Nestled between the Rhone River and the Italian border is the historic province of Provence in France. Abundant in natural beauty and resources, this seaside region is best known for its fine wines, olive oil, and fresh catches. With its dreamy land and seascapes, Provence, unsurprisingly drew in some of the most important figures in history, having been home to several popes as well as some of the most prolific western artists, like Cezanne, Picasso, and Monet. Visiting Provence soon? Let us help you put together the best possible itinerary! Check out our picks for the best things to do in Provence, France!
1. Travel back in time at Pope’s Palace, Avignon
While the time machine is yet to be invented, you can definitely feel like you’ve traveled back in time when you visit the beautifully preserved Pope’s Palace! The palace is one of the largest and most important medieval structures in Europe, having served as the seat of Western Christianity in the 14th century. On your next visit to Provence, you can take a tour of not just the Pope’s Palace, but the entire historic Avignon area. The tour will start near the Pope’s Palace and will take you through the residence, as well as numerous other medieval sites. In addition to the palace’s beautiful frescoes and rooms, you can also enjoy breathtaking views of the Rhone River and Avignon City from atop the palace.
Pope’s Palace, Avignon
Address: Place du Palais, 84000 Avignon, France
Website: Pope’s Palace, Avignon
Opening hours: 9am - 7pm (daily)
Price: 12.23 USD
2. Wonder at the interesting artifacts at the Museum of Vieil-Aix
Provence is not just rich in natural beauty, but history and culture, as well! If you’d like to know more about the city’s arts and culture, then a visit to the Museum of Vieil-Aix would be a real treat! The Museum of Vieil-Aix houses a rich collection of vintage folk arts and crafts, such as ceramics, wooden puppets, and santons, among many others. You can also spot some important pieces such as the dome model by famed Italian artist Baciccio here. The museum itself is also a sight to behold, as it is located in a beautifully-restored vintage family home.
Museum of Vieil-Aix
Address: 17 Rue Gaston de Saporta, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
Website: Museum of Vieil-Aix
Opening hours: Wed - Sun: 10am - 12:30pm, 1:30pm - 5pm (closed on Tue)
Price: From 6.11 USD
Provence is located right at the border between Italy and the Mediterranean Sea. As such, you can enjoy and see much of the sea’s natural beauty from Provence! And what better way to discover all the treasures that the Mediterranean Sea holds than to go on a full-day boat ride? You can schedule a full-day tour of the Marseilles Bay for yourself and up to eight of your loved ones. There, you will be given the chance to explore all the islands, and see all the fish and corals from Marseille to all the way to Cassis! You’ll also be treated to a mini wine tasting course as well as some delicious French tapas, to keep you full along the way.
Marseille: Day Boat Ride in the Calanques with Wine Tasting
Duration: 8 hour
4. Get your adrenaline fix at Verdon Gorge
Looking for a good adrenaline rush on your next trip to Provence? Get those at Verdon Gorge! The Verdon Gorge (or Gorges du Verdon) is considered to be one of the most beautiful canyons in all of Europe! You can even book a private tour of the Gorge, as well as the numerous lakes, rivers, mountainside villages that can be found in the area. On these tours, you can go on a hike, go boating, or take a refreshing swim! You’ll also be able to see sights like the medieval village of Mostier – where you can also enjoy shopping for souvenirs – and the pristine waters of Lake St. Croix. Best of all, these tours can be fully customized to suit what you want to do and see around the Verdon Gorge, and you can also be picked up and dropped off right at your hotel.
Address: Verdon Gorge, River Canyon, France
Another spot that history buffs should definitely not miss on a trip to Provence is the Castle of Les Baux de Provence! The Castle of Les Baux de Provence was built in the 10th century and has since been an important place where visitors can learn about the bronze and medieval ages in France. To make the most of your visit to the castle, you can go on a half-day tour of Les Baux de Provence, a medieval village that sits along the Alpilles Mountains. After exploring the village’s fascinating old stone houses and cobbled streets, you can visit sites like the 17th century Chapel of the White Penitents and, of course, the Castle of Les Baux de Provence. As a bonus, you will also visit the olive farms at Baux Valley and get a taste of the region’s renowned olive oil!
