Today I’m finally sharing my Provence travel guide! In it you will find all the best travel tips and tricks that you’ll want to keep in mind when planning your next trip.
Provence is hands down one of the most picturesque places I’ve ever traveled to. It is BEYOND beautiful, and Connor and I felt like we had been transported back in time. All of the towns we visited were incredibly quaint and charming. We took the train from Nice (you can read my French Riviera travel guide here), and in just under 3 hours we had arrived to Avignon. Note that Provence represents quite a large region of France. We did not stay or visit the actual town of Aix-en-Provence.
Our home base was in Oppède, which is situated right in the Luberon Valley. I can’t recommend our Airbnb enough – it was beyond all of our expectations. We stayed in a gorgeous, recently renovated estate with sprawling gardens and mountain views. They even had a pool! Our host would cook us breakfast every morning with ingredients fresh from her garden. I don’t think I’ve ever had a better breakfast. I am more than happy to share the Airbnb info with anyone interested, just shoot me an email! Without further ado, here is my Provence travel guide.
PROVENCE TRAVEL GUIDE HIGHLIGHTS
- For our first night in Oppède our Airbnb host was kind enough to make dinner reservations for us at a local restaurant, Bistro les Poulivets. We enjoyed an absolutely amazing meal here. I had the fish ravioli and Connor had the pork. We also split the tuna tartare which was equally as delicious. It was close enough to walk, so we strolled around Oppède after dinner and watched the sunset.
- Another town you MUST explore is Ménerbes. It’s a small little village, and you only need about an hour or two to see it all. They had some of the best shopping I did on the whole trip – I couldn’t get over how cute the local boutiques were. My two favorites were L’a-Parté and Petits Points De Provence. Be sure to stop in both!
- When in Ménerbes, eat at Bistrot le 5 for lunch or dinner. Due to how we had our day planned out, we went there for lunch. The food was incredible – we split a delicious gazpacho followed by TRUFFLE RAVIOLI. Need I say anymore?! The views from this restaurant can’t be beat, and I can only imagine how gorgeous it would be to eat there for dinner and enjoy the sunset.
- Provence is known for it’s rosé wine, and our favorite of the trip was hands down Domaine des Jeanne. You can find it at most of the restaurants in the area, and you can also visit their winery and purchase a bottle. They are the sweetest family-run business and I can’t recommend their wine enough.
- Another town we enjoyed visiting was Lacoste. There’s not much shopping or restaurants, but you can hike (I say hike because it’s definitely a steep incline. Wear proper walking shoes!) to the Château de Lacoste situated at the top of the town. The chateau was built in the 11th century and visitors can go inside and tour what remains today. The views from the terraces are outstanding!
- Visiting Oppède le Vieux was one of our favorite mornings of the trip. You can hike up to the Église Notre-Dame d’Alidon. It’s a beautifully renovated 16th century Catholic Church, and the views from the top are breathtaking. After working up an appetite on your hike, stop at Le Petite Café for some food and refreshments. We enjoyed a glass of rosé and some light bites – this place comes highly recommended by the locals!
- Our favorite view of the entire trip was of Gordes. It’s one of the largest towns in the area, and probably the most touristy. We walked around for a bit, but honestly we enjoyed the small towns much more. However, across from Gordes you can get an absolutely stunning shot of the entire town. We stumbled upon the lookout by accident, but judging by all the people stopped to snap photos this spot is well-known.
- If you’re interested in vintage shopping, check out L’Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue. They have tons of cute little antique shops – I wanted to bring everything home with me! While in the area, stop in Le Jardin du Quai for lunch. It’s the cutest little garden bistro and everything we ate was delicious!
PROVENCE TRAVEL GUIDE TRAVEL TIPS
- Rent a car!! There is absolutely NO public transportation in the area, and I can’t imagine Uber was readily available either. The only way to get around is by renting a car. We found the roads here quiet and easy to maneuver. We booked with Enterprise, but both the airport and Avignon train station are home to all of the usual rental companies.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes. A lot of the towns are really steep, which I didn’t realize. The first day I wore sandals to Oppède le Vieux and my feet were killing me by the end of the hike! I’m not saying you need hiking boots – sneakers or comfy flats would work.
- Come prepared with some basic French knowledge, or have a translation app at the ready. Unlike Paris and Nice, we came across many people who either didn’t speak English at all, or spoke very little. Most of the restaurant menus were in French as well, which can make ordering really stressful! We used Google Translate a ton to get by.
- Make reservations. Our Airbnb host let us know that many places require a reservation, especially during the busy summer months. We had no problem making them day-of, but we we’re always happy we had them as places got very busy.
- The average dinner time is around 8pm, which I find SO late! If you plan to eat earlier, you probably don’t even need a reservation because no one shows up for dinner until 8pm or 9pm. Even families with children! We adjusted to a later eating schedule on the trip so that we could really enjoy the full French experience! It’s hard to people watch in an empty restaurant 😉
- If lavender fields are what you’re after (and you’re visiting during lavender season – typically the first two weeks of July), then Valensole is the place to go. It’s home to the most famous fields, and about a 90 minute drive from Oppède. Since we weren’t there during peak season, I didn’t want to make the drive. However, there is a beautiful field in Gordes that I highly recommend called the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque. While visitors aren’t allowed into the fields to take photos, you can get still get gorgeous shots of the lavender.
- Make an itinerary. It takes about 15-20 minutes to drive from town to town, so if you plan to spend the morning in Mènerbes but have lunch reservations in Gordes, you need to give yourself enough time to get there! I highly recommend planning out each day, taking into consideration where your lunch and dinner reservations are. This will help keep things stress-free so you can enjoy your time exploring.
I hope you find this Provence travel guide helpful, and as always if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to reach out!