Provence Travel Guide
I am so excited to bring you my Provence France travel guide and itinerary of how we spent our time in the region.
During our 20-day trip abroad, we spent 8 glorious days exploring different towns within Provence.
If anything, I hope this travel guide helps you add Provence to your travel bucket list if you haven’t already or it helps you start to plan your trip to Provence now.
These are just the specific areas of Provence we explored, of course, there are many other villages we didn’t see or get to explore.
However, that’s the beauty of Provence, there are always many more reasons to return to this beautiful place.
Things To Keep In Mind:
A few notes to keep in mind when reading this travel guide and itinerary. We were traveling with another family and 3 young kids. We didn’t make plans to eat at any fancy restaurants, do any outrageous excursions, or drive for hours upon hours.
And, we didn’t stay in hotels or Airbnb along the way. We choose to stay in one town as a home base and venture out from there.
This guide doesn’t provide any information or recommendations about places to stay because the only one I can recommend is where we stayed.
We wanted to enjoy this trip and relax and not feel pressured to rush around doing something every day.
There were even a few days when we just spent time at the house relaxing, drinking wine, reading a book, and taking a nap by the pool.
How We Planned The Trip:
We started thinking about this trip several years ago but really only started booking things about 8 months ahead of time. The first part was finding lodging and deciding on where we wanted to stay.
There were several factors that went into play when thinking about where we wanted to stay because there are so many options of cute, charming towns in Provence.
All of us agreed we wanted more of a quieter town, not one full of tourists. We wanted to be able to experience the town more like a local.
The town we ended up deciding on was Beaumes-de-Venise which was absolutely perfect. It’s about a 30-minute drive from the Avignon train station.
The house we wanted needed to have a few specifications like a pool for the kids (so the adults could sit around and drink that delicious Provencal Rosé).
We also wanted to make sure whatever house we choose was within a mile of the town so we could walk in for daily trips to the boulangerie and market.
The house we found was through Provence Holidays, which I highly recommend. The service was exceptional, easy to communicate with, and the house was exactly as described.
It can always be challenging dealing with someone in a foreign country and not sure what you will end up with, but we honestly couldn’t have asked for a better agency to go through for a house.
When To Visit:
The best time to visit Provence is during the summer when the weather is warm and the lavender is in full bloom(July and August).
However, this is also when everyone else goes, so be prepared to deal with lots of tourists.
We wanted to go when it was warm but not miserable hot so we choose the last week of June into the first week of July.
This was perfect in my opinion because it wasn’t too hot yet, the lavender was already blooming, and it was really before peak season.
How To Get To Provence:
There are several ways you can get to Provence depending on where you are coming from either by plane or train.
The closest airport in Provence is ‘Marseille Provence,’ but then you will need to rent a car to get to your destination.
We were coming from Paris, so took the 3-hour train ride and enjoyed the beautiful French countryside. You can book train tickets through Rail Europe which was very easy to use.
Towns We Visited:
During our stay, we were able to venture out and visit 5 towns within an hour’s drive. During the last 2 days in Provence, we took the train down to Marseille to stay, which was a 35-minute train ride from Avignon.
This was the town we stayed in and it was honestly the perfect town for us. Beaumes-de-Venise isn’t one of the major attractions but it’s just as beautiful as the others.
It’s very small and only has a few restaurants but it does have a few wineries as well you can wine taste.
There’s also an amazing boulangerie we went to every morning as well with a wonderful French woman who was very friendly and would graciously correct my French every morning as well. I absolutely loved this experience talking with her and practicing my French.
There’s a farmers market on Tuesdays which we went to where we met some friendly locals and bought some incredible cheese and fruit.
It’s about a 30-minute drive to Avignon from Beaumes-des-Venise and about an hour’s drive from Mt. Ventoux.
We arrived at Avignon on Sunday when most of the restaurants and shops were closed unfortunately but were able to explore the town when it was quiet.
However, it was just as I imagined Provence would be and a wonderful way to start. Charming shops with colored shutters around every corner.
We had lunch at Cafe Saint Jean, which I highly recommend, with great food, service, and champagne.
If you like champagne, they have Vevue for 9 euros a coupe, which I was shocked and incredibly happy about.
The village itself is quite big and I wish we had more time to explore but in the short time we were there I enjoyed it so much.
One night, we actually drove back into Avignon for dinner at Le Bercail, which sits along the Rhone River. We had a lovely meal sitting outside enjoying the view. You will want to make a reservation for this place.
The food was delicious and they even had a little play area for the kids which was nice.
We went to Saint-Rémy on a Wednesday because that’s their market day and I wanted to make sure to get there on this specific day.
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.
Saint-Rémy was incredibly dreamy and charming and also full of people especially since it was market day. However, I am so happy we went on this day because I loved seeing the village in action.
You can buy everything you can imagine all made in Provence and around the area. I purchased the soap, lavender sachets, a tablecloth, and napkins.
Honestly, I would have purchased so much more but we had limited space in our suitcase.
I would definitely go back just for the market alone. There were also antique and food vendors as well.
We ate at a great little crepe place called Crêperie Lou Planet, right in the middle of the village square.
On the way out of town, we stopped at the Roman Columns which were pretty great to see. I didn’t expect to see this in Provence.
Vaison La Romaine
This was a village we happened upon unexpectedly 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 detour.
The village is divided into two parts, an upper section which is like stepping back into a medieval village.
Complete with small cobblestone streets, only a few restaurants, and streets you shouldn’t drive down, although we tried, don’t do it.
