The Provence region of France is a top destination for excellent cuisine, top wines, medieval towns, and lavender fields, so that inspires this week’s article…
The Charming Towns of Provence
The southeastern French region of Provence is one of Europe’s most beautiful destinations. Stretching down from the Alps all the way to the Mediterranean, it can be a great skiing destination in winter, and perfect for beachside relaxation, river cruising and wine tasting in the warmer months. The region is also packed with amazing historic villages, towns and cities.
Provence boasts a significant chunk of the French Riviera, popular with travelers from across Europe, including the rich and famous. Antibes is one such example of a French Riviera gem.
Boasting golden sandy beaches, a harbor packed with luxury yachts and a plethora of narrow, cobblestone streets and alleyways, it’s a must-visit destination for anyone spending a few days in the region. Art fans will love stopping by the Musee Picasso to see some of the artist’s most famous work. The Old Town is worth spending some time strolling around its streets, packed with delightfully rustic hidden restaurants.
Because a number of Cannes hotels are closed for renovations, I’m actually staying in Antibes right now, and it is truly a beautiful coastal town – I’d love to come back for vacation time, and I definitely recommend a visit here.
Avignon is most famous as the only other place in Europe outside of Rome where the Pope has resided. Pope Clement V moved the papacy to the French city in 1309, where it stayed for 67 years and sparked some of the bloodiest religious conflict to ever occur in Europe. The Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) remains the main attraction for visitors to the city, but you’ll also want to enjoy some of Avignon’s best food and wine. The Les Halles market is a good place to start and there are numerous outdoor bars where you can enjoy the summer sun and sample some of the local wine, regarded as some of the best in France.
Medieval Uzes is best-known for the castle which towers up from the town center, still home to the region’s duke. This medieval flavor filters down to the rest of the town too, with narrow cobbled streets, ancient houses and even some well-preserved Roman architecture in the shape of the Pont du Gard, an aqueduct which is frequently listed as one of France’s most popular tourist attractions. But perhaps the best thing about Uzes is that it is relatively unknown – unlike Antibes, Menton and Avignon, there won’t be tons of visitors all over the place, meaning travelers can enjoy some rare authenticity in this slice of Provence. The Sunday Market is regarded as one of the best in France.
Surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and almond trees, the unassuming village of Lourmarin was a famously popular vacation destination for British wartime leader Winston Churchill. The beautiful idyll is perfect for a day visit from surrounding areas in Provence, a peaceful settlement tucked away in a valley in the Luberon mountains. There are several great art galleries and Lourmarin also houses the tombs of the decorated writers Albert Camus and Henri Bosco, for any visiting bookworms.
Although the Arc de Triomphe in Paris takes the main accolades, the arc in Saint-Remy-de-Provence is smaller but actually much older! The medieval streets, beautiful fountains and idyllic surrounding scenery inspired some of Vincent Van Gogh’s most celebrated works. He painted Starry Night in 1889 while staying as a patient at a local asylum and his The Wheat Field series of paintings were created between 1880 – 90 during his stay in the area. Glanum, a Celtic-Roman city located in a picturesque spot below a gorge and surrounded by mountains. Another ancient arc de triomphe is the crowning jewel of the ruins.
One of the most desirable places to live and visit in France, Menton is tucked away on the Italian border, located between the Alps and the Mediterranean. This contrasting location gives the town a pleasant climate, perfect for lemon growing, which is a key industry in the area. The beautiful old port is well worth a visit, and you’ll want to take a stroll along the narrow streets, punctuated with pretty pastel-colored houses. If you have a day to spare on your visit to Provence and a car to reach this slightly remote corner of the Cote d-Azur, then you won’t regret it!
A diverse region of France boasting both coastal idylls and remote mountain retreats, Provence is best explored by car, ensuring visitors can see as much of the region as possible, rather than being confined to one particular location. As well as the pleasant scenery and architecture, Provence is packed with historic ruins, art galleries and museums, as well as blissful shopping and dining in many of the medieval villages, towns and cities which can be found in the area.