The Most Beautiful Beaches in France

With the arrival of summer just around the corner, now is the perfect time to plan a beach getaway. The French coastline is sprinkled with fabulous beaches: some in iconic locations like along the Côte d’Azur and others in more unexpected places like Normandy and Brittany. Read on to discover French Side Travel’s list of the most beautiful beaches in France.


The Most Beautiful Beaches in France

Plage du Plat Gousset

granville beach landen kerr

Known as the “Monaco of the North,” most visits to the Normandy town of Granville start with the beach. The Plage du Plat Gousset is a long beach with crystal clear turquoise waters on a clear day. You might actually mistake it for the South of France! At the end of the beach, climb the staircase that leads to the gardens of the villa Les Rhumbs. The Belle Epoque clifftop villa overlooks the sea and was Christian Dior’s childhood home. It is now a museum that bears his name.

Côte d’Émeraude

emerald coast most beautiful beaches in france

The Côte d’Émeraude (Emerald Coast) falls into two departments of Brittany: Ille-et-Vilaine and Côtes-d’Armor. It takes its name from the emerald color of the sea under certain conditions. Here you’ll find some of the most dramatic and strikingly beautiful coastlines in all of France dotted with charming villages and wonderful small beaches. While there are too many beaches to mention individually, you are guaranteed to discover something delightful.

Archipel des Glénan

glenan archipelago

The Archipel des Glénan is accessible by boat just off the southern coast of Finistère. With gorgeous white sand and transparent water, it might be hard to believe that these magnificent islands are in Brittany rather than the Maldives! The archipelago is classified as a Picturesque Natural Site. Feel free to spend your day swimming, snorkeling, relaxing, and simply taking in the surrounding beauty!

Beach Hotels in Brittany
domaine de rochevilaine

Domaine de Rochevilaine

A visit to this stunning hotel is a deeply moving experience. It will surprise and leave you in wonderment. The location of this hotel is at a rare site: a rocky peninsula over one hectare in size, including a 300 meter private marine façade.

Architectural buildings steeped in history are dotted around the gardens. A monumental thirteenth-century porch opens out onto a group of historic dwellings amidst a sea of flowers. Standing at the water’s edge, with your eyes fixed on the horizon, the time has no hold on you.

37 rooms and suites all offer stunning views. The Spa of the hotel with a dedicated 14 000 ft² devoted to your wellness will truly pamper all your needs. To top it all, the gourmet restaurant will cater to all your taste buds.

Côte de Granite Rose

pink granite coast most beautiful beaches in france

The Côte de Granite Rose in Brittany is famous for its romantically-colored pink rocks. This sculpted shoreline and colorful landscape is a paradise for birds and walkers alike. All along the coast you’ll find small coves filled with white sand and turquoise water sheltered by pines, wild natural landscapes, and the famous GR 34 trail.

Biarritz

biarritz most beautiful beaches in france

Despite its small size, Biarritz has some of the most beautiful beaches in France. For surfers and water sports enthusiasts, it really is a paradise. There are six beaches in Biarritz. A few of our favorites include the Grand Plage, Plage du Vieux, and the Plage de la Côte des Basques. Thanks to its strong waves, the Grand Plage is considered to be one of the best surfing beaches in the world. The Plage du Vieux is a small, sheltered beach on the Old Port of Biarritz. With its calm waters, it is a popular seaside resort for locals and is also perfect for families with children. The Plage de la Côte des Basques is very popular with locals for swimming, with surfers, and celebrities alike.

Porquerolles

plage notre dame most beautiful beaches in france

Porquerolles off the coast of Hyères is a true paradise. Azure blue sky and water, picturesque creeks and bays, and fine sandy beaches are surrounded by charming Provençal scrubland. Plage Notre Dame is the most popular beach on the island. It’s the perfect place to soak up the sun, scenery, and breathtaking surrounding nature.

Beach Hotels in Saint-Tropez
jardin tropezina

Château de la Messardière

This nineteenth-century chateau is a majestic much-loved 5-star palace hotel perched on a hilltop on the outskirts of Saint-Tropez, between the village and the famous Pampelonne beach. The property, with its trademark domed cupolas and turrets, has undergone extensive renovation over the last two years and is reopened since the beginning of the summer season of 2021.

Following the renovation of some rooms, the hotel has reduced its room count to 103 rooms and suites, each with their own private terrace. And has created two signatures’ suites boasting over 50sqm of living space and one Duplex Villa with three bedrooms and a private swimming pool ideal for families.

This hotel also offers wellness Valmont Spa, yoga platform, two tennis courts, two restaurants, a bar as well as a beach club.

Plage de Pampelonne

plage de pampelonne

The iconic Pampelonne Beach is perhaps the crown jewel of beaches in Saint-Tropez. Approximately three miles of fine, white sand borders the Mediterranean Sea in Ramatuelle. Pampelonne Beach is also home to some of the most famous beach clubs in France. During the summer, undoubtedly one of the most glamorous places to be in France is at a beach club for lunch on Pampelonne Beach.

