I know it’s taken me awhile to finish posting all our pictures and adventures from our trip to France. And yes, we were there six months ago. But I recently got the blogging bug and so what’s why there’s been a long delay.
This was my very first time in this region of France. I admit, I wanted to go here after seeing people’s pictures of the region on Instagram. That’s the great thing about social media, it gives you wanderlust. It could be a bad thing too since you wonder how other people are finding the time (and money) to travel everywhere. But…it does motivate me to make my travel dreams happen.
I know I titled this as a guide to navigating Provence. It should really be tips or things I learned while we were there and what worked and didn’t work for us.
But my overall tip…DO NOT TRY TO VISIT ALL THESE PLACES IN ONE DAY...like we did. It was quite stressful and I felt like we didn’t really get to enjoy the scenery and atmosphere as much as I wanted to.
Beginner’s tip: Get to the markets early!
Since Aix-en-Provence is famous for its outdoor markets, it was on my list to see and shop. The outdoor markets are open on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays and close promptly at 1:00 PM. So we picked a Tuesday to go on our excursion. Our drive from Avignon to Aix-en-Provence was about an hour and half. But as usual we were off to a late start and weren’t sure we would even make it on time. Thank goodness Rick Steves’ book told us where to park or else we would be circling around town looking for a parking spot. As a tip, park in the La Rotonde parking area. It’s a big garage with narrow and small parking spaces (by American standards). But it’s very clean and convenient and not that expensive to park.
We got to Aix-en-Provence by noon and were literally running around the town to find the markets. The city was bustling with tourists, more than we’ve seen on our entire trip. So navigating wasn’t the easiest on foot as we were zigzagging around groups of people. We picked two markets to visit – Richelme (produce) and L’Hotel de Ville (flowers).
Once we got to the markets, the vendors were starting to pack up but we managed to buy some fresh fruit and flowers. I also managed to snap a few pictures.
Beginner’s tip: Roussillon is a must! Do not pass it up!
Our next destination was Roussillon, which is by far my favorite town in the Luberon. The town is set on a hilltop surrounded by ochre and most of its buildings are made from ochre. I seriously could not stop snapping pictures of this town. I mean everything was so photogenic. It was everything I ever imagined how Provence would look and feel. We walked around town and then sat at a cafe just to take in this beautiful city. Luke loved running around the church and square, which was pedestrian only. Charlie and I enjoyed watching him run circles around us while enjoying the views.
Beginners tip: Lavender is only in bloom in June or July, depending on the season.
One of my dreams is to twirl in a lavender field. That wasn’t the case when we were there in September since it was out of season. I just thought lavender would still be blooming since the weather was so warm. Yeah, quite ignorant of me. We did find some lavender fields outside of Roussillon. It was gorgeous nevertheless. But my goal is to visit this area when lavenders are in full bloom and just twirl!
Beginner’s tip: Gordes is best seen just outside of town. Look out for a small parking lot (to your right) as you’re approaching town because that’s where the best view is at.
From the lavender fields, we could see Gordes, located on a very high hill. That late afternoon/early evening light just made our ascent to Gordes even more breathtaking. We were able to make it to enjoy the sunset and enjoy the view. I’m scared of heights so I made sure not to go too far out on the edge. There were some people just sitting on the edge and dangling their feet. I made sure Luke stayed very close to me. But of course, Charlie wanted to take the moment to throw Luke up in the air, which turns out to be one of my favorite moments and pictures of the trip.
Beginner’s tip: Visit Isle-sur-la-Sorgue during the day. It’s romantic at night but can be hard to navigate with a stroller and toddler.
When we left Gordes, we decided to stop at Isle-sur-la-Sorgue for dinner. It was raining by the time we got there. We found a small cafe and enjoyed our dinner sitting next to another family visiting from America as well.
Isle-sur-la-Sorgue literally means “Island on the Sorgue River” and has three waterwheels that been around since the 1200s. After seeing the city at night, we knew we wanted to see it during the day. The pictures below are from our trip to the town on our way to Nice (well, a detour on our way to Nice). I think the city is both beautiful at night and during the day.
The town is known for its antique markets and this store here was filled with so many wonderful pieces of furniture that I wanted to take home.
Beginner’s tip: There are just as many vineyards in the Luberon as there is in the Cotes du Rhone.
We took a detour on our way to Nice to see Isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Gordes and noticed so many vineyards that we had to get out of the car for a few pictures. This region of France is just gorgeous and picturesque. On our next trip to this area, I’m going to make sure we spend at least two weeks here in June and find a lavender field to twirl in.