Marseille to Les Baux de Provence Private Sightseeing Tour
Duration: 4 hours 30 minutes
6. Explore the majestic lavender fields of Senanque Abbey, Gordes
Picturesque views await at the lavender fields of Senanque Abbey! During the months of June and July, these fields are filled with vibrant, blossoming lavender, stretching as far as the eye can see. These fields are considered to be part of one of the most beautiful villages in France! To see all the best sights in Senanque Abbey, you can book a private tour. On these private tours, you will be lead through trails that are literally off the beaten path! In addition to the beautiful fields, you’ll also enjoy breathtaking views of the abbey, which itself is an architectural gem. Set against the backdrop of the lavender fields, this is sure to be a view like no other!
Senanque Abbey, Gordes
Address: 84220 Gordes, France
Website: Notre-Dame de Senanque
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 6:30pm; Sun: 11am - 6:30pm
Price: Up to 8 EUR (9 USD)
7. Try the natural cosmetics made by L'Occitane in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
If you’re a fan of top-quality cosmetics, then you’ve probably heard of the French brand, L'Occitane en Provence. Noted for its wide range of skin products made from natural ingredients, L'Occitane has grown to become a global brand. You can learn more about L'Occitane on your next trip to Provence by visiting Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, where their factory is located. At the factory, you’ll be able to see and experience firsthand the step-by-step process of how they make their products. Of course, you’ll also be able to buy some of their excellent make-up, scents, and lotions at their shop at the end of the tour!
L'Occitane in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Address: Motorway A51 – Chemin Saint-Maurice – 04100 Manosque
Website: L'Occitane in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
8. Reignite your love for art at Carriers of Lights
Editor's Note: Photo taken from the establishment's official social account
At the Carriers of Lights (or Carrier de Lumiere), you can see a modern twist to iconic works of art. The Carriers of Lights is a museum that is located in a former quarry – giving the museum a unique vibe that combines the vintage with the contemporary. The Carriers of Lights is a center for digital and immersive art, most of which involve projection art. The museum regularly switches up their exhibitions, though many of them are inspired by classic works such as those of Gaugin or Van Gogh, and are set to music. A visit here is sure to be a sensory delight!
Carriers of Lights
Address: Route de Maillane 13520 Les Baux de Provence
Website: Carriers of Lights
Opening hours: Nov - Jan: 10am - 6pm (daily); Apr - Jun, Sep - Oct: 9:30am - 7pm (daily); Jul - Aug: 9:30am - 7:30pm (daily) (closed during Feb & Mar)
Price: From 14.44 USD
9. Stroll through the ancient streets of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Found at the heart of Provence is the small, yet charming village of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. With its old stone homes and narrow, cobbled lined with century-old plane trees, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is the perfect place to experience the history and traditional Provencial living. There is much for you to discover and enjoy here! You can explore the city’s many boutiques and art galleries. You can also sip on some coffee and try some home cooking at their numerous cafes and restaurants. If you’re lucky, you might also catch one of the villages’ many festivals throughout the year!
Website: Saint-Rémy de Provence
10. Discover the medieval era culture at Vaison-la-Romaine
Situated between the Rhone Valley and the Mont Ventoux, the Vaison-la-Romaine is located right at the foot of the Dentelles de Montmirail, in a hilly countryside filled with fragrant olive trees. The Vaison-la-Romaine is a that got its name (roughly translating to “the Roman City”) in 1924 after a wealth of ancient structures and treasures were discovered here! Today, Vaison-la-Romaine is open to visitors who wish to learn more about life and culture during the medieval era. Some of the sights that are not to be missed at the Vaison-la-Romaine include the “high town” on the left bank, the ancient sites of Puymin and Villasse on the right, and the Roman Theater, where many cultural events and festivals are regularly held.
