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Best Things to Do in Provence: Your Ultimate Checklist

lavender fields provence france

Discovering the best things to do in Provence means embarking on a journey through a landscape rich in history, culture, and natural beauty. 

This enchanting region of southern France captivates the heart with its blend of art, architecture, and agriculture, painting a picture-perfect scene for visitors. 

From wandering through ancient ruins to indulging in the local culinary delights, here’s an overview of some of the must-visit destinations in Provence.

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Aix-en-Provence


Exploring Aix-en-Provence is undoubtedly among the best things to do in Provence for art lovers and those drawn to the charm of elegant French towns. Known for its thermal hot springs and many public fountains since Roman times, Aix thrives as a city of art and culture.

The Cours Mirabeau, a lively boulevard lined with plane trees, fountains, and cafes, is perfect for a leisurely stroll. Art lovers will relish a visit to the Atelier Cézanne, where Paul Cézanne, a native son of Aix, worked on his masterpieces.

The Mazarin district, with its aristocratic mansions from the 17th and 18th centuries, offers a peek into the city’s elegant past.

Travel Tip: Visit the markets of Aix for local crafts and Provencal delicacies, particularly the daily market at Place Richelme.

Avignon

popes palace avignon france

One of the best things to do in Provence is to visit Avignon, a city renowned for its storied past and Papal Palace, one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. The Palais des Papes stands as a monumental reminder of Avignon’s significance in medieval Europe, offering visitors a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the papacy.

Stroll through the Rocher des Doms gardens for a serene escape with panoramic views of the Rhone. The Pont Saint-Bénézet, or Pont d’Avignon as it’s romantically called, is another must-visit, immortalized in the folk song that invites you to dance upon it.

Travel Tip: Buy a combined ticket for the Palais des Papes and the Pont d’Avignon to save on entrance fees.

—> Read More: Avignon: Ancient City of the Popes

Lavender Fields of Valensole Plateau

lavender fields provence france

The Valensole Plateau is emblematic of Provence’s beauty, especially from June to August when the lavender fields bloom in a sea of purple.

This area is not just a feast for the eyes but also a center for lavender oil production. Visit a local distillery to learn about the process and pick up some lavender products as souvenirs. The sight of the sun setting over the lavender fields is truly unforgettable.

Travel Tip: The fields are most vibrant in the early morning or late afternoon, ideal times for photography enthusiasts to capture the landscape’s full glory.

Arles

Arles, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is rich in Roman heritage with its impressive amphitheater and ancient theatre. The city also played muse to Vincent van Gogh, where he produced over 300 works.

Walking through Arles, you can visit spots that inspired his paintings, including the yellow Café van Gogh at Place du Forum. Nature enthusiasts will enjoy the proximity to the Camargue, a natural region known for its pink flamingos, white horses, and vast salt flats.

Travel Tip: Consider buying a pass to access multiple historic sites in Arles, offering both convenience and savings.

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Marseille

marseille france

Marseille, France’s oldest city, offers a dynamic mix of culture, history, and gastronomy.  The Vieux Port (Old Port) is the heart of the city, buzzing with cafes and seafood restaurants.

Explore the vibrant Le Panier district, Marseille’s oldest quarter, known for its narrow streets and colorful buildings. Try the local delicacy, bouillabaisse, a rich fish stew that epitomizes Marseille’s culinary heritage.

A visit to the Château d’If, located on a small island off the coast of Marseille, adds a touch of adventure to your Provence itinerary. Famous for its role in Alexandre Dumas’ “The Count of Monte Cristo,” this fortress-turned-prison offers fascinating insights into French history and spectacular sea views.

Travel Tip: The ferry ride to the island prison also provides a wonderful perspective of Marseille’s coastline and serves as an experience in itself. 

—> Read More: 15 Incredible Places to Visit in France

Wine Tasting in Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Châ franceteauneuf-du-Pape france

No visit to Provence is complete without exploring its renowned vineyards, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a distinguished wine appellation recognized globally.

Wine aficionados can tour the vineyards, learn about the region’s unique terroir, and enjoy tastings of robust reds and sophisticated whites. Many estates offer guided tours that delve into the history and techniques behind their prestigious wines.

Travel Tip: Book your vineyard tours in advance, especially during the harvest season, to ensure a spot.

Les Baux-de-Provence

Les Baux-de-Provence france

Les Baux-de-Provence, perched atop a rocky outcrop, offers breathtaking views of the Alpilles landscape. The ruins of the Château des Baux tell tales of its medieval past.

The village itself is a maze of charming streets, artisan shops, and art galleries. Nearby, the Carrières de Lumières hosts immersive art exhibitions within a former quarry, projecting artworks on its massive walls.

Travel Tip: Wear comfortable shoes as exploring the castle ruins involves walking on uneven surfaces.

Cassis

cassis france provence

Cassis, a quaint fishing village nestled between cliffs and vineyards, is famed for its picturesque harbor and stunning calanques (limestone cliffs). 

A boat tour to explore the Calanques National Park, with its crystal-clear waters and dramatic cliffs, is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Provence. The village itself, with its charming waterfront cafes and boutiques, invites leisurely exploration. 

Travel Tip: For a breathtaking view of Cassis and its surroundings, hike up to the Cap Canaille, the highest sea cliff in France.

—> Read More: Paris to Normandy River Cruise

The Camargue

camargue france

The Camargue, a natural region located at the Rhône River delta, is renowned for its unique landscape of salt flats, marshes, and Mediterranean wetlands. It’s one of the best things to do in Provence for nature lovers and bird watchers, especially for sightings of the famous pink flamingos. 

The region is also home to the Camargue horses and black bulls, emblematic of this wild terrain. Exploring the Camargue on horseback offers an immersive way to experience its rugged beauty. 

Travel Tip: Visit the Parc Ornithologique du Pont de Gau to get up close with the diverse birdlife, including the iconic flamingos.

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