Best Things to Do in Provence in 1 Week + Important Travel Information
- 1 Best Things to Do in Provence in 1 Week + Important Travel Information
- 2 Useful Travel Information for Provence
- 3 Top Things to See in Provence
Everyone knows about the lavender fields in Provence but I admit, my knowledge about other things to see and do in Provence was very limited.
If you too are wondering what else to see and do in Provence (apart from the lavender fields) then you have found the perfect place for tips on things to do in Provence.
Since going to see the lavender fields had been on my list for so long I finally visited Provence this summer, accompanied by my dog Puppygak (click here to read more about lavender fields throughout the world).
I seized the opportunity while on my annual Swiss road trip and drove to Provence for about a week. Read on to find out more…
Useful Travel Information for Provence
I am a very spontaneous person and do not like to plan my days in advance. However, it turned out to be a bit problematic in Provence, and maybe that was the reason why I did not fall head over heels in love with Provence.
Please don’t make the same mistake that I made and try to be spontaneous – as it wasn’t the best approach for my trip to Provence!
I will explain in a little bit more detail later on Provence has no become my favorite part of the world and what I was not aware of before visiting Provence (doing too little research beforehand was the main issue).
However, I did have the chance to see and do some amazing things in Provence and I have listed the best things to do there for you below.
P.S. Since I only stayed there for about a week and had some lazy days I also asked some fellow bloggers for some extra tips so that you can spend seven wonderful days in Provence. Before I start naming the most beautiful places in Proven, here is some important travel information.
Provence How to Get Around
My main issue in Provence was that it is almost impossible to get around without your own car. You can either rent or, do as I did, and travel with your own car.
However, if you take the highways you will need to pay tolls and to be honest the prices are ridiculously high.
Overall it was a little bit disappointing with the scenery in Provence not competing well against other scenery that I have been lucky enough to see in Switzerland. Since it is very mountainous, driving can also take a long time to get you from A to B.
With the French people sometimes driving a little carelessly compared to what I am used to in Germany or Switzerland combined with the narrow streets it made it all the more difficult.
If you want to instead get around via public transport I’m afraid you’ll have to think again! In Provence public transport is almost non-existent and where it does exist it is highly infrequent – apart from the bigger towns and cities.
This was very limiting to my plans, eliminated any flexibility and was very disappointing.
When I was thinking about getting the train to Nice, for example, I held back after being told about the train ticket prices and taking my own car was not an alternative with those toll prices. In particular, I was warned about the parking situation in Nice. These travel considerations are important to know before you go!
Solo Female Travel Tips
I visited Provence as a solo female traveller with my dog Puppygak (am I still a solo traveler when my dog is with me?)
Provence is probably much safer than, for instance, Paris and is much quieter. Overall, I felt safe, though I always had my wallet close by me.
I must also admit that I didn’t go out at night, instead staying in at my Airbnb apartment. This turned out to be a little boring! Even though I normally enjoy solo female travel it was a little bit difficult in France.
The people you meet most often don’t speak English so you can’t strike up a conversation with them. Of course, there are other tourists you can befriend but because Provence is spread out over a large area you might still find yourself getting lonely if traveling solo.
Where to Stay in Provence
I stayed at a lovely Airbnb accommodation in Bras, and though it was a cute place it was located very far from main tourists spots in Provence.
If you enjoy driving and do not mind very quiet places you can basically stay anywhere in Provence.
However, if you prefer places where you can also use public transportation and be closer to main points of interests in Provence then I would book a hotel /Airbnb in one of the “bigger” towns (like Gordes) or cities close by.
Top Things to See in Provence
See Lavender fields
If you have looked at my logo it will come as no surprise to you that I like the colour purple so seeing endless fields of lavender was very appealing to me. Although lavender fields can actually be found everywhere in the world, the ones in Provence are the best known.