11. Tour the historic mines of Bruoux
One of the most unusual, yet popular sights in Provence are the mines of Bruoux. These mines were carved right out of the ochre rocks of the Pays d’Apt during the 19th century. The quarries have since become a popular tourist spot. Often referred to as a “cathedral of color”, the mines draw in thousands of visitors a year with its stunning colored walls. Visitors can take a guided tour around the mines, which feature more than 650 m (2132.55 ft) of galleries that are open to guests. The mines also sometimes serve as a venue for cultural performances or concerts – you can check the schedules regularly if you’d like to catch one here!
Mines of Bruoux
Address: 1434 Route de Croagne, 84400 Gargas, France
Opening hours: 10am - 7pm (daily)
Price: 9.89 USD
12. Step back in time at Le Thoronet Abbey
Perfectly preserved and maintained, the Le Thoronet Abbey looks almost as though it were frozen in time. Built in the 12th century, Le Thoronet Abbey is an iconic Cistercian monastery. If you’d like to see Le Thoronet Abbey without the hassle, you can get some pre-paid, skip-the-line tickets for you and your loved ones! These will allow you to skip ahead of the queues and enjoy priority access to the Abbey. Once there, you can go on a self-guided tour of the Abbey, seeing all of its fascinating ins and outs.
Le Thoronet Abbey
Address: 83340 Le Thoronet, France
Website: Le Thoronet Abbey
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 10am - 6:30pm; Sun: 10am - 12pm, 2pm - 6pm
Price: 8.89 USD
13. Visit the Vineyards of Provence
Starting from Nice and extending all the way to the Camargue region, the Provence wine route is composed of about 430 different vineyards – each surrounded by scenic seaside and mountain views, and each equally committed to producing the top-quality wines that the region is known for! If you are a wine connoisseur, you definitely wouldn’t want to miss out on the Provence Vineyards! For a truly memorable and personalized experience, you can book a tour! On these tours, you will be guided by a wine expert through the different cellars and vineyards, with some tastings in between. You will also be able to explore other sights, like the beautiful boutique hotels of Aix-en-Provence and the Sainte-Victoire Mountain, as well as the Roman amphitheater of Fréjus.
Chateau du Seuil
Address: 4690 Route du Seuil, 13540 Aix-en-Provence, France
Website: Chateau du Seuil
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 9am - 12:30pm, 2pm - 7pm; Sat - Sun: 10am - 1pm, 2:30pm - 7pm
14. Tour the interesting and informative Savonnerie Marius Fabre
Salon de Provence is a homegrown soap brand that was started by one Marius Fabre in Provence all the way back in the early 1900s. Today, the brand and the tradition of soap-making is carried on by the fourth generation of the Fabre family! You can learn more about their products by taking a tour of the Savonnerie Marius Fabre, where they produce all their soaps! You can see the traditional processes that go into making their fabulous soaps, and even take home some for yourself and your loved ones, back home!
Savonnerie Marius Fabre
Address: 148 Avenue Paul Bourret, 13300 Salon-de-Provence, France
Website: Savonnerie Marius Fabre
Opening hours: Mon - Sat: 9:30am - 12:30pm, 2pm - 7pm (closed on Sun)
Price: 27.77 USD
15. Gorge on French delicacies at Restaurant Le Gambetta
Indulge in some of the finest French delicacies at the Restaurant Le Gambetta! The Restaurant Le Gambetta is one of the highest-rated in the area, noted for its flavorful selection of food, their excellent customer service, and the intimate and cozy vibe of the restaurant. Some of their must-try dishes include their delectable beef tartare and their duck with pistachio crust. They offer vegetarian options, as well. In particular, their sweet potato with truffle and celery with hazelnuts is another favorite among their patrons.
