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Visit Provence, Southern France
Provence is part of the French region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in the southeast of the country. It’s a beautiful area with amazing scenery, a history that goes back to Roman times, and adorable little villages. Whether you enjoy great food, sipping wine in sumptuous surroundings, or relaxing on the beach, you need to visit Provence!
To help you get the most from your trip to this part of France, then here are the best places to visit in Provence for every kind of traveler. Some of these places are high on our list of the best things to do in France!
ROAD TRIP ITINERARIES THAT COVER PROVENCE
Most Beautiful Places in Provence
Marseille is the capital of Provence and the second largest after Paris. It’s a Mediterranean city with a busy harbor and the ideal place to experience authentic France. Well connected to Paris with fast trains, a weekend in Marseille is super easy to organize from the French capital.
Marseille’s historic district of Le Panier is a must-see in Provence with its narrow streets, café terraces, and street-art colored facades. You should also make sure to see the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde with its views of the bay from the terrace, and the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM) to learn more about the history of Mediterranean peoples.
The Hilltop Villages of the Luberon
The Luberon region is another Provence must-see. It includes parts of the Vaucluse and the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence departments and is 70km north of Marseille. This is an area of extreme landscapes, as well as small hill towns that guard sleepy valleys and vineyards.
The hilltop villages in this region are a popular tourist attraction. Each of them has its own distinct character and features, from Bonnieux, with its stunning clock tower, to Gordes and Roussillon, both listed as Most Beautiful Villages in France.
Aix-en-Provence is the quintessential Provencal city, with a unique blend of history, balmy weather, and elegance. The tree-lined boulevards, Roman monuments, and ornate fountains of this city are a Provence must-see, and the city has a wonderful warmth that’s characteristic of Southern France.
There are numerous tourist attractions in Aix-en-Provence, from welcoming cafés to a lively street scene. While you’re there, make sure you check out Les Deux Garçons, once a favorite hangout of Picasso and Edith Piaf, the architectural marvel that is Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur, Cézanne’s workshop, and Musée Granet, where you can see fine arts created by the greatest masters in history.
Calanques of Marseille-Cassis
The Calanques of Marseille-Cassis is of the best places to see in Provence for nature lovers. It’s a series of limestone cliffs and bays located between the fishing town of Cassis and the city of Marseille. Not all Calanques are easily accessible on foot, but there are plenty of inlets and bays that you explore with a catamaran tour.
This is the perfect place for some outdoor adventures in the south of France. The scenery is simply spectacular, and you can do everything from kayaking to swimming, hiking, or sunbathing.
The lavender fields of Provence are an absolute Provence must-see. Located in the Luberon and near the towns of Valensole and Sault, the fields are seemingly endless seas of deep purple, complete with that heavenly smell under the balmy sun of the south of France.
The lavender season in Provence is different depending on where you go, so make sure you arrive before harvest time for the best views. However, a good time to see the fields in Provence, all areas, is in early July, which is before the school holidays start and the crowds converge.
The Camargue Regional Natural Park is another of the most beautiful places in Provence. This natural area is located south of the city of Arles is the largest wetland in France, covering a surface of 100,000 hectares. The Camargue is famous worldwide for its stunning landscapes, lakes, and exceptional fauna.
The Camargue is designated as a Wetland of International Importance and Western Europe’s largest river delta. It’s a haven for wildlife and is home to more than 400 species of birds, countless insects, and larger wildlife from Camargue horses to cattle. It is also an excellent place for a relaxing getaway in Southern France – Click here for the top-rated hotels in the Camargue.
The Colorado Provencal
If you are looking for unique things to visit in Provence, then visit Rustrel for a total change of scenery. Rustrel is part of the region around Roussillon, famed for its dramatic, richly colored ochre landscapes.
Here, you can walk in the Colorado Provençal, a beautiful hike through cliffs and multicolored ocher rocks shaped for centuries by the erosion and the work of men. There are two walking trails available (1-2 hours), and they both combine the pleasure of hiking and discovering an industrial heritage.
The Hyères Islands are one of the most beautiful places in Provence for a relaxing vacation. They are a group of French islands off the town of Hyères in the Var department of Southeastern France. The Hyères Islands are often called the Iles d’Or or the Golden Islands and consist of three main islands and one smaller one. The smallest island, Île du Bagaud, doesn’t allow visitors.
The island of Porquerolles is the most popular of the four, with beautiful turquoise water, sandy beaches, a sleepy little village, and several wineries. Port-Cros, one of the other islands, is mountainous and home to a bird refuge and rare flora. And if you have the time, then you can explore Île du Levant, with its naturist community and privately owned village.
Avignon is most famous for its medieval town and the Palais des Papes, Europe’s largest Gothic Palace and one of the most interesting places to visit in Provence. The Palais des Papes is a UNESCO-listed palace that was built in the 14th century when the papal court moved from Rome to Avignon.
The town of Avignon is filled with museums like the Musée du Petit Palais with its displays of artwork by Sandro Botticelli and Vittore Carpaccio. It also has beautiful churches and the famous Saint-Bénézet Bridge (Pont d’Avignon), which partially spans the river.
Gorges du Verdon
Gorges du Verdon is one of the best places to visit in Provence and is located in the beautiful Verdon Regional Park. It’s one of the largest canyons in Europe and reaches a depth of more than 700 meters.
The water in the gorge is a stunning bright turquoise color, and you can see the gorge from your car or take a boat /kayak and stop for dips in the water as you go. This natural landscape is also famous for its hiking and climbing routes, so it’s ideal for an active vacation.
The best way to explore this area is by car (check out this Gorges du Verdon road trip itinerary). If you don’t have a car, you can join a Gorges du Verdon guided tour from Nice, and there are also guided tours from Aix-en-Provence.