Provence is renowned for its picturesque lavender fields, charming villages straight out of a fairytale, and exceptional wine – and it’s easy to see why. This region in the south of France offers everything you could want for a relaxing weekend getaway, whether it’s a stop on your European itinerary or a short break from Paris. From the stunning countryside to vibrant towns, Provence has an abundance of opulent hotels, fine dining restaurants, must-see museums and countless vineyards.
Given the size of the region, renting a car is the ideal way to explore Provence. By planning your itinerary and taking in a few towns or attractions every day, you can conveniently visit some of the most scenic places such as Gordes and Roussillon which are just a few minutes from each other. Alternatively, make Aix-en-Provence your base and take day trips with a private guide or tour group if you prefer not to drive. For those traveling to and from Paris, the SNCF or Ouigo trains from Aix or Avignon TGV stations offer a fast and comfortable three-hour journey. Time might be limited, but don’t worry about trying to see everything – all of Provence is stunning, and wherever you decide to go, your trip will be worthwhile. Here’s everything you need to know to plan an unforgettable weekend in Provence.
Where To Stay
La Bastide de Gordes
Gordes is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking towns in Provence, offering mesmerizing views from every angle, whether meandering through its winding streets or driving up to the hillside vantage. The five-star hotel, La Bastide, epitomizes luxury hospitality by embracing the region’s remarkable scenery through its position atop the cliff. The hotel comprises 40 exquisitely appointed rooms and suites, featuring a classic and refined style, along with multiple bars and restaurants catering to the tastes of even the most discerning travellers. Finding solace in the Airelles Spa is unquestionably a highlight, where guests can unwind and breathe in the refreshing countryside air while enjoying outdoor massage treatments. Exploring the town of Gordes offers a multitude of bistro and bakery options, including the renowned Ladurée boutique.
Villa Gallici, Relais & Châteaux
Villa Gallici, a Relais & Châteaux property, is an exceptional hotel that seamlessly blends the serene luxury of a countryside retreat with the convenience of a city location. Nestled in the charming town of Aix-en-Provence, the hotel is strategically positioned near the Atelier de Cezanne, enabling guests to conveniently explore the city center on foot.
The hotel’s extravagant and colorful rooms and suites are adorned with antique furnishings and ornate decor, creating a cozy and enchanting ambiance that transports guests to another era. Two exquisite villas with private pools and jacuzzis are also available for guests seeking an added touch of exclusivity and luxury.
Indulging in gourmet cuisine is a must at Villa Gallici, where Chef Christophe Gavot takes diners on a delightful gastronomic journey through the flavors of Provence. After savoring the culinary masterpieces, guests can immerse themselves in the hotel’s relaxing amenities, including a spa and wellness center that boast a range of treatments and therapies designed to promote rejuvenation and relaxation.
The hotel’s impressive swimming pool is the perfect escape from the heat of the summer sun, providing a refreshing respite to soak in the beauty of the surroundings. Whether lounging in the pool or indulging in a rejuvenating massage, Villa Gallici ensures that guests enjoy a truly unforgettable and indulgent experience.
Le Saint-Rémy, a five-star hotel located in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, offers contemporary elegance in a 19th-century townhouse. The hotel boasts a peaceful atmosphere and is decorated with chic furnishings, showcasing a unique “gypsy jet-set” vibe. The location is also perfect for those who want to explore the town extensively on foot, as it is situated in the heart of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Guests can indulge in a variety of amenities at the hotel, including a refreshing swimming pool, an outdoor terrace, and a spa and fitness center. Whether guests are looking for a quick workout or a pampering spa treatment, Le Saint-Rémy has it all covered.
For guests seeking a more private retreat, the Magnolia Villa is the perfect option. It can accommodate up to ten guests and boasts luxurious amenities and a beautiful setting. The villa is ideal for families and groups of friends who want to enjoy their stay in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in comfort and style.
Le Saint-Rémy offers guests the perfect combination of exquisite design, luxurious amenities, and a central location, making it an exceptional choice for travelers exploring the charming town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
Baumanière, Relais & Châteaux
Nestled high on a picturesque hillside in Les-Baux-de-Provence, travelers will find the stunning Baumanière Hôtel & Spa. This luxurious property comprises five exquisite historic buildings, including an elegant 18th-century manor and a charming Provençal farmhouse.
The rooms at Baumanière Hôtel & Spa have an upscale countryside feel, offering guests a serene and tranquil retreat surrounded by scenic landscapes. In addition to the luxurious accommodations, the hotel also boasts a variety of amenities, including a relaxing spa, three stunning swimming pools, and a tennis court.
