Blog Tour – Roaming through France – Provence
The Perfect 3-Day Travel Guide to Provence
Happy Friday Everyone! I hope you all enjoyed reading about one of my favorite places in the world, Alsace. Today, I am so excited to share another one of my favorite experiences in France.
Read all about my time exploring the beautiful South of France, specifically in the region of Provence! It was in Provence where my friend Courtney and I got to wander through the famous lavender fields, visit some charming provincial towns and savor some amazing food and wine.
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If you haven’t had a chance to read my blog posts on Paris, Reims and Alsace, I will summarize that I traveled to each city via the TGV train. (I made sure to book my tickets via Rail Europe in advance.)
We left Colmar early (7:30am to be exact) and took the train straight to Avignon Centre with two stops in Mulhouse Ville and Avignon TGV. Colmar is pretty far from Avignon, but the high-speed train was able to get us from both cities within 5 hours. Since we had to wake up early, this train ride was the perfect trip to catch up on some sleep and for me, get a ton of blogging work done.
Overall, I love taking the TGV train! It is so easy, relaxing and stress free. PLUS the views from Colmar to Avignon were gorgeous. We got to pass some beautiful small French villages, gorgeous mountainsides (including the French Alps) as well as beautiful flower fields that initiated our excitement for all the lavender we were going to see.
During our time in Provence, Courtney and I stayed in Avignon. Even though there are so many wonderful cities and towns to stay in during your time in this region, Avignon makes for the perfect base since the TGV goes there as well as the local trains. When you don’t have a rental car and are relying on public transit, it is harder to stay in the other towns that are a bit more remote. Plus, Avignon has so much to see, do and eat, making it a fun spot to stay in. Two other larger towns and cities to stay in Provence are Nimes and Aix-en-Provence.
In Avignon, we stayed at Hôtel Danieli , a wonderful boutique hotel located in the historic center of the city and just a hop, skip and a jump from the beautiful Palais des Papes and famous Pont d’Avignon (I go into these places below). I found Hôtel Danieli through **TripAdvisor.
Day 1: Explore Avignon
Situated along the beautiful Rhône River is the fortress city of Avignon. During the 14th century, this medieval walled city was the seat of the Catholic popes. It remained under the church until it became part of France in the late 18th century.
Avignon is the perfect city to stroll through. It features gorgeous stone buildings with pastel shutters, a plethora of outdoor cafés and shops, historical landmarks, friendly locals, quaint side streets and beautiful nature spots. The city is a good size, making it easy to walk through. The only important thing to note is that when you venture through the side streets, your smartphone GPS unfortunately does not navigate these alleyways because of how small and narrow they are. It is similar to Venice, Italy when walking around.
In regards to getting around Avignon, you could find information about tours for both in and out of the city at your hotel’s front desk or the tourism office. In Avignon, people do speak English, but you find some that do not, so it is always important to freshen up on some basic French words.
Here is everything to see and do in Avignon:
Enjoy a Delicious Meal in the Lovely Place de l’Horloge:
When you first enter Avignon from Avignon Centre, the Rue de la Republique (main street) will lead you straight to the town center, which is the Place de l’Horloge. This lovely place is quaint and filled with towering plane trees. Even though this is the area where you will see the most people in Avignon, it still maintains its quiet charm.
During our time in France, I noticed that it was summertime for the cicadas – those loud bugs that come around every 2 – 17 years. It has been a handful of years since we last heard these fellows in the United States, so it was kind of cool listening to them in the Place. Whenever I hear that sound, I automatically think of those blissful summer days and nights.
A delicious French delicacy to get during your time in the country is salmon tartare, a spread of raw salmon and seasonings. If you are a seafood or sushi lover like myself, then you will definitely enjoy this dish! There are plenty of wonderful restaurants in the Place and around the city where you could find salmon tartare.
Feel like Royalty at the Palais des Papes:
The Palace of Popes is located right next to the Place de l’Horloge in the heart of Avignon. Known as one of the most important Gothic buildings in Europe, it is at the Palace of Popes where the past Popes used to live.
I highly recommend making your way into this palace as it represents centuries-worth of medieval history. When you go inside, you will find gorgeous chapels, elaborate tile work, enchanting details and beautiful stained glass.
When it comes to touring the palace, you could either rent an audio guide or take a regular guided tour. I was so amazed at this magical palace and the views from it.
Go Back in Time By Walking Over the Pont d’Avignon:
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Pont d’Avignon or Saint-Bénézet Bridge was part of the most important pilgrimage routes between Italy and Spain during the Middle Ages. It is definitely a landmark in Avignon that you cannot miss!
When you spot the bridge from various points of the city up to where you first enter, you will notice that there are only four famous arches remaining as well as the Philippe le Bel tower (which is also a cool place to walk in). I like to call it the half bridge! As you walk over it, you could catch amazing views of Avignon, the stunning blue Rhône River as well as the nearby Fort Saint-André.
Another cool fact about this bridge is that there was a song made after it called Sur le Pont d’Avignon. It is now known amongst many worldwide.
Relax and Grab an Aperitif (Refreshment) at Parc Rocher des Doms:
During our time in Avignon, the weather was around 100 degrees Fahrenheit. It was HOT! After touring some of Avignon’s famous landmarks, Courtney and I cooled off by relaxing in the Parc Rocher des Doms.
This beautiful park is so serene as it features luscious greenery, a beautiful pond full of ducks and fountains as well as a wonderful bar to grab a snack and refreshment.
