September 28, 2014

Top places to see in Provence

Life in the Fog becomes Life in Provence temporarily.  Here I go again with my top things to do in ____________ list.  I'm not running out of ideas, I promise!  I'm just addicted to travel!  So about Provence...it's exactly as how you see it in the pictures.  It's a very laid-back, quaint, charming region in the south of France.  Provence evokes thoughts of endless lavender fields, monasteries and abbeys, hilltop stone villages, and bustling markets.  I had an amazing time in Provence and it was a nice change in pace from being in the magnetic, energetic city of Paris.


Aix-en-Provence for its Saturday morning markets:




The markets were buzzing with vendors and shoppers alike.  Everything you could possibly want can be found here - straw hats, fruit, jam, clothing, and of course scented soap, which I bought plenty of as gifts.  There's also lots of boutiques and cafes - this is a university town so it definitely brings a youthful vibe to what would otherwise be considered yet another quaint, charming Provence town.  Another attraction is the Fontaine de la Rotonde near Cours Mirabeau boulevard.


Fontaine de la Rotonde











Getting lost has never been more fun - I highly recommend it!






Taking refuge from the heat while having fun photo ops with my husband



St. Remy:


This is the town where Van Gogh painted the Starry Night and I could see why - it's just absolutely charming.  St. Remy has many art galleries and shops, a neo-classical style church, and the town is so small that half day's visit would suffice.  




Ivy and moss flourishes on a brasserie





Can't get enough of the simplicity and pastel colors of  Provence


Roussillon:



What makes Roussillon so distinctive from other hilltop towns is its earthen red color derived from a ochre mineral.  













Menerbes:



Peter Mayle's book A Year in Provence put this town on the map.







Lacoste:

























Back in the day, the villagers used the stone to build their structures without the use of cement. Lacoste's defining feature is the use of stones and residents want to carry on this tradition by requiring developers to follow the stone motif when building new houses or structures.










Avignon:

 The Palace of the Popes


Avignon makes for a great base in visiting surrounding towns and it's energetic during the day but mellows out in the evening.  We stayed at the Aux Augustins which has a kitchenette in each of its "apartments," as well a lovely courtyard full of flowers and foliage.  Patrick, the owner was very warm and welcoming - I really recommend this hotel!

In terms of eating out, you can't really get it wrong.  I recommend eating in the square near the Palace of the Popes- with musicians playing nearby in an old world setting, it brings a whole new definition of romance.



















Wasn't aware my husband took this picture, I was probably contemplating the French life and thinking I could live here



Lavender fields of Abbey de Senanque:



I highly recommend coming here in July, otherwise they have the picking season and you miss all that brilliant purple come September!




Gordes:




Gordes was our favorite town mainly because of the stunning views and its amphitheater perched on the edge of a cliff - I would have loved, loved, loved to stay longer and catch a classical concert here at dusk.























Although we weren't able to go, Les Baux gets a special honorable mention, particularly Carrieres de Lumieres which is literally inside a limestone cave.  I can't stress this enough!  If you're only able to travel by bus, keep in mind that rides to Les Baux are only available on the weekends!  One of my only regrets on this trip was not being able to go and I've heard Carrieres de Lumieres has been the highlight of most people's trip.  



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