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Provence is a magical place where you will find everything from ancient ruins to precious castles, surprising natural sights, some of the most beautiful villages in Southern France and of course the lavender that blooms every summer. The ambiance is cheerful and the atmosphere really unique. Welcome to Provence!
Avignon is the perfect town to start your journey in Provence. Only 2 hours and 30 minutes by TGV from Paris, Avignon the City of Popes and the impressive Papal Palace. This old papal city is a place in Provence where sunshine and an easy-going lifestyle blend together into perfection.
(Avignon, Palais des Papes)
Enjoy a walk in the city center, starting at the Place de l’Horloge, which is located near the Palais des Papes. The town hall takes center stage in the ancient Place d’Avignon, which acquired its first public clock in the 15th century. Lose yourself on rue Peyrollerie, where you can see the Rocher des Doms close up, the stone on which the City of Popes was built.
Next, enter the Jardin des Doms and relax in this magnificent garden overlooking the Pont d’Avignon. Enjoy the view and evocative fragrances coming in on the winds of Provence!
Now, descend to the headland, cross the Rhone and make a visit to the Île de la Barthelasse, where the people of Avignon enjoy the fresh air and a stroll in the sunshine.
In addition to olives and other typical Provençal produce, the most remarkable speciality of Avignon is called “la papaline”. This sugar-coated ball of chocolate has the appearance of a pink chestnut and is filled with a local liqueur called “origan du comtat”. Mouth watering!
Avignon festival, an event not to be missed, every year. Since 1947, Avignon festival has been considered one of the most important events
in the world of theatre.
Tarascon, is only 30 minutes south from Avignon. Built on the banks of the Rhône at the crossroads of the Alpilles, the Montagnette and the Camargue, Tarascon is the emblematic seat of the Counts of Provence and also the encounter between history, architecture, nature and legends. Walking in the narrow streets of this medieval city, here is what to see: the Château du Roi René built in the 15th century; the Sainte Marie Royal Collegiate church, built in the 11th and 12th century; the 17th century Town Hall; the Codeliers Cloisters; the private town mansions and bourgeois homes.
Before leaving this small city, I will recommend visiting the Souleïado Museum and shop homage to the textile tradition of Provence, laid out in a 15th century building.
(Château de Panisse)
Château de Panisse, 10 minutes south of Tarascon, is an old 15th century Mas, frequented for a time by Antoine de Saint Exupéry and Marcel Pagnol. The latter borrowed the name for his famous Master Panisse!
Today it is a private mansion where it is produced one of the best olive oils in France. You will meet the owner Bernard. Bernard Foron and his son Antoine set out to produce an oil of extraordinary quality, which obviously pays off, since Fruity Green olive oil received the silver medal at the 11th National Olive Oil Competition of France in Designation of Origin for 2014 (it received the gold medal in 2013!). Likewise, Fruité Noir olive oil received the honors of the gold medal at the 2014 General Agricultural Competition! Today, the olive oils from Château de Panisse are used in the kitchens of great starred chefs such as Reine Sammut at her inn La Fénière in the town of Lourmarin, as well as at the Ritz restaurant in Paris.
In the park, not far from the mansion, you can rent a lovely 2-bedroom stone cottage to live like a Provençal! The Cottage of Chateau de Panisse has just been created in what was the house of guardians. Completely renovated, this house of 90 square meters is very comfortable and functional. Well equipped, it allows serenely live moments of relaxation, calm, in contact with nature and the olive orchard. She will receive unhindered four to six people in its two bedrooms and a spacious living room. A terrace sheltered by greenery shadow is a real extra room in which will rest on the sun loungers or you will meet around the barbecue or the plancha. Also an ideal place to prepare for the next day’s program.
(Baux de Provence)
Les Baux de Provence, a spectacular village situated on top of one of the peaks of the Alpilles mountain chain, is a very popular place to see in Provence amongst tourists. Therefore, we advise you to visit early in the morning or around sunset.
The Thoronet Abbey was founded in 1146 by Cistercian monks in a wild site in the Var hinterland in the town of Thoronet. The construction of Notre-Dame-du-Thoronet Abbey essentially ended in 1175, although some work was not completed until 1190. The Thoronet Abbey is one of the three Cistercian wonders of Provence. Hidden in the heart of the forests of Provence, it offers a striking vision of life in a Cistercian monastery in the Middle Ages. It has preserved, inside its enclosure, monumental gatehouses, vestiges of the hotel industry, courtyards and walled gardens. At the center of this “city”, the church and the cloister are true masterpieces of Romanesque architecture.
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence did inspire Van Gogh, the famous painter, who lived his most productive years in this Provencal village. The historical part of the city is really wonderful, with many beautiful buildings and romantic spots. The best thing to do here is to follow the steps of Van Gogh, an itinerary that follows the most important places where the Dutch painter created his impressive art-work.
Gordes, mentioned on the lists of the most beautiful villages in Provence, situated on top of a hill, will impress you from far distance with its stone houses and terracotta roofs. It’s a real pleasure getting lost amongst the cobblestone streets with its clearly medieval atmosphere, visiting the castle or simply enjoying the view of the surrounding landscape that inspired Marc Chagall and many other famous artists.
Located in Gordes, The Notre-Dame de Sénanque Abbey has been a Cistercian monastery since 1148, and it is still working.
(Abbaye de Sénanque)
In summer, visiting the blooming lavender fields is the ultimate thing to do in Provence. Every summer between the middle of June and middle of August, lavender fields turn into a purple sea that can be seen from far distance. Sitting down amongst the flowers in a blooming lavender field, enjoying the scent and listening to busy bees doing their jog is one of the most romantic things to do not only in Provence, but in the whole world. Lavender fields in different areas don’t bloom at the same time. VeronicTravel can tell you about the best lavender routes in Provence.
Véronique creates your journey in Provence with her personal touch.