It is at this park where you could catch gorgeous views of Avignon and on a clear day, you could also see as far as Mont Ventoux – the tallest mountain in Provence. Unfortunately when we were in Avignon, it was a hazy day, making it difficult to see clearly from afar.
Get Lost on the Quaint Side Streets:
The side streets of Avignon are beautiful and quaint to walk through, no matter what time of the day. It is the perfect way to escape heavy tourism in the main square and historical landmarks.
Some of my favorite things to do while strolling through the side streets was shop and eat. There are so many places to grab a delicious snack, meal or drink in Avignon. I also loved how many young people were out enjoying their time in the city. One thing I regret during my time in France was experiencing the nightlife, but I could always relive it another time.
During our second day in Avignon, both Courtney and I witnessed a beautiful street performance from a local theater company. These talented actors and actresses were on stilts and cheered up the entire neighborhood. It was awesome!
Day 2: A Lovely Day Exploring the Lavender Fields and Provence
On our second day in Avignon, Courtney and I booked a half-day lavender tour in the afternoon. At the time, this option seemed more relaxed and economical, but I honestly wish we did the full-day tour because then we would’ve seen everything! (I really wanted to go to Valensole and see the infinity rows of lavender fields.) What we did get to see during our half-day experience was definitely magical though.
The lavender in Provence is in bloom during the summer months, June through August. I highly recommend you book your lavender tour in advance. Depending on when you get to Avignon or the city you are staying in Provence, it is best to either head to the town’s tourism office or, better yet, book your tour before you leave for your trip via **TripAdvisor.
Here is a rundown of what we did during our lavender fields tour:
Capture the First Sights of the Lavender in Bonnieux:
Our first stop on the tour was to an expansive lavender field on the side of a country road (an hour east of Avignon) in a hillside town called Bonnieux. When we first arrived at the lavender fields, I fell in love with them! They were so beautiful, smelled amazing and the colors were gorgeous!
One thing to be prepared for are the bees, tons of them to be quite frank! Yes, you may see travel bloggers, influencers and photographers capture stunning photos in these lavender fields, but they never let you know about the amount of bees luring inside of them. If you are someone like me who is afraid of being stung, you do not have to fret because these bees are more interested in the lavender than you. Don’t get me wrong, you could still get stung if you bother them, but if you are careful in the fields, you will be fine!
Wander through the Earth-Toned Town of Roussillon:
Known as one of France’s most beautiful towns, Roussillon is a village that should not be missed when visiting Provence. This beautiful village is located atop of a hill and features red ochre cliffs, making it known as the Grand Canyon of France and the Colorado Provençal!
One of the popular things to do in Roussillon is hike the Sentier des Ocres, a stunning natural site. If you decide to walk the trails (which is 2.50 euros), it will lead you into a gorgeous red-rock wonder! You could also catch gorgeous views of the Roussillon countryside and even spot some lavender fields from there.
Another amazing thing to do in Roussillon is stroll through the quaint town. There are quiet cobblestone streets featuring gorgeous homes in the typical Roussillon ochre-washed color. They even have gorgeous pastel blue shutters. It is so admirable!
Other things you could do in Roussillon are grab some glace (ice cream), enjoy an aperitif, souvenir shop and visit a church.
Stroll through the Lavender Fields of Roussillon’s Countryside:
My favorite lavender fields in Provence were in the countryside of Roussillon. These lavender fields were in full bloom and definitely the most wondrous we saw that day. Everything about these fields was enchanting. Here are some of my favorite photos from these fields.
Catch the Stunning Views of Gordes:
Gordes is a beautiful and quiet hilltop village that features stunning cliffside homes and villas. As beautiful as this town is, I only really recommend paying a visit to it if you are looking for a lovely place to grab lunch or dinner. It also makes for wonderful photos!
Feel Like You’re in a Fairytale at Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque:
Another one of my favorite sites during my lavender fields tour was Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque. This picturesque Cistercian abbey is located right outside of Gordes and features beautiful lavender fields.
Because Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque is a sacred place, you will not be allowed to walk through them near the church. You could, however, venture out and find some lovely fields further away.
One thing to note about visiting Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque is that it is situated in a valley, where the lavender is not exposed to much sunlight. Because of the limited sunlight, there was still some lavender here that weren’t in full bloom.
Day 3: Free Day
On our last day in Provence, we didn’t have much planned so we decided to enjoy a relaxing day and recoup. There are so many things to do in Provence during a free day in the region.
Here is a list of different things to do on a free day:
- Enjoy the nature at Île de Piot, Avignon’s island. It is here where you could ride bikes, hike, have a picnic, camp and enjoy a great meal at Le Bercail on the Rhône River. (This is what Courtney and I did.)
- Take the TGV down to Marseille on the French Riviera and have a relaxing beach day.
- Visit Valensole, the area that offers endless amounts of lavender and sunflower fields.
- Do a day trip to the towns of Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Nimes, Saint Remy de Provence and/or any other town in the South of France.
- Discover the magnificent waterfalls at Les Cascades de Sillans.
- Explore the canyons and sail Verdon Gorge.
- Tour the factory and lavender fields of L’Occitane.
I had such an amazing and fulfilling time in Provence. I was so amazed by the lavender fields and could still smell them all the way from New Jersey. If you have any questions about my time in Provence or my trip to France in general, please feel free to email me at TAYLORL.DEER@gmail.com, contact me via social media or comment below.
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