Villefranche-sur-Mer

villefranche sur mer most beautiful beaches in france

The picturesque harbor and setting of Villefranche-sur-Mer are a highlight of exploring this part of the Côte d’Azur. The town, built on terraces up a steep hill, overlooks Cap Ferrat and the azure blue sea of the Mediterranean below. The port is predominantly now a pleasure port, but a small fishing fleet does still operate. The harbor is a popular and bustling part of the town with many bars and restaurants along the waterfront and in the small square. The main beach is to the east of the town center and a wonderful place to spend the day. The best view across Villefranche-sur-Mer and the harbor is from the corniche road above the far end of the beach, ideally seen in the morning when the sun is on the front of the buildings.

Saint-Florent

saint florent corsica

During the summer, Saint-Florent springs to life as a bustling, rather upscale holiday destination. Described as a Corsican Saint-Tropez, it attracts visitors with a string of restaurants, a marina full of pleasure boats, and beaches. The nearest beach is Plage de la Roya, a fine sandy beach with a lovely view of Saint-Florent and the Cap Corse. If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle, take a boat to discover the more remote beaches: Plage de Saleccia with its fine sand and crystal-clear water, or the Plage Loto.

Porto-Vecchio

porto vecchio corsica
Copyright: ©Eva Bocek – stock.adobe.com

The old fishing town of Porto Vecchio (old port) is located on the southern part of Corsica. Hidden behind a mountain and therefore not visible from the sea, Porto Vecchio has never shown the typical signs of a Genoese settlement. Take a stroll along the old port, and immerse yourself in the Corsican ambiance on one of the many café or restaurant terraces. Nature lovers may want to hike through the nearby woodland of Ospedale. If you want to relax on one of the many spectacular beaches, you’ll be spoilt for choice!


We hope this list of our the most beautiful beaches in France helps 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!

A Winter Getaway to Nice

For a winter getaway filled with sunshine, a trip to Nice and the surrounding areas is a great option. Travelers have a chance to experience the Côte d’Azur without an abundance of tourists. French Side Travel’s co-founder Mark Bonte spent time in the area following the ILTM Cannes conference is sharing his findings.


A Winter Getaway to Nice

Visiting Nice in the Winter

nice carnival parade

Nice has mild temperatures year round, making it an ideal place to visit in cooler months. In fact, the famous Promenade des Anglais was built in the early 19th century when the English upper class began coming to the French Riviera for the winter.

Take in the impressive backdrop of soaring hills and the famous blue waters of the French Riviera. The Cours Saleya is the main street in the old town and hosts a daily flower and vegetable market. You can find top-notch seasonal produce here, and there is a good selection of other local souvenirs.

Nice Market Tour
cours saleya market nice winter getaway

Cours Saleya Market Tour and Cooking Class with Lunch in Nice

The day begins at the famous Cours Saleya market, while there is still a fresh morning breeze. The narrow maze of centuries-old streets opens up onto a splendid space lined with bars, cafés, and restaurants on either side and 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 dazzling thanks to their array of colors, what is really interesting are the small producers’ stalls. The fruit and vegetables are not as uniformly shaped and the variety not as great, but every ingredient is firmly rooted in the region. Much of it is organic! The meal will be made around the best of the season’s produce. And not to forget cheese and wine to make the meal complete!

Next you will head to the cooking studio, where you will help prepare the meal. Afterwards you will sit down to an authentic Niçois meal and toast your efforts with a glass of local wine.

From the harbor, you can climb to the Colline du Château for great views of the city. There is a beautiful park with views of the beach stretching along the Baie des Anges (Bay of the Angels). There are also several festivals and carnivals that take place in February on the French Riviera including the Lemon Festival in Menton, the Nice Carnival, and the Mimosa Festival in Mandelieu.

a winter getaway to nice

Excursion from Nice: Saint-Paul-de-Vence

No winter getaway to Nice would be complete without seeing some of the area’s most breathtaking hilltop villages. There are more than 120 scattered through the area. Saint-Paul-de-Vence is a perennial favorite for art lovers thanks to its numerous galleries. This village is among the most beautiful and most visited in France. It is best summed up by the sign at the entrance to the village which reads: Authentic and touristy, quiet and buzzing, Saint-Paul is proud of its paradoxes – they are the key to its charm and identity.

The beauty of this perched village has attracted many artists during the last century, including Modigliani, Picasso, Braque and Miro. It now has a very regarded reputation as an artistic village, as well as a place of great natural beauty.

Wednesday and Friday are especially nice days to visit so that you can enjoy the small local market. Here you can taste the flavors of the Mediterranean: fruits and vegetables, confectionery and pastries, teas, oils, meats, cheeses, and socca, a cross between a flatbread and a pancake.

