From the coast of the Mediterranean to the ochre lands of the Luberon; the summits of Sainte-Victoire to the canyons of the
Gorges du Verdon; and the buzz of cities to the calm of southern villages, an unexpected experience
awaits you on the roads of Provence.
The Small Ports of Provence
Don your sunglasses and head to the port for a coffee on the terrace. The people at the table next to you enthusiastically comment about that day’s catch. Intrigued, you order six sea urchins, the caviar of the Mediterranean that locals devour with a spoon. Then it’s off for a walk around the harbour. Here, civilisations have come and gone, leaving behind little streets, lovely tree-lined squares and ochre-coloured houses which reflect the sunlight. The heat leads you back to the shady terraces. It’s the perfect moment to order a glass of rosé, dry and smooth at the same time. The first sip will whisky you away to the sunny vines of the Pays d’Aix, at the foot of Montagne Sainte-Victoire. At the end of the day, at the end of the pier, admire the sunset behind the “pointus” (small Mediterranean fishing boats) bobbing on the swell.
It would not take much for this journey, however short or long it may be, to invigorate you with an energetic, free spirit. The stage has been set: you are in the Mediterranean… Cassis, Marseille, Saint-Tropez, La Ciotat, Toulon? Do you actually know what port you are in?
From the Wild Lands of the Camargue
Head west for a safari into the wilds. Just an hour from Marseille, Aix or Avignon, the Camargue offers the unexpected landscapes of reeds, lagoons and salt marshes, the environment of flooded lands. Through your binoculars enjoy observing this little natural paradise, with 400 species of migratory birds, including the largest colony of pink flamingos in Europe. It is one of the greatest treasures in Provence ! In Arles, wander in the streets and explore the Roman ruins including the monumental arena. As at the nearby Pont du Gard, in Arles you can walk in the footsteps of the Romans. The Camargue is truly a timeless escape.
From Avignon to Hilltop Villages
As you wander along the pedestrian-only streets of Avignon, the mistral brings in a bit of fresh air. From the majestic and imposing Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes) you can head off on a short walk to the garden of the Rocher des Doms. In this peaceful place, the view opens onto the roofs of the city, the Pont d’Avignon, the Rhône and even Mont Ventoux, giant of Provence and star of the Tour de France. Continue on your way to perched villages, fields of lavender, vines, and sunflowers. Along pleasantly winding roadsides, the very essence of Provence parades before your eyes. Stop at L’Isle sur la Sorgue, to hunt for bargains at the antique shops or cool off on a terrace on the banks of the Sorgue. Surely you will try a little Rinquinquin, the peach aperitif that is typical of Provence ?
Welcome to the Luberon
Careful now, say LubEUron , the locals much prefer that! Here, the cliffs are tinted yellow, orange and red. You have arrived in the Colorado Provençal. To the east you’ll find the dizzying Gorges du Verdon, which are a clarion call to adventure and to surpass oneself. But before that, nothing beats a little nap in a poppy field, with a lullaby from the cicadas.
Go to the Summit for an Exceptional View
The adventure continues. Lovers of the great outdoors looking for sublime panoramic views should ascend the peaks of Sainte-Baume. Once at the summit, the view plunges over coloured landscapes and picturesque villages. To the south, spot Aubagne and the Garlaban Massif. To the east, it’s Provence Verte, with the town of Cotignac and its rock face that hides troglodyte houses, then Barjols and its collection of fountains.
And, Finally, the Route des Crêtes
The end of your Provençal odyssey approaches. We’re off for a last turn on the Route des Crêtes, between La Ciotat and Cassis. A dry, rocky landscape flashes past you on this incredibly scenic road that smells of thyme and rosemary. The white of the cliffs gorgeously contrasts with the turquoise blue of the Mediterranean. Facing you are the Calanques, and behind them, a breath-taking and exceptional view over Marseille.
There is no secret to it, to experience Provence to the fullest you have to slow down and move at nature’s pace. Here, heat and wind set the tempo. The seasons decide the menu, and men and women, often caricatured but never equalled, welcome you with their singsong accent to introduce you to the irresistible Provençal lifestyle. Want to continue the adventure? It is completely up to you: the summits and the great Alpine outdoors await you …