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If you’re planning a trip to Provence, you might be considering some of the most popular sights in the region, like Avignon, the lavender fields, or Marseille. But if you prefer to get away from the main tourist track, then the small towns and villages of Provence should be on your Provence Bucket List.
For this article, we asked experienced travelers and friends to tell us about the prettiest villages in Provence, the best villages to visit in Provence (and a couple of small towns) where life is slow and peaceful and the days of rain are rare.
From idyllic hilltop hamlets to colorful coastal towns, these are the most beautiful villages in Provence, France.
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Best Way to Explore the Villages of Provence
The best way to explore the villages of Provence is by car as public transportation is scarce and mainly adapted to locals’ daily life. If you want to explore this part of France by car but don’t have one, you can rent it in the main cities of Provence.
Car hire is a fantastic choice to tour the best villages in Provence on your own. You can book through sites, such as RentalCars.com. Sites like these are great because it takes all of the major rental companies, such as Hertz, Avis, etc, and more and does the comparison of prices for you. This helps to ensure that you get a great price without all the time and work.
By Guided Tour
If you don’t want to rent a car, you can take a guided tour with transportation and an English-speaking guide. This Hilltop Villages of Luberon Tour from Aix-en-Provence and this Provence Countryside Tour from Nice have excellent reviews and ratings.
Best Villages of Provence Map
This Villages of Provence Map shows the location of the best villages to visit in Provence as well as some suggestions of places to set your base camp to explore the area.
Located just around the coast from the capital of the South, the town of Cassis feels a lot further away from the shambolic city of Marseille. Its privileged position tucked up between the protected Calanques National Park and Cap Canaille, means the petite town has remained relatively unharmed by overzealous developers, and it has managed to retain its unique appeal.
Cassis embodies the charm of a typical Provençal village with its hilltop château and roman ruins, while also harnessing the glamour and seaside appeal of the Côte d’Azur, without the accompanying price tag. It also holds its own wine appellation, and you’ll find vineyards crisscrossing the hills above the village.
While you’re in town, be sure to take full advantage of the idyllic beaches, dine on local specialties in the bistros lining the port, and hop on a boat tour (or hike if you’re feeling more energetic) around the calanques. And once the day draws to a close, drive up the Route des Crêtes for the best sunset views in town.
By Nadine from Le long weekend
Grasse is known all over the world as the perfume capital. The perfume industry has prospered here already since the end of the 18th century.
To explore the perfume-making history is the most fun activity in Grasse. There are several perfume factories, of which the most famous one – Fragonard – features also a fascinating museum on the art and history of perfume making.
Like many charming towns and villages in the area, Grasse too has a wonderful Old Town full of narrow winding alleys. It’s right here where the movie Perfume: The Story of a Murderer is set.
Apart from discovering the fragrant world of perfumes, Grasse is incredibly pleasant to stroll around. Since the city has always attracted artists, you can find a number of galleries with both historical and modern works of art.
Grasse is easy to visit on a day trip from Nice, it’s just about 40 minutes by car.
By Veronika from Travel Geekery
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is a lovely French town you shouldn’t miss while visiting the beautiful region of Provence. It’s located some 15 kilometers from Arles. You can get on a regional bus there, and after a short ride, you’ll be in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
The town is filled with picturesque historic architecture, charming narrow streets, many art galleries and small shops selling French food, lavender flowers, and cosmetics.
Located at a foothill of Alpilles Mountain, it’s surrounded by some fantastic nature, as well. You can rent a bicycle at some of the rental shops, and explore its nature. There are many marked paths you can ride on.
At the edge of the town, the beautiful archaeological site of Glanum is located. It’s great to visit it and learn about some of the first inhabitants of this area. Also, you’ll also have a fantastic view of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and the nature surrounding it from there.
This Provençale town is also quite famous among the art lovers because it’s where Vincent van Gogh spent a year of his life, and painted some of his very famous paintings, like ‘The Starry Night’. There are many places linked to Vincent van Gogh in Saint-Rémy de Provence. From the boards with reproductions of his paintings to the hospital in which he stayed while there, you’ll find all of them there.
