3 Extraordinary Places in the Provence

1. Hidden red treasures

Our adventurous Airbnb host and hostess took us to a very special undiscovered gem in the middle of the nature of the Provence. The drive there was quite an experience itself; a ride in a retro convertible beetle, up the steep and bumpy hill paths. In less than 10 minutes we drove through a small town, called Mormoiron, into the hills and you find yourself in a completely different world. From an open field you walk through a narrow path into the densely vegetated forest. After a few minutes you will walk through a gigantic gorge of red rocks where you can spot ocher.

The area around Gordes is rich in red ocher, so if you search well you can find more of these hidden spots. Ocher is a red / orange pigment extracted from the ground. This pigment was formerly used to give color to clothes or houses in parts of the Provence. Roussillon, also known as the ‘red city’, is a town where all houses are covered with this pigment. It’s something you won’t see anywhere else anytime soon. Do you want to discover more about this special town? Then read our blog ‘6 Most Idyllic Towns in the Provence‘.

As you walk further up the canyon it gets steeper, narrower and muddier, but don’t give up! After 10-15 minutes you will reach a point surrounded by rocks covered with moss and ivy. You can also spot a mini waterfall. For a moment you imagine yourself in the middle of the jungle!

2. Purple lavender fields

The Provence is – rightly – associated with lavender. And we certainly understand why. There are many lavender fields, sometimes miles long. So colorful and the smell is intense and sweet. The best time to visit Provence is between June and August when the fields are in bloom. We have seen most of the fields in Sault.

Tip! The route from Carpentras to Sault is a fun route to drive, you will come across many breathtaking viewpoints where you can admire the lavender fields from different perspectives.

3. The enchanting Abbey of Sénanque

From Gordes, follow the winding roads. At the end you will find the beautiful Abbey of Sénanque. The location makes this spot even more unique. The monastery is surrounded by lavender fields and mountains. It couldn’t be more enchanting, right?! Visit the monastery during the golden hour, when the building will be magically illuminated by the setting sun.


6 Most Idyllic Towns in the Provence

Gordes viewpoint Provence

1. Fairytale hilltown Gordes

Located between the green hills you will find Gordes, one of the most beautiful towns in the Provence. We got up early to watch the magical sunrise from a lookout just outside Gordes. From here you have a beautiful view over the town and the surrounding area. Spot the houses that lean against the hill and the old castle that served as a fortress in the Middle Ages. In Gordes you can visit the local market on Tuesdays and stroll among the stalls with spices, jewelry and fresh food, while enjoying the music of buskers. Walk through the steep alleys and occasionally take the side streets, they will surprise you again and again and you will end up with the most beautiful views over the valley.

2. The Red City Roussillon 

Roussillon, also called the red city, is surrounded by orange / red ochre rocks. Ochre is a pigment that was extracted to give color to textiles or houses. That is why all the houses in Roussillon have an ochre glow. To discover the ochre landscape, you can walk through an ochre quarry. The quarry in Roussillon is very crowded. We have found a hidden gem in the area if you want to spot the ochre in a unique undiscovered way. You can read more about this spot in our blog 3 Extraordinary Places in the Provence.

Roussillon is a lively city with a lot of tourism, so be there early in the morning. Things to do in Roussillon include admiring the special architecture, buying lavender soaps, dried lavender and fine art at one of the many boutiques, tasting a freshly baked baguette at the local boulangerie and looking for the loyal guardian of the city; a super cute golden retriever, who roams the city hoping to get a pat from everyone.

3. The typical Provencal town Saignon

Saignon has everything to be a typical Provencal town; charming streets, a small cozy center with a fountain, an old library, art and nice cafes ☕. But something makes this town really special and you notice it immediately when you are on your way to Saignon. It is the gigantic rock – literally a ‘high’light – that dominates the town. You can climb the rock and enjoy a 360 ° view over Saignon and the vast valley of the Provence full of lavender fields and other charming villages in the area. 