Where to Stay near Saint-Paul-de-Vence
chateau le cagnard hotel

Château le Cagnard

Built in the 13th-century, this stylish château not far from Saint-Paul-de-Vence and Nice in Cagnes-sur-Mer was later converted into a 4-star hotel.

Completely renovated in 2012, visitors find the hotel more glorious than ever. It offers 28 rooms and suites with beautifully restored period furniture in Provencal style, full of charm and character.

The restaurant is an absolutely magical place. The main dining room is renowned for its sliding ceiling. The ceiling opens up to reveal the blue sky and extends the beautiful terrace and its sublime view over the Mediterranean Sea and the surrounding hills. The cuisine is a mix of local and seasonal products served with a brilliant wine list.

Excursion from Nice: Art and Culture Tour of the French Riviera

villa ephrussi de rothschild

From the middle of the 19th century until World War II, the French Riviera was the worldwide standard of elegance of architecture and lifestyle. There is a broad range of different styles of architecture to enjoy: Victorian, Belle Époque, Art Nouveau, Modern and more. This former version of the Riviera still exists, although hidden away. During this day you’ll see it all from Cap d’Ail, Cap-Martin, Monaco, and more.

A favorite of the tour is a stop at the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. Known as Villa Île-de-France, it is one of the most beautiful Renaissance-style palaces on the Côte d’Azur. Baroness Béatrice Ephrussi de Rothschild built the mansion on a summit of the Cap-Ferrat peninsula between 1905 and 1912.

Nine gardens surround the villa on over 17 acres. In addition to the French, lapidary, Japanese and rose gardens, there are also the Spanish, Italian, Provençal, and exotic gardens, reminiscent of the Baroness’ travels. The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild will be a highlight of your winter getaway to Nice!

Where to Stay in Nice
hotel laperouse nice

Hôtel La Pérouse

Set on the cliffs of the Colline du Château and overlooking the Baie des Anges, this hotel offers a breathtaking view of the Mediterranean Sea. It is also in the heart of Nice, close to the Cours Saleya flower market and just behind the old port, giving it a perfect location.

Highlights of this 56-room boutique property include its sunny rooftop terrace and heated outdoor pool set against an impressive limestone cliff. Sit in the shade of the lemon trees and feel the gentle sea breeze while enjoying exquisite Mediterranean cuisine at the outdoor restaurant Le Patio.

All of the rooms are spacious, bright, cheerful and beautifully decorated in an elegant Mediterranean style. Most offer amazing views.

At the foot of the hotel, you have access to a private beach for sunbathing or a dip in the sea.


Don’t miss out on an opportunity to experience the glorious French Riviera in the winter with a getaway to Nice. Many of our travel designers are based locally in the South of France and will be able to provide fabulous insider suggestions to make your trip exceptional. Our travel designers are standing by to create a tailor-made itinerary just for you.

Christmas in France: Must-See Highlights by Region

The holiday season in France is something that every traveller should experience at least once. Starting in mid-November there is an unrivaled festive atmosphere that overtakes the country. Whether you’re coming to get some shopping done in Paris, visit the Christmas Markets in Strasbourg, or to see the Loire Valley châteaux decorated, there’s truly something extraordinary almost anywhere you go. We’re breaking down the Christmas in France must-see highlights down by region.


Christmas in France: Must-See Highlights by Region

Lyon: Fête des Lumières

christmas in france lyon la fete des lumieres
Photo Courtesy of the city of Lyon

For four nights in December, a variety of different artists take over Lyon for the Fête des Lumières. You’ll be able to discover illuminations on buildings, streets, squares and parks throughout the city. This year the festival is from December 8th to 11th.

Paris: Christmas Shopping

paris christmas markets

There’s so much to do in the French capital during the holidays that we have an entire post about visiting Paris in the winter. One activity that brings a lot of seasonal highlights together is Christmas shopping. Whether you’re visiting the Grand Magasin department stores or one of the Christmas markets you’ll be sure to take in the festive decorations and lights, and you’ll be able to bring back gifts from Paris!

Île de France: Vaux-le-Vicomte

christmas in france vaux le vicomte
Photo by Yann Pirioux

While the Château de Versailles doesn’t decorate for Christmas, one stunning castle in the Paris region that does is Vaux-le-Vicomte. Visitors will discover illuminations in both the gardens and the château. Inside, decorations have a gourmet theme this year. Rooms will be scented with gingerbread and cinnamon. To complete the cozy atmosphere, fireplaces will be lit and carriage rides will be offered. The festivities go from November 20th until January 2nd (closed on December 25th and January 1st).

vaux le vicomte christmas
Photo Courtesy of Vaux-le-Vicomte

Private Guided Christmas Tour of Vaux-le-Vicomte with Afternoon Tea or Cocktail in a Private Room

After the castle is closed to the public, discover the State Rooms and the private apartments in peace. Your private guide will recount the tales from the heyday of the estate; from its creation by Nicolas Fouquet, through its operation in the 18th and 19th century, until its opening to visitors in 1968 thanks to the current owners, the De Vogüe family.

