As we approach the end of the year I’m well aware my blog posts have totally dried up. Truth be told, this pregnancy malarkey has totally taken over following a scare.
Thankfully all is fine, but losing myself in countless scans has taken me to now…it’s blimmin’ nearly December people. Say what?!!! So in a reflective mood I feel it’s a shame to not share some snaps and top tips from Provence in September.
More and more people come to me for tips on Paris and Provence. And there’s nothing I love more than sharing my ridiculous passion for all things French. I tend to draw maps, list places and write schedules (too much?) to guide them on their merry way before bidding them Bon Voyage.
So here is a compilation of my top 5 villages to visit in Provence. Now I know it’s not the season, but hey, save this post for next summer and get your arse there. The region is absolute beaut, the climate lush and the food divine. You won’t regret it.
Rousillon is like no other village in the area. It’s distinctly different because of it’s red ochre clay which is used to build just about everything in the village. It’s situated high up on a hill top so it’s beautiful to approach when chugging along the tree-lined windy roads. It’s a popular village, with a buzz of visitors (not too touristy though), and has plenty of alleys, paths and nooks and crannies to escape and admire the view below. Market day is a Thursday, which is worth a visit.
Gordes, I would say, is the swishest of all villages in the region. I love Provence for its rustic charm, and Gordes has that, but it’s what I call ‘manicured rustic’. While it’s authentic, it’s very well maintained and has a steady stream of visitors – including some famous faces, and stunning hotels (check out Bastide de Gordes and gawp at that one!). Gordes is situated on a cliff drop and has absolutely stunning views of the valley below. Lose yourself down the cobbled paths and find a bench to enjoy some ice cream and soak up the view.
Lourmarin is a fave of mine. It’s very different to when I first visited about 8 years ago; it’s become more ‘hip and happening’ as I’d say. In a good way – although I know some locals roll their eyes and think it’s too commercialised. It’s not, trust me. Not in our terms anyway. There’s atmosphere in the streets, cute boutiques, lots of eateries, boulangeries and cute toy shops. There’s a castle that has concerts and soirees in the evening and the market is pretty mental. People come far and wide for it, I mean stallholders aswell as consumers. Away from the main path you can easily lose yourself on strolls along the backstreets. Every corner you turn in Lourmarin is picture perfect.
L’Isle sur la Sorgue
This is the antique capital of the region, or at least I call it so. This pretty town is situated on a river, with working wheels that are hundreds of years old. Stick to the river and you’ll find picturesque paths, the best bistros, boutiques and antique shops with all those French treasures that are too expensive to afford and too big to take home (bit of luck really!). Market day is on a Saturday and it’s on a big scale in this town, the stalls are endless with a whole variation of products on offer.
“Aix” as we call it (pronounced “ex” – I just copy my French and pretend I know what I’m talking about) is the city at the heart of this beautiful region. It is teeming with beautiful five story buildings decked with rustic white shutters. You’ll find water fountains in just about every street corner, square or alleyway. Aix has a trendy feel, a cosmopolitan student vibe yet not too modern and new. It boasts an air that’s not too dissimilar to that of Barcelona. We always make a trip to get our “Aix fix” whenever we come to Provence.
It was hard to whittle it down to 5 top villages and towns to visit in Provence, but I based it on the places we keep returning to, year on year. They may not all be your cup of tea, but they each offer something different. As for Provence itself, it’s such an easy trip to the south of France, just a 2 hour flight and a 50 minute drive and you can lose yourself in those famous lavender hills. And if you dare to be brave you can drive it, hop on the ferry and way you go. So add it to your 2018 Hitlist. You can thank me later! Bon voyage!
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