The minute I got out of my car to see the lavender fields I was overwhelmed by the scent and the heat (it is extremely hot in summer). Also, because I am very sensitive to scent, (even though lavender has a nice scent) with such a vast expanse of lavender, the smell is extreme!
It is a rule here that you are not allowed to pick any lavender and instead it is sold in shops though many people I saw there didn’t stick to this and I saw more than a few people picking at least a little bit of lavender.
On a positive note, the lavender fields are not overrun. This is probably because Provence is hard to access without a car or a guided tour. This means that you will have many parts of the lavender fields almost to yourself.
Lavender season in Provence starts in the end of June and it is harvested at the beginning of August so the time frame to see them is quite limited.
You will find lavender fields throughout Provence but there are many famous spots including the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque near Gordes. Besides the lavender fields there are also some wonderful sunflower fields.
If I’m honest, I can say that I almost enjoyed them more than the lavender fields so if you are in Provence keep an eye out for these vibrant yellow fields too!
Gordes was actually one of my highlights of the Provence trip. I knew that I could expect a pretty uphill town, but somehow, (maybe because I felt underwhelmed by Provence before) Gordes was just stunning.
You’ll find the best lavender fields around Gordes so if you are visiting in Lavender season this is another great reason to stay here. The town itself is very small and most parts of it can be seen within a few hours.
I would have enjoyed my stay in Provence more had my accommodation been situated in Gordes so even though the town was small this is actually the place where I would stay next time I am here.
It is lovely just getting lost in the cobbled streets – even the houses are cobble stoned and it’s completely charming and utterly adorable.
Find out about more cute towns to visit in France.
Enjoy the View from Mont Faron
One of the things that I do first when I visit a new destination is to go on the hunt for the best view and I found my favorite view in Provence at Mont Faron.
Mont Faron is a mountain overlooking the city of Toulon. At about 500 meters high there are different ways to get to the top to enjoy the amazing views. I personally travelled by car to the cable car station (follow the Toulon North – Faron sign) where I parked.
I didn’t have to pay for my dog and I paid seven euros for a return ticket.
Alternatively, you can take a bus that takes you to the cable car station.
If you like the excitement of a challenging car trip you can drive up a very narrow and steep road to get to the top or you can hike up. As a regular reader of my blog you might not be surprised that I took the cable car instead of hiking.
In my defense, it was really hot in July and not only is my dog bad at handling the heat but I am too!
To be honest taking the cable car in July might be the best idea for nearly anyone. On one summer day it was so hot that my dog wouldn’t walk any more. I had to carry him meaning I couldn’t discover the rest of the summit, however, the view from where I stopped was beautiful.
There is a restaurant just next to the cable car station where I sat down, and well, when you are in France you must sit down and try some of the delicious crepes so this is what I had.
Despite the fact that I couldn’t walk around, it was definitely a place I really enjoyed visiting. You should schedule in at least a few hours for your trip as even though the cable car takes just a few minutes to get you to the top it will allow you the time to walk around or even have a picnic.
Apparently, there is also a zoo on the summit but I did not check it out.
Admire Verdon Gorge
The most beautiful scenery in Provence can be found around the Verdon Gorge, or as it is called in French, Gorges du Verdon.
Gorges de Verdon is a river canyon about twenty–five kilometers long and up to 700 meters deep.
I saw it for the first time in my Instagram feed and I immediately added it to my Provence bucket list. The color of the river is such an intense turquoise that it is almost unreal. The most popular spot to see it from is probably the bridge where the river flows into the artificial lake of Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon.
While the limestone walls between which the river flows are popular amongst rock climbers, I preferred to spend my time chilling by the lake. Here you can rent pedal boats or just swim in the pristine water. Standing at the bridge you will see lots of pedal boats and it really looks quite busy but though I visited in July (which is the high season) the beach area wasn’t really very crowded.
At times it was actually quite empty which is likely due to the fact that it is not that easily accessible without a car.
The area around the Gorges du Verdon is probably the most scenic for those road tripping, especially compared to other places in the Provence.