Afterwards, enjoy an extraordinary moment of relaxation in the Salon Le Brun. There will be a monumental projection specially set up for you! An evening fit for a King and Queen!

Strasbourg: Christmas Market

christmas in france highlights strasbourg
Photo Courtesy of Strasbourg.eu

The Christmas Markets in and around Strasbourg are without a doubt a holiday must-see. With more than 300 market stalls, miles of garlands of light, the majestic Big Tree, and dazzling shows and concerts there is nothing quite like the Strasbourg Christmas Market. This year the market is open from November 26th until December 26th. As a note, there may be a limited amount of vendors open on December 25th and 26th.

Loire Valley: Christmas Châteaux

christmas in the loire valley
Photo Courtesy of Touraine Loire Valley

The Loire Valley châteaux are marvelous year round (we’ve identified our ten favorites here). During the holidays, many of the châteaux are decorated both inside and out. You’ll see Christmas trees, festive wreaths, and holiday tables dressed to the nines. It’s truly a wonderful time of the year in the Loire Valley and especially fun for families.

Normandy: Christmas Markets and Light Shows

christmas in normandy rouen christmas market
Photo Courtesy of Normandy Tourism

In a region known for gourmet specialties including hearty ciders and cheeses, it’s not difficult to imagine that Christmas is a lively time of year. You’ll find Christmas Markets in the most picturesque of places: at the foot of Mont Saint-Michel (dates to be announced), along the port of Honfleur (from December 20th to January 2nd), and at the base of the Rouen Cathedral (end of November to December 31st) to name a few. Also special for the holidays is a William the Conquerer-inspired light show inside the Bayeux Cathedral starting on November 27th, on Saturdays in December, and from December 19th to 23rd and 26th to 30th.

Provence: Unique Traditions

christmas in provence
Photo Courtesy of Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur Tourisme

In Provence, there is a unique Christmas tradition to eat 13 desserts following the Christmas dinner: one for each Christ and his twelve apostles. Each of the desserts served varies a bit based on the region and particular family. Some common items include fougasse, the four beggars (almonds, raisins, dried figs and nuts), Cachat piquant, white and black nougat, calissons, pain d’épice, and of course, the Bûche de Noël.

You’ll also find Santons, little clay figurines in nativity scenes. The literal translation of Santon is ‘little saint.’ There’s an entire Foire aux Santons dedicated to these collectables in Marseille, this year from November 20th to January 2nd.

Bordeaux: Christmas Markets in Wine Country

christmas in bordeaux
© Facebook / Marché de Noël de Bordeaux

In the heart of Bordeaux you’ll find the Christmas market back again this year from November 26th to December 26th. It’s a wonderful place to admire the decorations and also get some shopping done. For a more artisanal market, this year there is a special Christmas market in the heart of Saint-Émilion on December 4th and 5th.

Pas de Calais: Fête de la Dinde de Licques

christmas in france
Photo Courtesy of La Voix du Nord

France can be known for being quirky. Perhaps one of the quirkiest Christmas festivals is the Licques Turkey Festival in the north of France. It’s named for the turkey, which is a popular item served on Christmas day in France, but you’ll also find all sorts of gourmet regional products. It’s the perfect opportunity to prepare your Christmas menu and stock up on wine, cheese, chocolate, Champagne, and of course turkey! This year the festival will be held on December 11th and 12th.

French Alps: Snow, Skiing, and Merriment

christmas in the alps

The snowy alps make them the perfect setting to celebrate a memorable Christmas. Whether you’re in Courchevel or Val d’Isère, you’ll be enchanted by the special Christmas magic including parades throughout town, Santa hitting the slopes and more.

Winter in Courchevel: The Last Track After Hours Ski

You’ll have the opportunity to continue skiing after the slopes are closed for the end of the day. You’ll meet at the top of Courchevel to have a drink while you enjoy the sunset.

Then, once the sky is dark and everyone is at home, you’ll enjoy the entire slope for yourself and experience what skiing at night is like. An excellent opportunity to take in the view on the lights of Courchevel from the top!

Are you ready to spend the holidays in France? Our travel designers are standing by to create a tailor-made itinerary just for you. They can help to identify the perfect region for you to experience the must-see Christmas highlights in France.

Fall in France 2021: What to See and Do

Fall in France brings out some of the best of the country from the crisp weather and stunning fall colors to special seasonal foods and more. It truly is a wonderful time to visit and you can’t go wrong with almost any region. We’ve identified some of our top picks for what to see and do during fall in France in 2021.


