The 7 Most Beautiful Towns in Provence, France is authored by Emilie from France Just For You, which organizes self-drive tours in France. Emilie was born and grew up in France and has travelled extensively through the country with her partner Guillaume, searching for all the hidden gems that few people know about, so that she can plan the most unique and memorable trips for her travelers. Here, Emilie writes about the many sights and activities that beautiful Provence in southern France has to offer.
Read more about how to do a self dive tour in France here.
If you’re looking for a sensational experience, Provence in southern France will not disappoint. With its seemingly never-ending lavender fields, its sun-drenched landscapes, a rich diversity of wildlife and mouth-watering delicacies from the region’s olive groves and vineyards, it is a real feast for the senses. It is also rich in heritage, with Roman remains, castles, churches and synagogues to be explored. Whether your priority is breath-taking landscapes, history and culture, or good food and wine, here are seven stunning places in the Alpilles and Camargue regions of Provence which offer something for everyone.
- 1 The 7 Most Beautiful Towns in Provence, France
- 1.1 Exploring Aix-en-Provence
- 1.2 Birdwatching in the Camargue
- 1.3 The ancient streets of Arles
- 1.4 The setting of van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Saint Rémy-de-Provence
- 1.5 A medieval fortress in the ‘valley of Hell’, Les Baux-de-Provence
- 1.6 Wine-tasting (and an underground cathedral) at Château Romanin
- 1.7 French cooking in Eygalières
- 1.8 Tours of Provence – Just For You!
- 1.9 The 7 Most Beautiful Towns in Provence, France
The 7 Most Beautiful Towns in Provence, France
The France Just For You 7-day itinerary in Provence starts in the hills above the lovely little city of Aix-en-Provence. By staying at a beautiful bed and breakfast just outside of the city, you can enjoy the tranquility of the stunning French countryside and avoid the big hassle of driving through the city, as well as its high prices. In town, you can stroll through the narrow streets and hidden squares of the old town with a guide who will explain the history and culture of the town. Art-lovers may enjoy a visit to the studio of French artist Paul Cézanne, followed by a hike through the gorgeous countryside outside the city, which inspired many of Cézanne’s most famous paintings. If you have a sweet tooth, you must try the Calissons d’Aix, an almond-paste delicacy with sugar icing on top, and Croquets aux Amandes, a crusty dough filled with almonds.
Birdwatching in the Camargue
The Camargue is a vast wetland in the Rhone River delta, and the large numbers of different bird species that live there make it a paradise for bird-watchers. Listen and watch out for various species of egrets, herons, spoonbills, kingfishers and the bird for which the area is most famous, flamingos. In December and March, the flamingos put on quite a show as they perform their elaborate mating dance and display their beautiful new plumage. Some may also enjoy watching the local cowboys as they roam the delta on horse-back.
The ancient streets of Arles
To the north of the Camargue lies the city of Arles. Here you can explore the ancient Roman ruins (including the amphitheater), and follow in the footsteps of artist Vincent van Gogh, who depicted Arles in many of his paintings. Stroll through the quaint streets and enjoy people-watching from one of the village squares. Arles hosts one of the biggest farmers’ markets in Provence, which is popular with the locals. Hunt down a stall that sells a local specialty such as gardiane de taureau (beef stew).
The setting of van Gogh’s The Starry Night, Saint Rémy-de-Provence
St Rémy-de-Provence is a picturesque, bustling town in the north of the Alpilles, surrounded by fragrant lavender and poppy fields. It is the birthplace of Nostradamus – you can even visit his house – and where van Gogh painted his masterpiece The Starry Night. Here you can breathe in the aroma of the famous Herbes de Provence and visit the popular farmers’ market if you’re there on a Wednesday.
A medieval fortress in the ‘valley of Hell’, Les Baux-de-Provence
Not far from Saint Rémy in the hottest part of Provence – and this may be why it is also known as the Val d’Enfer (‘valley of Hell’) – this medieval fortress is one of the real wonders of Provence. The village enjoys a spectacular position in the Alpilles mountains, with stunning views. We recommend staying for sunset and watching in awe as the landscape becomes drenched in yellow, orange, pink and purple.
Wine-tasting (and an underground cathedral) at Château Romanin
Many wine connoisseurs will agree that Provence sets the benchmark for rosé wine and one of the region’s best vineyards is just a short drive from the village of Baux. This magnificent and unique vineyard is known for producing some of the finest wine in Provence. Nestled in the heart of the Alpilles, the ancient Château Romanin and its modern cellar are protected by an underground cathedral which was carved out from the rock. After a scenic hike through the vineyards, head underground for wine and olive oil tasting in the castle cellar.
Flickr image Zlatko Unger
French cooking in Eygalières
Eygalières is one of those little French towns that you might stumble upon on the way to somewhere else, but it is well worth a visit. Away from the crowds, it’s the perfect place to find some peace and quiet with its lovely paved streets, old stone houses and the Alpilles mountains providing a stunning backdrop. Visit the farmers’ market, do a cooking class with a local chef and finish off the day with a glass of wine and a delicious cold meat and cheese platter on the terrace of one of the local bistros.
Tours of Provence – Just For You!
The 7 Most Beautiful Towns in Provence, France
All of the personalized tours from France Just For You are tailor-made just for you, giving you the flexibility to pick and choose the places and activities that you would like to include in your tour. We hope that you feel inspired to experience the wonders of Provence for yourselves. Here are some examples of the tours of Provence that we offer, and please contact Emilie at France Just For You if you have any questions or if you would like us to arrange a tour for you.