Restaurant Le Gambetta
Address: 4 cours Gambetta A Cote du Garage Land Rover, 13100, Aix-en-Provence France
Website: Restaurant Le Gambetta
Opening hours: Mon - Fri: 12pm - 1:45pm; Wed - Sat: 7pm - 9:30pm (closed on Sun)
16. Party hard at Sunset Café
Party the night away at the famed Sunset Café! Since its opening in 1996, the Sunset Café has been known for specializing in rock and heavy metal. This counter-culture club hosts weekly themed nights, like their head-banging Metal Party on Wednesday nights and their fun 80’s nights on Fridays! Their bar also offers more than 80 different kinds of beer – perfect for capping off a long week!
Address: 2,4 rue des muletiers Aix-en-Provence, France 13100
Website: Sunset Café
Opening hours: Wed - Thu: 9pm - 2am; Fri - Sat: 9pm - 4am (closed from Sun - Tue)
17. Delve deeper into their culture at Jeu de Paume Theater
If you’re looking to soak in Provence’s art and culture, you should definitely catch some riveting performances at the Jeu de Paume Theater! The space itself was once a sprawling indoor court used by King Louis XIV used to play ‘La Paume’, a precursor to tennis, in the 1660s. The theater, one of the last remaining 18th-century Italian-style auditoriums - has since been preserved and now serves as a majestic venue for operas, recitals, and other musical concerts.
Jeu de Paume Theater
Address: 17-21, rue de l'Opéra, 13100 Aix-en-Provence
18. Visit the quaint fishing village of Cassis
Nobel-prize winning writer Frederique Mistral once said that those who have been to Paris and have not visited Cassis can easily say that they have seen nothing. Tucked away between the famed Calanques and the majestic Cap Canaille, one will find the village of Cassis. Though small and somewhat quiet, Cassis is an undoubtedly picturesque village. Once you marvel at the verdant pine trees, the calm waters of the colorful homes that line the port areas, and even their flavorful Cassis wines, you’ll immediately understand why Mistral said what he did about the village!
Address: Commune in France
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
19. Reignite your love for history and artifacts at Longchamp Palace
Longchamp Palace is another famous monument in Provence. Opened to the public in 1869, the monument was made to commemorate the construction of the Canal de Marseille, which was built to supply water to Marseille from the Durance River. In addition to its beautiful gardens and water fountains, Longchamp Palace (or Palais Longchamp) is known for being home to Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle as well as the Musée des Beaux-Arts. There, you can find plenty of fascinating art and artifacts that showcase the colorful history of Marseille.
Address: 22 Boulevard Longchamp, 13001 Marseille, France
Website: Longchamp Park
Opening hours: Mon - Wed: 8am - 12:30am; Thu - Sat: 8am -1:30am; Sun: 9am - 12:30am
The Notre Dame de la Garde is arguably the best-known landmark in Marseille! Thousands of devotees of the Virgin Mary flock to this Catholic basilica every year, especially during the Feast of the Assumption. However, the Notre Dame de la Garde is not just as important as a place of worship. With its beautiful mosaics, sculptures, and even a marble altar, the Notre Dame de la Garde is also an artistic and architectural treasure. Whether you are a devout Catholic or a non-believer, you definitely should not miss out on the wonder of the Notre Dame de la Garde!
Marseille Half-Day, Small-Group Sightseeing Shore Excursion
Duration: 4 hours
21. Soak in the scenic beauty of Le Còte Bleue
Stretching 22 km (13.67 mi) from the Marseille to the Camargue is the Mediterranean shores of Le Còte Bleue! Lined with Aleppo pines and home to several limestone coves scattered around the area, the Le Còte Bleue encompasses a number of towns and villages - all excellent places to enjoy unparalleled views! You can explore the area by following their numerous walking trails or wading by the shore. There are also a good number of small fishing villages and cozy holiday towns that you can check out along the way!
Le Còte Bleue
Address: Southwestern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, Provence, France
22. Fall in love with Provençal Pottery
Pottery is another craft that is an integral part of Provencal life. Sometimes called the “Land of French Pottery and Earthenware”, Provence is known for their impeccable glazed earthenware as well as their colorful Mediterranean pottery. Traditional pottery is alive and thriving in Provence, with many towns, including Aubagne, Moustiers, Biot, Vallauris, and Cliousclat, keeping their old pottery centers alive. You can find and fall in love with these beautiful pieces at Provence’s numerous galleries, specialty stores, and even restaurants – many of which are run by families, who have been making ceramics for generations!
