Planning a trip to the South of France and looking for the best towns in Provence for you to visit? Look no more, here is the exact list.
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Table of Contents
- 1 Saint-Paul-de-Vence
- 2 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
- 3 Gordes
- 4 Bormes-les-Mimosas
- 5 Cassis
- 6 Menton
- 7 Vaison-la-Romaine
- 8 Flying to Provence, France
- 9 Pin this post for later on Pinterest!
Written by Veronika of Travel Geekery
Saint-Paul-de-Vence may be one of the smallest medieval villages in Provence, but it’s oh so picturesque! Located halfway between Nice and Antibes, the town is also an ideal day trip destination from Nice. It’s only about 20km from Nice and the ride takes just 20 minutes. There’s a bus going the same route too for just under an hour.
Perched atop a small hill, the historic town is enclosed on a small area. Beautifully tiled alleyways with suspiciously pretty laundry hanging above, stone houses with flowers decorating the windows… peace and quiet the further you stroll away from the main road. Little streets suddenly open onto tiny squares with a stone fountain as their dominant feature. Everything is just charming and cute, straight out of a painting.
That is Saint-Paul-de-Vence, one of the oldest medieval villages in the French Riviera. Nowadays it’s famous for its historical feel, as well as a high number of galleries and art museums, including modern and contemporary art.
Artists have always lived there and continue to do so till this day. The art galleries have not stayed stuck in time, but frequently refresh their exhibitions featuring resident artists.
The best thing to do in Saint-Paul-de-Vence is just to stroll around, ideally with an ice cream in hand. Enjoying the enchanting maze and observing the local slow way of life is a welcome contrast to the busier cities of France.
Its beauty has charmed many – e.g. the French painter Chagall, who had his home here. There used to be a famous hotel, which saw the likes of Pablo Picasso or Jean-Paul Sartre come to visit.
Also, a former Rolling Stones bassist has one of his holiday homes in Saint-Paul-de-Vence. That’s how wonderful this place is.
Where to stay in Saint-Paul-de-Vence
Les Messugues by Alain Llorca is a hotel with a heated swimming pool just a few steps away from the city centre (check out the pool, it really is instagrammable!). Or Etoile De Saint Paul – a small white hotel surrounded by lush greenery.
Written by Tea of Culture Tourist
With its charming French architecture and beautiful nature surrounding
it, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is one of the most beautiful villages in Provence.
It is also a place where one of the most famous painters, Vincent van Gogh spent a year of his life. You can still find and visit many sites linked to Van Gogh in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence today. Boards with reproductions of his paintings all placed all over the town. You can also visit the hospital in which he stayed during that year, Saint-Paul-de-Mausole. It’s a place where he painted one of his most famous paintings, ‘The Starry Night’.
However, there are many more lovely things you can do in this Provençale
village. It’s located just next to the beautiful Alpilles Mountain. It’s very popular among the locals and visitors to hop on a bicycle and explore its nature. There are several bicycle rental shops in the town. You can also get a map of the area at the tourist office, and take a walk along one of the hiking trails in Alpilles.
At the foothill of the mountain, a well preserved archaeological site Glanum is located. When tired of exploring all the archaeology there, be sure to visit a lovely café located bellow the trees of the archaeological site. And try some of the delicious cakes they are serving.
A lovely place to stay in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is Hotel Gounod, named
after French composer Charles Gounod. He stayed in it in 1864 and wrote
his famous opera Mireille while there.
Hotel is located right in the city centre, from where you can wander around the cobbled streets and enjoy the charm of this beautiful village in Provence. Many small shops there are selling lavender flowers, special cosmetic products and art from local designers and artists. You will also find some of the great French cheeses and delicacies at the Morning Market. The market is held each Wednesday at Avenue de la Résistance.
Where to stay in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Hotel du Soleil et Spa has a heated seasonal pool and is located in a quiet quarter just minutes away from the village centre. A little further away from the centre Canto Cigalo is another charming property with a garden.
Pro tip: Check out Airbnbs in Provence! There are some real gems there with friendly hosts and fresh breakfast in the mornings. Click here to get your 34 euro discount.
