Unlike the best-selling author Peter Mayle, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to spend a whole year in Provence, much as you may desperately find yourself wanting to after visiting. If, like most holiday-makers, your time in this idyllic region of France is limited to just the seven days, then it’s a good idea to discover a little more about the cities, craggy mountains and ancient hillside villages that make up Provence, in order to get the most from your stay.
Indeed, a week is just long enough to provide you with an excellent taste of the area, and gives you time to take in some of the charming historic cities such as Avignon, Marseille and Arles, and enjoy some quality time out and about in the scenic countryside.
Here are just a few ideas of how to get the best from your week in Provence.
Highlights of Provence: Excellent Ideas for Day-trips During your Stay in the Region
Visit the world-famous wineries
Whilst in Provence, it is almost essential to pay a visit to a winery or two. The region is filled with verdant vineyards, bursting with the flavoursome grapes that produce renowned wines such as Châteauneuf du Pape and Vacqueryas. Hire a bike and enjoy an afternoon cycling through the lush green vines, or alternatively, enjoy a leisurely drink or two at one of the many tasting sessions held in the region.
If you find yourself more inclined towards urban charms than natural ones, then Marseille is a must-see city to add to your itinerary. Officially the country’s second largest city, Marseille has an energy and atmosphere quite unlike any other place in France. The historic region of Le Panier, with its bright yellow buildings and tiny boutique shops, is brimming with ambiance, and the picturesque Old Port, with its irresistibly narrow, labyrinthine streets, has some incredible restaurants and lively bars by the waterfront.
Explore by car
You’re likely to have guessed by now that it’s highly advantageous to rent a car when in Provence. Renting a car gives visitors the freedom to thoroughly explore the tranquil countryside, and enjoy driving along winding mountain roads, along ancient tree-lined Roman roads and past quaint country villages.
The city of Arles is perhaps most famous for being the backdrop for so many of Vincent Van Gogh’s works. He moved to Arles in 1889 and swiftly fell in love with the rich, warm colours of the landscape, which can be seen in paintings such as The Red Vineyard and The Yellow House. However, there is more to this city than just a strong artistic connection. The Romans left behind a legacy that is still very much in evidence, particularly in the Théâtre Antique, an impressive semi-circular amphitheatre, which still stages the occasional performance.
The Camargue Wetlands
The strange, lonely wilds of the Camargue wetlands feel a million miles from the bustle of the cities, and offer a landscape quite unlike any other in the region. The endless marshes and salt plains are home to an extensive colony of pink flamingos, plus a huge number of wild horses and bulls. Wildlife enthusiasts will be particularly excited to hear that the area plays temporary residence to well over 500 species of migrating bird. Leave the car nearby and rent a bike to explore the area or, if you’re travelling with kids, horse-riding is a really great way to spot the wildlife amidst this strange, bleak scenery.
Sunbathe at Cassis
If you’re travelling with children who are just desperate to hit the beach, then head to Cassis. It’s close to St Tropez, but is often far quieter, providing you and the family with lots of space to splash about. The village itself is a quintessentially picturesque Provence affair, with colourful, crumbling buildings and an exceptionally pretty harbour.
Relax and unwind in the thermal springs
If all the driving becomes a bit exhausting, then head to Dignes les Bains; a town in the mountains that is most famous for its healing thermal springs. While away the afternoon with a peaceful soak in the waters, or experience a real treat at the Etablissement Thermal, which offers lavender baths, sourced from the local lavender fields.
Finding the Perfect Place to Stay During Your Week in Provence
If you’re looking for a great place to stay during your week in Provence, then a holiday park makes an excellent option. If you’re planning on driving whilst in the region, you’ll really appreciate the swimming pool and great proximity to the beach for a welcome cool down! La Presqu’île on the Côte d’Azur is approximately an hour and a half’s drive from Marseille, and the Esterel campsite offers great proximity to all the Riviera hotspots, not to mention the beautiful scenery of Provence.