Around the Globe
"Right now, a change of latitude
would help my attitude "
"Right now, a change of latitude
would help my attitude "
I have always dreamt of visiting the countryside region of Provence. This is a spot in France that has it all, and where everything good that France is known for can be enjoyed at its finest. The wines, the food, the herbs, the fields of lavenders and sunflowers, art history, architecture, markets and so much more. Since I would be spending my spring/summer in the French Riviera, this seemed like the perfect opportunity to head over to the Provencal countryside.
I started off my trip in the small medieval city of Avignon which is famous for being the city to which the Popes fled when leaving the corruption of Rome in the 14th century. All over you will see gothic style architecture and buildings from the Renaissance that today are protected as UNESCO sites. One of Avignon's most famous landmarks is Pont Saint-Bénézet, set in Rhône river would link France with papal territory back in the 12th century. There is even a really popular children's song in France called Sur le Pont d'Avignon, pretty much every french speaker knows it by heart since their school days. Similar to how us English speakers sing London bridge is falling down.
What I loved the most about the charming city of Avignon is that everything is within walking distance. It is the type of place you can let yourself get lost within its little alleys to find enchanting little spots, cafes, and bookstores everywhere you go. Don't worry about getting lost. You won't 😉.
I highly suggest you make a stop at Les Halles market, a large indoor marketplace where you'll find the best of local produce, flowers, and so much more!
Click here to shop my yellow dress!
Click here for the white belt
Click here for the woven bag
Click here for my espadrille wedges
Click here for my sunglasses
The flower markets here a simply divine! Open-air markets in France are nearly always held in the mornings, starting from 7am or 8am and going on until noon or 1pm when the traders pack away their stalls and retire to the nearest restaurant for lunch.
This is Church of Saint Martial, built in the 14th century. I pass this sight everyday on my way to my hotel and eye this lovely red phone booth. I feel like I am in Cambridge or right outside of Westminster Abbey.
I highly encourage you shop for some woven products whilst in Provence, as some of the best ones come from here. You'll find a wide variety of styles and sizes for bags, hampers, picnic baskets, clutches, hats and more. I brought my woven tote everywhere whilst here in Provence!
Later in the evening, when the climate is a bit less hot and the light is dim, I like to go to the other side of the river, Villeneuve les Avignon, to enjoy a scenic view of the city where landmarks such as Pont d'Avignon and the Palais des Papes can be admired.
Click here for my pink patterned maxi dress
The next day I jumped on the train from Avignon to the small city of Arles, only three stops away! Arles is a city of Art and History listed as a World Heritage Site by Unesco. The Romans inhabited the city in 123 BC and turned it into a mayor training centre in Europe. Hence the vast presence of roman style monuments including, most notoriously, the amphitheatre and aqueduct.
The city is also known for being where Van Gogh lived and based some of his mayor works in Provence.
I arrived in Arles at about 9 am, so it was still relatively peaceful and empty. With it being one of the oldest cities in France, there are lots and lots of little alleys everywhere you go, and chances are, you'll have them all to yourself. People here are so calm and friendly, you'll feel like Belle in Beauty and the Beast! So better start practicing your Bonjours !
A morning is more than enough to roam around the Roman centre of Arles, take pictures and grab lunch (plenty of great little restaurants to choose from😉). If you have a car, I recommend that after wandering through Arles, you visit some of the fantastic wineries in the nearby Les Bouches-du-Rhône region, and/ or make your way to Alpilles Natural Regional Park and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence; which we'll now get into.
If you don't have a car, there are many fantastic companies in the area offering different day trips. Another fantastic and relatively affordable option to get to know the area.
I'll be very straight forward with you on this one, the very best thing about Saint-Rémy are the boutiques and markets. You'll be able to find a variety of clothing, fresh fruit and vegetables, meats, marmalades, art work and the very best of French cheeses and bread. A great place to bring out those woven baskets I was telling you about earlier to carry your new goodies.
Take the time to stroll around and admire the gorgeous French architecture and cute little store fronts!
You won't be able to stop taking pictures.
Get used to seeing the name Savon de Marseille everywhere you go as the nearby port city of Marseille is known for its luscious soaps! They are made up of 72 percent olive oil plus coconut and palm oils which makes them so wonderful for the skin. But also keep an eye out for small artisan companies that produce beautifully packaged soaps that make great gifts.
I suppose this won't be surprising as Provence is known for its glorious lavender fields that stretch into the distance in the summer. I honestly cannot think of anything more representative of the region. Lavender for centuries has been an inspiration seen in various Impressionist paintings and is often a quintessential element incorporated by local artist as well as sunflowers.
Who doesn't love such vibrant purple and yellow tones?! You'll find lavender used in soaps, honey, sweets, sachets to freshen your linen, fragrances or just tied with straw to put into a vase or decoration!
Now, moving on to an imperative matter, the food! And let me tell you, it doesn't get any fresher than this! This will be one of the greatest pleasures during your trip as you'll shop for the freshest local produce to be brought back and turned into a wonderful meal or outdoor picnic!
Smell the fresh bread from a mile away as you approach the markets!
I honestly cannot find the words to explain how wonderful and exquisite French marmalades are. Like in no other place in the word! A great treat to bring back home or gift as souvenirs. I am particularly fond of the apricot, orange and cherry ones.
The law in France is that price tags must state the origin of all produce. Look out for du pays which means local.
I had a splendid day wandering around this beautiful provencal market, and by the end of the day, I thought it would be the perfect time for a picnic, considering all the wonderful items I had already stocked up on. I'd bring out some magazines and books to get lost in whilst taking in the calmness and light breeze of Provence, devouring the incredible cheeses and sipping on some Veuve Clicquot!
This dress, I may or may not have stolen from my mums closet🙊, but click here and here , for some really similar options.
Alright folks, this is it for part one on my trip to beautiful Provence!
But this isn't the end! Tune in for my upcoming adventures as I head on to Aix-en-Provence, Gordes, Rousillon and
the Lavender fields!