Late fall and early spring are the perfect seasons to escape grey Parisian skies and head to sunny Provence. Less than a 3 hour TGV ride away, Avignon is the region’s most accessible option and a simple ride across the Rhone takes explorers off the beaten path to Villeneuve-les-Avignon. From the train station, take a taxi to the 16th century hotel L’Atelier and after check in, pick up your complimentary bikes to head out and explore the Chartreuse monastery. Enjoy a hike up and around Fort St André, then visit the gardens of the Saint André Abbey. The Moulin à Huile de la Chartreuse presses their own olive oils and has an inviting terrace for lunch under the olive trees. In the afternoon, Avignon is just a 15 minute bike ride away. The Pope’s Palace is a must see, but the Lambert Collection of contemporary art is also worth the detour. For dinner, the Guinguette Vieux Moulin, on Villeneuve’s waterfront is a fun place with freshly grilled fish and meats while Le Prieure offers gourmet dining under the stars.
Saturday morning there is a Provençal flea market. An easy bike ride around the Ile de la Barthelasse is rewarded with spectacular views of both banks, quaint country scenery, a village church, heritage fruit orchards and a distillery where visitors can take a tour before picking up a proper artisanal pastis to enjoy on the train ride back to Paris.