Provence was the stop on our European adventure that I was most looking forward to. “Bonjour, bonjour, bonjour, bonjour, bonjour… there goes the baker with his bread like always…” Ring a bell? J See what I did there?! LOL If you’ve seen Beauty and the Beast, ya know! Bell lived in a Provential town in France and this is where it all began for me… I must have been five. I have dreamt about frolicking through the lavender and sunflowers fields, eating fresh baguettes and walking down cobblestone streets for years.
This magical French countryside is where many artists and creatives alike travel for inspiration. After visiting, it makes sense. Every small town has a charm all of it’s own, the food is fresh, delicious and grown in the surrounding land and the beauty of the earth is breathtaking. From rows of purple lavender fiends for miles to the clearest fresh water lakes, the views are unbelievable.
When I started researching this area it was a bit overwhelming as there are SO many towns and things to do/see. After going, I would suggest at least 5 days to get a good feel for this area. Note: you will be doing a lot of driving to get from town-to-town, but it’s worth it! I think it’s the best way to see the countryside. Below are my top 3 tips to Provence as well as my travel guide.
Top 3 Tips || Provence
1. Rent a car! Provence is a very large area in the South of France. There is no public transportation from town to town. A car is the best way to see the countryside, visit all of the towns and find hidden gems!
2. If you can, go in the SUMMER! Yes, Europe is more crowded in general BUT if you want to see everything blooming, I suggest going at the end of June/July.
3. Lunch service ends around 2PM in the smaller towns/villages. Make sure to eat before! A few times, Luke and I were in a small town with nothing open until dinner. We learned our lesson 😉
Getting to Provence is not the easiest trek as it’s the countryside of France. We came from London, took the Chunnel over to Paris and then switched trains for a 3 hour ride to AIX Provence station. Most likely you will be traveling to Provence from Paris. Here is the website we used to by our train tickets – OUI. There are a few different stops on the train in Provence. Depending on where you are staying, I’d coordinate the closest drop off. When you arrive, RENT a car! This is A-must if you are going to see the countryside. We used our Hertz app to book in advance and had no problems. Comment below if you have any transportation questions!
Eat & Drink
1. L’Aile ou la Cuisse – This place is beyond cute, great French bistro and the food was YUM! Luke and I ate lunch at L’Aile on a day trip to St. Remy. It is located off one of the many cute alley streets and please note, we made a reservation. It was pretty busy the day we went. We got the special cantaloupe salad and fish. They legit, brought out a half of a cantaloupe, dressed it up with mozzarella, prosciutto, veggies and flowers. Not only was it gorg to look at but it was SO delish! (pictured below) The dessert looked out of this world but unfortunately we were way to full to indulge. AND let’s be honest, I was on the hunt for gelato! 🙂
2. Le Bastide de Pierres – If you are staying in Gordes, like we were, or are in a surrounding town, this Italian gem is A-must! Not only is the ambiance perfection with live music, but the food is also out of this world. We shared one margarita pizza and a fresh basil pasta. I ate SO many carbs that night, Luke had to roll me home. I was NOT mad about it! LOL!
3. La Citadelle – Views, views and more views! Did I mention the view?? 😉 La Citadelle was located in our gorg hotel. The service was on point and the food fresh AF. What else could you ask for. Luke and I started with a creamy burrata appetizer that arguably was good as some that I had in Italy. We both had local specials from the area as we watched the sun set behind the hills of the French countryside. Okurrrrrrr! It was amazing to say the least!
4. Rosé – Yes my lil’ boos, this is were ROSÉ was born! I most def had my fair share of the blush colored vino and let me tell you, every drop was light, refreshing and dry. Just how I like it! I wanted to visit Whispering Angel as it’s one of my faves in the states but unfortunately it didn’t fit in with our driving schedule. If you can, I highly recommend doing a tasting at a winery.
Towns to See
1. Valensole – the countryside around Valensole is what dreams are made of. Rolling hills of LAVENDER fields for miles and miles. You literally can’t miss it! When you arrive you will spy them immediately. They go on for miles and miles. Pull off the road, bring a picnic and enjoy the view. Note: the town of Valensole itself is not great – it’s more about the vegetation around it.
2. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie – this was my most favorite town in terms of architecture. This charming town legit has a waterfall in the middle of the town and is built into a hill like many of the surrounding villages. The alleyway streets are lined with colorful building and bright colored flowers. It’s like nothing I’ve seen and trust me, you will not be disappointed.
3. L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue – if you are looking for antiques like many traveling to Provence, this is your town! It is beyond gorg as it’s situated on the Sorgue river. On the way to L’Isle we came across SUNFLOWER fields, so keep your eyes peeled!! You will find gems everywhere. When we arrived we wandered the streets, ate gelato, shopped for home goods and finished off the day with a glass of rosé at a wine shop. You could say it was the perfect day 🙂
4. Gordes – unlike many of the brightly colored Provincial towns, Gordes is completely built from white stone root. It sits atop a giant hill looking over the countryside of France and is a site to see in itself. In town you will find many small cobblestone streets, charming little restaurants and the hotel we stayed at, La Bastide de Gordes.
5. St. Remy – this is by far the largest of the towns we visited. St. Remy has alleys filled with shops, cafes AND so much history. We visited the Van Gogh museum right in town and let me tell you, I learned SO much. It is very well done. FUN FACT: Van Gogh painted “Starry Nights” in St. Remy – how cool is that?! Overall it’s a great town, with lots to do and when doing a lot of research, many people stay here as a home base.
1. La Bastide de Gordes – We decided to stay in Gordes as it was a little more central to all of the areas/towns I wanted to visit on our stay. Luke and I use SPG and/or Amex points about 80 percent of the time when we travel, and this hotel was part of American Express Fine Hotels and Resorts. The views are breathtaking, the service is outstanding and the decor is quintessential country chic. Not only is the hotel and room decor out of this world but so are the outfits of the staff. I legit felt like I was in Beauty and the Beast. If you end up not staying in Gordes, I highly recommend you eat at La Bastide and visit the hotel. It’s worth it!