Fall in France 2021: What to See and Do

Normandy: Authentic Cider and Cheese Tour

fall in france normandy camembert

Fall is a great time to discover Normandy with fewer crowds compared to the summertime. No trip to the region would be complete without at least a day spent tasting some of the gourmet regional specialties, namely ciders and cheeses. You’ll learn the ins and of the famous Camembert de Normandie and will have the opportunity to meet with the last remaining producer of the cheese in the village of Camembert. Next, you’ll see the cows, discover the production process, and taste two other regional cheeses: Pont l’Évêque and Livarot. After stopping for a fabulous picnic lunch, you’ll be learning all about ciders: apple, pear, pommeau and Calvados. This delicious day ends in one of the most beautiful villages in France with colorful half-timbered buildings and great shopping.

Paris: Colorful Modern Art Museums

fall in paris

While the trees in Paris are filled with beautiful colored leaves in the fall, rain can be common, especially further into the season. A great way to escape the rainy weather is with a museum visit. Classics like the Musée du Louvre and Musée d’Orsay are always wonderful options, and are always ever-changing thanks to temporary exhibits. However, if you’ve had enough of the grey skies, consider the Centre Pompidou for colorful modern and contemporary art or the intimate and beautiful Musée Picasso in the heart of the Marais.

Fall in Paris from the Ducasse sur Seine
What better way to take in the fall colors than from aboard a Ducasse sur Seine cruise? This electric boat glides along the river to show you a side of Paris you may have never seen before. During the journey, you’ll enjoy a four or five course menu filled with seasonal products all complemented by prestigious and eclectic wines. A romantic and magical way to see Paris!

Burgundy: Fall Along the Wine Trails

burgundy wine trails in fall

For wine lovers the Burgundy wine trails are a highlight no matter what time of year. The visits are especially spectacular drenched in the gorgeous fall colors. Our local wine expert guides will lead you through the renowned estates and surrounding scenery. Throughout the day you’ll taste exceptional Premiers and Grands Crus wines. Truly an extraordinary way to see and experience Burgundy!

Loire Valley: A Sunrise Hot Air Balloon Ride

loire valley hot air balloon

For a unique perspective of the majestic Loire Valley châteaux, we recommend taking a hot air balloon ride at sunrise. Imagine floating above on a misty fall morning with gorgeous golden light touching the vineyards, forest, rivers, and châteaux below. This fabulous experience ends with a breakfast and you’ll have the rest of the day to continue exploring!

Bordeaux: Market Visit, Cooking Class, and Lunch

fall market foods france

Southwest France is a region known for fabulous fall foods including foie gras, truffles, and nuts. During a private market visit, cooking class, and lunch in Bordeaux you’ll have the opportunity to learn even more about and taste these delicious fall specialties. A chef will lead you on this experience that is both gourmet and a unique look into life in France.

Provence: Visit Chateauneuf-du-Pape with a Local Wine Expert

chateauneuf de pape

During the fall, you can take in the mesmerizing beauty of the historic Châteauneuf-du-Pape village and vineyards dressed in a layer of gold. Chateauneuf-du-Pape is famous for powerful, full-bodied red wines, made from the southern Rhône grape trio of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre. Besides the golden leaves, you’ll find distinct lightly colored stones amongst the vines: a spectacular fall combination. During this day your local wine expert guide will take you to meet with three winemakers. Next, you’ll stop for lunch in a charming Provençal restaurant. Afterwards, you will get the chance to make local confectioneries in copper cauldrons!

Fall in Provence: Truffles and Wine Tasting
The ultimate unique fall in Provence experience! Take a two-hour tour of an estate and its vineyards in a 4×4 where you’ll learn about biodiversity. Next, meet with a truffle farmer and his dog to learn about the fascinating world of truffles and the nuances of growing tuber melanosporum and tuber aestivum truffles.
The visit concludes with a lunch centered around the estate’s truffles with a wine pairing!


Ready to experience fall in France? There’s still time to make it this year! Our travel designers are standing by and can help you book any of these activities and create the perfect fall itinerary in France. Some of our most popular fall destinations include Normandy, Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, and Southern France.

The top spots to experience France’s lavender fields

In early summer, Provence’s countryside is made magical by its blooming lavender fields. They’re an iconic site that are well-worth timing your trip around. The vibrant violet color signals the changing of the seasons, the arrival of Provence’s buzzing cicadas, and long, hot summer days.  The perfectly lined lavender rows are a feast for the eyes and are wonderfully fragrant. If you’re really lucky you might even catch one next to a sunflower field! Every year, French Side Travel gets requests from travelers to visit France’s lavender fields. If you’re dreaming of them too, our travel experts are here to help. These tips will help to get you started.

What you need to know

Timing:

It’s important to keep in mind that lavender is a seasonal phenomenon. The timing can depend on the year’s weather, but generally, there’s a four to six-week window that’s ideal. Plan to come between the mid June and late July. Which fields are at their best will depend on when you’re here and the fields’ elevation. Fields in southern and lower-lying areas are harvested by mid July.  After early August, you’ll need to wait until the following year. 

