The Essential Guide to Provence
Collected by Nancy Heslin , AFAR Local Expert
Provence may be known for its sleepy villages, Roman ruins, and endless fields of lavender, but it’s also home to Europe’s Grand Canyon, a famed antique market, and a moving Holocaust memorial. Come for the impressive restaurants and delightful hotels, stay for the truffle hunts, cooking classes, and small-but-mighty museums.
84110 Vaison-la-Romaine, France
At Cuisine de Provence, Barbara Schuerenberg offers memorable, hands-on cooking classes in her home kitchen overlooking Vaison-la-Romaine and Mont Ventoux. Students learn to prepare five or six typical Provençale dishes using fresh,...
84110 Vaison-la-Romaine, France
Just 33 miles northeast of Avignon, the town of Vaison-la-Romaine is home to some of France’s most significant archaeological finds. The Ouvèze River flows through the village, creating two separate banks. On the left, a medieval town features...
Rue Madeleine Roch, 84100 Orange, France
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Roman Theater of Orange is the most well-preserved ancient Roman theater in Europe, complete with a magnificent stage wall and an imposing 340-foot facade that Louis XIV once called “the finest wall in my...
8 Rue Maréchal Foch, 84230 Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France
Just 7.5 miles north of Avignon, Châteauneuf-du-Pape is heaven for red wine lovers. Home to 80 growers, the village produces more wine than the entire northern Rhône region collectively, using several of the appellation’s 14...
40 Rue Saint-Christophe, 84000 Avignon, France
Led by local expert Aurélie Gilabert, these gourmet walking tours offer a true taste of Avignon. Meet local artisans and sample regional products on the Taste of Avignon Morning Tour, which takes guests to the most picturesque parts of town...
5 Rue Laboureur, 84000 Avignon, France
Although Van Gogh painted his famous Wagons de Chemin de Fer while living in Arles, the painting actually hangs in the Musée Angladon in Avignon, along with a sumptuous collection of paintings and furniture inherited from visionary fashion...
Place du Palais, 84000 Avignon, France
The largest Gothic palace in Europe and a designated UNESCO World Heritage site, the Palais des Papes was built when the papal power was transferred to Avignon because of political unrest in Rome. Construction on the 160,000-square-foot palace...
Pont d'Avignon, Boulevard de la Ligne, 84000 Avignon, France
The Pont St-Bénézet is so famous it even has its own song, "Sur Le Pont d’Avignon" (as the bridge is more commonly known). The last crossing on the Rhône between Lyon and the Mediterranean Sea, the 3,000-foot bridge was...
Allée l'Oulle, Parking des Allées de l'Oulle, 84000 Avignon, France
Take a two-hour dinner cruise along the Rhône River aboard the charming Mireio, the largest panoramic restaurant boat in the region. On the Saint Bénézet Cruise, you’ll pass the most beautiful sites in Avignon—from...
17 Rue Des Trois Faucons, 84000 Avignon, France
There’s no shortage of outstanding places to eat in Avignon, but this small husband-and-wife-run restaurant is one of the best. Here, the well-priced menu focuses on local dishes made with seasonal produce, from pumpkin-and-butternut-squash...
4 Place de l'Amirande, 84000 Avignon, France
Near the Palais des Papes is this five-star hotel, housed in a private palace from the 18th century. Walking through the exquisite interior, which has been intricately renovated to preserve its historic charm, is a bit like taking a time machine...
7 Avenue des Quatre Otages, 84800 L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, France
Located in the charming town of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, L’Ile aux Brocantes is a famed antique center with 40 permanent dealers. Here, collectors can find furniture and objets d’art dating back to the 17th, 18th, and 19th...
800 Cours Fernande Peyre, 84800 L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, France
This Michelin-starred eatery is a favorite with locals and visitors alike for its scenic river views, delectable French cuisine, and extensive wine list with more than 3,000 bottles. Located a bit outside L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Le Vivier...
6 Rue Rose Goudard, 84800 L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, France
Housed in a 17th-century town house at the heart of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, this boutique hotel offers superior service, luxurious rooms, a secret garden with a swimming pool, and an art gallery, where pieces by local artists and designers...
84800 Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, France
In the small town of Fontaine-de-Vaucluse lies France’s largest spring. Located at the mouth of a cave, it makes for a magical place to visit, surrounded by towering limestone cliffs and the remains of an ancient castle. To get here, park in...
Rue de la Combe, 84220 Gordes, France
For one of the best restaurant views you’ll ever enjoy, head to L’Orangerie at the five-star hotel Bastide de Gordes. Here, you can dine on the garden terrace or open-air veranda with breathtaking vistas over the Luberon Valley. The...
L'Hubac et Saint-Jean, 04270 Châteauredon, France
France is the world’s third-largest producer of lavender, with a 559-mile-long Lavender Route that passes directly through Provence. Driving the route—at least from Manosque to the Plateau de Valensole to see the most vivid patches of...
04360 Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, France
One of France’s most beautiful villages, the awe-inspiring Moustiers-Ste-Marie—perched between two cliffs with homes built into the hills—serves as the western entrance to the Gorges du Verdon (or Europe’s Grand Canyon)....
Chemin de Quinson, 04360 Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, France
When one of the world’s most famous chefs falls in love with one of France’s most picturesque villages, the result can only be La Bastide de Moustiers. After chancing upon Moustiers-Ste-Marie, Alain Ducasse promptly bought a secluded...
84160 Cadenet, France
At this 11-acre organic farm outside Aix-en-Provence, American Lisa Pepin and her French husband, Johann, lead truffle-hunting tours in English during both the summer (May to September) and winter (mid-November to mid-March) truffle seasons....
Place de l'Étang, 84160 Cucuron, France
A Good Year, starring Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard, was shot in Cucuron, just 35 miles north of Aix-en-Provence. While the medieval town hasn’t had many celebrity sightings since, it stills draws visitors with its exquisite...
40 Chemin de la Badesse, 13290 Aix-en-Provence, France
A 10-minute bus ride from Rotunde lies Camp des Milles, a former tile factory that served as an internment camp and deportation center from 1939 to 1942. In August and September of 1942 alone, the camp held 10,000 people, 2,000 of whom were...
Place Saint-Jean de Malte, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
Art lovers will have to wait until at least 2121 for the opening of Aix’s Jacqueline and Pablo Picasso Museum, which will include 2,000 works from when the artist was married to his second wife. Until then, they can find Picasso on the walls...
34 Place des Martyrs-de-la-Résistance, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
One of France’s national monuments, the St. Sauveur Cathedral in Aix-en-Provence occupies the site of a 1st-century Roman forum and, according to legend, a temple to Apollo. Upon approaching the church, you’ll immediately notice its...
53 Cours Mirabeau, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
It's often assumed that Brasserie Deux Garcons is named for painter Paul Cézanne and novelist Émile Zola, who frequented the restaurant together when living in Aix-en-Provence. However, the name, which translates to “two...
5 Avenue du Pigonnet, 13090 Aix-en-Provence, France
Tucked away in a quiet pocket of Aix-en-Provence, Hôtel Le Pigonnet seems too good to be true, from its four acres of flowering gardens and statue-lined swimming pool to its outdoor restaurant under the chestnut trees and cozy bar with live...
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