Salade Niçoise, le grande aioli, tapenade, ratatouille and the famous bouillabaisse of Marseille, Provence has much to offer food lovers. Add great weather, delicious pale rosé, colourful markets, beautiful scenery and fascinating ancient sites and you have all the makings of a splendid holiday. Here are five of the things I love most about this sunny corner of southern France.
Stay Mas la Monaque
This beautifully restored 17th century farmhouse with five bedrooms is the perfect base for a holiday with family or friends. There’s a well-equipped kitchen, sunny dining room (with beautiful Provençal linen) and a flower-filled garden. The nearby village of Mouriès is ideal for morning pastries and provisions, and it’s ideally located for day trips to the Camargue, Avignon and Saint-Remy.
The Medieval town of Les Baux-des-Provence is also nearby, atop a rocky outcrop crowned with a ruined castle visible for miles. Stroll the cobbled streets and lunch on the terrace of one of the restaurants there. Before you leave, grab some distinctive Provençal serviettes or colourful ceramics to take a touch of Provence home. Fun fact: Bauxite is named for Les Baux as it was discovered there in 1821.
The Wednesday morning market in St-Remy-de-Provence is spread over several streets and squares with a huge variety of food (fresh and cooked), plus typical handicrafts and clothes. You can wander for hours soaking up the atmosphere then stock up on cheese, salami, tapenade and wine to take back to your mas for dinner.
About 1km south of Saint-Remy are the remarkably well-preserved remains of Glanum, an ancient town founded by the Celts and later occupied by the Romans. In spring it’s covered with the most beautiful blossom trees. Three-tier Pont du Gard, the highest existing Roman aqueduct, is also a must-visit site; it carried around 200 million litres of water per day to the fountains, baths and homes of nearby Nîmes.
Drive Gorge de la Nesque
Cut into sheer cliff running south from Mount Ventoux through the Vaucluse mountains, this road offers spectacular scenery into the deep limestone canyon carved by the River Nesque some 200 metres below. Expect hairpin bends, low tunnels and less traffic than through the better-known Gorges du Verdon.
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