Provence received its name from the Romans, who initially dubbed it Provincia Romana in the 2nd Century.
When to go Provence gets 2,900 hrs of Sun per year, that is more than Los Angeles and Miami, meaning there’s really no bad time to visit. That said, the Mediterranean climate is especially inviting from late Spring into early Summer. Lavender is in bloom, rainfall is scarce, and hotels are busy, so book early.
Lavender Fields Forever
Going to Provence without seeing the famed lavender fields is like going to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower. Your options are nearly as boundless as the fields themselves, but the most unique option just might be Sénanque Abbey. Dating back to Y 1148 and still home to monks eking out a quiet existence, it is surrounded by purple lavender as far as the eye can see.
The abbey is located in the medieval town of Gordes, a hilltop village that’s well worth a daytrip. There you can visit a 10th-Century chateau, the cellars of Palais Saint Firmin, and indulge in all manner of lavender-related goodness.
Where the Pope Used to Hang His Hat
Avignon’s Palace of the Popes, or Palais des Papes, served as the seat of Western Christianity from Ys 1309 to 1377, a tenure that ended with the Schism of 1378.
Today it’s less papal but still popular, with visitors streaming in every day of the year. Formerly a palace and fortress, it’s a well-preserved piece of history you never knew about.
Since you already know all about the French Riviera, try a different aquatic adventure: the Verdon Gorge. This river canyon is perhaps France’s most stunning natural wonder, reaching depths of roughly 700 meters along its 15-mile path. Among the most beautiful sights are Styx du Verdon, a sub-canyon with distinctive rock formations, and the Imbut, where the river appears to vanish underground. Whether you want to hike, rock-climb, kayak, or simply enjoy the view, it’s an essential stop on any trip to Provence.
A former limestone quarry in Les Baux-de-Provence that’s been converted into a multimedia space, Carrières de Lumières is a far cry from the Louvre. Some of history’s most iconic paintings are projected onto the walls with musical accompaniment, creating an immersive, almost 3D experience.
For a more classic experience, head to Mougin for the Musée d’Art Classiques. Situated between Nice and Cannes, it features everything from Roman and Greek antiquities to paintings by Matisse and Chagall
Visit Côte d’azur. Nice, Cannes, even some small villages around the area. Here, you are embarrassed by the Sunshine. Take a walk along the coastline, take some time with yourself, do nothing. “Just you and the beautiful blue.”
The food in Provence is as good as you have heard, especially at Marseille’s L’arôme, which blends French and Mediterranean influences into a unique melange that must be tasted to be believed.
The local, organic fare is heavy on seafood and veal, but desserts like raspberry cake and cheesecake are not to be missed.
Also in Marseilles is Le Hippie Chic café, which lives up to its name with simple food made well. Gnocchi, waffles, and all manner of egg dishes are on the menu, each more delicious than the last.
Nice, where to stay
With an entire region to navigate, choosing a home base is particularly important. Le Dortoir, a surprisingly affordable hotel in Nice, checks all the boxes. Centrally located near Promenade de Anglais and Casino Barrière Le Ruhl, it has an ultra-modern aesthetic that does not come at the expense of comfort.
Pricier, but worth it is Les Mas des Herbes Blanches, a 5-Star hotel in Joucas. The rooms are lovely, but it is the extras, like their restaurant, bar, and spa that will inspire you to treat yourself.
Promenade Des Anglais, Nice
“Provence is the region of romance and color. Most of the impressionist painters desired to paint the wonderful palette of Provence’s colors can provide! If you are looking for stunning landscapes, you should visit Arles and Aix en Provence.”