A Weekend Getaway to Provence

Provence is a favorite French destination for numerous reasons including its mild climate, picturesque villages and unique foods and wines. Thanks to high speed trains from Paris, it’s possible to add on a weekend getaway to Provence to virtually any trip.


A Weekend Getaway to Provence

How to Get to Provence

a weekend getaway to provence

The easiest way to reach Provence from Paris is by high speed train. In approximately three hours you can reach Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, or Marseille from central Paris. Trains also depart directly from the Charles de Gaulle airport making it easy to begin your trip in Provence. The Marseille airport serves the region and is just about 20 minutes from Aix-en-Provence.

Day One: Private Tour of the Most Charming Villages in Provence

lourmarin

Begin your weekend getaway to Provence with an overview of some most charming villages in the region. Start the day with Lourmarin, one of the most beautiful villages of the Luberon. Friday is an especially good day to visit as it is market day. You will have free time to explore the village and see the Renaissance château, visit the galleries and artisanal shops, and stop for a visit and wine tasting in the vineyards.

You can have lunch in Lourmarin or another village like Lauris, Ménerbes, or Goult. After a delicious Provençal meal, your private driver will take you along the Combe, a winding road to discover the perched villages of Bonnieux, Lacoste, Ménerbes, Oppède-le-Vieux, Roussillon and Gordes. Depending on the day and your unique interests, the guide will be able to recommend the best places to stop.

Where to Stay in Provence
la bastide de gordes

La Bastide de Gordes

This 5-star luxury hotel and spa is not to be missed in lovely Gordes. The perched village is one of Provence’s most beautiful, complete with 12th-century ramparts, a château, and expansive views over the valley below. The Palace hotel itself was a former mansion and it retains every ounce of its former charm: stonework, molding, exposed wood, and vaulted ceilings all surrounded by centuries-old olive trees and soaring cypresses.

The refined rooms are fully equipped, and most offer a view on the valley and the mountains.

The chic Sisley spa has an indoor swimming pool, a hammam, and a fitness facility. The establishment boasts multiple onsite dining options and a bar.

Day Two: Aix-en-Provence and the Provençal Coast

cassis

On day two, discover Aix-en-Provence and coastal destinations Marseille and Cassis. Explore Aix-en-Provence, the city of Paul Cézanne, with a stroll along Cours Mirabeau. Beautiful fountains, lovely architecture, lively cafés, and old churches surround this picturesque Provençal avenue. The market held on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays is not to be missed.

Afterwards, head to Cassis, a famous fishing village known for its sublime calanques. If you’d like, take a boat ride to explore the forgotten coves, tiny ports, and soaring cliffs of the Calanques National Park. You can also stop for a wine tasting in the vineyards and taste Cassis’ delicate rosé and smooth white wines.

The afternoon will be devoted to Marseille. You’ll see highlights including the Cité Radieuse (Le Corbusier’s building, which is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the statue of David on the Avenue du Prado, the Corniche, and Vallon des Auffes. A memorable stop will be at the Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde where you will enjoy enjoy a panoramic view of the city and its maritime area: the Vieux Port, Frioul Archipelago, and Château d’If.

Where to Stay in Provence
a weekend getaway to provence

Hôtel Villa La Coste

Situated halfway between the historic town of Aix-en-Provence and the famous Luberon Nature Park, this 5-star Palace hotel is set in the heart of the Provençal countryside. It is an international destination for art, architecture and natural beauty and contains a biodynamic vineyard.

The property features 28 Villa Suites. Gardens surround the suites, each with spacious terraces offering truly amazing, expansive views over the vines and the Luberon. The Villas are decorated with artwork from both the owner’s friends and private collection, which gives a personal touch and the feeling of being in a cozy home. Local materials enhance the hotel’s contemporary architecture which complements the natural setting.

The close-to-nature philosophy is evident in each of the four restaurants, all of which feature organic produce.

The spa’s clean lines, natural stones and light wood convey contemporary elegance and keep with the spirit of the property. All natural treatments feature regional ingredients: oils from Provençal plants and flowers, mineral salts, and clays.

When booking through French Side Travel, guests will enjoy a complimentary guided Art and Architecture walking tour and wine tasting.


A weekend getaway to Provence is the perfect opportunity to discover gorgeous southern France. French Side Travel would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process.

Celebrating ‘La Fête Nationale’ 2022 in France

If you find yourself in France in mid-July, partaking in “the national celebration” is an absolute must. Whether you refer to it as 14 juillet, Bastille Day, or la Fête Nationale, you can be sure to expect festive parades, grand firework displays, and unique activities throughout the country. Read on to learn how to celebrate La Fête Nationale 2022 in France.


Celebrating La Fête Nationale 2022 in France

The History of La Fête Nationale

la fête nationale history

The French Fête Nationale marks the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on July 14th, 1789, a turning point in the French revolution. It also marks the Fête de la Fédération, which celebrates the unity of the French people on July 14th, 1790. Since 1880, July 14th has officially been the Fête Nationale. It symbolizes the end of the monarchy and the beginning of the French Republic. Celebrations are held throughout France. In major cities like Paris, Lyon, Bordeaux, and Toulouse, you’ll find military parades, games, shows and entertainment for the whole family. There are spectacular fireworks shows as well, especially in Paris at the Eiffel Tower.

La Fête Nationale 2022 in Paris

celebrating la fête nationale 2022 in paris

In Paris, celebrating La Fête Nationale is a full-day affair. The festivities begin in the morning, with the traditional military parade on the Avenue des Champs Elysées. Spectators, including the French president line the Avenue and crowds extend all the way to the Musée du Louvre. This location offers a perfect vantage point to watch the airplanes and helicopters fly above in a synchronized show.

In the evening, near the Eiffel Tower is the place to be. People gather to watch a concert starting at 9:15 pm. At 11:00 pm, the main attraction begins with a dazzling firework show that lasts approximately 30 minutes. There are lots of crowds, so arriving very early is advised. The fireworks can also be seen from places with a view of the Eiffel Tower and on television.

Where to Stay in Paris
maison albar le pont neuf

Maison Albar Le Pont-Neuf

Located right in the heart of the beautiful city of Paris, and a stone’s throw away from the Louvre Museum and the Notre Dame, this 5-star hotel is set in an ideal location.

Designed with luxury in mind, the rooms come with AC, television, a hairdryer, minibar, a coffee making machine, a safe, a desk or workplace and soundproofing.

The hotel’s restaurant serves gourmet cuisine using local and seasonal produce. The wine cellar of the hotel makes sure that the visitors are treated to the finest wines in the world. The hotel also has an indoor pool, spa, hammam and treatment rooms.

La Fête Nationale 2022 in Bordeaux

celebrating la fête nationale 2022 in france bordeaux

In Bordeaux there’s a lively and convivial atmosphere surrounding La Fête Nationale. Starting at 6:30 pm, enjoy a giant picnic set up along Quai Louis XIV. There will be live music, food trucks, and plenty of seating available. It’s the perfect place to take in the military parade going on at the same time. Then, at 10:30 pm the events will culminate with a firework show.

La Fête Nationale 2022 in Aix-en-Provence

fête nationale aix

Celebrate La Fête Nationale in Aix-en-Provence with a retro swing ball, the Ball du 14 Juillet. From 6:30 pm until 11:30 pm enjoy the festivities along the Cours Mirabeau. For the beginners there’s a swing dance demonstration to kick-off the evening, followed by hours of dancing. Afterwards, a large firework display will take place from the Place des Etats-Généraux.

Where to Stay in Aix-en-Provence
villa gallici aix en provence

La Villa Gallici

This intimate 5-star hotel in Aix-en-Provence is just a few minutes’ walk to the historic center. The elegant design is evocative of a bygone era with antique furniture, ornate woodwork, and fine textiles.