Terre è Provence
Address: 1 Rue Lafayette, 13210 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France
Website: Terre è Provence
23. Interact with the locals at La Ciotat
Although the other fishing villages like Cassis are slowly growing in popularity as a tourist destination, there are still plenty of hidden gems for you to discover. One such hidden gem in Provence is the village of La Ciotat. La Ciotat is a beautiful, historic town nestled close to the sea. As it is somewhat isolated and is yet to be included in many tours, La Ciotat’s beaches are quiet and hardly ever crowded – perfect if you want to spend a relaxing day out in the sun! Similarly, their restaurants, shops, and bars can all be quite homey and relaxed. Many of the locals are also quite friendly and accommodating. You’re sure to feel completely welcome in the scenic and laid-back town of La Ciotat!
Address: Bouches-du-Rhône department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southern France
Opening hours: 24 hours (daily)
24. Appreciate the works of great artists like Picasso, Cezanne and Monet
Though Provence may first come to mind as a city full of natural beauty and ancient historical sites, it is actually also an important place for Western art. In fact, some of the most important figures in the world of Modern Art in the West - Picasso, Cezanne, and Monet – have all been associated with Provence! There are plenty of ways you can learn more about these artists’ life and times in Provence. You can explore the “Cezanne Trail” – which will give you a glimpse into his workshop and some works. You can also visit Monet’s home and garden, or book a private tour of Picasso’s castle. A museum dedicated to Picasso’s work is also set to open in Provence in the year 2021!
Address: Place Saint-Jean de Malte, 13100 Aix-en-Provence, France
Website: Musée Granet
Opening hours: Tue - Sun: 12pm - 5:30pm (closed on Mon)
Traveling on a cruise can be a very fun and relaxing way to spend your vacation. But what if you’re dying to explore the beautiful city of Marseille? Worry not, because you can go on an exciting excursion of the city! The excursion will start right from the front of the cruise ship, where you will meet your guide and tour group – which is just about eight people, at most. You will then go to explore the ins and outs of Marseille on a leisurely bike ride! The knowledgeable host can show you all the best views and landmarks of Marseille, as well as the city’s hidden gems. At the end of the tour, you will also enjoy a small snack – a great way to cap off an exciting tour!
Marseille Shore Excursion: Half-Day Gadjo E-Bike Tour
Duration: 4 hour
Being so close to the Mediterranean Sea, it is unsurprising that Provence is rich in thriving marine life. To learn more about Province’s marine biodiversity, you can check out Calanques National Park! The park is a sanctuary to marine life, being home to numerous species of fish and coral. If you’d like to get up close to these fascinating sea creatures, you can even go snorkeling or scuba diving at the National Park, with the guidance of their skilled instructors!
Calanques National Park Snorkel and Scuba Dive
Duration: 4 hour
The Roman Aqueduct is truly a marvelous example of ancient engineering. Using only the force of gravity and the natural slope of the land, the Aqueduct was able to supply fresh water to entire cities! To learn more about this engineering feat, you can go on a private tour of the Aqueduct! The Aqueduct can be found along the Ancient Appian Way, where you can also find sights like the Aurelian Walls, and the thermal Baths of Caracalla – all of which, you will be able to see and explore. You can go either as a part of a tour group and meet new people, or organize a private tour for yourself and your loved ones!
Appian Way Tour: Aurelian Wall, Catacombs, Circus of Maxentius
Duration: 270 to 360 minutes
Provence: a feast for the senses
With its excellent art, breathtaking natural riches, delicious wines, fragrant scents and cosmetics, and cool, refreshing waters, Provence is sure to be a feast for the senses and an unforgettable experience! We hope this comprehensive list helps you indulge in all the sensual wonders that this beautiful province has to offer.
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