In addition, I would also recommend driving carefully in the mountains of Provence in order to stay safe.
Recommended by Lena from Happily Ever Adventures
Uzès was our favorite town that we visited while in Provence.
It’s a small medieval town with white washed walls and plenty of twisting alleyways to explore. It’s incredibly well preserved with so much beautiful Renaissance architecture. It’s a relatively local and quiet town that’s not over run with tourists as much as the other Provencal towns and very safe.
It’s the perfect place for wanderers and solo female travelers. Head on over to the center of Uzès’ old town and explore from there.
The main square is full of shops, markets, and busy cafes. You should be able to discover the city by foot in a day, but we loved it so much we wished we had two or three days.
If you’re looking to visit attractions, there are several castles and towers that may pique your interest: the Bermond tower, the King’s tower, the Bishop’s tower, and the Fenestrelle tower.
If at all possible, try to visit Uzès on Saturday or Wednesday so that you can catch the local market, centered at Place aux Herbes. There are many restaurants that do their shopping at the local market and plan their menu for the day based on what they purchased; a total treat for foodies! No matter when you go, you must stop by La Fabrique Givree and try their ice cream.
They have tons of seasonal and exotic flavors with ingredients brought in from places like Iran and Tahiti. If you can’t decide on a flavor, try the sampler with 6 mini scoops. If you have any extra time, check out Musee d’ Uzès to learn about the history and archelogy of the town.
Uzès is about 25 miles west of Avignon and 15 miles north of Nimes. Consider adding a visit to Uzès if you will be at either of those cities! You can get there by car or by train.
Interested in finding out about more great towns in France? Then click here.
Recommended by Sherrie from Travel by a Sherrie Affair
In the Provence France area is the peaceful and serene commune Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. You will notice as you enter the village you are just outside the Avignon walls. But here in the village there is so much to offer – a total of 7 square miles, and you are able to walk to many of the sights.
Visit Camargue National Park
Recommended by Fanfan from Live Less Ordinary
If anywhere shares the sheer diversity of landscapes in Provence it is most definitely Camargue National park, a vast stretch of wetlands found on the southern coastline of France.
Where not only is there the usual sights of vineyards and rice fields, but also salt fields, brine lagoons and the iconic wild horses and pink flamingos which the region is famous for. It was also our first destination planned for Provence when traveling by car down from Clemont-Herault towards the Côte d’Azur, by misdirection through the city of Montpellier.
We did visit Camargue on a road trip, which would be the ideal mode of travel for many of the attractions in Provence, as the Camargue region in particular is still wild and somewhat untouched.
But there are otherwise many tours to the region, which are found in the ancient town of Arles for example, which is just a short distance north. But they also set out from most towns and cities in this region, including Avignon, which would be the big city in this part of Provence.
Otherwise the many campsites dotted throughout make a good base for travel in the Camargue, as well as Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, the Camargue capital, which is definitely worth a visit itself.
So the main attraction in Camargue is undoubtedly the pink Flamingos, which can be found dotted throughout the region, but most will be concentrated to the large UNESCO reserve and Ornithological Park called ‘Pont de Gau’, and it is the perfect day trip to explore the maze of wetlands which host a whole load of birds and wildlife, such as egrets, herons and of course the thousands of pink flamingos.
It really is a birders paradise here. Otherwise the entire area is just fascinating to explore, and the wild white horses and Camargue bulls are never far on the landscape.
Calanques of Cassis
Recommended by Nadine from Le Long Weekend
The rugged coast between Marseille and Cassis is lined with calanques. These natural inlets are surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and are home to the most beautiful teal coloured waters the Mediterranean is famous for.
Three of the most stunning calanques – Port Miou, Port Pin and En Vau – can be found a short walk from the charming port side town of Cassis.
Port Miou is the most accessible and doubles as a natural marina for the hundreds of boats moored to its banks. But the real, untouched, beauty of the calanques lies over the hill at Port Pin and En Vau.