Rooms and suites are large, feature modern amenities, and offer a view over the garden. Some include a terrace.

Guests enjoy access to a spa and wellness area, a large garden, and an outdoor heated pool.

There is a gourmet restaurant onsite which combines Provençal classics with modern cuisine.

La Fête Nationale 2022 in Toulouse

celebrating la fête nationale in france toulouse

The 14 juillet festivities in Toulouse bring together the best of music and fireworks along the Garonne riverbanks. Local rising musicians start the evening with performances. Then, the NRJ Music Tour brings popular artists to perform. The highlight of the night is a coordinated sound and light firework show. Fireworks are shot off from rafts and barges int he middle of the river. It’s truly a fantastic scene!


Whether you’re celebrating La Fête Nationale in France in 2022 or in the future, we hope you’re inspired with ideas. French Side Travel would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process.

France from the Water: Cruises in Every Region

For a unique perspective of France, one of the best things to do is take in the scenery from the water. Read on to discover French Side Travel’s list of fabulous cruises in every region.


France from the Water: Cruises in Every Region

Full-Day Cruise Along the Côte d’Azur

cote d'azur cruise france from the water

Embark in Cannes for a fabulous full-day cruise along the Côte d’Azur. Here you will truly see the best of France from the water! Travel to Monaco where you’ll disembark and have time to enjoy. Discover the city, do some shopping, and enjoy a fabulous lunch in the port. After lunch, head towards Mala Bay for a relaxing afternoon swim in the crystal clear waters. Pass by the stunning Villefranche-sur-Mer bay with views of the port and colorful village. The special cruise will culminate with a view of the sun setting over Cannes.

Traditional Pinasse Boat Tour from Arcachon

arcachon cruise

Enjoy the highlights of the breathtaking Arcachon Bay on a traditional pinasse boat. Sail through the small channels, past oyster beds, picture-perfect beaches, l’Île aux Oiseaux (Bird Island), and Lège-Cap Ferret’s charming villages. While on board you’ll be able to sip champagne and enjoy a fabulous picnic of local dishes. It is sure to be a memorable day!

Where to Stay in Bordeaux
les sources de caudalie
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Les Sources de Caudalie

Located between vineyards and forests, just 20 minutes from Bordeaux’s city center, this 5-star hotel was designed using recycled local materials to create a collection of state-of-the-art buildings that are perfectly in tune with the idyllic surroundings.

Each of the rooms boasts a unique decor, featuring antiques, collectible furniture, and fine draperies. Most of them have a terrace or a balcony with a beautiful view on the vineyards or on the lake.

Set in a former orangery, modeled on an ornamental, 18th-century glasshouse, the two Michelin-star restaurant invites you to savor the chef’s brilliant cuisine. On nice days, enjoy lunch or dinner in the sunshine, on the terrace overlooking the lake and the vine-covered slopes.

The spa offers unique treatments combining the virtues of natural hot spring water with the most recent scientific discoveries of the benefits of grapes and grapevines.

Private Champagne Cruise along the Marne River

champagne cruise france from the water

Experience the Champagne region differently: while sipping Champagne and cruising in a lovely wooden boat from the 1920s. Your local, knowledgeable skipper will take you along one of the great French rivers to meet France’s most celebrated wine. Travel from one village to the next as you discover a serene and peaceful way to see the vineyards from a different angle. There will of course be plenty of Champagne included with the cruise, but you will also get to enjoy a picnic with regional specialties.

Discover Cassis and the Calanques on a Luxury Boat with a Skipper  

calanques

Enjoy full-day aboard a luxury boat as your skipper takes you to see the fabulous Calanques National Park and Cassis. The Calanques are white limestone cliffs interspersed with secluded coves and beaches. The National Park stretches between Marseille and Cassis’s coastline and offers a playground for hiking, snorkeling, sunbathing, and, of course, sailing. Afterwards, discover the gorgeous Cassis port. Stop for lunch at a Michelin-starred restaurant with a breathtaking view over Cap Canaille. During the afternoon your skipper will show you the best places to snorkel and swim in the area!

Experience the Loire Valley’s Domaine de Noiré Vineyards with A Picnic and Boat Cruise

gabare cruise loire valley

This unique experience will truly immerse you in the best of the Loire Valley with fabulous scenery, an up-close look at a vineyard, a picnic with local products, and a cruise on a traditional boat. Start with a visit of Chinon before arriving at the Domaine de Noiré to get to know all of the work that goes into producing wine. You’ll take a carriage ride through the vineyards to reach a gastronomic, chef-prepared picnic along the banks of the Vienne River. After lunch, cruise the Vienne River and take in the unusual views from a traditional gabare boat.

Cruise on an a Traditional Sailboat from Cancale

france from the water cancale saint malo

Your expert local guide is a dyed-in-the-wool Breton passionate about sailing. He will take you aboard on his traditional Breton sail boat. The boat is one of the first copies of the legendary regional fishing boats that date back to the 18th century. Your captain is not only a skilled and certified sailing instructor, but is also passionate about Breton history. On this authentic and quite atypical cruise, discover an unusual look at France from the water. Take in the the regional heritage, listen to historical anecdotes, relive the 18th-century lives of fishermen, and observe the flora and fauna from the unique perspective off this magnificent bay. Cancale is the self-proclaimed oyster capital of France. You should not miss the occasion to treat yourself to a tasting paired with a fine glass of white at one of the many stalls on the harbor!

Where to Stay in Brittany
villa tri men

Villa Tri Men
This lovely 4-star property is surrounded by magnificent grounds, overlooking the estuary of the Odet river, next to Sainte-Marine port.

An elegant bourgeois house originally built in 1913 and transformed into a hotel in 2003, this villa offers decor to perfectly match its history. The villa was renovated in 2018, adding more charm and comfort to a place with so much character and history. There are 16 rooms and three cottages and a Michelin-starred restaurant, Les Trois Rochers.

Sainte-Marine is a small welcoming port between wild nature, magnificent beaches and local culture. It possesses a unique atmosphere that will make you come and come back.

The Ultimate Dinner Cruise in Paris

ducasse sur seine paris

Enjoy a unique six-course meal experience aboard the most prestigious boat on the Seine River, beloved chef Alain Ducasse’s Ducasse Sur Seine. Your table is reserved with the most beautiful view on the entire boat. Arrive early and enjoy a glass of Champagne on the deck of the boat overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Soon you’ll be off, quietly cruising along the Seine River in a 100% electric boat. Throughout the entire cruise you’ll delight in spectacular views over the most beautiful landmarks of the capital along the journey.

In-between courses take a moment to step outside on the deck of the boat and enjoy the amazing scenery as you pass by. You’ll see it all from the Musée d’Orsay, Musée du Louvre, and Notre Dame to the famous bridges of Paris, and of course the Eiffel Tower. True Parisian romance at its best, this exceptional cruise and experience is sure to be one you’ll never forget.


We hope we’ve inspired you see France from the water. Fabulous cruises await you in each region! French Side Travel would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

France by Bike

In the past, discovering France by bike used to be reserved only for the adventurous. Now, with the rising popularity of e-bikes, it’s possible for almost anyone to enjoy biking in France, families included. Read on to discover the best ways to experience the gorgeous scenery and culture in France by bike.


France by Bike

Discover Nice’s Fabulous Panoramic Views from an E-Bike

france by bike nice
Paul Foulonneau | 3SO L’Agence

This bike tour will bring you to Nice’s most beautiful viewpoints. It’s usually a place that’s difficult to reach, but thanks to your electric bike you’ll be able to easily climb to one of the most magnificent panoramic views along the Côte d’Azur.

The ride is not only filled with scenery, but will give you a wonderful overview of the city of Nice. Start the tour at the Port of Nice. You’ll then ride uphill on the “Castle Hill,” from where you can admire the beautiful views of the City and the Italian Alps. Next, pass by the lovely Place Masséna located just at the gates of the old town. Finish with Place Garibaldi before heading back to the port.