Written by Priya Vin of Outside Suburbia
After visiting Roussillon and hiking on the Ochre trail, we drove to the charming little town of Gordes. Located on the southern edge of the Plateau de Vaucluse, the town consists of a 12th-century castle, cobblestoned streets and beige stone houses. We spent the afternoon shopping for soaps, got some lavender ice cream and wandered around in the quaint French village.
As you approach the village you can see the view across the canyon to the cliffs where Gordes is perched on a rock. It is a spectacular view. The village of Gordes is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Gordes was loved by many famous artists such as André Lhote, Marc Chagall, Jean Deyrolle, Victor Vasarely and Pol Mara, who found inspiration here. That should tell you why it is a special place to visit in France.
You can visit the well-restored Castle of Gordes. The monumental fireplace that decorates the Hall of Honor was classified historical monument in 1902, as was the rest of the castle in 1931. Today, the castle acts as both a Town Hall and a Museum and holds the works of the artist Pol Mara.
Senanque Abbey is a beautiful place to visit that is not too far from Gordes. If you visit during the lavender season, the field in front of the abbey is picturesque. We stayed in Aix-en-Provence but wish we had spent a night at the beautiful hilltop village.
Where to stay in Gordes
Written by Sarah of Cosmopoliclan
The pretty little village of Bormes-les-Mimosas is located in between Toulon and St Tropez, but it can just as easily be visited as part of a day trip from Marseille or Cassis. The village used to be known as just Bormes in the earlier days. Then the love for the colourful yellow mimosa tree has led to the full name Bormes-les-Mimosas and has put this Provencal village on the tourist map and a list of the best towns in Provence.
It has even become the starting point for the Route-du-Mimosa. This is a 115-kilometre scenic road trip to Grasse in search of this bright flower that blooms in February. This little gem in the heart of the Var department is tourist-friendly but not overly touristy. There’s ample parking, which is very convenient for those visitors that make this a stop along their South of France itinerary.
Bormes-les-Mimosas is actually located amidst the Massif des Maures. It is home to a chapel, the Saint Trophyme church and the ruins of the Castle of the Lords of Fos.
What makes this 12th-century hillside town so enchanting is the maze of winding streets, secluded alleyways and narrow staircases aligned with pastel-hued Provencal houses and dotted with tall cypresses and bright bougainvillaea. Intentionally getting lost is the best way to absorb the charm of this idyllic town. Chances are you’ll end up in one of the town’s fragrant gardens, such as Gonzalez Park: a garden dedicated to Australian vegetation. Everywhere viewpoint offers the most spectacular panorama over the Mediterranean and the Golden Islands of Levant and Port Cros.
The medieval heart of Bormes-les-Mimosas is what most visitors come for, but the town actually stretches out downhill to the sea. There, on a small peninsula, you’ll find the medieval fortress Fort de Brégançon. It is one of the official retreats of the President of the French Republic.
Where to stay in Bormes-les-Mimosas
Written by Nadine of Le Long Weekend
Situated a stone’s throw from the south of France’s somewhat shambolic capital, Cassis feels a million miles away from the metropolis of Marseille. The sleepy village vibe heats up in the summer months though, when visitors flock to the area to take advantage of its privileged seaside position. Cassis offers the best of both worlds really. It epitomizes the charm of a typical Provençal village while also embodying the glamour and seaside appeal of the Côte d’Azur.
It’s the perfect place to spend a weekend – or longer – lingering on the divine beaches, hiking the calanques, sampling the region’s unique AOC wines, taking a boat tour, or simply enjoying the buoyant atmosphere on offer. The historical village will keep you enthralled with its quaint buildings and stunning historical attractions.
Those wanting to snap up a local souvenir can do so at one of the many boutiques. The foodies will have a field day at the farmer’s markets where you can pick up regional specialities such as savoury pissaladière and salty olives. Wander through the cobbled lanes and marvel at the charming façades of the old fishermen’s houses.
When you’ve worked up an appetite you can relax into one of the harbour’s cafes to sample the region’s finest cuisine with the best view in town. Alternatively, pick up some goodies from the market before settling down to a picnic with a view of the Chateau de Cassis. Later wander back into town for a refreshing sorbet au Cassis.
