5 Of The Most Charming Villages In Provence
Provence, the South of France, is full of charm and beauty, but how does anyone ever decide which parts to visit? Here are 5 must-see charming villages to put on your radar when visiting.
Whether it’s your first time or you’re a frequent visitor. Make sure to visit these 5 villages at least once to experience all the charm the South of France has to offer.
- Vaison La Romaine
Beaumes-de-Venise is located in the southeastern area of the Rhône Valley and is not a village on most people’s minds when they think of visiting Provence. It’s located about 30 minutes from Avignon and about an hour from Mt. Ventoux.
We spent a week in this amazing Provencial town experiencing the locals, what the area has to offer, and living a slow French lifestyle. You can read more about that in my Provence Travel Guide.
The area is known for wine-making and the Muscat grape, and I have to say the wine is actually pretty tasty here. We had several bottles of rosé from one of the local wineries that were some of the best I’ve ever tasted.
The village is not huge but incredibly charming, quiet, and a perfect place if you want to literally relax and enjoy the French way of life in the country.
You don’t need a car to walk around the main square however you would need a car to visit any other village or town nearby. There is no public transportation throughout the area.
What To Do In Beaumes-de-Venise
There’s not a huge amount to do in Beaumes-de-Venise but that’s part of the charm. The center of the village tucked away down an alley has a beautiful fountain and reminded me of the opening scene of Beauty and the Beast.
On Tuesday, there’s a farmer’s market in the village center full of fresh fruit, cheeses, meats, and vegetables. Also, a few vendors selling French market totes, which I wanted to buy in every color possible.
The market wasn’t huge by any means but had all the necessities one would need for the week. All the locals were extremely friendly and wanted to know where we were from and what we were cooking.
The village is also full of small and intimate wineries but only a few are open for actual tastings. Two that we visited were Domaine de Coyeux and Domaine de Durban ( the Rosé from here was incredible). The wine is so much less expensive in France than in the states so make sure to pick up several bottles.
Where To Eat
There are only a few restaurants available in Beaumes-de-Venise and you must check the times they are open. One thing we realized in Provence is most places are only open for lunch and then close until dinner. Usually, dinner doesn’t start until after 7 pm, so just beware if you are traveling with hungry children.
You can try Auberge S’Roch, although it’s a bit tricky to eat here. You can’t make reservations online and the chef doesn’t want you calling when they are open to making a reservation.
For pastries, there’s an incredible boulangerie in the village center which we visited every morning. The French lady who works there made it a point to correct my French every morning and I loved every minute of it.
With its medieval streets and charming buildings with colored shutters, Avignon is a village to visit at least for the day.
You can take the train from Paris straight to Avignon station and rent a car right at the station. To get into the heart of Avignon, it’s only a few miles from the train station.
What To Do In Avignon
Avignon is actually quite large and you can find plenty to do to enjoy the charming town. Visit the Palais des Papes, walk along the Pont d’Avignon, or stroll into the many shops in the center square.
The old center is completely walkable and mostly traffic free. There’s even a free shuttle boat that will take you across the river to an island.
Where To Eat
For lunch head to Cafe Saint-Jean, sit outside, and have a glass of Vevue which is only 9 euros a coupe. The food here is wonderful and the staff is very friendly.
If you’re looking for dinner with a view, then try Le Bercail, which sits along the Rhône River. You can have an incredible meal outside while taking in the gorgeous view of the river. If you are with children, they have a space for them to play.
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is exactly what you would expect in a charming town in the South of France. This is a rather well-known town and definitely worth visiting when in Provence.
What To Do In Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Saint-Rémy is known for its market day, which happens to take place on Wednesday. This is when the town is filled with vendors selling everything from Marseille soaps to French linens, and all kinds of market bags.
The market runs from 7-1 and I recommend going early if you can because the vendors have packed up and left promptly by 1:15.
You can also see where Vincent Van Gogh lived and traveled during his time in Saint-Rémy if you’re interested in that.
On the way out of town, stop at the Roman Columns which were pretty great to see. This was something I didn’t expect to see in Provence.
Where To Eat
We ate at a great little crepe place called Crêperie Lou Planet, right in the middle of the village square which was very kid friendly. It was during lunchtime and they were serving a mix of crepes, salads, and cocktails.
Vaison La Romaine
Known for its Roman ruins and medieval town, this was an unexpectedly beautiful detour. This was a village we happened upon accidentally and I am so thankful we did. We were on our way to dinner one night in another village and spotted this village and decided to stop.
The village is divided into two parts, an upper section is like stepping back into a medieval village. And, then a lower section full of restaurants and much more lively.
Personally, I loved the upper section where it was nice and quiet, there’s a small ice cream shop in the middle of the square with a fountain, a few small hotels, and art galleries.
Complete with small cobblestone streets, you shouldn’t drive down, although we tried, and take it from me, don’t do it. It’s completely walkable and so quaint you want to be able to enjoy every second of this incredible village.
What To Do In Vaison La Romaine
There are ruins of an old castle up on the hill, built in 1185, which you can walk to. It’s a pretty steep path and there aren’t many signs showing how to get up to the castle.
A small walkway with a handrail can be found though going up some of the hills. Just make sure you have proper shoes to walk up the steep hill.
Where To Eat
In the upper section, there are a few hotels that provide meals to guests. In the bottom section, there’s an entire street lined up with different restaurants. With no reservation and feeding 7 people, we were able to get into a restaurant surprisingly quickly.
We ended up having dinner in the lower section at one of the many restaurants along the village square, Au Temps Qui Passe. The food was incredible, try the Foie Gras and Crème Brûlée, the service was amazing, and the prices were very reasonable.
Gordes is a hilltop village built on the foothills of Vaucluse and faces the Luberon. When you see Gordes initially, it almost takes your breath away because it’s so beautiful from a distance as you drive into the village.
Gordes is incredibly famous and definitely one of the most touristy spots. However, don’t let this deter you from visiting. It’s a must-visit town in Provence for many reasons. You want to get here early because there’s little parking and the town gets very busy.
What To Do In Gordes
On your way into the village of Gordes, you can stop at the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, to see if the lavender is in bloom. You want to come in the morning as it gets very busy in the afternoon. If you are in the area, this is definitely worth a stop.
Once you get into the actual village of Gordes, walk the cobblestone streets and just take in the village. There are several spots to stop along the way and take pictures of the view overlooking the Luberon and all the vineyards below.
I highly recommend grabbing an espresso or glass of Rosé at Cercle Republicain, there’s a tiny patio in the back of the bar that overlooks the Luberon as well, and is just incredible.
Where To Eat
Gordes has numerous restaurants depending on what type of food you’re wanting and how much you want to spend. Honestly, we did the cheap way and bought baguette sandwiches from the boulangerie. The kids loved it and it was quick and easy.
No matter where you go in Provence you are sure to experience memories of a lifetime, however, if you can, put these 5 villages on your list.
For more in-depth information regarding Provence, check out my Provence Travel Guide.