6 Days To Discover Picturesque Provence

Marie-Eve Vallieres By Marie-Eve Vallieres / 26 August 2020

6 Days To Discover Picturesque Provence

Marie-Eve Vallieres By Marie-Eve Vallieres

Provence is a quintessentially southern French region where slow living and hedonism are just not hypewords but a veritable way of life; between high-perched medieval villages and sprawling wine estates flanked by vivid lavender fields, as well as the Mediterranean sea’s calm waters, Provence is indeed the stuff of dreams.

Short on time but thirsty for discovery? No worries, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you should see and do with a week to spare in beautiful Provence.

More on Provence:

10 things that will surprise you about Toulouse

Where to eat bouillabaisse in Marseille

Monasteries, lavender and markets in Provence

3 days in Marseille

Explore Le Panier and the Old Port

Shortly after landing at Marseille Provence airport you’ll start to feel the city’s legendary, multi-layered atmosphere.

Marseille’s intrinsically Latin character, which is considerably enhanced by the diverse backgrounds of its residents, truly shines in the Panier area (the French word for “basket”; it used to be a marketplace back in Greek times), characterised by artsy vibes, a warren of cobblestoned streets, and sun-kissed cafés.

Closeby is the equally picturesque Vieux Port, where ships have been docking for over 26 centuries. It’s technically Marseille’s birthplace and still remains, to this day, its neuralgic centre.

Seagulls wailing, fishermen shouting, yachts horning, cameras clicking; such is the soundtrack of this old harbour, whose lively banks are flanked by two 13th-century forts and the almost anachronistically modern MuCEM history museum (Musée National des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée).

Admire the varied Marseille architecture

Overlooking this bustling locale is Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde Basilica, a swanky Romano-Byzantine church whose hilltop location still grants the same unparalleled 360-degree views of Marseille as it did in the 19th century, when locals gathered to pray for the safe passage of sailing vessels.

Don’t, however, let the sweeping panoramas keep you from admiring the splendid golden mosaics indoors.

Also worth doing over three days in Marseille:

Day trip from Marseille

And if all these notable attractions aren’t enough to keep you busy for three full days in Marseille, you could always swing a half or full day trip to:

2 days in Aix-en-Provence

As you head on over to the backcountry, you’ll drive along dozens of sun-drenched hilltop vineyards and laid-back market towns; Aix-en-Provence is the biggest one in the area, a sophisticated, cultivated, upscale alternative to raw Marseille.

This is also Paul Cézanne’s playground, whose iconic scenery had a profound effect on both his works and his life.

Although there is no shortage of sightseeing in Aix-en-Provence, you’ll want to adapt to the local stress-free rhythm for a fully immersive experience.

  • Get lost in the ochre-coloured pedestrianized maze that is the Baroque-heavy old town
  • Stroll along leafy boulevards
  • Have a glass of crisp local rosé on the see-and-be-seen Cours Mirabeau
  • Plan a visit to Paul Cézanne’s painting studio
  • Stop at Place Richelme’s celebrated daily farmer’s market, awash with the very best of the Mediterranean diet: olives, oils, sun-dried tomatoes, cheeses, herbs, and of course, wines.

This is Provence, after all; best to follow the provençales traditions.

You’ll also want to get your hands on a local delicacy called calisson, a candied fruit paste usually made with melons, oranges, and almonds; a well-deserved treat after what will undoubtedly have been long days of walking around the city.

1 day in Arles

While Marseille was overflowing with culture and Aix-en-Provence revelled in typically Provençal epicureanism, Arles, on the other hand, is all about history.

The mind-bogglingly old city is nonetheless impossible to resist, with its UNESCO World Heritage sites and lively world-famous festivals, including the Rencontres de la photo, it’s also where psychotic yet prolific Van Gogh painted over 200 artworks and infamously cut off his ear (the garden where he performed the tragic act is now part of a cultural space named Espace Van Gogh, fittingly enough).

Admire the Roman heritage

But the real star of the show here undeniably is the Roman heritage. Every visit should start at Les Arènes, an impeccably kept amphitheatre dating back to 90AD whose sheer size was a reflection of Arles’ might on the trading route between Spain and Italy; Roman historian Suetonius even went as far as describing Arles as “the little Rome of Gaul”.

At 107 metres wide and 136 metres long, the massive amphitheatre could hold 21,000 spectators that would have come to watch gruesome gladiator fights.

Miraculously, the structure stood the test of time and much of its original features remain today – you might even luck out and get tickets for summertime carmaguaises races or modern-day gladiator events. Nearby are the proportionately fascinating antique theatre, Constantine thermal baths, ancient obelisk, and forum’s cryptoportico.

If you’re a true history buff, try and time your visit with the Arelate Festival (mid-August), entirely dedicated to rigorously accurate Roman celebrations.

What are you waiting for? Start planning your Provence getaway now – you can thank us later.


The comments and contributions expressed are assumed only by the author. The recommendations, intentions or opinions expressed are not necessarily those of Transat AT Inc. or its affiliates. See terms of use of the Air Transat website.

You might also like

Vacationing in the Dominican Republic: Which Region Should You Choose?

Want to fly to the Dominican Republic but don't know exactly where to land? To help you decide on a destination you'll enjoy...

#Destinations, #DominicanRepublic, #TipsandTricks

Discoveries

6 LGBTQ+ Destinations to Visit Around the World

By Samuel Larochelle

LGBTQ+ travel is not exactly the same for everyone. For instance, in addition to pondering the freedom of speech and self-expression that will be...

#Discoveries, #Greece, #Netherlands, #Spain, #UnitedStates

Discoveries

California Roadtrip: the Best Tips & Tricks by Marie-Joëlle Parent

By Marie-Joelle Parent

Marie-Joëlle Parent is the author of the book 300 Reasons to Love San Francisco and has over 15 years of experience in journalism...

#Discoveries, #UnitedStates

15 Road Trips from Montreal to Experience Quebec’s Gorgeous Nature

By Marie-Julie Gagnon

After having criss-crossed the island of Montreal and discovered its most beautiful urban spaces, there's nothing like taking the road to the parks...

#Activities, #Canada

Activities

3 Stunning National Parks to Visit Near Quebec City

By Marie-Julie Gagnon

There is nothing better than landing directly in Quebec City to head east and go on a road trip to explore the massive, lush national...

#Activities, #Canada

Sea, Mountains and Deserts: 3 Unique Experiences in Colombia

If you are looking for sensational experiences, you will be delighted by what Colombia has to offer. Did you know that it is the second...

#Activities, #Colombia