Last week we left Jennifer in Cinque Terre, a coastal area within Liguria in the northwest of Italy - if you missed it you can click here
and have a quick read before immersing yourself in the beauty of Provence and the French Riviera, also known as the Côte d'Azur, where Jennifer and her family headed to after Cinque Terre.
The Côte d'Azur forms the ultimate pleasure zone, where the mix of the chic French, the Mediterranean climate and the Latin lifestyle, make this region one of the best in Europe.
The South of France, with its picturesque hilly villages and seaside hotspots was first discovered in the 18th century by foreign aristocrats, and then by artists who hung out there and made it one of the world’s most magical coasts.
Whether you wish to chill at the beach, visit antique markets, see hot exhibitions, taste amazing meals at some of the world’s top Michelin star restaurants, go hiking, climbing, white-water rafting, horse riding, or walking through the lavender fields in Côte d'Azur you can really do it all!
Jennifer and her family did most of these activities and we are going to sum up their best moments with beautiful shots they took along the way.
Their first stop was Saint Paul de Vence, one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera, well known for its modern and contemporary art museums and galleries such as the ‘Fondation Maeght’, and also for its famous hotel and restaurant ‘La Colombe d'Or’ where artists like Matisse, Chagall, Picasso, Jean-Paul Sartre and many others stayed, and who in exchange for a room donated their art.
The hotel still sells their artwork, located in the gardens and displayed on their walls. Jennifer and her family had lunch there on their first day, a unique experience that combines exquisite food and extraordinary art.
And if you would like to make your day even more special you cannot miss a walk through the village, among the typical medieval alleys, wonderful galleries, all enhanced by the stunning view of Cote d’Azur sea and gorgeous landscape.
Then onto ‘Villa La Coste’, a contemporary Luxury Hotel and SPA situated halfway between the historic town of Aix en Provence, home of Cezanne, and the famous Luberon Natural Park situated in the midst of the Provençal landscape, in the heart of the biodynamic vineyard Château La Coste, an international destination for art, architecture and natural beauty.
To end the day on a super high they enjoyed dinner at the restaurant Francis Mallman, where they tasted the finest Argentinian meat which was excellent along with the ‘Chateau La Coste’ red wine, very, very good!
The day after they decided to relax and enjoy the hotel and pool along with really good food served at ‘Villa La Coste’. In the evening, they drove for about 30 minutes to Aix en Provence for a relaxed walk and dinner.
After a day of chilling they were ready for a new adventure and hit the road again! The Rhône delta city of Arles was waiting for them…
Arles is an intimate village characterised by a maze of narrow stone streets, located at the crossroad of the Rhône River and the Via Aurelia in the 6th century BC made it a natural choice for development by the Romans. Once you have seen the Roman ruins, you can also learn about the former splendour of Roman Arles at the ‘Musée départemental Arles antique’.
ART LOVERS ALERT! Visitors usually travel to Arles to visit Van Gogh’s old haunts, where he lived and worked with Gauguin, and the ‘Fondation Vincent van Gogh Arles’, where art lovers will find a collection of works by contemporary artists in tribute to the Dutch artist.
But the actual gem is ‘Luma’, a cultural centre originally established by Maja Hoffman in Switzerland in 2004 and dedicated to providing artists with opportunities to experiment in the production and presentation of new work in close collaboration with other artists, curators, scientists, innovators and audiences.
The Luma Foundation's current focus is to create a truly experimental cultural complex in Arles, not open to the public yet.
After their morning art fix in Arles it was time for a fabulous feast at ‘La Chassagnette’, a Michelin starred restaurant and organic garden from which Chef Arnal draws his inspiration according to the seasons, this was one special vegetarian lunch to remember! Completely unique!
The day was not over yet and the best part was still to come!
Right after lunch they drove for about 1h to Camargue, a mysterious flat wild area of lagoons and marshes, salt flats and rice fields, where you can still see cowboys riding white horses and groups of flamingos flocking together through the waters.
This is one of France’s greatest wildlife reserves and Jennifer and her family enjoyed an amazing hour riding horses while also looking at a large number of flamingos in their natural environment.
After this incredible experience, they drove back to ‘Villa La Coste’ for the last night.
The following day they drove to ‘Chateau Fonscolombe’ and visited this breathtaking Relais & Châteaux in a listed historic monument with a winery and hectares of vineyards, located in Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade.
They also met with GM Vincent Bergmann, who we would like to thank for his kind hospitality as well as their enjoyable stay.
They dropped their luggage and drove straight to Marseille, loving the scenery and its history. They spent their day touring by boat, visiting the famous Calanques and Cassis and discovering the coast with the support and passion of the captain.
Following on from this beautiful day by the sea they then visited a must-see natural attraction, the lavender fields in the Luberon!
Provence's fields start to bloom in June and by the end of the month most of the region's lavender will be flowering - the fields peak in early to mid-July. Dozens of lavender fields can be found down to the hills of Valensole Plateau, about an hour north of Aix-en-Provence.
Then, off they go again to another spot! They went to Roussillon and hiked the ‘Path of Ochre’ - ‘Les Sentiers des Ocres’ - which they loved, as well as the very charming village of Roussillon and its magical views of the Luberon.
And so, we reach the end of Jennifer’s road trip to Provence and we promise, the third and last trip will be the coolest.
Here’s a clue: the fashionable star of the Var coast, also connected to the French sex symbol Brigitte Bardot. Any guesses?
Meanwhile, if you feel inspired and interested in booking any of the experiences Jennifer and her family enjoyed, then take a look below, we have listed the very best for you!
Considered to be France at its finest, you can discover the wonderful villages of the Luberon and enjoy spectacular countryside views, orchards and hilltop villages of this stunning area of Provence with your friendly guide by choosing Picturesque Luberon
If you would like to find out more about the Provence of Van Gogh, while visiting beautiful provincial villages as well as tasting some local wines at Chateau Lacoste with your friendly and knowledgeable guide, then go for Van Gogh’s Provence
If you liked Jennifer’s hiking experience in the Roussillon, then we highly recommend Hike and Culture of Provence
. This tour is the perfect mix of culture, history, and sport activity. Discover the beautiful villages of Provence and enjoy a hike in the Roussillon with your friendly driver/guide on this exceptional tour of this fantastic area.
Obviously, we also have something for history, horses and lavenders lovers: Romans in Provence
, Beautiful Camargue
and Lavender Fields in Provence
And for a half day tour exploring Marseille, a vibrant and lively port bursting with history, creativity, and diversity you can opt for the City Tour of Marseille