One key highlight of the hotel is L’Oustau de Baumanière, the property’s Michelin-starred restaurant helmed by renowned chef Glenn Viel. The restaurant features a menu crafted with ingredients sourced from the local area of the Alpilles, resulting in a unique culinary experience that celebrates the flavors and ingredients of the region.
Baumanière Hôtel & Spa is the ideal destination for travelers seeking an exclusive and refined retreat in the beautiful town of Les-Baux-de-Provence. With its historic charm, breathtaking scenery, and luxurious amenities, the hotel is sure to create unforgettable memories for guests seeking a luxury escape in the heart of Provence.
What To Do
Musée Granet, Aix-en-Provence
Aix-en-Provence is renowned for its charming small art museum, the Musée Granet. The museum houses an impressive collection of artworks, including pieces by Cezanne, who lived and worked in the area. The collection is divided between historical and modern works, offering a diverse range of pieces for visitors to enjoy. A particular highlight is the museum’s gallery of marble sculptures, featuring artwork by esteemed artists from Provence.
By purchasing a ticket to the Musée Granet, visitors will also gain access to Site Granet XXe, the museum’s newer extension located in a former church. The site houses the collection of Jean Planque, showcasing breathtaking masterpieces from renowned artists.
Aix-en-Provence is also home to the Atelier de Cézanne, a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts. Visitors can explore the artist’s former studio, where Cezanne worked on some of his best-known pieces. This museum offers visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in the life and work of the celebrated artist, learning about his techniques and creative process.
Whether admiring masterpieces in the Musée Granet, exploring the impressive collection at Site Granet XXe, or learning about one of the most famous painters of all time at Atelier de Cézanne, Aix-en-Provence is a city brimming with artistic treasures that are not to be missed.
Saint-Paul de Mausole, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Vincent Van Gogh’s lasting influence can be witnessed throughout Provence, however, his presence is felt most strongly in Arles and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence – both of which he famously painted. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, in particular, is worth a visit in its own right, as this charming village was where Van Gogh voluntarily stayed for a year at an asylum.
Today, the asylum, Saint-Paul de Mausole, features a museum that recreates Van Gogh’s room, giving visitors an insight into the life of the celebrated painter during his stay at the institution. The museum also features facsimiles of where he created some of his most famous works, and the gardens are a treat for the senses, filled with vibrant lavender, delicate poppies, and glorious iris, depending on the time of year.
Nearby, the Musée Estrine houses a vast collection of artworks inspired by Van Gogh, showcasing works by modern artists that have been influenced by the master painter himself. Visitors can immerse themselves in the beauty and creativity that Vincent Van Gogh so famously celebrated, experiencing the ethereal landscapes and bountiful floral scenes that he captured on canvas.
Overall, the beautiful village of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence offers visitors a captivating insight into the world of Van Gogh, and his lasting impact on art and culture is evident throughout this peaceful and charming region of Provence.
Château des Baux, Baux-de-Provence
The castle of Les Baux, which overlooks the village of Baux-de-Provence, may be partially in ruins, but it still merits a trip. Many of the former buildings remain, including the Chapel of Saint Blaise, and the exhibition details the fortification’s vast history. The castle offers combined tickets with the Carrières de Lumiéres, a former quarry that features art projections, and those visiting the Yves Brayer museum can use their castle ticket for a discount.
Camargue Regional Natural Park
Outdoor enthusiasts will find plenty of adventures in Provence, from kayaking and hiking to cycling and more. However, for those looking to experience the region’s diverse wildlife, a visit to the Camargue Regional Natural Park is a must. Located west of Arles, this protected area is home to herds of wild horses, bulls, and flamingos, along with more than 300 species of birds. A drive through the Camargue is an excellent way to see these animals in their natural habitat, while also enjoying the region’s breathtaking natural scenery.
For a perfect day trip, visitors can combine a half-day visit to Arles, known for its well-preserved Roman Amphitheatre, with a scenic drive through Camargue. After exploring the charming town of Arles, head to Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, a beautiful seaside resort town located at the edge of the Camargue. The town boasts scenic, sandy beaches and is the perfect location for relaxing and taking in the stunning view of the Mediterranean Sea.
Whether you’re a wildlife enthusiast or simply looking to soak up some of the region’s natural beauty, a visit to the Camargue Regional Natural Park is a must-do when in Provence. The park’s diverse ecosystem provides an immersive and unforgettable experience, and it’s an excellent way to experience the region’s unique flora and fauna.
The summer months in Provence bring a stunning sight as endless fields of lavender bloom in shades of purple. The lavender season peaks in July when visitors can witness the beauty of this fragrant flower in full force. However, for those who wish to explore the history and importance of lavender throughout the year, the Lavender Museum in the Luberon valley is a must-visit destination. The museum showcases the region’s relationship with lavender, including how it is harvested and processed. Visitors can learn about the cultural significance of this iconic plant, and the museum’s shop offers a variety of souvenirs and products made from lavender.
