I love spending time in Provence because the weather is always lovely and we are (almost) always sure to enjoy sunny days. Provence is so charming with its typical roofs, green landscapes with never ending blue sky, olive trees, lavenders fields, pine trees smell, cicada songs… We are always back home so relaxed, even if it was only for a few days. It’s what I feel when I go there!
We spent 5 days there at the end of July. The weather was gorgeous! We took the plane from Paris to Marseille, it was cheaper than the train and we rent a car at Marseille-Provence airport.
What to visit in Provence?
There is a lot to do in Provence. You have a great choice of cultural and sport activities. This list is not exhaustive, I will limit myself to visits I have made during these 5 days.
I have always wanted to visit Saint-Rémy-de-Provence because I love Van Gogh paintings and the painter himself has lived there (in fact, he was institutionalized). Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is a small village based in the Alpilles Regional Park. The village is super cute, with its typical architecture, its stones buildings and its colorful shutters.
At Saint-Rémy, you can visit the places that have inspired Van Gogh. There is a smartphone application to guide you. As for me, I was a bit disappointed because the places are not very recognizable on the paintings. It seems obvious as more than a thousand years have passed. Buildings have been built and landscapes have of course changed. And it’s not easy to understand when you don’t have any explanations. I think that the best thing is to take part to a Van Gogh tour organized by the Saint-Rémy tourism office. It’s every Tuesday morning at 10.00 am (cost of 8€).
Les Baux-de-Provence is a hilltop city from the Alpilles mountains. It’s part of most beautiful villages in France.
Don’t miss to visit the Carrières des lumières, a light show projected on stones walls. The theme is renewed every year. It is the painter Chagall which is currently honored. Last time I came here (Oh my god, it was in 2008, my husband was carrying out an internship in the region and I visited him), the show was dedicated to Van Gogh. Of course, I loved it!
Another cute village (is there a village in Provence which is not so charming?). Go up to the citadel to admire the view on the city.
Le plateau de Valensole
The arrival at le plateau de Valensole was a great disappointment to me. I hate driving on the mountain winding roads. It’s the stress at each turn and each time I drive too slowly. I end up with a long queue of cars just behind me. What I would have wanted to see is that kind of bloomed lavenders fields (like here).
If you plan to go to the South to admire lavenders fields, just get there at the right place at the right time. There is a map that summarizes the lavender blossoms’ times in function of the geographical region here. When you look at the map, you can easily conclude that blossom at the plateau de Valensole is until the 15th July and I was there the 30th July (no comment on my great sense of organization). Of course, forecasts are not very accurate as we are talking about nature and plants depend on weather conditions. It’s like the cherry blossom in Japan. We never know, we are never sure of anything, but we try our luck… It’s better to call the local tourism offices to confirm with them the blossoming!
Gordes city is also part of the most beautiful cities in France. It is my crush! The arrival at Gordes is impressive, I believed I was in front of a medieval city (I know I have weird references but it reminds me Minas Tirith in “the Lord of the Rings”. In fact, it is the Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy which inspired the director Peter Jackson for the city’s design). What is lovely at Gordes is to walk into the cobbled streets and to enjoy the atmosphere.
You can visit the Village des Bories, listed as Historical monument in 1977. It is a small village entirely built with stones which origin dates back to the Bronze age. Don’t forget to pass by the abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque. It’s just here that I could admire the awesome lavenders fields. And I was lucky as the monks cultivate lavenders to produce essential oil. A few days later and it would have been harvested.
Where to live during your stay?
Domaine de Fontbelle guest house
A piece of paradise in the Provence heart, situated between Arles and Avignon. At the Domaine de Fontbelle, we feel like at home in our own countryside house. The property is a farmhouse from the 15th century and is very well decorated. At the Domaine de Fontbelle, we relax, we can read in the garden or enjoy the swimming-pool. One of the best moment is the breakfast. Pastries, fresh fruit, squeezed orange juice, fresh bread and handmade jam are served outside, on the terrace. Just happiness!
Internet site here│Address : 4134 Ancien chemin d’Arles, 13690 Graveson
Attrap’ Rêves at Forcalquier
Attrap’ Rêves is the good address to spend a night connected with nature, but with a hotel room comfort. The concept consists in sleeping in a design, ecological and transparent bubble. When the darkness falls, away from the city and pollution, we can see the moon and the stars.
Personally, we loved our experience at Attrap’ Rêves. It was very quite and so relaxing. On each site, there is only a maximum of 6 bubbles. Two different bubbles are far enough from each other, so there is no issue with intimacy! However, there are no toilets, nor washroom within the bubble. There is one box (with dry toilets and shower) dedicated to each bubble, closed to the reception area.
Don’t forget to book early. There was no vacancy left for May weekends when we first tried to book in February. If you have decided to spend a night in Summer, you need to know that it’s too hot to stay in the bubble during the day (if it’s a sunny and hot day), it shall be about 50°C inside. But when the night falls, it’s getting cooler very quickly. It’s even fresh at night (don’t worry, the blankets keep very warm).
Internet site here│Attrap’ Rêves sites in France : Allauch, Forcalquier, la Bouilladisse, Montagnac Montpezat, Puget-Ville
La Burlière guest house
At la Burlière, everything is lovely. There is a courtyard to enjoy the Provence sun and a swimming-pool to relax. The rooms are very comfy too. However, I am not fond of the decoration (Provence old time style). I was like sleeping in a museum, but a comfy museum as bedding is great. We slept very well! Breakfast is also very good. We can take it outside on the terrace. We can choose among tens different kind of teas and it’s the same thing for jams. The host brings us a list of numerous original flavors like ‘strawberry/mint”, “Strawberry/vanilla” and we can choose among. I advise you to have the hazelnut chocolate spread which is delicious.
Internet site here│Address : Quartier de la Sénancole, 84220 Gordes
Where to eat?
The Zinc du Sud
Bistrot food in a vintage decoration. Waiters are lovely, and the home-made food is delicious.
Address : 11 cours National, 13 690 Graveson
The bistrot le Pesquier at the Hotel Spa of le Couvent des Minimes
At le couvent des Minimes, there are two different restaurants : le Cloître and le bistrot le Pesquier. The chef Roy food (1 Michelin star) can be eaten at le Cloître in a gastronomic meal and at le Bistrot Pesquier in a “bistronomique” way. Could not find any translation for “bistronomique” in French. It’s a bistrot food which quality is between bistrot and gastronomic food. We had dinner at the bistrot on the terrace. Big crush on the dessert, I have ordered verbena poached apricots with a a calisson cream.
Internet site here│Address : Chemin des Jeux de Mai, 04300 Mane
At the Clarôme, we can taste a Mediterranean inspiration food signed by Marc de Passorio (3 toques at the Gault & Millau guide and one Michelin star), in front of the awesome city of Gordes. The setting is delightful and waiters lovely.
Internet site here│Adresse : Rue de la Combe, 84 220 Gordes
I hope these addresses will be useful! Have a lovely end of week, Xxx.