Things to do in Provence, France
Provence is home to some of the most beautiful villages in the world. Each one is special, with its own unique charm and atmosphere. What’s more, you can find untouched nature spots nearby – just another reason to visit this part of France!
Valensole is the capital of the lavender region of Provence: a small, charming village that’s a great place to stay on your trip. In July and August, visitors get the fantastic opportunity to see the surrounding valley covered in bright purple flowers. The lavender isn’t flowering the rest of the year, but Valensole is still a top thing to do in Provence. Click here to see the best lavender fields in Provence.
It’s also the perfect place to absorb authentic Provencal culture as you walk the streets with a baguette in hand, chatting to the friendly locals.
Oppede is straight from the pages of a storybook with its tiny cottages, painted shutters, and narrow lanes. The hilltop village is home to 15th century stone houses, beautiful vineyards, and amazing views of the lavender fields. Believe it or not, this village was once empty!
After centuries of war, people didn’t want to live up high and far away from their farmland. However, during World War 2, the village became inhabited again by artists who loved its charm. We stayed at this charming Bed and Breakfast in the heart of town.
It’s easy to see why this picture-perfect hilltop town has been the setting for famous movies worldwide. The stone houses sit on the edge of the hillside, facing the golden sun and looking down on the luscious green valley below.
These romantic landscapes have made it a popular place for artists to live, inspired by the beautiful tones of the buildings and nature. Spend some time in Gordes, visiting art galleries, exploring the ancient underground caves, and hiking to panoramic viewpoints for starry night views of the town.
Tip: Gordes is also close to some of Provence’s most famous lavender fields. For example, the bucket-list photography spot of the Senate Abbey.
Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is a medieval village known for its spring that flows from a very high cliff. The spring itself sits on a ridge, within a cave, and it’s the largest spring in France! Above the spring, you’ll also see the ruins of the ancient local castle.
The spring emerges into the river, turning it a beautiful emerald green color. Walk alongside the river as it flows calmly through the village and under bridges, stopping for lunch at one of the lovely riverside cafes.
Rousillon, Provence, is undoubtedly one of the most unusual and beautiful villages in Provence. The village sits next to a deep canyon, where they used to mine ochre. The people of Roussillon also used the ochre for the facades of the houses in the village. Because of this, each home is a colorful ochre tone, spanning from terracotta oranges to dark reds.
The beauty of all these colors is hard to beat, and it’s lovely to walk among the houses, watching them change color as the sun moves across the sky. After you’ve spent time in the village, you can also do a few hikes in the canyon itself.
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie has made the list of the most beautiful villages in France! The setting is truly magical, perched on the edge of a cliff and spread across a deep canyon. The charming stone houses appear from the side of the rock, and as you walk along the lovely river that passes through the town, you’ll see more painted houses with colorful shutters. At the top of the village, you’ll even find an ancient church emerging from the steep cliffside. If you’re ready for a climb, walk up the 262 stairs to see one of the unique things to do in Provence!
Gorges du Verdon has to be one of the most breathtaking nature spots in the whole of Provence! Over thousands of years, the epic canyon was formed naturally, creating a beautiful turquoise river with limestone cliffs above. It’s a very popular spot for watersports, and visitors can hire kayaks or paddleboats from a few locations around the gorge.
Enjoy the views from the water, stopping off now and then on riverside beaches, dipping in the river to escape the heat, and feeling the power of the waterfall.
Tip: Make sure to check out the viewpoints from the famous bridges nearby. Alternatively, if you have a car, you can drive the loop roads on the top of the gorge, where there are spots to stop and take photos.
Cotignac is the secret gem of Provence and relatively undiscovered on the south of France tourist trail. This beautiful cliffside village sits at the bottom of enormous limestone towers and is home to caves that people still live in today! The town is small, but there’s plenty to do nearby—for example, the local waterfall of Sillans-la-Cascade with its stunning turquoise pools. (Click to see all the hotels in Cotignac)
There’s also a great sense of community here. You can enjoy it for yourself by visiting the local micro-brewery, where you can join in with events and try the unusual beer flavors!
How to Visit Provence, France
The main airport in Provence is ‘Marseille Provence’, which has flights to many major cities in Europe. If you’re traveling from outside of Europe, you’ll need to find a connecting flight from Paris. (Find the best flight options here)
Eurostar is also an option to get to one of the cities from Brussels, the Netherlands, or England. There are fast connections that take you to Paris and onto Marseille, Avignon, or Aix-en-Provence. (Find train tickets)
Getting Around Provence
Provence is a beautiful natural region, home to the Luberon national park and a fantastic coastline. Many remote cliffside villages are only accessible by car or public buses (which run only a few times a day). If you want to have the freedom of visiting all the lavender fields, waterfalls, and other nature spots, we recommend renting a car.
However, it is possible to travel around Provence using public transport and taxis. Aix-en-Provence is an excellent place to travel from as it has good connections to most places in the region.
Where to Stay in Provence
All of the villages in Provence are beautiful places to stay on your trip. If you want a good spot for seeing all the lavender fields, Valensole and Gréoux-les-Bains are excellent options but also the priciest. To save a lot on accommodation costs look for hotels in Manosque. For somewhere a bit closer to adventure, choose Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, where you can access the grand canyon of Gorges du Verdon.
Best Time to Visit
Provence is in the south of France and has beautiful days of sunshine throughout the year. The summer can be busy, mainly when the lavender fields are in bloom(July & August) and the gorgeous beaches of the Cote d’Azur are at their best. However, it’s a great time to take advantage of kayaking and swimming in the numerous waterfalls and rivers of the region.
Best Cafes and Restaurants in Provence
Food and wine are life in Provence, and the locals are very proud of their delicious regional produce. There are weekly markets held in every village where you can sample delicacies and buy some to take home, as well as the option to visit wineries and Provencal farms. In every town, you’ll also find beautiful restaurants, where you can sit on the terrace in the mild evening temperatures. Some of our favorites in Provence were:
- La Bastide de Pierres (Gordes)
- Le Petit Café (Oppede)
- La Grappe de Raisin (Roussillon)
- Le Petit Provençal (Manosque)
- La Table Toscane (Riez)
- Comptoir de Valérie (Valensole)
How Much Does Provence Cost?
Provence is especially popular for its lavender season and with that comes higher prices of the accommodations and at the restaurants. Expect to pay anywhere from 80 – 200 euros a night for a room at a hotel during this season while off-season this is between 40 and 140 euros a night. Luckily, because Provence is mainly about nature and viewpoints you won’t spend much on entrance fees.
- Hotel: 100 – 200 euro / night
- Price per meal: 20 euro
- Entrance + Parking: 5 euro / day
- Transport: 30 euros per day