Perhaps no region in Europe enchants and inspires a sense of romance – both of the personal and artistic varieties – more than the area of Provence in southern France. A perfect destination for those with time to spare – because none of its landscapes or small towns should be hurried through – Provence is a combination of the stylish and the tried-and-true, blending cobblestone streets, ancient churches, fragrant lavender fields and inviting beaches.
Given all of the region’s diversity, though, it’s a good idea to create a roadmap for exploring it. And then making modifications on the fly as you like. Here are a few tips to consider:
There is probably no better time to sample all of the glories of Provence than during the summer, when the lavender fields are in full bloom and various festivals – including the Festival d’Avignon – are in full swing. Of course, summer is also the most popular time to travel to Provence, so make sure you book your accommodations well ahead of time.
Sites to see include:
The lavender fields near the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque are unmatched for their beauty, making this a favorite destination for photographers. You can also take in some lavender at the Plateau de Valensol.
In the southwest area of Provence. There’s the Carmargue’s National Park, which features acres of marshland that’s ripe for bird watching.
The town of Aix-en-Provence features everything from street performers to brightly shuttered stately homes to a major electronics retailer. It is also the former home of artist Paul Cezanne. Shiny medallions dot the sidewalks in places in town that were significant in his lifetime, including his family’s home.
If you’re looking for a touch of something more historic, check out the Roman ruins at Orange and Arles. Each town has its own Roman arena, though the one at Orange is said to be the more impressive of the two. Arles is known for its many winding streets that served as inspiration for some of Vincent van Gogh’s paintings.
Be sure to include a stop in at least one of the area’s many vineyards. Those in the area of Châteauneuf-du-Pape are worth a try. That’s where one of France’s more well-known wines is produced.
And before making the trip across the pond, be sure to visit Royal Robbins for what you’ll be wearing on your trip, whether casual attire or hiking gear!