Last July, I had a last minute business trip to Paris. Given my husband wasn't on a project yet, our boss let him travel with me. After meetings in Paris, we headed to visit our office in Cambridge, then spent a weekend foodie tour of London, and finally a week in Provence. Of the places I've traveled to so far, Provence easily became one of my favorite places in the world.
Where We Stayed
While on the train in London, we found this amazing Airbnb in Saint Saturnin lès Apt, a small town in Provence. We had our own private studio, fully equipped with a mini kitchen, bathroom, and washing machine. Our cute cottage also came with a private patio overlooking town and a fresh baguette waiting for us in the kitchen.
The walk into town was an easy 15 minutes and just a 10 minute drive from a larger town called Apt. We picked a central location for us to visit other neighboring towns and see the lavender fields during the day.
We were so excited to get away here to relax. We started with a walk into town to get groceries for dinner. My husband and I made a simple caprese salad for dinner out on the patio. The tomatoes were the sweetest we’d ever had. The baguette was fresh and the basil more fragrant than I can remember back home.
VILLAGES WE VISITED
If you're planning a visit to Provence and love visiting the markets as much as we did, I highly recommend buying this book. It offers detailed descriptions of each market by day, including schedule and location.
We loved these corguette blossoms! The first time we had these was in Ottolenghi’s restaurant back in London. They were filled with cheese, baked, and crispy on the edges.
Needless to say, we enjoyed cooking most of our meals while in Provence. Everything was just so fresh. We’d plan out which markets to visit in the mornings for groceries and night markets to check out the crafts. It felt like a dream visiting here. It’s like the small provincial town in Beauty in the Beast, the scenery from Van Gogh’s paintings, and the ambiance of Eat Pray Love.
L’Occitane products are also made in Provence. We visited multiple towns that sold their products. There’s currently a promotion by L’Occitane and Rifle Paper & Co (another brand I really like) where you can get a cute tin and set of lotions when you buy any product online. It ends on February 14th. Or if you spend $65+, you can get this set.
We ended up visiting the several towns casually throughout the week including: Aix en Provence, Saint Rémy de Provence, Gordes, Sault, Montbrun-les-Bains, Ferrassières, Moustiers Sainte Marie, Apt, and Lourmarin. There were probably others along the way, but you really can't go wrong. France has rankings of the most beautiful villages. While planning, we found this list very helpful.
Carrières de Lumières
The Carrières de Lumières in Baux-de-Provence is a place we learned about from our host and is perhaps something you may not think of when planning your trip. We didn't know what to expect, especially after we paid for tickets and walked into an enormous cavern made of stone. Minutes passed by and we started wondering if we were missing something...until the projectors turned on. It turned out to be one of the most amazing art exhibits I'd ever seen. The theme changes, but ours used various works of art through time, choreographed with music to tell a story about how the world came to be and how society changed over time.
If we had more time, we would have liked to visit Roussillon, Venasque, Annecy, and Avignon. We tried to limit the number of villages to a maximum of two per day for a relaxing pace, but also fit in those occasional lazy mornings. Some villages are larger than others. Others, you'll be able to walk in about 30 minutes. We definitely recommend renting a car though.
We truly enjoyed Provence and it was the perfect, spontaneous pre-honeymoon before our wedding. Can't wait to return here some day. Stay tuned for my second post, Provence Part 2: Fields of Sunflowers & Lavender!