Provençal Charm Bike Tour with Wine and Olive Oil Tastings

provence bike

The day begins in the fabled town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. The town is renowned for its most famous visitor: Vincent Van Gogh. Van Gogh spent the last year of his life in Saint-Rémy, tirelessly painting the countryside and completing some of his most important works.

After discovering Saint-Rémy, cycle along the base of the Alpilles mountains where the chiseled limestone cliffs meet vast olive groves. Stop for a tasting of some of the region’s most coveted olive oils. Rounding the mountains, you’ll pass the sleepy villages of Saint-Étienne and Fontvieille. The charming square in Fontvieille practically begs for a pause café. Afterwards, take seldom-used roads to climb through the heart of the Alpilles.

You’ll then reach the perched medieval village of Les Baux-de-Provence, listed among the most beautiful villages in France. Take the time to visit the village and enjoy a leisurely lunch before the real fun begins: enjoy a wine tasting at a small, family-run estate before cycling back to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

Where to Stay in Provence
villa gallici provence hotel

Villa Gallici

This intimate 5-star hotel in Aix-en-Provence is just a few minutes walk to the historic center. The elegant design is evocative of a bygone era with antique furniture, ornate woodwork, and fine textiles.

Rooms and suites are large, feature modern amenities, and offer a view over the garden. Some also include a terrace.

Guests can enjoy access to a spa and wellness area, a large garden, and an outdoor heated pool. There is also a gourmet restaurant onsite, which combines Provençal classics with modern cuisine.

Private Guided Bike Tour Along the Banks of the Seine River in Paris

france by bike paris

Take in the most iconic sights of the French capital while cruising along the banks of the Seine River, recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Starting on the Rive Droite (Right Bank) of the Seine. Cross the Pont Notre-Dame to kick off this adventure and discover Paris’ winding history. From Notre Dame Cathedral to the Eiffel Tower and from the Palais de Chaillot to the Musée du Louvre – you will enjoy the most beautiful perspectives that the city has to offer.

During the tour, your professional guide will point out the prestigious monuments and multiple treasures of Paris. Discover fascinating facts and trivia about the beautiful old streets, monuments, and people. There will be plenty of opportunities to take photographs along the way.

Full-Day of History and Wine in Saint-Émilion

saint emilion bike tour

The day begins with a guided walking tour through the charming UNESCO World Heritage classified village of Saint-Émilion, which dates from the Middle Ages. You’ll discover much of its fascinating history. Then, it’ll be time to start pedaling to the first château: a beautiful and charming family-run estate located in the heart of Saint-Émilion vineyards.

After a delightful lunch, visit the vat house and cellar where you will discover the traditional way of making wine. Afterwards, you’ll take an easy ride through the beautiful vineyards and see prestigious properties such as Château Pétrus or Château Cheval Blanc – regarded among the best wineries in Bordeaux. Stop for a visit and tasting at a Classified Growth château on the edge of Saint-Émilion to learn more about the winemaking process from grape to bottle. Enjoy a final tasting to finish off the day.

Discover the Châteaux, Wine, and Scenery of the Loire Valley by Bike

loire valley bike tour

Discover some of the most incredible châteaux in France by bike. Visit the Château de Villandry, one of the last châteaux built during the Renaissance period, where you will see one of the finest examples of Renaissance garden design in all of France. Afterwards, bike along the banks of the Loire River to an old fisherman’s village. Stop for a picnic lunch on the riverside, complete with local delicacies and wine.

Next, play amateur photographer in Rigny-Ussé where you can admire the exceptional exterior architecture of the Renaissance castle. The view of the château from the bridge over the Indre is quite simply stunning. At the end of the day, stop in one of the vineyards in Vouvray to visit a cellar and taste the delicious local sparkling wine of the Loire terroir.

Biking and Kayaking in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue

isle sur la sorgue

L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, the antique capital of Provence, is also known as the Provençal Venice. Its quays are lined with ancient waterwheels, and the whole village is set on a tiny island surrounded by the emerald waters of the Sorgue River. After taking in the town’s picturesque streets, ride into the heart of the countryside. Quickly the town gives way to farmland: ancient farmhouses are surrounded by apple and pear orchards. You’ll be completely off the beaten-path. The guide will lead you through small and flat country roads with very little traffic.

Stop for lunch at a restaurant in Fontaine de Vaucluse, a pretty village centered around a beautiful greenish-blue pool water from the Sorgue River. After lunch, ride to Lagnes where you’ll descend the clear emerald colored Sorgue River by canoe before returning back at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. 

Where to Stay in Burgundy
hotel le cep burgundy

Hôtel Le Cep

Ideally situated in the heart of medieval Beaune, just minutes away from the famous Hospices de Beaune and the Notre-Dame Basilica, this 5-star hotel is a genuine institution. The hotel owes its charm to the merging of two private mansions and their historical 16th century courtyards.

The 62 rooms, of which 32 are suites, are all decorated with antiques collected throughout the years and each room is named after a Burgundian village or Grand Cru wine.

The restaurant proposes a cuisine that is mainly influenced by the region as well as traditional dishes from Burgundy that are revisited by the Chef. The setting is heartwarming, refined and the decor contemporary.

At the end of the day, guests can settle down to enjoy a drink or regional Cru. In the winter, enjoy the comfortable atmosphere whilst sipping a glass of wine in front of the fireplace, and in the summer relax in the sun-bathed 16th century courtyard. The hotel’s luxurious spa offers a wide range of treatments and massages.

Full-Day Private Wine and Bike Tour in Burgundy

burgundy biking

Discover the terroir and vineyards of the Côte de Beaune in Burgundy by bike. You’ll pedal through the vineyards and experience the wine and terroir of the region. Cycle through some of the most prestigious vineyards in the world while admiring the authentic and traditional landscapes. Between châteaux, estates, and vineyards you’ll absorb plenty of history and culture thanks to your wine and cycling professional guide.

Start the day with a visit and tasting at Château de Chassagne-Montrachet. Next, bike to Puligny-Montrachet for lunch at a traditional restaurant, or enjoy a picnic outside weather permitting. Afterwards, continue your journey back to Beaune with a stop at Pommard for another tasting. Throughout the day you’ll see some of the most beautiful landscapes and villages in Burgundy such as Pommard, Volnay, Meursault, Chassagne-Montrachet, Puligny-Montrachet and more.


We hope we’ve inspired you to discover France by bike. French Side Travel would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

The Ultimate Foodie Experiences in France: Part Two

A wonderful way to get a look into life in France is by visiting local food markets. French Side Travel has a fabulous network of expert guides and professional chefs to show you the best of the each market along with regional and seasonal specialties. Read on to discover part two of the ultimate foodie experiences in France.


The Ultimate Foodie Experiences in France: Part Two

Marseille: Gourmet Walking Tour

marseille market

Savor Marseille’s unique culinary delights on a fabulous gourmet walking tour. The bustling port city is 2,600 years old, so it’s had a lot of time to develop a fascinating history, culture, and food traditions.

The walking tour starts in the emblematic Vieux Port. See the vibrant fish market before exploring hidden treasures in the Noailles. The neighborhood is a true melting pot of cultures and languages. Its lively and colorful market offers a diversity of food for every taste. Sample Provençal and Mediterranean specialties. Panisse, a chickpea flour fritter, and pastis, an anise-flavored spirit, are two local favorites.

After, head to Le Panier, France’s oldest neighborhood. Hidden gems, street art, and artisanal food shops fill the narrow pedestrian streets. Your guide will introduce you to its important sites, artisans’ workshops, and local specialities. Stop for a pastis aperitif and learn about its production. The tour ends with a tasting of local wines.