Getting around:

The fields are spread out and located far from the city centers. A car is required. Depending on your preference, we recommend either a rental car or a tour with a local chauffeur guide. Talk with our destination experts to book the right one for you. 

Whether on your own or with a guide, exploring by car allows you to see the fields when they’re at their most beautiful. Early morning or late evening make for better photographs with long shadows, golden light, and colorful skies. You’re more likely to  avoid overcrowding too, which is perfect if you want the fields all to yourself!

Where to go:

For visitors to Provence, there are three main areas to consider for seeking out lavender: Valensole, Luberon, and the Plateau d’Albion

Valensole:

The Valensole Plateau is France’s biggest and most famous lavender region. Over an area of more than 300 square miles, photograph lavender fields, visit farms, and tour distilleries. The medieval village of Valensole makes for a perfect stop for lunch or souvenir shopping.

Valensole is just over an hour from Aix-en-Provence and Marseille. From Cannes, Saint-Tropez, or Nice it’s a two to three-hour drive. 

A tip for nature lovers: Valensole is on the border of the Verdon Natural Regional Park.  The park is home to the Gorges du Verdon, one of Europe’s deepest canyons. Known as the Grand Canyon of Europe, it’s easy to see why. At its highest point, the limestone walls soar almost 2,300 feet above the turquoise Durance River. It’s a paradise for hikers. The village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is undoubtably one of Provence’s loveliest. Nestled between two cliffs, a stream and waterfall run through its center. Moustiers is also known for its fine faïence ceramics. They make for fantastic souvenirs.

The Luberon:

We’ve previously written about the amazing Luberon Valley. If you come during the summer, the colorful lavender fields make it all the more special. The most memorable lavender field surrounds the Cistercian Abbaye-de-Senaque. Lavender adds to the region’s rainbow of colors – red and orange ochres, yellow sunflowers, and omnipresent greens. There may be fewer fields here, they have the advantage of being in bloom earlier than Valensole and Sault. 

luberon mountains villages senanque abbey near gordes

Looking for a lesser-known spot in the Luberon? We love the Plateau des Claparèdes near the village of Bonnieux. Besides its lovely fields, you can visit traditional stone bories (cabins) while there. They are constructed without cement and have been used here for centuries by farmers and herders. 

These lavender fields are also the closest to Avignon and Aix-en-Provence. You can reach them in forty five minutes from either base.

Sault and the Plateau d’Albion:

Worried that you’ll miss the lavender season? The area around the village of Sault is a wonderful place to visit. Due to its higher elevation, the lavender here is harvested later than its southern counterparts. You can catch blooming lavender fields as late as early August. The village of Sault holds its Fête de la Lavande every August 15th to celebrate the end of the harvest.

shopping for lavender at market

You’ll need about one hour and fifteen minutes from Avignon or one hour and forty five minutes from Aix-en-Provence to reach here. 

Where to stay:

Visitors can certainly see lavender fields as a day trip from Provence’s larger cities: Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, and Marseille. Côte-d’Azur hotspots like Nice, Cannes, and Saint-Tropez are further, but still doable for a determined day-tripper. 

If you can, though, we suggest lingering a bit longer. Maximize your stay in the Provençal countryside. Consider spending a couple of nights in the Luberon. The towns of Forcalquier or Manosque on the eastern side of the park are great for lavender. This will give you more time in the fields.

Outside of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur région, you can also see wonderful lavender fields in the neighboring Drôme and Ardèche. These are further off-the-beaten path, but can be wonderful for those looking for a more authentic, or secluded experience. 

Need a place to stay?

Here are two of our favorites. You’ll be away from the crowds and perfectly positioned to see lavender.

We suggest Airelles’ Gordes la Bastide and its connected La Maison de Constance villa.

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. And, yes, the Abbaye-de-Senaque’s postcard Lavender field is just a hop away. 

The refined rooms are fully equipped, and most offer a view of 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.

If you’re looking for something more secluded Homanie’s Drôme Provençale is a wonderful option.

homanie village in stone with lavender field

For a true luxury experience away from the crowds, treat yourself to a stay at their hamlet. The property consists of five restored houses of former lavender farmers. Today, it’s a pampered experience on a 200-hectare private property surrounded by the rolling Natural Park of the Baronnies Provençal.

Booking your trip

Are you reading to book? Maybe you still need some help? French Side Travel’s local experts are excited to plan your lavender getaway with you.

The Alpilles countryside that Vincent Van Gogh made famous

France’s Provence owes its popularity to the density of its cultural attractions, rich history, and natural beauty. A relatively small area reveals a thousand charms. Whether you love great food, the outdoors, history, or art, there’s always something amazing around the next corner. Explore colorful markets and eat at Michelin-star restaurants. Kayak through the gorgeous Gorges du Verdon or horseback ride in the Camargue river delta. Follow in the Popes’ footsteps in Avignon. Visit fine museums and galleries and take in the scenery that inspired generations of artists. 