4. The Artsy Lacoste

Slightly further south is the cozy town of Lacoste. The city is bursting with art and creativity. This is partly due to the well-known fashion designer Pierre Cardin, who bought and restored the castle in Lacoste. Here he often organizes cultural events. For the photographers among us; this is really a great place to photograph. There are many Instagram spots in Lacoste; colored doors, plant-covered houses, ateliers, arches and gates.


5. The Characteristic Venasque

In the evenings we often toured around and came across the small characteristic town Venasque by chance. And it is definitely a hidden gem in the Provence. You will find a lot of creativity, nice streets, squares and rooftop restaurants with the most romantic view over the green valley. In Venasque you will find cats on every corner of the street, ready to be cuddled. A local told us that a woman owns 20 (!) cats. So if you’re a crazy cat mom, spend your evening in Venasque! 

6. The Historic Carpentras

Carpentras was an important trading post in the time of the Greeks and Romans. The history is still visible in the city, through the city wall and gate, the architecture of the old synagogue, cathedral and also the balconies have a Roman style. In addition to the beautiful historical features, Carpentras also has a pleasant center with many shopping options. On Sundays (almost) all shops are closed, so it is best to go on Friday, when there is also a market. 

Experience the Provencal vibes

Want to experience the vibes in these towns? Watch our travel video of our road trip through the South of France;

Must Do’s during a Weekend in The Camargue

Flamingo pink lakes Camargue

Explore the pink salt lakes

In the Camargue you will find two big pink salt lakes, which are used for the production of salt. It turns out that the Camargue produces the most salt in Europe. The two lakes are located near the towns Aigues-Mortes & Salin de Giraud. Salin de Giraud is a must visit. It is not touristic at all. These plains are private land so you can only enter the plains with a permit. But there is a viewpoint nearby. From here you can see the lakes from a higher perspective and that gives you a good impression of the colorful plains.

The perfect conditions to spot this phenomenon are a high salt concentration in the water, pink algae and heat. These conditions are also the perfect living conditions for flamingos. They often parade around in groups and they completely match with the pink environment. We arrived early at the salt lakes. At that time, the water was not intensely pink. When the sun shines more brightly and the water warms up, the pink color becomes visible.

Spot birds in Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau

The Camargue is known for its beautiful nature and wildlife. The best way to spot the animals up close, is to visit Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau. Many exotic birds live in this park. The narrow, overgrown paths and bird watching huts allow you to photograph the most beautiful (shy) animals unnoticed. We spotted low flying flamingos, the white Camargue horses and beavers, who were floating among the birds.

With a ticket you have access to the park all day long. Check the website of Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau for current prices and opening times.

Visit Aigues-Mortes

Aigues-Mortes is surrounded by walls and gates. You can climb the walls to enjoy the city view. The coolest thing about Aiges-Mortes is that it is located directly at one of the gigantic pink salt lakes Les Salins du Midi. Which you can admire from the top of the walls. The city itself has a cozy center, with cute squares where you can enjoy a lunch break on one of the many terraces. The city is filled with creativity. Take a look at the ateliers and unique boutiques, but be careful because you really want to buy everything.

Discover the Camargue during sunrise

Be sure to set your alarm early. The sunrise in the Camargue is breathtaking. Find a nice open spot to stop and wait for the daylight to come. When the sun starts to rise, the sky turns bright orange and yellow. The animal kingdom awakes, the birds begin to chirp and flocks of birds flying past the horizon. In the endless fields, the white Camargue horses start grazing and the first rays of the sun touch their wild manes. The bulls also begin to moo and cross the fields.

Drive around in Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue

You will come across many beautiful and secret places in the Camargue, such as infinite grain-, sunflower- and rice fields, cute local villages and farms. Despite the fact that there are a few roads through the park – which you can drive through for hours – you do have to know where to find the best spots. If you don’t want to miss one of them, you can download our route with all the pretty spots that are definitely worth a visit.

Let’s Explore the Camargue

Want to experience more of the Camargue? Watch our video of our road trip through the South of France; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybcJMHH5Vjo