Your Stay

Outdoor Activities

Provence has everything, from serious cycling up the Gorge de la Nesque, to rock climbing in the Dentelles, to canoeing down the Sorgue River or through the incredible Ardeche Valley, where the most recent pre-historic cave paintings in France have been discovered. You can enter the St. Didier Half-Marathon or the Châteauneuf-du-Pape annual 15K road race if you’re there at the right time of year. Contact us for additional details.
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For History Buffs

Prehistory, the Roman occupation, the French Revolution, and the Resistance — there is an endless selection of historic sites and museums to visit. Be sure to read, in advance, the Michelin Green Guide – highlighter in hand – so you can prioritize your activities.
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For Art and Architecture Lovers

One of the few touristy spots we visit regularly is the spectacular “Pont du Gard” aqueduct, built by the Romans in 19 BC. Provence is rich in Roman antiquities — at Glanum, Orange and Vaison-la-Romaine, for example, three sites that aren’t very far away. There is a Roman amphitheatre still in use at Arles and another at Nîmes, if you don’t mind the drive.

 

It’s thrilling to happen upon a construction site where work has been halted to study an uncovered, ancient ruin. Avignon has several excellent museums and the Palais des Papes, a maze of galleries, chapels, chambers and passages. If you’re a fan of Impressionism, visit the asylum near St. Remy, where Van Gogh reportedly cut off his ear.
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For Food and Wine Lovers

Many a Burgundy or Bordeaux fan has turned into a Rhône Wine fanatic after tasting the stunningly well-made wines produced here. In Châteauneuf-du-Pape alone, there are 300 different labels of varying quality and price.  Prices are lower when you purchase directly from producers. Try the Côtes du Rhônes Villages, Gigondas, and Côtes du Ventoux. All are within a 30-minute drive. Côte Rôtie, just a 2-hour drive to the North, is a whole different experience and well worth a day trip.

 

According to our friend Mike Rijken who offers reasonably priced and delightful wine tours, no wine tasting is complete without a meal, and no self-respecting provençal town is without a good restaurant.  Enjoy simple, elegant meals in country inns or auberges, three-star restaurants, no-star restaurants and bistrots, even in the tiniest towns. The annual Michelin Red Guide catalogs and rates restaurants all over France. Most of our houses have their own copy, along with well-tested recommendations of our favorites. Suffice it to say that you can enjoy everything from simply sublime to sublimely special — and everything in between. Even most bars serve a Menu du Jour — dessert and a glass of wine included — for those on a budget.

 

Cooking at home is a great option. Regional cuisine is simple, easy to prepare, based upon fresh produce — abundantly available — olive oil, lamb, Mediterranean fish and an astounding variety of cheeses.
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For Shoppers

If you’re looking for haute couture, you’d better hop the train to Paris. Marseille has many chic boutiques, and Avignon does too, but the shopping here is mostly for one-of-a-kind, handmade things, such as soaps, traditional pottery, cheery fabrics, handmade chocolates and fine little watercolors.

 

At the Sunday Market in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, antique capital of Provence, you’ll find everything from antique silver and furnishings, to pottery, colorful tablecloths, freshly baked breads and a dizzying array of olives displayed in rustic baskets. Sometimes market day coincides with a festival, and the entire town is alive with shoppers, entertainers and vendors lining every street.

 

While furnishing our first home, we found Tissus Gregoire, a fabric outlet featuring all kinds of fabrics and linens. Since then, we’ve spent a small fortune there for pillows, duvet covers, curtains and other fabric furnishings. I even enjoy a trip to the supermarket — to see unfamiliar packaging, different products, and the incredible selection.
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Festivals and Markets

With a little planning, you can include a festival or two in your itinerary. We've seen everything from funky to fabulous: a DJ spinning tunes at the town square to celebrate Bastille Day; the village of Vacqueras completely overtaken by wine producers, offering anyone who's purchased a commemorative glass an unlimited opportunity to taste.

The Michelin Green Guide lists major festivals and cultural events. Listings of more intimate, local events are available from village tourist offices, which you can locate at www.provenceweb.com under leisure activities.
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Seasons

Each season has its visual delights. After the grapes are picked in fall, vines turn vivid red and stretch for miles in every direction against a crisp blue sky. The olive harvest and its festivals take place in February. In Spring, blossoming cherry orchards dot the valleys, soon followed by clusters of brilliant red poppies along roadsides. Warming temperatures bring endless fields of lavender, sunflowers turn in unison with the path of the sun, and then it starts all over again — as it has for centuries.
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