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 that’s about all.
There are also 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.
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.
I would say it wasn’t the best restaurant we ate at during the trip but anyplace that can accommodate 7 people quickly and provide great service and food is a win in my book.
One of the most gorgeous and famous villages to visit is Gordes and definitely one of the most touristy spots.
Gordes is a hilltop village built on the foothills of the Monts of Vaucluse and faces the Luberon. When you see Gordes initially, it almost takes your breath away because it’s so beautiful driving into the village.
You want to get here early because there’s little parking and the town gets very busy.
We spent a few hours walking around the charming town, picked up baguette sandwiches from one of the local boulangeries, and sat on some steps by the church to eat them.
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 and is just incredible.
After 7 nights in Beaumes-des-Venise, we took the train to Marseille from Avignon, which is only about 35 minutes. You don’t need a car in Marseille, Uber and cabs are widely available.
We spent two days in Marseille, which I learned is the oldest city in France and the capital of the French Riviera.
Honestly, Marseille wasn’t exactly my favorite, it’s a port city and I found it to be a little dirty. I am sure some people would disagree with me but I am still very happy we went to see the city.
We stayed at the Novotel Marseille Vieux Port, it wasn’t anything exceptional but it was in a great location overlooking the port.
The hotel had a pool for the kids, a nice lounge area for the adults, and the best French breakfast buffet I have ever eaten. Truly.
The best part of Marseille was the day we hired a boat for the morning, which I recommend over anything in Marseille.
We went out with Bleuevasion to snorkel and see the Calanques and it was truly an amazing experience.
If there’s one thing you do in Marseille, this needs to be it for sure. Being out in the Mediterranean is unlike anything else.
After we spent the morning on the boat we went to a small beach in the afternoon for swimming and to enjoy some cold Rosé and Mussels at Le Cabanon de Paulette (only takes cash, no card).
One night we enjoyed dinner at Elyssa, a mix of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern food and it was delicious and affordable.
If you are looking for the Lavender fields here’s a great spot to stop.
On our way to Gordes, we stopped at the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, which is a beautiful Abbey with a few lavender fields in front.
There’s only a small section where you can actually walk through the fields but it’s worth the trip if you are going to Gordes.
I know the main spot to go to see the Lavender fields is in Valensole, but that was about a 2-hour drive one way for us, so we didn’t make it there this time.
The Lavender fields in front of the abbey were just as beautiful and so glad we stopped. Get there early though, we arrived at about 10 and by the time we left, it was so crowded.
- Rent A Car– you will need a car to get around Provence and to any of the towns you want to visit. When we arrived, we booked through Expedia and picked our car up right at the train station in Avignon.
- Know A Little French– Most people in the south do not speak English as they do in Paris. You will need some basic French knowledge, plus it’s more respectful. Either download your favorite translation app or use google translate. Also, most of the menus are in French only so you can use google translate, take a picture of the menu, and it will translate the menu over to English.
- Comfortable Shoes– A lot of the towns have cobblestone streets so don’t come in 6-inch heels. I wore sandals the entire time that was comfortable and padded.
- Eating Times– The French don’t eat at all times of the day as we do in the states. Most restaurants/cafés only serve food during breakfast, and lunch (which lasts until about 2), and then don’t reopen for food until 7. This means you can’t order food between the hours of 2-7 in most places. You can get drinks but no food.
- Boulangeries– Sometimes, boulangeries will stay open longer in the bigger tourist towns. You can always grab a baguette sandwich and a bottle of water and just sit and eat. You don’t always need to eat in a restaurant. This is especially handy if you are traveling with hungry kids.
- Make Reservations– If there are specific restaurants you want to eat at, make sure to make a reservation, especially during peak travel times.
- Wine Tasting– Surprisingly, wine tasting isn’t as easy as it is in the states. We had to search out places, they aren’t easily advertised or online. However, the amazing part is that you don’t have to pay for wine tasting. We visited three wineries and they all let you try between 6-8 wines at no cost. Of course, the wine is so good you will want to buy several bottles. If you see a sign for a winery, just stop and see what they offer.
Things That Surprised Me About Provence:
- The cicadas are incredibly loud and they are everywhere. I honestly had no idea this would be the case. It didn’t bother me, it was just something I was surprised by.
- The Rosé truly tastes better in Provence. Even if you aren’t a big wine drinker, I highly suggest trying a glass of the Rosé, especially on a warm day. I have always been a Rosé fan but I didn’t realize how amazing it would taste in Provence. And, it was so cheap.
- When it comes to wine tasting it isn’t like Napa or Sonoma. The wineries aren’t advertising all over or do they have online sites to sign up for tastings with food pairings( I am sure the big ones do but we didn’t go to those).
- How cheap wine and cheese are to buy at the store? We went to Aldi to pick up groceries and I was amazed at how cheap the wine and champagne were and the cheese as well. Now, I truly understand why they drink so much wine and eat so much cheese.
- All the vineyards everywhere. I didn’t realize how much of Provence is covered in vineyards, it was remarkable and so beautiful.
What To Pack For Provence:
If you are going during the summer months to Provence you want to pack pieces that are breezy, comfortable, and versatile.
I packed a combination of linen tops and pants as well as dresses and skirts. I also made sure I could easily mix and match all the pieces.
Hopefully, this Provence travel guide has provided a bit of inspiration to help you plan a trip to Provence soon. This was truly an amazing experience and one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been.