In addition to lavender, the region is also famous for its olive oil, and the Musée de l’Huile d’Olive is an excellent place to learn about this important product. Located nearby, the museum provides visitors with an immersive experience in the history and production of olive oil in the region. Visitors can also taste the local olive oils, sampling the unique flavors that define this local specialty.
Whether exploring lavender fields in July or visiting the Lavender Museum year-round, Provence provides a unique opportunity to experience one of nature’s most fragrant treasures. The region’s rich history and cultural significance of lavender and olive oil make for an unforgettable journey to discover the authentic flavors and aromas of Provence.
Where To Eat
Restaurant de Tourrel, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
The Restaurant de Tourrel, located in the Hotel de Tourrel, is a must-visit destination for any food lover traveling to Provence. The modern Mediterranean cuisine, created by Michelin-starred chef Matthias Schütz, is known for its exceptional quality and creativity. One of the standout features of this restaurant is that it uses its own produce, grown in a garden in nearby Eygalières, ensuring the ingredients are fresh and seasonal. The restaurant also sources meats and fish from local farms and fishermen, contributing to the region’s sustainable agriculture practices.
With more than 900 different options, the wine list at Restaurant de Tourrel is another fantastic feature. The focus is on the region, with many choices from the South of France. Guests can enjoy a wide variety of French wines, from classic bottles to lesser-known varieties.
As one would expect from such a prestigious restaurant, reserving a table in advance is highly recommended, especially if you’re not staying at the hotel. An evening meal at the Restaurant de Tourrel is a truly unforgettable experience, where guests can indulge in exceptional cuisine and savor the best wines of the region. Overall, this destination is a must-visit for foodie travelers looking to experience the best of what Provence has to offer.
Pierre Reboul, Aix-en-Provence
For those looking for a culinary experience that is both avant-garde and unforgettable, a visit to Pierre Reboul is a must. Currently holding one Michelin star, this restaurant is known for its creative, seasonal dishes that showcase the best of molecular gastronomy. The playfulness and whimsy seen in each dish make for an exciting and enjoyable meal, with each course delivering a visual punch.
The tasting menu at Pierre Reboul is highly recommended, as it allows diners to experience the full range of Reboul’s skills and creativity. Be prepared for unique flavor combinations and visual presentations that are sure to impress even the most discerning palate.
As you might expect, making a reservation ahead of time is essential, as this destination is highly regarded and attracts food lovers from all over the world. A meal at Pierre Reboul is not just dining; it’s a culinary adventure that is sure to be one of the highlights of any trip to Provence.
Le Gibolin, Arles
For those looking to experience the authentic flavors of Provence, a visit to Le Gibolin is highly recommended. This charming bistro, located in Arles, offers a casual atmosphere with a focus on market-led cuisine. Led by chef Arnaud Jourdan, the dishes are rustic and flavorful, representing the best of traditional and modern cooking.
Unlike some of the more touristy establishments in the region, Le Gibolin offers a genuine experience with a Bib Gourmand rating. The bistro’s wine list is another highlight, focusing on biodynamic offerings that perfectly pair with each dish.
Overall, Le Gibolin is a must-visit for any foodie in Provence who wants to enjoy the region’s authentic flavors in a relaxed and friendly environment. Diners can leave feeling thoroughly satisfied, with memories of a truly unforgettable meal. Be sure to book a table in advance, as this destination is highly popular among locals and tourists alike.
Clover Gordes, Gordes
The restaurant located in La Bastide de Gordes, featured in Emily in Paris, has become a popular destination for visitors looking to experience the authentic flavors and beautiful landscapes of Provence. Run by renowned chef Jean-Francois Piège, the restaurant offers an exceptional menu of vegetable-driven dishes that showcase Piège’s love of the grill.
While the restaurant’s interior is elegant and refined, the real highlight is the terrace, which offers breathtaking views of the Luberon valley. Guests are encouraged to request a table outside to enjoy both the beauty of the surrounding landscape and the delicious cuisine.
With its reputation for excellence, this destination can be busy, so it’s important to book a table in advance. A meal at this enchanting spot offers an unforgettable dining experience, blending the flavors of Provence with stunning natural vistas.
Farinoman Fou, Aix-en-Provence
While the South of France is known for its exceptional bakeries, Aix’s Farinoman Fou stands out as one of the best. This local favorite is beloved for its delicious bread, and in particular, the famous fougasse aux olives. Even Michelin-starred chef Hélène Darroze is a fan.
The fougasse aux olives is a must-try for any visitor to the bakery, with its savory, olive-filled dough that is both crispy and soft in texture. However, the bakery offers several other delicious creations, including flaky croissants, hearty baguettes, and sweet pastries.
