Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
Roman cities, medieval towns, stunning nature, delicious food and good wine – Provence has all this and more. With so much to see and do, Provence is a treat for all the senses and there’s no better way to explore this region than on four wheels. If you’re thinking about a holiday to Southern France, you must put a Provence road trip on your France bucket list!
Here’s our suggested Provence road trip itinerary, ten days, which explores the best of this wonderful region in Southern France.
This road trip south of France is one of the best French road trips. Read more about road tripping in France:
Provence Road Trip Overview
- Start: Avignon
- Finish: Avignon
- Duration: 10 days
- Suggested route: Avignon – St Rémy – Arles – Camargue – Marseille – Cassis – Aix-en-Provence – Avignon
- Total distance: 404 Km, 6 hrs 20 min drive in total
- Region covered: Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
- Best for: history, sightseeing, outdoors, small towns, food & wine
This road trip in Provence itinerary starts from Avignon, where you will pick up and drop off your rental car. Avignon is easy to reach by train from Paris, Lyon, or Dijon. The journey from Paris to Avignon by train takes around 3 hours while Lyon to Avignon by train only takes 2 hrs 45 minutes.
If you don’t want to drive back to Avignon, you can end this trip in Provence in Aix-en-Provence and explore the villages of the Luberon (day 10) on a day trip from Aix. If you are renting a car, the rental price will probably come with a drop charge – a fee for picking up a rental car at one location and returning it to a different location.
Road Trip in Provence Map
Day 0 | Arrival at Avignon
Arrive at Avignon the day before the start of this Provence itinerary. For your two nights in Avignon, book at the Hotel Cloitre Saint Louis Avignon. This hotel is located in a beautiful 16th-century building with original arches and vaulted ceilings surrounded by a beautiful garden and an outdoor swimming pool (a must for Provence in the summer months!)
Day 1 | Avignon
Avignon is one of the most beautiful walled cities in France, full of history. Avignon is set on the South Bank of the Rhône River and in the Middle Ages, it was home to seven Popes. The Papal Palace, where they lived, is a jewel of civil gothic architecture and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage.
Enjoy one day in Avignon. Here everything is within walking distance, and you can easily explore the city while strolling through its small cobblestone lanes. Be sure to visit the Palace of the Popes (book well in advance!), and wander along the Pont d’Avignon (the famous bridge) or admire it from afar.
You can combine your visit to Avignon with this afternoon wine trip to Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Châteauneuf-du-Pape was the Popes’ summer residence, world known for its beautiful heritage and excellent wines.
Day 2 | Avignon – Arles
It’s time to hit the road to explore what Provence has to offer on four wheels! From Avignon, take the D571 route south to Saint-Rémy.
Saint-Rémy de Provence is a quintessential Provençal town and a picturesque place to get lost for a couple of hours. The town is located in the Parc Régional des Alpilles, between Avignon and Arles, and has a beautiful heritage of private mansions from the Renaissance and 18th-century chapels and convents.
Take the time to explore its winding streets, always with lovely surprises, perhaps with a coffee break in one of the shaded squares adorned with old stone fountains and the terraces of the cafés.
Just south of St. Rémy lies the ancient Roman ruins of Glanum, with ancient monuments such as the Triumphal Arch and the Jules Mausoleum.
After visiting Saint Remy, drive southwest to Arles where you will spend one night. For your stay in Arles, book into the Hotel du Musée, a former private mansion built in the 17th century in the heart of the city turned into a charming hotel. Hotel du Musée offers stylish rooms with comfortable beds and a delicious breakfast in its lovely inner garden.
Day 3 | Arles – Camargue
Located in the heart of Provence, Arles is always a favorite. Arles has it all: an interesting Roman heritage, beautiful 17th-century mansions, a maze of streets, modern museums, and the wide rolling Rhône River. When the temperatures are warm, all the café-terraces and restaurants are full of locals and tourists alike until late at night, creating a lively atmosphere.
Arles was also home to Paul Gauguin and Van Gogh. It was here where Van Gogh painted some of his most famous masterpieces. If you like the works of Van Gogh, don’t miss the Espace Van Gogh (a former hospital where Van Gogh recovered after the infamous episode of cutting off his left earlobe) and the Fondation Van Gogh, dedicated to the work and legacy of Vincent Van Gogh in Arles.
Day 4 and 5 | Camargue
This 10 days in Provence itinerary continues south, to the stunning Camargue. From Arles, take the road D570 to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, located in the heart of the Camargue. The Camargue Regional Natural Park is the largest wetland in France, covering a surface of 100,000 hectares. It is famous worldwide for its stunning landscapes, lakes, and exceptional fauna.
Located on a major migratory route for birds from northern Europe to Africa, this area is also home to one of the main nesting sites for pink flamingos in France. But above all, the Camargue is an area for breeding Camargue horses and bulls! Here, bulls and horses live in semi-wild conditions, most often in herds, watched over by herdsmen on horseback.
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is the perfect place to relax for a couple of days, surrounded by beautiful beaches, wild nature, and some places of interest. For your stay in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, book two nights at the Hotel La Tramontane. The hotel offers individually-decorated, airy rooms which lead to the outdoor swimming pool, a lovely garden, and a private pond.
From Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, you can take this 4×4 guided safari around the scenic countryside, with several departure times during the day. Learn the history of the Camargue, photograph the pink flamingoes and other birds, and see the famous white Camargue horses roaming freely in the fields from the heights of the convertible 4×4 motor – Click here to book this 2-hour safari in the Camargue.
