Provence is a budding hotspot for luxury travelers. This Southeastern region of France fully encompasses all aspects of a perfect holiday destination, catering to everyone in the family: history lovers, foodies, explorers, and beyond. We’ve narrowed down the best of Provence, so you can unpack your bags at your luxury villa, and dive straight into this French wonderland.
Carrières de Lumières
Prepare yourself for the Stendhal Syndrome. Different from any museum in the world, and a traveler favorite, the Carrières de Lumières will send you into sensory overload. Located in an old quarry where bauxite mines were excavated, audio and visuals from influential artists like Van Gogh and Monet are displayed amongst the walls, ceilings and pillars. Not only is it a way to beat the Provençal heat, but also an incomparable way to view admirable artists in a completely unique setting. From now until the beginning of next year, Carrières de Lumières is displaying the giants of Renaissance, including Michaelangelo, Leondardo da Vinci, and Raphael.
Van Gogh en Provence
There’s no denying that Van Gogh has immortalized the beauty of Provence. Art lover or not, it’s worthwhile to see his famous paintings brought to life through the surroundings that live on in the city. In Arles, where Van Gogh spent his early days, you can have a coffee or lunch at the famous Café Van Gogh, which is supposedly the subject of his painting, The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum. While in Arles, be sure to tour the Arles amphitheater where bullfights still take place today. Not far from Arles, is Saint-Rémy-de-Provence where you can visit Saint-Paul-de-Mausole, the psychiatric institution where Van Gogh was treated after his psychological decline, and where he allegedly painted Starry Night from his east facing bedroom window.
Le Grand Marche
No trip to France is complete without a stroll through the markets and a few purchases. For fresh produce and sweets visit either Place des Prêcheurs or Place de la Madeleine. On the Cours Mirabeau there’s a fantastic clothing market, and a flea market sits just around Place de Verdun. For an ephemeral souvenir, wander through the flower market at Place de l'Hôtel de Ville. Remember that these markets are typically only open on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays.
The Capital of Provence: Marseille
Though Marseille doesn’t have the best reputation, if done right visiting it can be an incredible experience. Start out with the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde where you’ll see a panoramic view of the city and learn about the city’s rich and violent history. Afterwards, head down the hill to Old Town on the little train that runs through the city, and explore the backstreets full of bars and restaurants. For a Mediterranean sight, visit Parc National des Calanques, where the view of the crystal blue sea juxtaposed against the white of the cliffs will definitely provide you with a photo to take home.
Try the Truffle
It’s not a real visit to France until you’ve had truffle. Packed with flavor, and a pungent taste unlike any other culinary experience your palate has encountered, it’s luxury for the taste buds. It won’t be hard to come across a restaurant with truffle infused dishes, but Michelin star restaurant, Chez Bruno in Lorgues is best known for being truffle connoisseurs. Plus, visiting Chez Bruno means exploring a town off the tourist-beaten path.
End the Day in Lush Lavender Fields
Picturesque purple fields are sure to send your senses into a whirlwind of tranquility. Try not to fall asleep as you saunter through the lavender leas, which bloom between mid-June and are best experienced in July. Visit Plateau de Sault below the slopes of Mont Ventoux in the hills of Vaucluse or Plateau de Valensole for views of the distant Southern Alps. And for a sweet lavender treat, eat your way through the ice cream at L’art Glacier, an open-air dessert parlor at the foot of the Luberon Hills.