Wheat Field with Cypresses, 1889 – Vincent van Gogh

With so much to do, take care not to overlook the rolling Alpilles. It is quintessential Provence. Located across the Durance River from the spectacular Lubéron Massif, these compact, low-lying mountains boast a deep connection to the painter Vincent Van Gogh. 


The area’s spectacular light drew the artist. He settled in lively Arles before recovering at the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole monastery in Saint-Remy. The Starry Night, one of the artist’s most recognizable paintings, is the view from his room there. Visitors to the monastery and his room will immediately recognize the landscapes. A visit to the Alpilles reveals truths about and the inspiration for Van Gogh’s work. His characteristic paint swirls and bending cypress trees are more than just an artistic flourish. They are acute renditions of the sensations of being in Provence’s sun-drenched, windy landscapes.

The Starry Night, 1889 – Vincent van Gogh

Take care not to overlook the rolling Alpilles. It is quintessential Provence.

An Impressive Medieval Village

A short drive from Saint-Remy drops you into the Vallée de Baux-Alpilles. This valley is home to Les Baux-de-Provence, one of the country’s most attractive villages. Climbing its narrow medieval streets is rewarded with expansive 10th-century castle ruins and panorama dominated by olive groves, vineyards, and the mountains. 

The village is also home to the Carrières des Lumières. This former bauxite quarry today hosts immersive music and light art shows. The carved white walls are a brilliantly white, textured surface for the projections. You’ll feel as if you’re walking through your favorite paintings. 2021’s shows are Cézanne, the Master of Provence and Kandinsky, the Odyssey of Abstraction. Previously shows highlighted work by masters including Van Gogh, Dali, Picasso, Chagall, and Klimt. 

The music and light art shows give the feeling of walk through your favorite paintings.

culture-art-history-tours-france
Van Gogh, Starry Night at the Carrières des Lumières, 2019

Tasting Olives in Les Baux-de-Provence

As you leave town, the Valley of Baux-de-Provence olive orchards are striking. They hold an appellation d’origine contrôlée or controlled designation of origin. This protected status recognizes their quality and unique terroir. This isn’t the olive oil from your supermarket back home. It’s vibrantly colorful, a touch cloudy, and fragrant.

Passionate foodies and cooks won’t want to miss out on an oil tasting. There’s great variety from one oil to another, and careful tasting reveals nuance and artistry. Try oils made from both green or black fruits. You can find notes that include artichoke, pepper, green apple, almonds, cacao, and truffle notes. It’s a delight. 

Olives on their branch in Provence

Anne and Magali Sourdon’s Moulin Saint Jean makes for a nice stop. Their olive mill has been family-owned and run for generations. The orchards contain more than 5,000 trees in four distinct varieties. The property and the neighboring chapel date to the 12th and 11th centuries respectively. 

The markets in the Alpilles town are another opportunity to pick up a nice oil or local olives to snack on too. Our travel designers will help you find a great one. There are nice markets in Provence everyday.

This beautiful area of Provence is well worth a couple of days. It’s easy to access by car, from Marseille’s airport, or by high-speed TGV train from Avignon or Aix-en-Provence. Combine your visit here with a city-stay or wine tasting in the Côtes-du-Rhône. 


Need a place to unwind?

Les Baux-de-Provence’s Baumanière is highly recommended. The 5-star hotel exudes Provençal charm. Its five buildings are surrounded by gardens, orchards, and jagged limestone formations. This is the Mediterranean at its best.

The property is quite literally fit for a queen. Queen Elizabeth II and celebrities Hugh Grant, Johnny Depp, and Bono are counted among its famous guests.

Onsite dining is highlighted by the Oustau de Baumanière. The restaurant is an institution, having first earned a rare 3 Michelin stars in 1954. In 2020 it was again awarded 3 Michelin stars under Chef Glenn Viel. With the award it also received a distinction for sustainability, thanks, in part, to the kitchen’s impressive vegetable and herb garden. The wine cellar features more than 50,000 bottles of fine French vintages. This puts it among France’s largest private cellars. La Cabro d’Or offers another onsite dining option featuring refined, but authentic Provençal cuisine.


A spa, cooking classes, and wine appreciation classes round out what makes the Baumanière special.

The Luberon Massif, the Provence of Dreams…

The Luberon massif is one of the can’t-miss attractions of any trip to Southern France. Tucked between low-lying mountains east of Avignon and north of Aix-en-Provence, this is the France you dream about. Think long, summer days, brilliant sunshine, medieval villages crowning hilltops, and rolling olive, apricot, and almond orchards. Did we mention the seas of purple lavender waving in the mistral winds? If you’ve ever read Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence or seen Ridley Scott’s film A Good Year starring Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard, you might well have had your eyes on this region for a while. 

