Provence, in Southern France, is renown for the most beautiful villages anywhere in France and most of Europe. From stunning castle ruins to quaint stone homes with terracotta roof tops. Though not as well known as some surrounding cities, this is the perfect holiday trip for anyone looking to unwind and relax. Villages surrounded with fields of lavender will give you a wonderful blanket of tranquility for the most soothing holiday you will ever experience. Visit a seaside village with gorgeous beaches and the very best in seafood restaurants. Come to Provence, you will love every minute of it!
Vaison la Romaine
Whether you are a history buff or not, this town should be a must on your visitor list. Sitting North of Avignon, Vaison-la-Romaine is probably the most important place for Roman heritage areas throughout the entire country. You must stop by the Villasse Archaeological site to view the ruins of Roman homes, baths and the Puymin Hill, which offers the ruins of many Roman public buildings. Vaison-la-Romaine has the most spectacular squares and gorgeous fountains anywhere. It is also worth your time to check out the ancient Roman bridge across the river Ouvèze. There are only about 7,000 residents in this town but they have many wonderful cafe, restaurants, which you can visit. Their menus offer the most amazing Southern French cuisine and should not be missed. You may check out Provence’s Food Culture & Southern French Cuisine for some great ideas, should you decide to visit the markets and cook your own dishes in your own living quarters!
The Town Of Roussillon
Once a a part of the Principality of Catalonia and equivalent to today’s southern French département of Pyrénées-Orientales. The term Northern Catalonia (or French Catalonia) originated through Catalan writings when the territory ceded to France by Spain through signing the Treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659. Northern Catalonia is used mostly by Catalan speakers while French speakers call it French Catalonia. Approximately 34% of residents speak Catalan, another 21% understand the language.
This wonderful town exemplifies a provincial lifestyle. It sits on a hilltop just East of Avignon and surrounds the magnificence National Park de Luberon with its breathtaking views. The town is populated with approximately 1,300 inhabitants but is a very popular tourist spot due to ‘sentier des ochres’ (ocre deposits) that surround the village. Ochre is a natural earth pigment that contains hydrated iron oxide, ranging in colors from yellow to orange to red to brown. Although it is no longer mined, you may visit old mines and walk through this beautiful landscape of brilliant color. All the houses have hues of yellow, orange or red showing their adulation for ochre! The very best time to visit this wonderful village is just before sunset. You will watch these beautiful homes change into the most brilliant of colors just before the sun sets!
The Town Of Uzès
Uzès sits West of Avignon and North of Nimes and offers a very different, spectacular form of architecture. The village is loaded with gorgeous Renaissance towers and houses that are intertwined with narrow, winding streets that will have you stepping back to medieval times. There are approximately 8,000 residents and a very abounding history that dates back to Roman times. It’s very well known for their Roman Aqueduct that originally supplied water to Nimes. The Pont du Gard is probably the most famous section of the aqueduct which only is 9 miles (14 kilometers) from Uzès by car. While in the town, enjoy their farmers market that is open on Saturdays and visit the Medieval Center of ‘Duché Palace’.
Located East of Avignon and barely West of Roussillon, this village is considered one of the most breathtaking villages in all of France. This Enchanting village sits atop a hill with a population of a mere 2,000 people who live in gorgeous stone houses with terracotta roofs and offering an amazing panoramic view in all directions. This village was not overlooked by many artists including Marc Chagall and Jean Deyrolle. Tour around their luxurious fields of lavender and poppies and dry-stone huts, known as Les Bories. No wonder artists chose Gordes as the perfect model for many of their artwork.
Take a short trip to the Sénanque Abbey (Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque), first founded in 1148 under Alfant, the Bishop of Cavaillon and the Count of Barcelona – Ramon Berenguer II. It’s very different and interesting architecture is very intriguing.
Les Beaux de Provence Village
Located South of Avignon in the middle of the Alpilles Mountain Range, offering some of the most spectacular views and scenery anywhere. With a very small population of 400 people, the castle ruins makes up a good deal of the village along with picturesque ruins of houses. The castle is a very popular tourist stop and the surrounding areas are perfect for biking and hiking. Check out the view of the village from the rocky top, it’s spectacular.
L’Isle sur la Sorgue:
Originally a fishing village it gets its name from the River Sorgue that runs through the village. L’Isle sur la Sorgue is now known for many famous cafes and restaurants that sit along the river. They also offer very fine antique shops and markets that are worth stopping by. The village sits between Avignon and Gores and attracts many visitors to their antique markets that are held on Sundays. Other visitors enjoy visiting views of the Sorgue River with it’s working water wheels and nego-chin boats. Neo-chin are flat bottomed fishing boats that may be rented out for a great ride on the water. Larger than many villages with a population of 18,000 residents, it still offers a wonderful provincial flair. Stop by their restaurants by the river for mouth-watering Provence dishes and enjoy relaxation while taking in spectacular views.
The Village of Saint Rémy de Provence
Saint Rémy de Provence is situated South of Avignon and North of the Alpilles Mountain Range. It is considered one the most famous villages within the region. It is best known as the birthplace of Nostradamus and home to Vincent van Gogh at one of the most important stages of his life. Van Gogh painted his most famous work “The Starry Night” while staying at the asylum within the monastery. This village has a wonderful ancient Roman site known as Glanum. You will also see the oldest Triumphal Arch in France. This is a wonderful place to visit and is well worth your time.
Seillans sits farther East than other places we have been discussing and is West of Cannes. It sits atop a gorgeous hillside that overlooks the valley and makes for a wonderful day trip. The center of town is very medieval and is very steep for entering a leaving. The only way you can get there is by foot but is well worth the climb. There are several exquisite, sunny squares, some beautiful tall houses and a castle and chapel to boot! With its perfect Mediterranean climate, the village’s population is approximately 2,500 people. Travel the surrounding landscape of wonderful olive groves and vineyards, you will have a wonderful time.