Nice: Market Tour, Cooking Class and Lunch

nice ultimate foodie experiences in france

Start your day at the famous Cours Saleya market. The narrow maze of centuries-old streets in Vieux Nice opens up onto this splendid market space lined with bars, cafés, and restaurants on either side, with market stalls down the center. You will get to shop like a true Niçois, sample locally-grown produce, and meet the farmers.

Though the bigger stalls are the most eye-catching thanks to their bright colors, what is really interesting are the small producers’ stands. The fruit and vegetables are not as uniformly shaped, but every ingredient is local and much of the produce is organic. Choose a menu focused around the best seasonal produce. Of course, there will be cheese and wine to make the meal complete!

After the market visit, it’s time to head to the cooking studio where you will help prepare the meal. No need to worry if you are a beginner – the atmosphere is relaxed! After cooking, sit down to an authentic Niçois meal and toast your efforts with a glass of local wine. This experience will truly give you a hands-on introduction to Nice’s cuisine and culture.

Where to Stay in Nice
hotel negresco nice

Hotel Negresco

This famous 5-star property has overlooked one of the French Riviera’s most beautiful bays for a century. Unique and timeless, it is one of the most elegant hotels in Europe, and it has been classified as a historical monument. Facing the Mediterranean Sea on the famous Promenade des Anglais, the hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from Nice’s historical center.

The hotel has attracted a veritable “who’s who” of international clientele, kings of the old and the new world, and many of the world’s rich and famous have signed the guest book: Salvador Dali, Princess Grace of Monaco, the Beatles, Louis Armstrong, and Elton John. Jeanne Augier, the owner of the Palace since 1957, has devoted her life to the preservation and the development of this unique heritage. Staying at this hotel is stepping into French history and culture.

The perfect combination of historic and contemporary is the property’s trademark. Equipped and personalized with exceptional period furniture, each one of the 128 rooms and 26 suites draws its inspiration from the most remarkable French art periods from Louis XIII style to modern art.

Have your breakfast under the copolla imagined by Gustave Eiffel, have lunch in the Rotonde restaurant surrounded by white horses and have dinner at the Chantecler, the Michelin star restaurant. And inbetween, why not having a drink at the warm and welcoming bar.

Lyon: Private Full-Day Cooking Class with Lunch to Discover French Gastronomy

lyon cooking class

Any list of ultimate foodie experiences in France has to include Lyon! Begin your day with a delicious breakfast at a gourmet cooking school in Lyon. After breakfast, visit Les Halles Paul Bocuse, which contributes to the internationally renowned gastronomy in Lyon. You will receive a kitchen kit consisting of an “Institut Paul Bocuse” apron, Opinel knives, and a recipe booklet. A chef and a kitchen will be privatized and dedicated to your group. Prepare a starter and a main course while receiving expert advice and tips from the chef.

Sit down for lunch and enjoy the dishes you prepared including a dessert from the pastry chef, wine, and coffee.

Paris: Private Tour of the Best Foodie Shops in Paris

pierre herme ultimate foodie experiences in france

This gourmet guided tour in Paris is an excellent opportunity to discover the history of French food as well as spotlight French chefs. Your food expert guide will share with you this savoir-faire that has forever defined French gastronomy.

Discover the best pastries in Paris and the latest trends in pastries with chefs like Pierre Hermé, Christophe Michalak, Thierry Marx and Philippe Conticini. Of course, you will get to sample their “signature” recipes, which are a mix between culinary tradition and innovation.

During this food-centric walking tour, you will enter in some Meilleurs Ouvriers de France’s shops, a title which since 1924 has been awarded to the best French craftsmen including butchers, bakers, ice cream makers, chocolate makers, confectioners, cheesemakers and fishmongers.

Provence: Luberon Villages and Markets Tour

provence market ultimate foodie experiences in france

Explore the Luberon’s charming markets and villages and enjoy an authentic Provençal market experience. The market schedule changes based on the day of the week, but you can expect the itinerary to include a combination of the best sites and villages like Gordes, Roussillon, Lourmarin, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, the Abbey of Sénanque, and Apt. 

The area is stunning. Take in Rousillon’s vibrant ochre-colored homes, the lavender fields in Senanque in June and July, Gordes’ medieval streets, and L’Isle-Sur-la-Sorgue’s gentle canals. Of course, this tour will also engage all of your senses and include wonderful tastings of local specialties.

Market days are as follows: Gordes on Tuesdays, Roussillon on Thursdays, Lourmarin on Fridays, Apt on Saturdays, L’Isle-Sur-la-Sorgue on Sundays.

Where to Stay in Provence
château la coste provence

Hotel Villa La Coste

Situated halfway between the historic town of Aix-en-Provence, home of Cezanne, and the famous Luberon Nature Park, this Palace hotel is set in the midst of the Provençal landscape, in the heart of a biodynamic vineyard. It is an international destination for art, architecture, and natural beauty.

The property features 28 Villa Suites, surrounded by gardens, herbs and flowers and each opening onto a spacious terrace offering expansive views over vines and valley. The hotel’s contemporary architecture is emphasized by local materials and embraces the natural setting.

The close-to-nature philosophy runs through in each of the four contrasting restaurants, all of which feature organic produce.

The Spa with its clean lines, natural stones and light wood convey contemporary elegance in keeping with the spirit of the property. 100% natural treatments featuring regional ingredients: oils from Provençal plants and flowers, mineral salts, clays and more are used.


We hope part two of the list of ultimate foodie experiences in France helps to inspire future travel. Click here to read part one. French Side Travel would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

The Ultimate Foodie Experiences in France: Part One

A wonderful way to get a look into life in France is by visiting local food markets. French Side Travel has a fabulous network of expert guides and professional chefs to show you the best of the each market along with regional and seasonal specialties. Read on to discover part one of the ultimate foodie experiences in France.


The Ultimate Foodie Experiences in France: Part One

Aix-en-Provence: Private Market Tour and Cooking Class

provence market olives

Immerse yourself into the Provençal way of life and spend a half a day shopping, cooking, and eating like a real Aixois. Aix-en-Provence has a rich history filled with numerous traditional foods. You’ll start your day learning more about this history. Then, you’ll head to the market held in a 700-year-old square where you’ll meet local producers and sample their varied specialties. 

Learn how to choose the best produce before heading to a cooking school in the old town. With the assistance of the head chef, you’ll transform fresh, seasonal ingredients into a tasty three-course meal. You’ll learn about traditional Provençal recipes and infuse them with a modern flair. Simplicity, flavor, and fresh ingredients are the keys to family-style cooking in France. After the cooking is done, you’ll gather around the table with local wines to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

Avignon: Private Market Tour, Cooking Class, and Wine Tour

goat cheeses in provence

Start the morning by meeting your local chef in front of Marché Les Halles, a covered market filled with fresh and colorful foods. It’s a favorite place to shop for both locals and chefs alike. Together, you’ll choose the best products to use during your cooking lesson with a focus on local and seasonal foods. Since you and the chef will design the meal together, you’ll also create recipe cards during the cooking lesson.

When the cooking is finished, enjoy an apéritif. You’ll learn interesting tricks and tidbits on food and wine pairings. You’ll sit down and enjoy lunch with the chef where you’ll have interesting and informal discussions about your experience and culture in France. After lunch, you’ll depart for an afternoon wine tour. In each cellar you visit you’ll discover the history of the estate. The owners will welcome you personally and lead you on a visit of the winery with explanations about the harvest.

Where to Stay in Bordeaux
yndo hotel bordeaux

Yndo Hotel

The beautiful 5-star hotel was formerly a private 19th-century mansion. The decor expertly blends late 19th-century sophistication think moldings, ceiling rosettes, and ceiling heights – with modern flourishes. Located in the heart of historic Bordeaux, by the Place Gambetta and Cours de l’Intendance, the hotel is a perfect base from which to explore.

