A region perhaps most well-known for its lavender, Provence has far more to offer than just a sea of purple fields. There’s plenty of things to do in Provence; there are eight (yes, eight!) wine regions, and its a region rich in history and culture – it was the first Roman province outside of Italy (hence the name). It’s a popular yet peaceful choice for holiday-goers – the region is sunnier and hotter than Los Angeles and Miami – and far too easy to fall in love with.
…the Pont du Gard
Built by the Romans in the first century AD, this aqueduct crosses the Gardon River near Vers-Pont-du-Gard. It’s one of the best preserved Roman aqueducts in the world, and was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1985.
…the Verdon Gorge
Often described as “Europes’s Grand Canyon”, it’s hard not to be impressed by the vista carved by the Verdon river — stunning turquoise waters which snake through the limestone landscape. If you’re looking for adventure, it’s a great place for hiking, kayaking, paragliding, rafting and rock-climbing. There’s also bungee jumping, if you’re brave enough. If you’re looking for lunch — we’d probably recommend after bungee jumping — the Hotel Grand Canyon du Verdon’s restaurant has a panoramic terrace perched on the cliff edge.
…the local markets
Even the smallest towns will have their own markets (some even daily), and in the bigger towns like Aix-en-Provence or Apt the streets will overflow will stalls stacked with bread, fruit, olive oils, fruit and wine. Keep an eye out for Savon de Marseille — a soap heralded as the best in the world — and the colourful printed textiles unique to the region.
Provence has been inspiring artists for centuries. On the Riviera, you’ll find museums honouring Picasso and Matisse. In Aix-en-Provence you can visit Cezanne’s former studio, and in Arles you can follow a tour map of the places Van Gogh painted whilst he lived in the city.
…immersed in culture
Provence is home to some fantastic cities, including Avignon, Marseille and the somewhat eponymous Aix-en-Provence. In Avignon, you can explore the Pope’s Palace — once home to the Vatican in the 14th Century when the church temporarily relocated away from Rome. There’s also the Point d’Avignon, infamous for its lack of structural integrity and which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Marseille is the second-largest city in France, and it’s well worth heading to the Vieux Port area for charming local markets and Morroccan-eqsue souks. Aix-en-Provence is truly a city of two halves, where the old city wall and the newer buildings converge. Often called ‘the city of a thousand fountains’, you’ll certainly stumble across a fair few as you explore this rather picturesque destination — the most spectacular fountain is the Fontaine des Quatre Dauphins in the Quartier Mazarin.
With a summit 1,909 metres above sea level, scaling Mont Ventoux isn’t for the faint-hearted (although, you can always take the easy option and drive to the top). If you are cycling the famed Tour de France route, the views are worth the effort — as is the thrilling descent.
Fancy exploring everything this beautiful region has to offer? Check out our villas in Provence.