As an Italian, I have a hard time admitting that the French do anything better than us, but when it comes to Provence (and pastries), I have to say... they absolutely win. Out of all the stops on our Mediterranean trip with Princess Cruises, this was by far my favorite. Between the outdoor markets, wine tasting, fantastic shopping, and - most importantly - the scenery - this region might be the most charming destination I've ever experienced.
Saint Rémy de Provence
Even though our port for this excursion was Marseille, there were so many places we wanted to see that we opted for a private driver and guide for this day, and I'm so glad we did! My girlfriend Christy and I buddied up with the adorable Cassie from Hi Sugarplum (and her hubby!) to explore Provence together. Between her list and ours, we pretty much nailed it as far as our tour went!
The public market is on Wednesdays, so we completely lucked out with our timing. We browsed through stalls and stalls of soaps, olive oils, meats, produce, fresh bread and a few pretty little delights like these potted olive trees! I so wanted to smuggle one home with me.
The streets were absolutely charming and it was a perfect day to simply wander through and pick up plenty of little souvenirs from the shops and vendors along the way before heading off to our next destination.
Eat: The colorful Le Bistro de Marie is decorated with so many fun antiques you'll think you're at the flea!
L'isle-Sur-Sorgue is, in fact, completely surrounded by water - the River Sorgue splits and wraps its way around this tiny 'island' whose historic water wheels still turn. This town is an antique shopper's heaven, so I'm shocked I didn't come away with some great treasure, but a quick roam through town topped by lunch was all we had time for!
Shop: The worn art deco facade of Fauque Beyret will lure you right into this shop filled to the brim with textiles.
Eat: The charming outdoor seating at Le Jardin du Quai is just what you need after a long day of shopping.
If you had told me you could find red rocks like this in the middle of Provence, I wouldn't have believed you. Luckily, our fantastic guide said that seeing it was a must! While the town itself is a bit touristy, it was totally worth a walk through. The colors of Provence against this red were such a change from what we had seen all day! And the views were amazing too.
Lourmarin was our last stop of the day, and I have to say I regretted that immediately. I would have spent a whole, languid, lovely day there. The shopping alone was such a distraction that we barely made it up the hill to the Chateau which I'm sure is most visitors' first destination. Our priority, however, was touring through the small town and enjoying a glass of rosé at the Domaine de Fontenille tasting room (If you're looking for a place to stay, their hotel looks absolutely divine and amazing!)
The thing about most of Provence is that you feel like you're on a movie set - it's almost too perfect and idyllic a setting! I had to stop myself from taking photos at every turn, but now that I've been I know that I will absolutely be back - we didn't even get to experience the lavender in bloom or consume nearly enough cheese and wine from the markets. A return trip for me will be a must!