Each room has its own identity with customized decoration. However, two constant characteristics should be highlighted – an element of understatement to create a calming atmosphere and specially crafted furniture. Everything has been thought out down to the last detail.

The inner courtyard is a relaxing place to enjoy breakfast or an aperitif under a splendid magnolia. Hotel guests will have exclusive access to the restaurant. Discover a selection of top-quality seasonal products to delight your taste buds. Everything served is made in-house.

Bordeaux: Gourmet Walk and Cooking Class with a Professional Chef

the ultimate market experiences in france bordeaux

The city of Bordeaux is best explored on foot, and our favorite tours always include food and wine. A professional chef will be your guide for this gourmet experience. You’ll start with a walk around Bordeaux where the chef will lead you to his favorite market. Discover an abundance of local specialties from Southwest France.

Take your pick among the fabulous foods to select your ingredients. You’ll then return to the cooking school for a class with lunch to follow. The chef will help you learn and master both simple and more complex French cooking techniques. Throughout the preparation of your starter, main course, and dessert you’ll get a fabulous overview of French cuisine. After enjoying an apéritif you’ll sit down to enjoy your meal, paired with local Bordeaux wines of course.

Burgundy: Gourmet Food and Wine Tour

burgundy wine tasting

Spend a full day discovering the various specialties of Burgundian cuisine and wines during the ultimate gourmet tour. You’ll taste it all including charcuterie, cheeses, macarons, chocolates, breads, pastries, and more. Depending on the season and on which day you visit, your expert guide will select a market to visit. It could be a local market in a village next to the vineyards, in Beaune, or the famous Halles de Dijon. In each place you’ll be sure to meet local producers and farmers.

Throughout the day, sample fabulous regional products including truffles, jambon persillé, gingerbread, cassis from Dijon, anise candies, chocolates, pastries, and, bien sûr, the famous Dijon mustard. The afternoon will be spent traveling through the legendary Côte de Nuits or Côte de Beaune vineyards. You’ll also see châteaux, former abbeys, Romanesque churches, and charming villages on the Grands Crus Road.

The best of the day will be saved for last. You’ll stop in a traditional cellar for a comparative Burgundy wine tasting including white and red wines and Premier Crus and Grand Crus. Your guide will show you how to pair the local products selected during the day with the wines.

Paris: Aligre Market and Montmartre Gourmet Walking Tour

paris market

You will have the opportunity to discover two of the most famous places for food in the City of Light. Your local expert guide will take you to the bustling and vibrant Aligre market, which has both indoor and outdoor components. You’ll experience an absolute explosion of colors and flavors. You’ll quickly see why it’s regarded as a foodie paradise. Take a moment to recharge with a coffee break à la française before continuing your visit to all the best food shops in the area, where you’ll of course enjoy tastings!

Your next stop will be Montmartre to discover more incredible food shops. You’ll visit the best boulangeries, pâtisseries, and specialty shops. Your guide will also point out historic and delicious restaurants, the famous Montmartre vineyards, and two mills. You’ll finish the tour at the base of Sacré Coeur, where you’ll be in a prime position to continue exploring Montmartre. Your guide will be happy to give you some more tips to make the most out of the rest of your day!

Where to Stay in Paris
relais christine paris

Relais Christine

This 5-star hotel was a former 16th century home in the heart of the Left Bank, built on the remains of a 13th century abbey. This delightful and discreetly luxurious boutique hotel has managed to preserve the intimacy of the private residence it once was.

Between its flowered courtyard and private garden, it is a haven of peace. It’s perfectly located in Saint-Germain next to many restaurants, boutiques and galleries.

On one or two levels, each of the 48 rooms and suites offers a unique atmosphere and is decorated with rich fabrics, some with original wooden beams, some with a more contemporary touch. Two rooms and two suites share a unique private garden.
Many options for families with various connecting options and single units for four people.

Each morning, the stunning vaulted breakfast room offers a rich buffet. To have a drink and unwind in front of the fireplace, try the lounge and its honor bar. Room service is available 24/7. Let the hotel pamper you in the Spa offering sauna, jacuzzi, treatments by Carita or keep in shape in the one of-its-kind vaulted fitness room.


We hope part one of the list of ultimate market experiences in France helps to inspire future travel. French Side Travel would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

Favorite Family-Friendly Tours in France

When planning a vacation that will be special for the entire family, it’s important to keep in mind specific activities that will be engaging for both young and old. French Side Travel has put together a list of some of our favorite family-friendly tours in France that are sure to make your vacation unforgettable.


Favorite Family-Friendly Tours in France

Walk in the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel with A Private Guide

private walking tour mont saint michel

Take the opportunity to discover the other side of Mont Saint-Michel during a walk along the shore. Step into the water and sand, dance on the quicksand, and admire the landscapes and natural beauty of the Bay. Your private guided walk departs from Mont Saint-Michel, so it is the perfect activity to combine with a visit to the abbey. You’ll walk towards the Rocher de Tombelaine and back to Mont Saint-Michel. It’s also possible to include a seaside treasure hunt to discover the local sea creatures.

Discover the Beauty, History, and Culture of Provence in a Day

provence favorite family-friendly tours in france

You will depart for Lourmarin, ideally on a Friday, which is market day, and have free time to discover one of the most beautiful villages of the Luberon. Don’t miss the Renaissance castle, beautiful vineyards (which you can visit and have a tasting organized), or the quaint galleries and artisanal shops. Stop for lunch in an exceptionally charming village like Lauris, Oppède-le-Vieux, Ménerbes, Goult or Gordes. Afterwards, you will continue the day by taking the Combe, a winding road, to discover from near or far the perched villages of Bonnieux, Lacoste, Ménerbes, Oppède-le-Vieux, Roussillon and Gordes. From the Marquis de Sade to Vasarely, they all have a unique story to tell, and by the end of the day you will know many of them!

Family-Friendly Stays in Provence
Le Vallon de Valrugues & Spa

Le Vallon de Valrugues & Spa

Located 600 meters from the center of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, this luxurious and refined 5 star hotel offers exceptional villas, a gourmet restaurant, a bistro, a bar, an outdoor swimming pool and a 500 m² spa. The village of Les Baux-de-Provence is 10 km away.

Rooms, suites and villas have air conditioning, free Wi-Fi connection, as well as flat-screen satellite television. Offering a view of the surroundings and the Alpilles National Park, some rooms also have a terrace. Some suite and villas also have a private pool.

The gourmet restaurant prepares menus with a Provençal theme, created by the using local seasonal products. The bistro is open for lunch in high season. In summer, you can enjoy a poolside bar with smoothies, ice cream and milkshakes. A shuttle service drive you to the center of the village and back. The spa offers individual or duo massage room, perfect for a relaxing time with your loved one!

Scenic Horseback Ride in Camargue Followed by a Picnic on the Beach

favorite family-friendly tours in france camargue

Accompanied by Laurent, an expert gardian nicknamed “Peù Blanc,” you will ride across over 1,235 acres of land. Discover the natural beauty of Camargue with its terrain divided between rice paddies and pastures. The famous white horses will take you for a ride off the beaten path and bring you close to the Camargue bulls. Experienced riders will even be able to accompany the gardians in the sorting of the bulls. No matter your age or level of experience, the Camargue cowboys will be happy to share their work and passion with you! This special ride will end in Piemenson with a picnic on the natural beach.

Private Guided Chocolate Tour in Bordeaux

chocolate tour in bordeaux

Feel the charm of the city like a real resident, while tasting the best products of Bordeaux in a unique atelier that will share all of its fabrication secrets with you. Enjoy delicious samples of incredibly refined chocolates in this completely chocolate food tour. From the origin of coco beans to the tasty finished product, you’ll discover the history of chocolate in the moon harbor of Bordeaux. This tour is a great option for foodies as well as those who would just like to experience a unique experience and walking tour in Bordeaux.

