7 Picture-Perfect Provence Towns by Guest Editor, Janine Marsh
Aromatic lavender fields, quaint and pretty street markets, exquisite little cafés where you can sit and watch the world go by, chilled wine and wonderful architecture… There’s no doubt about it, Provence is one of the most beautiful places in the world.
Here are seven drool-worthy towns in Provence, perfect for foodies, culture vultures and those who adore beautiful places…
No photo can do justice for the sight that greets you when you stroll into Place du Palais (Palace Square) in the sunny city of Avignon. There before you is a truly monumental building, the world’s largest medieval gothic palace. Home to several popes in the 14th century, the UNESCO listed Palace of the Popes is majestic and an absolute must-see in a city that has oodles of charm.
Lavender heaven at Abbaye de Sénanque
If you yearn to see, sniff and experience the lush lavender fields of Provence, you’ll find some of the best are in the Lubéron area. It’s especially beautiful around the hilltop village of Sault and the iconic Abbaye de Sénanque in gorgeous Gordes, where the resident monks grow and harvest lavender. The Plateau of Valensole is the largest lavender field area in France, located between the Lubéron and marvelous Gorge du Verdon.
Gordes is the poster boy for Provence. It’s officially one of the most beautiful villages in France. Incredibly pretty with a medieval castle at the summit and wiggly streets lined with houses whose ancient stones are the color of whipped honey. This town steals a little piece of your heart and you’re not alone – Renoir, Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh were all bowled over by the beauty of Gordes.
Close to the legendary Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Eygalières is tiny, tranquil and delightful. Olive groves and vineyards surround a pretty hilltop town. Winding cobbled streets are lined with traditional stone houses, there are chateau ruins and a small museum in a 17th century church from where there are magnificent views over the countryside. And a wonderful weekly market that will have you whipping out your phone camera to capture its beauty and remind you just how lovely this town is.
Roussillon is a quintessential Provence town with a difference – it’s famous for its ochre deposits. Officially one of the most beautiful villages in France, its narrow cobbled streets are lined with boutiques and bars, art galleries and beautiful stone houses. and everywhere, you’ll see the influence of the colorful landscape reflected in the buildings - from pale lemon to vibrant orange and blood red plus every color in between. The area is nicknamed the “Provençal Colorado” thanks to the huge red ochre cliffs, a sight you’ll never forget.
Lovely Les Baux de Provence
Another officially classified most beautiful village in France – yes Provence does have a lot! – Les Baux de Provence is topped by a ruined castle. The picturesque medieval village at the foot of the chateau has a charming mix of narrow streets, gift and craft shops, restaurants and cosy cafés, all determined to delay you. You might think that with just 400 residents in the town, it is odd to have so many eateries, but Les Baux attracts around 1.5 million visitors a year, lured by its beauty, culture and history. It’s quite simply – irresistible.
Stunning and ancient - Vaison-la-Romaine
The area of Haute Vaucluse is not well known to visitors which means its towns and villages are less touristy and have retained an air of authenticity. Take Vaison-la-Romaine, it’s lively and very local with colorful weekly street markets, and plenty of great cafés and restaurants in the medieval haute ville. But it stands out for its Roman remains including a stone bridge still in use, a 1st century theatre and some of the largest Roman villa remains in France. History buffs will adore this fabulous town.