Long, summer days, brilliant sunshine, medieval villages crowning hilltops, and rolling olive, apricot, and almond orchards… seas of purple lavender…

Locally-grown strawberries in the market

While compact, this region has so much to see and do. Arrange a call with our local experts. They’d love to help. To get you started planning, here are a few the Luberon’s iconic sites:

Favorite stops in the lovely Provence countryside

Roussillon

This charming town is best known for its vibrant yellow, orange, and red ochre pigments. Here and in neighboring Gargas, Rustrel, and the Provençal Coloradoochres were mined on an industry scale starting in the late 18th century. They were exported worldwide for use in artists’ paints, stucco, cosmetics, and occasionally food! Give the material’s abundance here, it’s no surprise that the town’s buildings are also flamboyantly colorful. Those eye-catching buildings make Rousillon one of the most strikingly unique and beautiful stops in the region. Don’t miss the Sentier des Ocres trail. On the 30 or 60-minute circuit you’ll get you up close to the sandy red and yellow cliffs and through a shaded oak and pine trees forest. Just wear shoes that are ok getting red and dusty!

red alleys in luberon village
Roussillon’s red alleys
red and orange ochres in the luberon
The ochre trail

Gordes and Senanque Abbey

Gordes and its neighboring abbey are two more iconic Luberon sites. The ancient village perché, or perched hilltop village, has a flair for the dramatic. It stands on a steep slope descending from the Plateau de Vaucluse into the Coulon Valley. The location provided protection from invaders during the Middle Ages. The castle dominates while winding streets and homes spilling town the hill around it. At the center of town, the Place du Château de Gordes is a lively town square with cafés, restaurants, art galleries, and souvenir shops.

Gordes, perches village luberon
Gordes, one of the Luberon’s prettiest perched villages

Just down a narrow country road is the 12th-century Abbeye Notre-Dame de SénanqueIt’s still home to an active community of Cistercian monks. This fine example of Cistercian architecture is made all the more impressive when its sprawling lavender fields are in bloom (from mid-June to mid-July). Seeing the inside of the abbey is possible, but plan ahead! Visiting hours are limited. 

The Abbey of Sénanque, lavender in bloom

L’Isle-Sur-la-Sorgue

L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue lays at the foot of the Vaucluse plateau. It is famous for its winding canals and narrow streets. You might even feel like you’ve wandered into a little Provençal Venice. All along the Sorgue River, you’ll cross small bridges and pass by large, moss-covered water wheels. Today the town has become known as a hub for antiques, boasting numerous shops and an active brocante market along the canals on Sunday mornings. Looking for a unique souvenir? This just might be your spot.

If you love the canals, head to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse, a few minutes’ drive upstream. There’s a short footpath up to the source of the river, among the world’s largest. This is the almost mythical fountain for which the village was name.

Waterwheel in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

The Markets

The farmers’ markets are a must-see. Every day there’s an open-air market somewhere in the Luberon. See here for a list. Don’t miss out on a morning wandering around one for your dose of the local culture and flavor. Try regional specialties including olives, goat cheeses, and excellent fresh fruits. For an authentic experience grab a spot on a terrace, sip on a café or limonade, and watch the world pass. These markets reveal their charms over time. Take in scenes of the vendors shouting the virtues of their products to passerby or the locals laborious picking the freshest produce. No market would be complete without the retirees playfully their squabbling, cigarettes and pastis at hand. 

Local olives at a market stand

Planning my trip

Do as the Provençal do. Take it slow!

While there’s plenty to see and do here, a leisurely pace is best. Do as the Provençal do. Take it slow! Particularly in the summer, midday can be hot here. Wander through the markets, sunbathe by the pool, take a long lunch, and linger over a glass or two of rosé on a café terrace. The lackadaisical pace and gorgeous landscapes are a huge part of the charm, so try to schedule a few days here. Our team can help you to book a rental car or a chauffeur and guided tours.


Looking for a place to stay?

One of our favorite bases in this region is La Bastide de Marie, just outside of lovely Ménerbes. Heading out of town the road is lined with vineyards and cypress trees, while the Petit Luberon mountains and bright blue sky dominate the backdrop. Stay in the restored 18th-century bastide country house or the 5-bedroom Villa Grenache lost in the estate’s vineyards and complete with a private heated pool. Whichever you stay in, you’ll enjoy traditional Provençal charm: stonework, exposed wood beams, fine antique furniture, and views on the gardens or vineyards. Fine dining and spa treatments are available. Pamper yourself after a day out exploring. 

The town of Ménerbes itself is worth a stop. Like many other towns in the region, it’s on the top of a hill, complete with medieval ramparts and a castle dating back to the 16th-century French Wars of Religion between Catholics and Huguenots. Along with the the towns Bonnieux, Goult, Lacoste, and the aforementioned Gordes, this area makes up the Luberon’s famed triangle d’or or golden triangle.  

Need a souvenir idea?

Good souvenirs that won’t take up too much space in your luggage are honey, olive oil, traditional soaps made in nearby Marseille, and lavender sachets (to keep your closet and dresser drawers smelling great).

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