A Day On the Water: Private Boat Tour of Cassis and the Calanques National Park

cassis private boat ride

Cassis and the Calanques are two spots that are absolutely not to be missed in Provence. You’ll depart from Marseille’s picturesque Vieux Port for a day on the water and see this stretch of spectacular coastline on a private boat. Explore the forgotten coves, tiny ports, and soaring cliffs of the Calanques National Park. Snorkelers will enjoy the turquoise waters and marine life. You’ll stop for lunch in Cassis where you can dine at a Michelin-starred restaurant with a breathtaking view of Cape Canaille, France’s highest marine cliff.

Pedal Through Paris during a Private Guided E-Bike Tour of the City of Light

bike tour of paris

See the real Paris during this fabulous guided e-bike tour. You might come across a hidden game of pétanque at the oldest Parisian monument as you discover all the twists and turns of the Marais. Marvel at the Jardins des Plantes and effortlessly climb the slopes of the Montagne Sainte-Geneviève. Get a look at the student life of the Latin Quarter and then the artists’ cafés of Saint-Germain-des-Prés.

Next, follow the grandeur of the Obelisk in Place de la Concorde and travel in time on your way to Les Champs-Élysées. Amidst all the bustle and excitement of this legendary city, your guide will reveal the relaxing calm of the quiet refuges of Paris. This is a perfect opportunity to take beautiful snapshots and unforgettable memories back home!

Family Friendly Stays in the Loire Valley
les sources de cheverny

Les Sources de Cheverny

Tucked away in its own private estate, this 5-star hotel is the quintessential French château. Exuding 18th-century elegance, this striking hotel balances bygone grandeur with a homely charm.

Soft light from tall, gothic windows creates a restful space. An open fire welcomes guests into the dramatic lobby. While 26 rooms and 23 suites pair sumptuous fabrics with stripped wood panelling to create a sense of contemporary luxury. Beyond the twists and turrets of the building, beautiful lawns and gardens are waiting to be explored. The historic building offers room with classic Chateau feeling, whereas the cottages nearby offer more modern decoration.

As the sun starts to go down, it’s time for a cocktail in the courtyard. Then, you can head into one of the two restaurants and take your pick from mouth-watering menus inspired by the season’s finest local produce.

Days are made for relaxing by the pool, or indulging at the spa Caudalie. Private coaching and yoga classes are available on request.

Private Kid-Friendly Cultural Driving Tour in the Loire Valley

favorite family friendly tours in france loire valley

Your licensed driver-guide will pick up you at your hotel for a unique day experiencing the best of the Loire Valley. Discover a private château and stroll through its splendid gardens. Children will be invited to dress up in medieval costumes and enjoy a treasure hunt or a workshop. For lunch, you’ll enjoy a farm-to-table meal made entirely with products from the castle’s garden in the magnificent setting of the park. To finish the day, you’ll stop in Chinon to trace Joan of Arc’s footsteps.

Full-Day Tour of Provence’s Lavender Fields

provence lavender

Visit the high plateau to experience one of Provence’s emblematic sites: the blooming, fragrant lavender fields. From mid-June to August, the high plateau blooms in breathtaking purple. Enjoy scenic routes away from the crowds. Get ready to take beautiful photos!

The tour includes the Albion plateau, and the villages of Sault and Banon. The wild nature surrounds Sault, perched on a rocky promontory. It dominates a plain dedicated to agriculture where lavender predominates offering in summer a unique palette of colors. Leaning against the Albion plateau, between the mountains of Lure and Ventoux, Banon has an authentic and natural character. Surrounded by fields of lavender, plains, and hills delicately perfumed by aromatic plants, a checkerboard of striking colors is drawn around the village.

Private Scavenger Hunt to Discover the World’s Most Famous Museum from a Different Angle

family friendly louvre scavenger hunt

One of our ultimate favorite family-friendly tours in France is a private scavenger hunt at the Musée du Louvre. While adults take in the highlights of the historic museum with its many treasures, children will get their own specially-designed booklets and a pencil. They’ll look for clues and answer questions as they walk through the different wings of the museum. At the end of the scavenger hunt, the children will be rewarded with a surprise gift.

Private Walking Tour of Old Lyon with a Storyteller

lyon walking tour

Follow the guide-storyteller in the secret covered passageways of Old Lyon. You’ll learn about the incredible adventure of Petit Pierre, and his thirst for science. This adventure allows you to discover the Lyon of the Renaissance, the great Lyonnais figures of the 16th century and the magic of this district.

“Our story begins in the time of King François I. Petit Pierre was an orphan who knew the constellations by heart. One day, he heard the young Louise Labbé talking about Copernicus’ discoveries. He decided that he had to go further, to know more. To do so, he was helped by a mysterious magic book. But first, he had to reckon with the wiles of the evil master Nicolas”.

Guaranteed emotion and thrills! The story is fictional, but based on real historical elements, and includes historical characters. We recommend this visit for children from 6 to 12 years old, as well as for their parents!


We hope this list of our favorite family-friendly tours in France is helpful when choosing a vacation that will be memorable for your children. French Side Travel would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

Five Unique Summer Experiences in France: Part One

Visiting France in the summer is always a popular choice thanks to mild temperatures and an endless variety of activities, both outdoors and indoors. Every year there are numerous special events not to be missed. Read on to discover part one of French Side Travel’s list of five unique summer experiences in France.


Five Unique Summer Experiences in France: Part One

La Fête de la Musique

la fete de la musique france

Each June 21st in France is La Fête de la Musique, the same day as the summer solstice and longest day of the year. 2022 marks the 40th edition of this free event that takes part all across France – in both major cities and rural communities. La Fête de la Musique celebrates live music of all kinds and is open to both amateurs and professionals alike. People gather in the streets to enjoy concerts and performances that go well into the night. If you are in France on June 21st, celebrating La Fête de la Musique is a must!

Château de Versailles Gardens: Music, Fountains, and Fireworks

versailles musical gardens five unique summer experiences in france

The world-renowned gardens at the Château de Versailles take on another dimension during the warmer months. On almost every day of the week there is something special going on.

During the Musical Fountains Show, visitors can follow several paths to both masterpieces and secret spots in the gardens to see the fountains spouting water in sync with baroque music.

On Musical Gardens days, enjoy your walk through the garden to discover groves that are exceptionally open to the public, along with music.

On Saturday evenings, along with a few select dates, the Night Fountains Show is the main attraction in the gardens. This show of light and sound is accompanied by water features and ends with a dramatic firework show in front of the Grand Canal. If you happen to be visiting on a Saturday, the Royal Serenade might be of interest: a French-style ball in the golden Hall of Mirrors.

You can see the full schedule here.

Where to Stay in Arles
hotel particulier arles

Hôtel Particulier Arles

This intimate 5-star hotel is set in a historic mansion in central Arles. This is the perfect spot from which to discover the charming city and the Camargue National Park.

The hotel’s lush garden and terrace feels particularly Provençal, and is a shady oasis during the summer months. Relax in the heated outdoor pool or in the spa and fitness area.

The spacious rooms and suites evoke a bygone era. They are bright, decorated with white fabrics, and feature modern amenities.

Photography and Theater Festivals in Arles and Avignon

les rencontres d'arles five unique summer experiences in france

In 1970, Les Rencontres d’Arles was founded. It highlights eclectic and contemporary photography in Arles, the international capital of photography. Numerous exhibits take place throughout Arles in emblematic locations, many of which are usually closed to the public. A must-see is the Luma Museum, an architectural wonder designed by Frank Gehry and filled with contemporary art. This year, Les Rencontres d’Arles is from July 4th to September 25th.

Also in July, in neighboring Avignon, is the Festival d’Avignon. The city of Avignon transforms into a theater as a celebration of contemporary performing arts. Performances take place throughout the city in both iconic and unexpected locations. There is a focus on sharing contemporary and living culture, so along with the shows there are also readings, exhibits, films, and discussions. This year’s Festival d’Avignon runs from July 7th to July 26th.

