ideal place to stay if you enjoy relaxing with wonderful views and like being secluded with good food at your disposal.
The final accommodation I recommend in the Provence region of France is the Hotel Le Moulin, in Lourmarin by Beaumier. You’ll find yourself in what once was an oil-pressing mill turned into an exquisite hotel that celebrates the colors, materials and textures of Provence so magnificently!
Tips for Visiting the Provence Region of France
The great thing about Provence is that it doesn’t have too many secrets and it’s a very easy trip to make. I suggest renting a car, as that will give you much more freedom and flexibility to explore the different towns scattered all around the region. Provence is a wonderful place to take a road trip!
Provence is also a nice place to visit anytime of the year, but I think you can best enjoy it in late May up to early July (when you’ll see the lavender fields in bloom) or during autumn when the landscape is dressed in golden tones. Summer will be very hot during the day – so if you want to visit many places, it might be challenging – and you’ll want to relax even more in the shade or by the pool in one of the many hotels, domaines or chateaus.
For eating, my suggestion is that for lunch you don’t go out of your way and embrace the local cuisine in the town you’re in. There are always fantastic restaurants – some of them more traditional and inconspicuous, and others with a more fine-dining approach. Either of these are great options, and you’ll rarely have a bad experience in a restaurant. For dinners, there are options that will also give you gorgeous views of the sunset, such as the restaurant at the Hotel Crillon le Brave and the one at Airelles.
Get More Inspiration with my Digital Travel Guide
Thanks for reading! If you would like more Provence inspiration and tips, you can purchase my Provence Digital Travel Guide on my website. Here, I detail the perfect 7-day trip to this dreamy part of France. I break down my days into what I did in the mornings, afternoons and evenings – and it’s made in a way that’s (most of all) aimed at giving you inspiration for your trip, but which you can also choose to follow step-by-step.
I review plenty of the markets, and provide a longer list of great restaurants and places to stay in. I share locations for the most stunning picture spots and the links to my Instagram videos, so you can easily see what to expect from each place. I try to make it as inspiring and practical as possible, in order for you to have all the information you need in one place. By using it, you can easily plan your trip and ensure it’s a rewarding experience!