On a trip to Provence there are certain activities, sights and foods that should not be missed out on, some might say that you would not have seen the ‘real’ Provence should you miss them. We have composed a top ten guide for a few of the wonders this glorious part of France has to offer.
Lavender fields in Plateau du Valensole
In June and July this 800km² plateau is awash with purple lavender fields, neatly lined and blooming with not only colour but also the heady scent of the area’s most notorious crop. With plenty of Provencal style boutiques in the surrounding idyllic villages and gourmet restaurants using the lavender in their recipes you’ll be sure to find a keep sake or two to remind you of your glorious holiday in Provence!
Pedalo at Gorges du Verdon
Not far from Valensole is the magnificent gorge of Verdon, situated deep in the Provençal countryside. A small road twists around its steep sides, offering fantastic views from above of the crystal turquoise water. Rent pedalos or kayaks and savour nature at its best, with cracking views round every turn of the gorge. All ages will enjoy this activity, or there’s a man made beach for those wanting to take in the views from dry land with a picnic!
Ice cream in St Tropez
For a taste of sheer heaven head to Barbarac in St Tropez for the most fantastic range of flavours of their sumptuous ice creams; the French adore their ice cream and at Barbarac you will discover the very best. Even the process of entering their beautiful boutique is an experience in itself, and then once you’ve made the difficult decision of which flavor, cone or cup, sorbet or ice cream, wander out onto the promenades to enjoy this glamorous town’s sites and scenery.
Stay at Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc
For luxury and elegance book in for a night or two at this notoriously stylish hotel for stunning views of the French Riviera, fantastic service, delicious food and decadent rooms. Enjoy breakfast with the hush of water lapping beneath you, make sure you have a treatment or two at the Sisley Spa and then relax by the beach for the afternoon soaking up the sunshine.
High speed activities at the Paul Ricard Track
To spice up your holiday spend a day at the race track, get your kicks from either watching a race or getting involved yourselves; there’s plenty of activities for all ages, whether you fancy zip wires, go karting, climbing or quad biking, the track has plenty of high adrenalin activities! And then if all the excitement needs a calm ending why not head over to the Hotel Du Castellet for some 5* pampering and 2 Michelin starred chef Christophe Bacquié’s exquisite cuisine.
Riding in Camargue
For truly untouched beauty combined with a sense of the wild the Camargue will help you ‘reset’, getting back to nature whilst indulging in luxury at L’Auberge Cavaliere. With equestrian safaris this hotel will allow you to get out into the fresh air as a family or with friends on horseback, gallop down the white beaches and even brave the waters on your horse for the magical experience of swimming with horses. After all that exertion the spa and poolside will provide an excellent sanctuary of relaxation and tranquility. Keep your eyes peeled for the flocks of flamingoes that share these beautiful wetlands with wild horses and cattle.
The view from Calanque de Port d’Alon in Saint Cyr
Reach this stunning view of the creek and sea beyond either by car or on foot from Bandol or the Madrague of Saint-Cyr. Expect to be captivated by the marvelous azure colours of the waters, sun sparkling on its calm surface and the beauty of the area itself. Bring a picnic bought from the local artisan markets in Saint Cyr and perhaps take a dip to refresh after a great hike to end a great day in Provence.
Dine at L’atelier du Vigneron in Ollioules. For exceptional cuisine with a menu that will delight and intrigue, this restaurant should be on your list for the perfect Provencal dining experience. With local wines and cheeses and dishes that capture the brilliance of the chef and the detail of Provencal flavours, this is a restaurant not to be missed!
Visit the village of Le Castellet
This charming feudal village perches upon a cliff with staggering views of the Var region and the deep blue sea beyond. Surrounded by AOC Bandol vineyards and hamlets, the village itself welcomes you in with narrow cobbled streets, wonderful independent shops and ateliers and a great selection of restaurants and hotels to make spending a few days here very pleasant and relaxing.
Boasting an abundance of vineyards and exceptional wines a trip to Provence would not be the same without a few hours (or days…!) wiled away amongst the vines. You have a choice between taking an organised tour with a company such as Provence Wine Tours, collecting you from a range of Provencal towns and conducting an interesting and educational experience of a range of vineyards, or plotting your own route and lazily making your way from vineyard to vineyard! Of the many to choose from we recommend Chateau de Rouet or Chateau St Julien to get you going.
Su Stephens is Owner of Olives & Vines.