Day 6 | Camargue – Marseille
Morning in Martigues
After an early breakfast in the gardens of Hotel La Tramontane, drive back to Arles, and then take the N568 road to Marseille.
On the way, stop for a second coffee in Martigues. Set between the Mediterranean Sea and the Etang de Berre (the largest inland seawater lake in Europe), Martigues has a lovely old city center split into three parts by the canals that join the Etang de Berre with the ocean. Because of its many canals, Martigues is nicknamed the ‘Provencal Venice’.
Explore the harbor area around Quai Brescon and along the canal Saint-Sebastien, with its picturesque pastel houses for the fishermen, little shops, and cafés. If you want to venture further, visit the 17th-century Eglise de la Madelaine, with a beautiful Baroque façade.
Afternoon in Marseille
The next stop of this Provence itinerary 10 days is Marseille, where you will spend one night. If you arrive for lunch, try the bouillabaisse, Marseille’s traditional fish stew; it’s delicious!
Use the afternoon to walk around the harbor and visit the Le Panier neighborhood. Then, end the day on the water with this top-rated sunset cruise with dinner and drinks. Admire Marseille’s coastline all in light and visit the Frioul Islands with some time for swimming and snorkeling.
For your night in Marseille, we recommend the Hotel La Résidence du Vieux Port, a charming hotel with the perfect location right on the banks of the Old Port.
Day 7 | Marseille – Cassis
Spend the day visiting Marseille. Marseille is the capital of the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA between friends) and a famous port city. It’s an exciting place to explore, quite different from other Provençal cities like Avignon or Aix-en-Provence.
Here’s a list of the best things to do in Marseille. You can choose your favorites or check them all! We recommend starting the day with an early visit to the Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde before the crowds arrive.
After visiting Marseille’s top sights, drive to Cassis, a cute fishing town located at one of the sides of the Parc National des Calanques de Marseille-Cassis. This colorful fishing town near Marseille, so typical of Provence, is one of the most beautiful coastal towns in France, perfect for a couple of relaxing days by the Mediterranean Sea.
For your stay in Cassis, book two nights at Le Jardin d’Emile. This characteristic Provençal house has the perfect location by the beach and offers uniquely decorated rooms with a garden, and an outdoor terrace overlooking Cape Canaille.
Day 8 | Cassis – PN des Calanques
Spend day 8 of this Provence road trip itinerary in Cassis. The town is dominated by a castle built in the 8th century and it is renowned for its trails running along the Cap Canaille, its round pebble beaches, and – a little bit further away – its creeks and their majestic cliffs plunging into deep blue water (calanques). There’s also an adorable little port lined with multicolored buildings, cafés, and traditional restaurants offering seafood, bouillabaisse, and other fish dishes.
From western Cassis, the Calanque de Port-Miou is a short, easy hike. If you feel more adventurous, take this 2-hour guided tour with an electric mountain bike to explore the stunning landscapes of the Calanques National Park.
Day 9 | Aix-en-Provence
From Cassis, take the A50 highway, then the A52, to Aix-en-Provence, the next stop of this road trip in Provence. For a unique stay in Aix-en-Provence, book a night at the Hotel des Augustins, a former 12-century convent just off the famous Cours Mirabeau in the heart of the old town. The hotel features spacious rooms combining historic and modern features and a magnificent lobby.
Aix-en-Provence is a typical Provencal city and a wonderful place to explore in Southern France. Aix’s historic center with Italian influences boasts beautiful architecture, colorful markets, and pretty squares adorned with stone fountains.
A stroll along Cours Mirabeau is one of the musts of Aix-en-Provence, perhaps with a stop at one of its sunny café-terraces for a drink and people-watching. The markets of Aix are also worth exploring for their colorful stalls and delicious local products.
Aix was Cézanne’s hometown and a visit to his studio, where he painted most of his masterworks, is one of the best things to do in Aix-en-Provence. There’s also a walking trail dedicated to the painter and you can get the map of the walking tour itinerary (self-guided) and a short description for each stop at Aix’s tourist information.
TIP: Cézanne’s studio is a popular tourist attraction in Aix-en-Provence, and booking your tickets in advance is highly recommended. You can buy your tickets (for a specific date and time slot in the afternoon) at the tourist information office or online on their website.
Day 10 | Luberon’s Hilltop Villages – Avignon
The last day of this Provence itinerary 10 days explores the Luberon, a massif in central Provence which is part of the French Prealps. This region is well known for its stunning landscapes, beautiful hilltop villages, and medieval castles. In the summertime, the Luberon boasts some of the most photogenic lavender fields in Provence. If you are visiting Provence during the lavender season, check out our quick guide to the lavender fields of Provence and add a couple of locations to your day trip.
Visit Lourmarin, considered by many to be one of the most beautiful villages in France, and noted for its Renaissance castle. Next, visit Bonnieux, a picture-perfect Provençal village that features a 12th-century church surrounded by ancient cedars. Continue to Roussillon via the Roman-era Pont Julien. Roussillon, perched atop an ochre-colored cliff, is a favorite of painters, and a magical place where combinations of oxides give the ochre an infinite variety of colors. Depending on the time, consider visiting Roussillon’s Ochre Trail, the colors are stunning!
The last stop is Gordes, which offers an extraordinary vision of a stone village erected on a massive rock. Its fortress castle and church dominate the houses of the village, which were built with stones taken from the rock on which they sit.
On the way back to Avignon, you can stop at the town of Fontaine de Vaucluse for an apéritif. Stretch your legs walking the short path up to the source of the River Orge and spend a pleasant and refreshing soirée in one of the eateries by the river.