3 days in Provence, from Alpilles to Camargue's paddy fields

Use our itinerary to visit Provence in 3 days and follow in Paul Cézanne’s footsteps over a weekend with Le Collectionist.
3 days in Provence, from Alpilles to Camargue's paddy fields
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You only need to hear “Provence” to imagine its colours, scents and flavours… The unique landscapes and eternal pictures that Paul Cézanne captured in his work. But how about diving behind the scenes? Discover 3 days worth of things to do on your Provence holidays and embark with us on a road trip in the land of Cézanne, from Aix-en-Provence to the Alpilles, to the paddy fields of Camargue.

VISIT PROVENCE IN 3 DAYS: DAY 1, AIX-EN-PROVENCE

Are you wondering what to do in Provence to draw near to Cézanne? Lets us start at the beginning: Aix-en-Provence. “When you’re born there, you’re screwed, nothing else can take your fancy” he once said. And with reason, his home town embodies the enchanting essence of Provence. Drop your bags in one of our luxury villas in Aix-en-Provence and head off to uncover its secrets.

Wander randomly in small alleys

Start your walk in the Mazarin neighbourhood of Aix-en-Provence, located south of the old town. Once the abode of the high bourgeoisie, it now houses many a museum and cultural monument in majestic mansions. The 18th Century Hotel Caumont, for instance. Take a stroll in its art centre or settle down in its flower garden for breakfast, before continuing your tour of the neighbourhood. You will no doubt reach the Musée Granet on your way, where you will finally meet your distinguished guide: Paul Cézanne. Ten of his paintings are displayed here.

Next stop, the great artist’s workshop, nestled among trees at the top of Aix-en-Provence. Let the unique atmosphere of this timeless place course through you. Cézanne’s relics and souvenirs have been preserved intact since the painter’s death in 1906. It is on this very spot that he paid tribute to the Provence landscapes so dear to his heart. A nostalgic visit that sets the tone of your holidays in Provence.

Climb atop of Sainte Victoire mountain

Before heading to the Alpilles reserve, stop by at Sainte Victoire mountain. Located less than twenty kilometres from Aix-en-Provence, this limestone mountain reaches 1011 metres at its peak, piercing the azure Provence sky. You just need a glimpse to recognise it: it is she, Cézanne’s eternal muse, immortalised in over 80 of his works.

provence-in-3-days-sainte-victoire

Roam around the restanque dotted footpaths, in the footsteps of Cézanne and his companions Zola and Baille. On the way, you will come across the vestiges of religious constructions such as the Chapelle Ermitage Saint-Ser, destroyed and rebuilt time and time again. The bravest will climb up to the Pic des Mouches, the highest point of the Sainte Victoire mountain, where you get a panoramic view of the landscapes of Provence. From the green plains to the top of the Alps and Mont Ventoux. Can you spot the sea in the distance?

VISIT PROVENCE IN 3 DAYS: DAY 2, THE ALPILLES

On the second day of your holiday, set course for the regional nature reserve of the Alpilles. You will drive about an hour through the rolling hills of Aix country to reach the limestone mountains bathed in sunlight. Let the cicada song and the sweet scent of fruit from the orchards guide you straight to the most beautiful villages perched on the Alpilles.

Fall for the charm of the hillside villages

Make a first halt at Eygalières. Perched atop a rock at the heart of the Alpilles Massif, it overlooks the vast olive groves and vineyards. Life here is peaceful, cadenced by nap time and the all-important “apéritif”. Stop by at one of the small cafés to sip a glass of anise-flavoured water while chatting with the locals. They are a living testimony of Cézanne’s Provence.

provence-in-3-days-perched

Get back on the road and head for Baux-de-Provence village. It too hangs on a ridge and is crowned by an old fortress, where you command an unparalleled view not only of the Alpilles but also of Arles and the Camargue. Wandering among the many historic monuments on foot will put a smile on your face.

Baux-de-Provence is not only about architectural heritage. The village is also home to several connoisseur favourite restaurants, like l’Oustau de Baumonière and its 3 Michelin stars, for instance. The 100% vegetable menu is our favourite, prepared with local produce, including from chef Jean André Charial’s own organic vegetable garden. It’s like being served the sun on a plate!

Drop your bags at Saint Rémy de Provence

Finish your day in the Alpilles with the unmissable village of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. There is no one way to visit, the best thing to do here is to get lost in the narrow streets of the old town and let yourself be guided by the rippling fountains. Walk through the doors of the many boutiques to discover Provençal craftsmanship: lavender or honey-scented soap, blown glass pieces and artwork, lacework and tapestries…

provence-in-3-days-soap

VISIT PROVENCE IN 3 DAYS: DAY 3, SOME TIME AWAY FROM PAUL CEZANNE IN CAMARGUE

You cannot visit Provence in 3 days without exploring the regional nature reserve of Camargue. Only fifty kilometres from the Alpilles, the difference in atmosphere is striking. Spend your last day on the waterfront, Paul Cézanne won’t mind.

Go back in time to the historic centre of Arles

Provence is famous for its rich heritage, and Arles is no exception. But here you go even further back, to the prosperous time of the Roman colonies. Begin your journey to ancient Rome with a visit to the legendary Arles arena. Back then, 20,000 spectators would come and watch gladiators fight. Today, the turmoil is no more, and quiet is king of this majestic place.

provence-in-3-days-arles

Take your time in the maze-like galleries before visiting the rest of the town. Roman vestiges are ubiquitous here, but the Provençal lifestyle has long since reclaimed its rights. The antique theatre – where plays are produced still today, the obelisk, and the baths of Constantine exist side by side with busy café terraces and traditional houses with coloured shutters. Without the shadow of a doubt, we are in Cézanne’s South, but also Van Gogh and Pagnol’s.

Meet the wildlife in the Camargue’s paddy fields between the Rhône and the Mediterranean

The final stop during our 3-day road trip: the Camargue paddy fields, located at the heart of the regional nature reserve. They are their own little world in the middle of the rolling hills of Provence. Surrounded by wild nature, hugged by the Rhône and the Mediterranean, it is its location that gives the Camargue its affluent wildlife. With a bit of patience, come and admire the birds in their natural habitat. No less than 277 species come to the paddy fields each year, flamingos chief among them.

provence-in-3-days-camargue

If you have some time left, finish your weekend on horseback, another unmissable feature of the Camargue. Ride bareback and explore the marsh during the “golden hour” – unless you prefer a galop on the beach, as the sun turns in for the night. What better way to bring your 3-day visit to Provence to a close?

Book your luxury France holidays with one of our luxury villas in Provence now and make moments to remember with Le Collectionist. There is a fruitful abundance of things to do in Provence - one of our favourite luxury holiday destinations

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