The Best Ways to Explore Provence
Provence is a scenic region in south-eastern France, considered a dream destination for many, with its quaint hilltop villages, stunning landscapes, and majestic Roman ruins. It is also renowned for its endless culinary delights, where you’ll find many Michelin-starred restaurants and family-owned wineries producing some of the world’s best wines.
Whether you plan to visit for the weekend or stay for a week or more, here are some of the best ways to explore Provence.
#1 – Hike to the Waterfalls
While Provence is renowned for its lavender fields, mouth-watering cuisine, and charming villages nestled amongst lush olive groves, it also has some of the world’s most scenic rivers and waterfalls with crystal-clear waters.
Going for a hike to the majestic waterfalls of Provence is highly recommended for avid hikers and nature lovers, especially for families with adventurous kids. You will find the region’s most famous waterfall in the small village of Sillans la Cascade. The impressive natural phenomenon and its raging waters are an incredible sight to behold, and hiking to the waterfalls is fun, passing through a local village. The water flows through river Bresque, the largest river flowing past the Sillans village.
The waterfall of Sillas is breathtaking. Looking at it in pictures, you would think it is in a tropical country. Aside from admiring the turquoise blue water crashing into the emerald pool, you can swim in the rock pools around it, covered in shrubs and moss. If you visit Provence during the hot summer, taking a refreshing dip at the waterfall is the best way to cool off.
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#2 – Stroll through Lavender Fields
Strolling through the postcard-perfect lavender fields of Provence is on the bucket list for many. The majority of the lavender fields are in the Luberon and Verdon plateaus. You’ll also find some in the Aix-en-Provence and Marseille. The flowers will bloom around mid-June until the end of July or mid-August when they get harvested. Their blooms depend on their variety, weather conditions, and elevation. A trip to the lavender fields is a must for those staying in Provence, providing a picturesque setting for all.
The best time to visit Provence to experience the lavender fields in full bloom is between the end of June and the end of July. However, expect Provence to be full of tourists at this time of the year. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit before mid-July.
The best way to visit the lavender fields of Provence is to rent a car, allowing you the flexibility to explore at your own pace. Once you reach the location of the lavender fields, you can park along the street and walk towards the area. If you are not comfortable driving, consider booking a tour.
One of the most stunning lavender fields in Provence is Terraroma. The scenic rolling hills make the place more photogenic, and there’s plenty of space for everyone to capture that perfect Instagram-worthy shot! You can park at the Terraroma distillery across the road. It’s also worth stopping by to purchase honey, essential oils, soap, and dried lavender.
#3 – Explore the National Parks
Provence is home to some of France’s most stunning national parks. Exploring these parks is the best way to appreciate the natural charm of Provence. These parks have well-paved trails taking you to lush forests, home to diverse wildlife.
If you only have time to visit one park, make it the Calanques National Park. It’s one of the most photogenic places in Provence, occupying over 500 hectares of greenery and unique rock formations before plunging into the sea, creating an incredibly scenic landscape! While hiking is the most popular activity in the Calanques National Park, it also offers plenty of opportunities for fun activities such as kayaking and snorkelling.
The Alpilles mountain range is another stunning natural site in Provence worth visiting if you have more time to spare. It occupies over 50,000 hectares of land and lies in the north-western region of Bouches-du-Rhône. Aside from the rich flora and fauna, it’s home to some of France’s most picturesque villages, such as Les Baux-de-Provence and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
#4 – Go Cycling in Provence
Cycling is part of the French culture – everywhere on the road, you’ll see keen local cyclists on their bikes, sometimes in teams. Besides, France hosts the world’s most famous cycling event, Tour de France. So, if you’re an avid cyclist, consider cycling in Provence. Exploring Provence on a bike is an incredible experience which some even consider to be some of the best cycling in Europe, one not to miss for avid explorers!
For expert cyclists looking for some challenge, conquer Mont Ventoux. The legendary cycling trail lures adventurous cyclists looking to test their limits. While the iconic climb is challenging, the stunning views will make it worth it. Take the Malaucene Route and enjoy better views of the Alps, or opt for the Sault Route, the easiest but longest route. The Bedoin route is the most preferred option, taking less than an hour.
Another scenic cycling trail in Provence is the trail towards the charming village of Gordes, home to Château de Gordes, a magnificent castle from the 12th century. The climb to the hill is a fascinating experience, with lush greenery complementing the striking panorama of the surrounding lavender fields.
#5 – Hire a Car to See the Villages
Provence is the perfect place to explore in a car. It’s one of the most scenic regions of France, with beautiful lavender fields stretching to the horizon. The atmosphere is very laidback, allowing for a very relaxing drive. The best place to start is in the picturesque town of Gordes, the largest in the region. It’s an ideal base for travelling around Provence, with many fantastic accommodations and great restaurant options.
From Gordes, drive to the stunning village of Goult, with picturesque small streets that are a joy to stroll around. As you explore the town, head up to the moulin and into the stunning viewpoint, where you can stop and marvel at the breathtaking views.
Next, drive for ten minutes to reach Lacoste, a lovely medieval village home to a majestic chateau. From the top, you can admire the village’s stunning views. Hop in your car and continue with your journey, visiting the most beautiful villages of Provence.