Looking for the stuff that isn't in the guide books... Great places to stay, or to eat or to just visit. If you've been to Provence in June or July where was that special place or wow moment for you? I love the smaller villages that are friendly and welcoming.
this is a response from an earlier post. see below. we were there in June and most of the places we visited around St Remy, were mostly as suggestions from our B&B host as an example, place like 'village des bories' and 'fontaine de vaucluse' were different but very interesting.
we very much liked the market at L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, very nice town. we did look at staying there but picked St Remy.
we also visited
gordes, roussillon, pont du gard, menerbes, les baux, fontaine de vaucluse, van gogh trail in st remy, village des bories, senanque abbey lavendar, uzes etc etc.
you won' t have trouble finding things to see. particularly if you happen to have a car to visit the out of the way places. but without a car you should be able to see plenty of other things.
hope this helps.
Two wow moments for me: (We stayed in Arles without a car.) Seeing the amphitheater, and dining at Le Criquet. The amphitheater is well preserved, as is the nearby Roman Theater, I did not expect Roman ruins of this magnitude in France. At Le Criquet (we asked locally and were told this was the most authentic Provencal restaurant in the town) I ordered a bowl of seafood that was absolutely amazing in its variety (and I own a seafood resto in the US!). It looked like a bowl of collectors seashells - but all edible! And oh so fresh.
More than some other destinations, whether or not you have a car in Provence will determine what you can see. I visited without a car. I stayed in Marseilles, Arles, Avignon, and Aix. I saw Nimes and Orange as daytrips.
There are other places in the region that can be visited without a car, but really small villages will require your own wheels (or a fortune in taxi rides). Since small villages are a priority for you, you'll want a car.
One wow moment was the Roman theater in Orange, with its intact theatrical wall. The rest of Orange is a bit grungy, however. Another wow was the Roman amphitheater in Nimes; it's much more intact than the one in Arles, and the audio tour is great. I agree that the number and quality of Roman ruins was a big and pleasant surprise about the area. Nimes was my favorite of the places I saw on that trip; even though it's a city, when I went it was not at all touristed, so I felt like I had it to myself. Of course, that was in 2006 (time sure flies!), so it may be more visited now.
The local market in Bedoin! While my husband rode his bike, I walked to the market and was stunned as I turned the corner and saw how huge it was. There are markets in towns through Provence, of course, but I found the one in Bedoin to be absolutely amazing. Could have been because it was the first one I visited, but it seemed to me that it was more expansive as well. Also from Bedoin, you get a good look at Mt. Ventoux!
Thank you for the advice. I'll be researching!
For your research, I recommend Rick Steves Provence & the French Riviera. It covers all locations recommended above, including a mention of the Monday market in Bedoin on the road to Mt. Ventoux. I second the vote for the Village des Bories.
If you have a car, you'll be able to get away and find some undiscovered corners. Consider staying in a country guesthouse--some have swimming pools, others are set in vineyards. If you really want to get away, the hill town of Oppede-le-Vieux hasn't been restored and still has wonderfully rough edges. Or stay near St-Saturnin-les-Apt at the Mas Perreal guesthouse run by a Franco-American couple who really know how to take care of their guests, or the Hotel des Voyageurs, where the charming owners don't even speak much English. So much to discover in one of my favorite places in France.
Thanks T. that is the kind of info I was looking for. Planning on reading RS book plus the unbelievable internet! Needed some leads on the out of the way, places. Now to decide the path (always up for change in plans) . Any one best site for observing lavender and sunflowers?
By now your plans are probably finalized but, if not and you are still looking for lavender in Provence, you might consider:
Senanque Abbey near Gordes:
Actually, I am sitting reading thru RS Provence and The French Riviera right now, along with Markets of Provence by Marjorie Williams and along with a couple of other books. (It is snowing and 13F here in Michigan right now, so dreaming of summer in Provence is the best for a saturday afternoon) Thanks all, I'm noting all of your advice. The difficult part is deciding on a base location (or two) and where to fly back to Paris from.. Looks like Marseille is winning. Love the idea of Bedoin monday market and then picnic up on the drive to Mount Ventoux. (hubbie is a huge Tour la France follower.)
We will be spending 7 nights in Provence with a car. (I have no need for the French Riviera in July)
I enjoyed Joucas, which is in the RS Provence guidebook. It's super quiet and very beautiful.