Where to Stay in Avignon
la mirande avignon

Hôtel La Mirande

Built by one of Pope Clement V’s cardinals, this 5-star hotel dates back to 1309. It enjoys a privileged location in Avignon’s city center.

Rooms feature decorations like wall tapestries, oak-wood flooring, and silk-lined curtains. All rooms have a private bathroom featuring marble. Some offer a view of the Palais des Papes.

Enjoy gourmet cuisine at the in-house Michelin-star restaurant. Culinary enthusiasts will also want to book a cooking class in the hotel’s rustic kitchen. Spend a few hours around the vast, wood-burning oven and use local produce to craft a delicious meal. You’ll enjoy an aperitif in the cellar before sitting down for lunch.

See the Vibrant Lavender Fields in Provence

provence lavender fields

The world-famous lavender fields are among the most beautiful landscapes in all of France. Throughout the years, lavender has held a prominent place in the history and culture of Provence. The lavender fields start blooming in June each year and usually by mid-July reach peak bloom. By the middle of August the lavender is usually harvested. Some of the best places to see lavender include Valensole, Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, Sault, and Drôme. Visit a distillery to bring some of the scents of Provence home with you in the form of essential oils, soaps, or honey.

Dinner Cruise with Fireworks on the Côte d’Azur

cannes firework show

For a special summer experience on the Côte d’Azur, consider taking a dinner cruise complete with a firework show. Cruises depart from Cannes and feature a cruise around the Îles des Lérins with a stop on Île Sainte Marguerite. Dinner will be served on board as the boat heads back towards the Croisette to watch the dazzling firework spectacle. It is also possible to go on a cruise to watch the fireworks without a meal from Nice.


We hope part one of this list of five unique summer experiences in France helps inspire a trip later this year. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

11 of the Most Charming Towns and Villages in Provence

Provence is one of the most beautiful parts of France with an incredible landscape, wonderful Mediterranean cuisine, delicious wines, and numerous picturesque villages. It is especially nice to visit in the spring and summer to see the vibrant lavender and sunflower fields. Read on to discover French Side Travel’s list of 11 of the most charming towns and villages in Provence.


11 of the Most Charming Towns and Villages in Provence

Aix-en-Provence

aix-en-provence most charming towns and villages in provence

Aix-en-Provence was the capital of Provence in the 15th century and has since been a beloved for its authentic Provençal charm. Discover the stunning preserved and restored private mansions that line Cours Mirabeau and Rue Gaston de Saporta. Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays are market days in Aix where you’ll find foods, flowers, and items from local artisans.

Avignon

pont d'avignon

An impressive Medieval wall surrounds the old city of Avignon. Inside, you’ll find picturesque streets filled with galleries and boutiques, excellent restaurants, and the UNESCO World Heritage listed Palais des Papes. The views from the towers are the most sublime place to take in the city, the Rhône River and the famous Pont d’Avignon.

Les Baux-de-Provence

les beaux de provence most charming towns and villages in provence

Clinging to an ancient limestone, Les Baux-de-Provence is a typical Provencal fortified hilltop village situated in the Regional Natural Park of the Alpilles. Built between the 15th-16th centuries, it is listed among the “Most Beautiful Villages of France.” The views of the plains and stunning rocky landscape of the Alpilles are spectacular. On a clear day, you can even see as far as the Mediterranean Sea. Nearby, don’t miss the Carrières de Lumières, an ancient quarry used for regular exhibitions with artworks projected against the quarry walls. The theme changes every year, but it is a true spectacle of light and sound!

Where to Stay in Provence
la bastide de gordes

La Bastide de Gordes

This 5-star luxury hotel and spa is in lovely Gordes. The perched village is one of Provence’s most beautiful, complete with 12th-century ramparts, a castle, and expansive views over the valley below. The hotel itself was a former mansion and it retains every ounce of its former charm: stonework, molding, exposed wood, and vaulted ceilings all surrounded by century-old olive trees and soaring cypresses.

The fully-quipped refined rooms offer a view on the valley and the mountains.

The chic Sisley spa has an indoor swimming pool, a hammam, and a fitness facility. The establishment boasts multiple onsite dining options and a bar.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape

châteauneuf-de-pape vineyards

One of the most famous wine appellations in France is Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Thirteen varieties of grapes along with various soils come together to create a large palette of complex red wines and elegant white wines. The vineyards are instantly recognizable thanks to the large blonde colored pebbles that cover them. The Medieval village itself is lovely, dominated by the ruins of the Pope’s summer residence.

Gordes

gordes most charming towns and villages in provence

It is no surprise that Gordes is listed as one of the “Most Beautiful Villages of France.” This lovely little hilltop village looks like the scene of a postcard or painting. In fact, artists Victor Vasarély and Marc Chagall found inspiration for their paintings here. An ancient village perché (perched village), Gordes has an incredibly dramatic setting that provided protection from invasions during the Middle Ages. Be sure to see the Château de Gordes, a fortified castle that houses the Pol Mara Museum dedicated to the Flemish painter’s masterpieces. The lively Place du Château de Gordes features cafés, restaurants, art galleries, and souvenir shops.

L’Îsle-sur-la-Sorgue

l'isle sur la sorgue

L’Îsle-sur-la-Sorgue has become the capital of antiques in Provence in recent years thanks to its many antique dealers, galleries, and shops, as well as the large flea market every Sunday. This “island city” lies at the foot of the Vaucluse plateau. It’s truly picturesque with canals running through the center of the town. Magnificent former mansions are now art galleries. Antique lovers and art collectors will be gratified by the nearly 300 permanent antique dealers and secondhand shops.

Lourmarin

lourmarin provence

Lourmarin, another of the “Most Beautiful Villages of France,” is located in the southern part of the Luberon Regional Natural Park. The village is lovely with narrow winding Provençal streets that meander past centuries old houses. Spend some time exploring the art galleries and shops. Slightly outside the village is the Renaissance-period Château de Lourmarin that is worth a visit.

Where to Stay in Provence
beaumaniere

Beaumanière

This luxury hotel represents the Mediterranean art of living at its discreet, unpretentious best. In the heart of Provence, within the Alpilles Natural Regional Park, the property is surrounded by the extraordinary natural beauty of Les Baux-de-Provence. It has been welcoming politicians, actors and celebrities for almost a century.

There are 54 guest rooms split between five historical buildings within a 20-hectare plot. Room decorations combine Provençal and modern style. No two rooms are alike.

The main restaurant, which has three Michelin stars, offers a cuisine combining tradition and creativity. A second restaurant provides fine and tasty cuisine in a friendly setting. The property features three outdoor pools, an area for children and a tennis court. There is also a spa with a sensory pool, a hammam, a relaxation room where guests can enjoy herbal teas, a fitness room and six treatment rooms.

Menerbes

menerbes villages provence

The medieval perched village of Menerbes is spread out along a hilltop in the center of the Luberon region. Follow the narrow streets that pass by immaculately restored medieval houses. Menerbes has attracted artists like Nicolas de Stael and Picasso, as well as the writer Peter Mayle who wrote his famous A Year in Provence while living in Menerbes.

Oppède

oppède most charming towns and villages in provence

Oppède is certainly one of the most authentic and preserved villages of the Luberon. Built on a rocky spur in a rugged setting of forests and rocks, it looks over a magnificent landscape of vineyards, olive trees, oaks. In the distance it’s possible to see some of the surrounding perched villages. One of the most charming towns and villages in Provence indeed!

Orange

orange village roman ruins provence

Paris isn’t the only city in France with an Arc de Triomphe. Visit the town of Orange and discover another Arc de Triomphe, a symbol of Roman imperialism and glory. There is also an impressive ancient UNESCO World Heritage listed theater: one of the finest remnants of the Roman Empire. The magnificent stage wall is amazingly well-preserved and unique.