To route to Port Pin from Port Miou is well signposted and is fairly easy to navigate. Despite the uneven ground and slippery stone surfaces, people of all ages and abilities tackle this short walk to reach the pebbled beach at Port Pin. It’s a popular swimming spot during the warmer months and the views on the way are well worth the hike!
Calanque d’En-Vau is the most famous, and undoubtedly the most breathtaking calanque of the three. Its beauty can be admired from above – after trekking straight up through the bush or navigating the longer route around the coast. But to reach the hidden oasis at the bottom you’re faced with a more daunting descent!
The Calanques can only be accessed by foot during certain months of the year, with limited access during the summer months due to fire risk, so be sure to plan your trip with this in mind.
Alternatively, you can take a boat tour, or even kayak out to the hidden beaches to get a different perspective!
Recommended by Carolyn from Holidays to Europe
The Provencal hilltop village of Ménerbes is classified as one of France’s most beautiful villages – and it’s not hard to see why.
Perched above flat, fertile plains planted with olives and grapes, the village’s location is a winner. It’s when you explore the village itself, though, when the real charm hits you.
Inside the sturdy town walls that date back centuries, narrow, cobblestone streets lined with pale stone buildings wind their way through the village.
The beautifully tidy streets today house lovingly restored 18th century mansions, cafes, restaurants and shops, with the commercial buildings mainly in the lower part of the village.
As you wander the streets to the top of the village you’ll arrive at Place de l’Horloge (Clocktower Square). This is home to two attractive buildings – the Mairie (Town Hall) with its clock tower featuring a 17th century wrought-iron campanile and a magnificently restored town house that’s now a truffle and wine centre.
Peek through the arch beside the Mairie for stunning views out across the Luberon plains. You’ll also notice a few other hilltop villages in the distance, including Gordes.
Also at the top of the village are a 14th century church, a cemetery and Le Castelet, a small chateau built on the ruins of an ancient fortress (not open to the public).
There’s no doubting the views from Ménerbes are outstanding in every direction. As you meander back down through the village, you won’t be able to resist stopping to gaze in awe at your stunning surrounds. It’s then you’ll really understand why Ménerbes is regarded as one of France’s most beautiful villages.
As you depart Ménerbes, why not visit the Corkscrew museum (Musee du Tire-bouchon), where over 1,000 corkscrews are on display. It’s located at Domaine de la Citadelle, two kilometres outside the village.
Ménerbes is located 40 kilometres from Avignon and is best reached by car. The nearest railway station is at Isle sur la Sorgue, 18 kilometres away.
If you don’t have a car, you can visit Ménerbes on a day tour from Avignon.
Recommended by Rashmi & Chalukya from Go Beyond Bounds
Roussillon is a small village amidst lush countryside in Southern France.
We did not know about this village until we booked a lavender fields tour from Avignon in France. A visit to Roussillon was a part of the tour. A drive from Avignon to Roussillon will take you less than an hour. Roussillon is well known for the rich deposits of Ochre in magnificent red-orange cliffs around the village.
Sauntering through the cobblestone alleys of the village is a delightful experience for each of the houses in the village are painted in vivid shades of ochre ranging from bright red to orange and yellow and is a wonderful sight to behold.
You can also choose to hike through one of the numerous walking trails exploring the ochre deposits and the red cliffs of the region backed by information boards all along the route.
There are several restaurants and cafes in the village where you can taste the local delicacies prepared from locally grown farm produces. When you are here do not miss to taste the delicious gelatos especially the lavender flavor with a sweet aroma.
There is a small shop in the village which sells a wide range of colors in unique shades which you can take back as a souvenir or as a gift.
There is a pay and park option available in the village if you are looking to drive on your own.
I hope, you have a wonderful time in Provence and this post has helped you to see some of the most beautiful places in Provence. Let us know if we missed any top place!