By Tea from Culture Tourist
Saint Paul de Vence, Alpes-Maritimes
Saint-Paul de Vence is one of many small medieval villages on top of hills in the south of France. But, what makes this beautiful town in Provence special is that Saint-Paul de Vence is one of the most preserved and oldest medieval villages in Provence.
It has a full complete rampart wall surrounding the village that you can walk on to get stunning views of the countryside and the Mediterranean Sea. Inside the walls, you can find galleries, artist studios, boutiques, craft shops, and numerous restaurants. Just outside the walls, you can find the town’s cemetery that houses the final resting place of the artist, Marc Chagall.
Also, nearby, is the Maeght Foundation, an art museum that has one of the finest modern and contemporary art collections on the French Riviera.
Saint-Paul de Vence is located between Nice and Antibes. With the sunlight reflecting off the azure blue of the Mediterranean Sea, the vivid greens from the vineyards and olive trees sloping down into the valley, the yellow and ochre colors of the rampart walls, the flower-shaped designs in the cobblestone streets, and the embedded art statues designed into the walls there is so much to experience within the walls of Saint-Paul de Vence.
By Heather from RaulersonGirls Travel
During our family road trip to Southern France, we went looking for lavender past the season and found it near the hills of Luberon. We stopped in the pretty French village of Roussillon on the way. The colors of Roussillon stole our hearts.
The village sits on top of cliffs of red and yellow clay and the clay hills have been an important source of ochre pigment since the 18th century. French scientist Jean-Étienne Astier from Roussillon in the 1780s was fascinated by the cliffs of red and yellow clay and invented a process to make the pigment on a large scale. The best quality was reserved for artists’ pigments, these mines are closed now but the brilliance of the ochre hills and the village with its houses in vibrant shades of rust and ochre are still around.
You can follow the Ochre Trail which is a developed pathway through the ochre-colored hills of the former ochre mine. There are two trails that you can take around the Ochre hills. The trail we went on took us about an hour. You can go on the shorter one which takes about half the time.
By Priya from Outside Suburbia
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is a small village in Provence in the Luberon region. Close to the Verdon Gorge, the village is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Provence. Monks came from the famous Lerins Abbey in the 5th century, and founded the monastery, giving the name of “moustiers,” a variant of the word. Nestled between two massive cliffs, Moustiers is known for its ceramics, which has been flourishing since the 17th century.
The village is also home to beautiful old churches. The chapel of Notre Dame de Beauvoir is by far the most iconic as it stands high above the town. Walk the 262 steps to visit the 12th-century chapel, and to enjoy incredible views of the area. The 12th-century Parish church stands right in the center of the village and features an impressive tall square tower. The 16th-century Sainte-Anne chapel is small but worth visiting.
Wander the old streets of Moustiers, admire the ceramic pots and plates decorating in different styles. Stop by one of the cafés and soak in the quiet atmosphere of the charming village.
Moustiers is easily accessible from Nice or Marseilles, the main cities in the Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur. The village serves as a convenient hub to visit the lavender fields of Valensole, Lake of Sainte-Croix, and the Verdon Gorge, where you can kayak and hike along the river.
By Patricia from Ze Wandering Frogs
Lourmarin is a beautiful medieval village in the heart of Provence, in the Luberon region. Lourmarin is located about an hour from Avignon and Aix en Provence. Lourmarin is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful villages in Provence, a true hidden gem in Southern France. Less touristy than some of the other villages in the Luberon, the village has retained a very authentic and lived-in feel.
There are many great things to do in Lourmarin. The most famous spot is the Château of Lourmarin, which was the very first Renaissance castle built in Provence. Open year-round, the Château hosts many events during the summertime including concerts and art exhibits. Surrounded by vineyards and orchards, the castle is a must-see. Make sure you walk the grounds and take a tour of the inside!
After a visit to the Château, take a walk along in the center of town and stop by the cute boutiques and art galleries. You can also see the grave of the French author Albert Camus at the local cemetery.
If you are visiting on a Friday, make sure to stroll by the lively local market! Popular with locals and tourists alike, the market is the perfect spot to grab a souvenir or sample some tasty wines, honey, and cheeses.
By Julie from Wandering Sunsets
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