Getting to Cassis is easily managed via the highways (toll). You can also take the scenic route from Marseille in the west or La Ciotat in the east. This route will take you through one of the most scenic roads in France, the Route des Crêtes and is well worth the trip in its own right.
Where to stay in Cassis
Everything is charming in Cassis and that also includes chain hotels. Check out Sure Hotel by Best Western and Interhotel Cassis for an example of how much they can blend in and absorb the Provence vibe.
Written by Elisa of France Bucket List
Menton is a cute town in the French region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. It is located in an extraordinary setting between mountains and the Mediterranean Sea, and at only 30 kilometres to the Italian border. Actually, Menton’s seafront with the beach and the pastel houses reminds of the small towns in the region of Liguria in Italy.
Menton is well known for its beaches and beautiful gardens. The town is also considered the sunniest town in France. It is said to be 3C warmer than in the rest of France. So it is difficult to get a bad day in Menton!
What to do in Menton? Most people visit Menton for its beaches – stony and sandy beaches – but there are some other interesting things to see and do. The hilly, medieval old town is home to Basilique Saint-Michel, with its 18th-century bell tower, and the ornate facade of La Chapelle des Pénitents-Blancs. Also, there is the beautiful Serre de la Madone garden, showcasing rare plants.
When the sun shines, it is also nice to stroll along the marina and sit in one of the restaurants to eat le last catch of the day. Mirazur restaurant, for example, regularly makes the annual list of the world’s 50 best restaurants (it is currently number 28). There are other good restaurants in town.
Finally, there’s the Jean Cocteau museum, French artist and film-maker, showcasing his extensive work.
In Menton, there are lemons everywhere, used for many sorts of products such as jams, liqueurs or even lemon-infused olive oil and biscuits. Lemons are so important in Menton that there is even the Lemon Festival! The Menton Lemon Festival takes place every year in February, usually during the third weekend of the month. For a weekend, the streets of Menton are adorned with giant sculptures made of lemons. There are also parades and lemon products to sell to the visitors.
Where to stay in Menton
Looking for more tips on booking the best accommodation? Check out some tips on getting the best deals on booking.com in this article.
Written by Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan
As its name suggests, Vaison-la-Romaine was once an important city in the ancient Roman Empire. Its impressive remains from that period include a rock-cut Roman theatre, intricate mosaic pavements, and a single-arch bridge built by the Romans in the 1st century AD. At one point, Vaison was one of the richest cities in all of Gaul.
The Roman aristocracy lived in lavish villas strung out along either side of the Ouvèze river. A number of incredible ancient artefacts were unearthed here. They have since been dispersed to a couple of dozen museums around the world, including the British Museum.
In addition to the ancient Roman ruins, there’s also a medieval part of town high up on a cliff. The valley below was safe enough in Roman times, with the rulers of the Empire maintaining strict order. But several centuries later in medieval times, an armed conflict was common, and local rulers retreated to the safety of the hills.
While the climb up here is a bit strenuous, it’s definitely worth it and should not be missed. At the very top of the hill is the Castle of the Counts of Toulouse. The castle now lies partly in ruins and is free to enter. From here, you can look down on the red-tiled roofs of the medieval houses below.
In more recent times, the local population has once again moved down to the lower town. The modern Vaison is now mixed in among the remains of the ancient city. Try to time your visit to fall on a Tuesday so that you can catch the local market. On Place Montfort, you’ll find several restaurants to choose from. The closest large town is Avignon, which is also where you’ll find the closest TGV train station. From there, you can continue to Vaison-la-Romaine by bus.
Where to stay in Vaison-la-Romaine
Not sure what to pack for your trip to these best towns in Provence, France? Check out my packing tips for Europe and make sure you don’t forget anything important.
Flying to Provence, France
Provence is a rather big region, served by several airports. Some are further away from big cities, especially the ones where low costs fly, but the connections are usually fast and easy. Keep this in mind when planning your trip.
The most convenient airports in Provence are Marseille, Nice and Avignon. You can also look for deals in Grenoble and Lyon, as they are not too far drive away – and it is a very picturesque drive with many other nice small towns to visit on your way.
If you fly not during the summer months and national holidays, you’ll probably be able to get some good deals.
Try looking for some deals on Skyscanner. Here are more tips on getting cheap flights with Skyscanner.