Locals appreciate the bakery’s dedication to quality ingredients and traditional baking techniques, resulting in bread that is truly exceptional. A visit to Farinoman Fou is a great way to experience one of the South of France’s most beloved culinary traditions.
Visiting the town markets in Provence is an essential part of experiencing the region’s unique culinary culture. With hundreds of farms in the area, the markets offer a showcase for the best local produce, meat, bread, and cooked dishes.
One of the most popular markets is the Sunday market in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, which takes over the entire town center and offers a wide range of delicious products. The tri-weekly market in Aix is also highly recommended, taking place on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Visitors can sample local cheeses, artisanal bread, and seasonal fruits and vegetables.
Other towns in the region have their own markets worth exploring, such as Arles, Uzes, Nimes, Roussillon, Avignon, Gordes and Vaison la Romaine. Arriving early is recommended, as the markets tend to get crowded, and the best fruit tends to sell out quickly.
In addition to the top-quality products on offer, the markets themselves are also a delight to explore, with colorful displays of fresh flowers, buzzing cafes, and friendly locals eager to share their favorite spots and tips for cooking with the ingredients.
Where To Drink
Châteauneuf-du-Pape may be small, but it’s big on wine. The town is renowned for producing some of the finest wines in France, and visitors can explore the vineyards, indulge in tastings at the wineries’ cellars, or simply enjoy a glass or bottle of the local wines at the town’s bars and cafes.
One of the best places to begin your wine adventure is at Clos des Papes, one of the premier wineries in the region. Their cellar door in the town center is a popular spot for tastings, where you can sample the rich, full-bodied wines that have made Châteauneuf-du-Pape famous.
For those seeking a more immersive experience, exploring the vineyards themselves is a must. There are a variety of tours available, which offer visitors the chance to see firsthand how the grapes are grown, harvested, and turned into wine.
And if you’re looking for a beautiful spot to enjoy a glass of wine, head to Le Jardin de Paval near the castle ruins. Here, you can take in stunning views of the Rhone and the surrounding valley while savoring the flavors of the local wines. With so many excellent wineries and gorgeous spots to enjoy them, wine lovers will find plenty to love in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
While Aix-en-Provence is famous for its wine bars, those looking for a cocktail should head to Céleste. This stylish bar serves a mix of classic and original cocktails, with a focus on creating unique concoctions that you won’t find anywhere else.
With an extensive, carefully curated drinks menu, Céleste is the perfect spot to indulge in a sophisticated cocktail or two. And with opening hours that stretch until the early hours of the morning, the drinks keep flowing all night long.
The sleek, modern ambiance of Céleste makes it a great spot for a night out with friends, a romantic date, or even just a solo drink at the bar. So whether you’re a cocktail aficionado seeking something new, or simply looking to enjoy some expertly crafted drinks in a chic setting, Céleste is the spot for you.
Domaine de la Citadelle
The region of Provence is home to several prestigious wine appellations, which means that there are many vineyards to tour and wines to taste when visiting the area. The choice of where to go depends on individual preferences for wine, but there are some wineries that are worth a visit, regardless of your preferred varietals.
One such winery is Domaine de la Citadelle, located in Ménerbes. The estate boasts impressive grounds and a beautifully appointed tasting room, making it a popular destination for wine lovers. The setting of the scenic Luberon valley also provides a stunning backdrop for wine tasting.
Domaine de la Citadelle is known for producing high-quality wines that showcase the unique terroir of the region. They offer a range of wines, including reds, whites, and rosés, which can be enjoyed alongside a selection of local cheeses and other delicacies.
In addition to the wine tasting, visitors can explore the beautiful grounds, which include a vineyard, an olive grove, and a herb garden. Whether you’re a serious wine connoisseur or simply looking to savor the flavors of Provence, Domaine de la Citadelle is a must-visit winery.
For those who prefer coffee to wine, Provence’s dynamic coffee scene is rapidly evolving, and there are a number of great coffee shops to try. Mana, located in the heart of Aix’s shopping district, is a standout spot that serves some of the best coffee in the area.
The coffee at Mana is exceptional, with a focus on high-quality beans and expert brewing techniques. They also cater to specific dietary preferences, such as offering oat milk for those who are lactose intolerant or vegan.
In addition to the coffee, Mana’s laid-back atmosphere and chic decor make it a great place to relax over breakfast or lunch. The menu features a range of healthy, seasonal dishes made with local ingredients, including avocado toast, bowls and salads, sandwiches, and pastries.
Overall, Mana is a must-visit spot for any coffee lover traveling in Provence. With its exceptional coffee, delicious food, and appealing ambience, it’s the perfect place to start your day or recharge during a busy day of sightseeing and shopping.