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

saint-rémy-de-provence

Saint-Remy-de-Provence is the capital of the Alpilles, and one of the oldest towns in France: founded more than 2,500 years ago. Explore the pretty tree-lined central square and the surrounding streets filled with lovely old townhouses. The shopping in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is exceptionally good with small boutiques and art galleries. There is a fabulous weekly market that is among the best in Provence every Wednesday. The town is associated with Van Gogh. While living in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Van Gogh created more than 150 paintings. Another big attraction nearby is the archaeological site at Glanum. The extensive excavated Roman ruins provide a fascinating insight into Roman life 2,000 years ago.

Where to Stay in Provence
chateau des alpilles

Château des Alpilles

This boutique 5-star hotel is in an early 19th-century mansion. Outside, the century-old plane trees provide shade. The refined interior features period touches, including tapestries and stucco flourishes, that meet modern comforts.

Enjoy the two onsite restaurants, bar, heated pool, tennis court, and sauna. The expansive grounds offer an ideal spot for a walk among the Magnolia trees and fountains.

The property offers the separate Cypress Farm building with three modern suites and a loft. It’s perfect for families and groups of up to 12 guests.


We hope this list of the 11 most charming towns and villages in Provence inspires a future vacation. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France with a custom, completely tailor-made itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Paris, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

What to Do in Provence in 2022

If your ideal vacation includes lots of sun, quaint towns and villages, plenty of culture and endless beauty, then it might be time to consider a trip to Provence. Discover the best of what to do in Provence in 2022. The list includes fabulous food and wine, stunning hotels, and plenty of picturesque settings.


What to Do in Provence in 2022

Follow in Van Gogh’s Footsteps

what to do in provence in 2022 les baux de provence

Get caught up in the beauty of the hills that inspired Vincent van Gogh.

Start in medieval Les-Baux-de-Provence, recognized as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Clinging to ancient limestone, Les Baux-de-Provence is a typical Provencal fortified hilltop village. Built between the 15th and 16th centuries, it offers great views of the plains, the Mediterranean Sea, and the stunning rocky landscape of the Alpilles. Explore the narrow cobbled streets on foot. Walk past ancient houses and up to splendid castle ruins sitting on top of a rocky outcrop above the village. Don’t miss the Carrières de Lumières, an ancient quarry now used for regular exhibitions with artworks projected against the quarry walls. It’s a real spectacle of light and sound!

Next stop at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole Monastery where Van Gogh lived for a year. You’ll be able to see the views that inspired Starry Night. Continue past olive groves and through the hills to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. It’s worth it to stop on a Wednesday to enjoy the fabulous market. Spend time exploring the winding streets lined with gorgeous mansions and fabulous local galleries and shops.

Continue towards quaint Eygalières with its charming landscapes. History and art lovers will love Arles with its Roman and medieval ruins as well as art galleries.

Where to Stay in Provence
domaine de fontenille

Domaine de Fontenille

This 4-star property is a delight with organic vineyards, Michelin-star dining, and classic Provençal architecture. It is truly a luxury hotel that feels like a family home.

The 19 modern rooms and suites are each unique. Most boast views of the gardens, cedar and olive trees, or the Luberon hills. Several offer private terraces. There are two restaurants on-site. Even though you’re just 25 minutes away from Aix-en-Provence, you’ll feel worlds away immersed in the real Provençal countryside.

Guests can enjoy the heated outdoor swimming pool, hammam, fitness room, trails in the vineyard, and horseback riding in the valleys of the Luberon.

Learn About Food and Wine in Avignon the Rhône Valley

what to do in provence in 2022

What better way to discover the cuisine of Provence than with a local chef? You’ll meet in front of Marché Les Halles, a covered market alive with energy from the vendors and filled with fresh and colorful foods. Along with the chef, you’ll choose the best local and seasonal ingredients to prepare your meal.

During the apéritif, you’ll learn interesting tips and tricks on how to pair different foods with wines. Next, you’ll enjoy lunch with the chef and have interesting and informal discussions about your experience, and life and culture in France.

After lunch, a private driver and guide will pick you up for an afternoon of wine tasting. Provence and the Southern Rhône valley produce wonderful red full-bodied wines. Explore the vineyards and their charming sun-drenched landscapes. First, you’ll head to emblematic Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France’s protected wine appellation. Also on the itinerary are the splendid Dentelles Mountains with their terraced vineyards and postcard perfect villages. Gigonadas’ fine wines and lovely Seguret will round out your day.

Take a Camargue Safari

camargue safari

For those travelers looking for a unique experience in Provence in 2022, taking a safari in the Camargue is a wonderful option. The Camargue is western Europe’s largest river delta, and a place of important biological and cultural diversity. A visit here is vibrant and markedly different from neighboring regions. You’ll feel the strong Spanish and Roman influences in the music, cuisine, and culture. Cattle-raising, bullfights, and horseback riding are common. 

Hundreds of species of birds pass through the Camargue or call the area home, including the flamingo. Beautiful white Camarguais horses roam free. See the Camargue wildlife reserve, the Vaccarès lagoon, the fortified medieval town of Aigues-Mortes, and La Carbonnnière, a defense tower that protected the settlement. The views are especially magical during the famous sunsets.

Embark on a Gourmet Walking Tour to Discover the Flavors of Provence

what to do in provence in 2022 food tour

No list of what to do in Provence in 2022 would be complete without food, and the best way to truly discover a city like Aix-en-Provence or Avignon is through its food. Taste seasonal specialities. Learn about the city’s food traditions and meet the people keeping them alive. 

Sample all of the sweets and pastries like calisson, a specialty of Aix-en-Provence. Then hit the market for local olives, tapenades, lavender honey, fruits, cheese, and charcuterie. Let your senses be seduced by the scents, colors, and flavors that surround you. You’ll appreciate what the Provençal way of life means!

Where to Stay in Provence
les bords de mer hotel

Les Bords de Mer

Once a waterside villa in the 1930s, this retreat has been reimagined as a contemporary 4-star boutique hotel in Marseille.

The location of the hotel will undoubtedly make anyone fall in love with the sea all over again. It’s set right on Marseille’s waterfront, with all of its 19 rooms facing directly out to sea – so close that you could practically dive into the harbor! The white walls and tall windows conjure up images of the hotel’s elegant art deco heritage. The style is light and bright, inspired by the optimistic modernism of the 1950s as well as a contemporary taste for unpretentious simplicity.

The restaurant’s dining room and terrace are blessed with similarly impressive views of the glimmering sea. There is also a fabulous rooftop swimming pool and spa.

Enjoy Beauty and Wines in Bandol and Cassis

cassis

Enjoy a day blending the beautiful Mediterranean scenery with exceptional local wines in Cassis and Bandol. Your private guide, an expert in Provence wines, will take you to discover the coastal village of Cassis. The landscape around Cassis is classic Provence in the best ways. It’s surrounded by clear blue Mediterranean waters, terracotta rooflines, limestone-white cliffs, and vineyards. Cassis is known for delicate rosés and smooth white wines. You’ll also visit Bandol, a fishing village west of Toulon known for deep red wines and refreshing rosés.

During each visit to the vineyards you’ll have the opportunity to meet with winemakers who will tell you all about the winemaking process as well as daily life in the vineyards. Afterwards, you’ll sit down to enjoy a delicious Provençal lunch amongst the vines. This unique and gorgeous day won’t soon be forgotten.


We hope this list of what to do in Provence in 2022 will help inspire future travel to this wonderful region. We would love to help you plan a dream trip to France in the coming year with a custom itinerary. Some of our favorite destinations in France include Bordeaux, the South of France, Normandy, and Paris. Get in touch with a travel designer today to start the planning process!

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