Things to do in Provence: A guide to the endlessly beautiful region

Provence's picture-perfect reputation exists in so many different, but equally stunning forms. Rocky mountains flatten into sweeping farmlands, eventually giving way to the dramatic and wild coastline. With these things to do in Provence, you can make the most of this beautiful region.
Things to do in Provence: A guide to the endlessly beautiful region

A mere mention of Provence conjures up fleeting images of grassy leas or vast vineyards fringed by cypress trees, bordered by mountains. Some might imagine fields of lavender and sunflowers glowing in the morning light, or beautiful stretches of coastline.

So, there is no easy answer to the question, what are the best things to do in Provence? The answer would be as varying as the beautiful terrain that characterises this diverse region of France. Luberon's terrain will make for a wildly different experience to the hidden coves and mesmerising wilderness of Calanques des Cassis.

This guide will walk you through the best things to do in the plentiful region of Provence. Here at Le Collectionist, we offer an array of exciting and unique experiences in most of our destinations. 

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What is Provence famous for?

Provence is famous for its picturesque and diverse landscapes with blossoming lavender in the summer months. It is also famous for the delicious wines and rosés that have been produced in the region for centuries. It goes unsaid that Mediterranean gastronomy is an added attraction that leaves a lingering smile on visitors' faces. It is also famous for its picturesque towns and historic cities, such as Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, and Les Baux-de-Provence. 

What is the best time of year to visit Provence?

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Our favourite time to visit Provence is between March and May or September to November, when the swelling summer crowds have dissipated or have yet to arrive and the weather is pleasant. 

Provence in winter: Season's greetings

Limiting Provence's inherent charm to any one time of year would be disregarding the seasonal charm this area flaunts. Provence in winter unveils a different, slower way of life, with charming Christmas markets waiting to be meandered and seasonal merriment freely gifted by the welcoming local people. You will find some of the best things to do in Provence in October (to be published soon), as Provence edges into winter. Read our recommendations for things to do in Provence in February (to be published soon)

Spring in Provence, France: Flowers to brighten each day

In the months of spring, Provence is alive with an atmosphere of freedom that is shared by all those visiting the area. Lavender fields laden the air with lively aromas and markets bulge with local produce. 

Provence flowers with a piquant flourish in the summer and the spring, with heaving fields of colour and a promise to please all the senses. It is quite the spectacle that sees people travel to admire the rows of purple that line valley floors and the towering, yellow-headed figures of the sunflowers. To find more, read our articles on things to do in Provence in April and things to do in Provence in May (to be published soon). Or take a stroll through the blossoming fields with our article on Provence France flowers.

The best things to do in Provence in summer

There is a general buzz around Provence in the summer: small Citroëns and Renaults wind their way down the quaint country roads and restaurants and cafes spill out onto cobbled streets. Take advantage of the pleasant and dry weather by cycling the impressive peaks around Sainte-Victoire, or fly fishing the clear waters of the region's lakes and rivers. Read more about things to do in Provence in Junethings to do in Provence in August,  and things to do in Provence in September (to be published soon).  

The Best things to do in Provence, France

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  • Lap up the beauty of the lavender fields
  • Witness the dizzying heights of Sainte-Victoire
  • Discover divine architecture at the Palais des Papes in Avignon
  • Traverse rugged terrain in Massif des Calanques between Cassis and Marseille
  • Taste the region's exceptional grapes

Read more on the best things to do in Provence, France, to be published soon.

3 days in Provence

From Paris, Provence is an excellent place to escape to for a weekend. Wherever you choose to spend your trip in Provence, there will be plenty to do in the area, whether you wish to taste the region's wines or opt for something more adventurous. Discover our recommendations for your 3 days in Provence (to be published soon) here.

The Provence of van Gogh

The region's beauty has been a point of attraction for artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Pablo Picasso. In the late 1880s, van Gogh was so beguiled by the brilliant and unique light of Provence that he decided to live in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Arles. With such an artistic legacy, there are exciting galleries and installations such as Carrières de Lumières, which often exhibit the works of great artists who have been drawn to the region throughout history. Explore the Provence of van Gogh with this article (to be published soon)

The best things to do with kids in Provence

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Provence is an excellent destination to go as a whole family, but not all of the activities are family friendly. While wine tasting is probably not advised with your toddlers, there are still some wonderful things to do with kids in Provence.

For the more adventurous families, soar above the patchwork of colours in the Ochre Valley in a hot-air balloon, or for the dog lovers and culinary connoisseurs spend the afternoon learning about truffles and the amazing dogs who find them. Or simply head to a stunning beach. Here is our list of unique activities that would be great to do with the kids:

Some of the most unique things to do in Provence

Beyond the obvious things - things that Provence has become famous for, like wine-tasting and marvelling at the lavender fields - there are a number of unique things to do in Provence (to be published soon). One of our favourite things to do is to swim in the pale blue water beneath Sillands-la-Cascade - a stunning waterfall in the Var department. With our favourite yoga instructor, Andrea, you can connect with nature by taking a yoga class amongst the vines. for the lovers of all things fine, listen to a moving operatic performance in the vineyards of Chateau La Coste. It is a truly ethereal experience. 

Take a road trip through the lavender fields

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One of our favourite things to do in Provence is to meander the roads that slice through the vast fields of lavender. it is an experience of vibrant piquancy, where colours and scents pique the interests of all of your senses. Rolling fields of violet ignite the landscape and spark life into the summer breeze. In June, begin to make your way from the otherworldly Rhone Valley to Luberon to Valensole, beneath the most stunning perched villages and alongside the stretches of purple flowers. Read more on when and how to see the lavender fields of Provence here.

The picturesque perched villages of Provence

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Immense valleys and lofty cliffs conceal and hold aloft some of the most superbly attractive villages and towns. Perhaps the most famous of these villages is les Baux-de-Provence, which is a pretty and otherworldly town set amongst the boulders and cliffs of a rocky outcrop. Gordes, a perched village in Luberon, winds its way up the slopes of a hill with Tolkienesque intricacy, showcasing the beauty of the terracotta-topped buildings that stand to attention overlooking the Luberon Valley. At the top of the hill, the historic old town is well worth an exploration. Read our article on the best perched villages of Provence (to be published soon) and see our words on all of the best villages to visit in Provence.

The Best Things to do in Marseille, Provence

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Finding some amazing things to do in Marseille is not difficult by any means: spend the morning admiring the Notre Dame de la Garde or traverse the rugged landscape of the nearby Les Calanques de Marseille National Park. But something a bit more special can also be arranged through us. Explore our luxury villa rentals in Marseille to springboard your next experience-filled trip. Check out our favourite things to do in Marseille (to be published soon) here.

Do not miss: Le Petit Nice

Gourmands should not pass up the opportunity to experience the three Michelin-starred restaurant Le Petit Nice. With amazing views of the sea and the ambrosial food that is finely crafted by chef Gérald Passedat, this restaurant effortlessly transports you to another world; a world where the ocean is the giver of life and reigns supreme. 

Learn the South of France's culinary traditions

Spend an afternoon with Georgiana, a Benin-born Marseille chef known for adding her own touches to the local food of Marseille. Come away with some delicious Mediterranean recipes up your sleeve ready to impress family or friends.

Glide across the Mediterranean Sea

Kitesurfing is a sport that keeps you coming back for more. Instead of watching these gravity-defying stunts being performed in the bay below your villa, why not schedule a lesson with a freestyle champion? After a few lessons, you will undoubtedly be hooked, determined to glide through the air and ripple across the azure waters of the Mediterranean. 

Swim the Mediterranean Sea inside The Blue Cave 

Rent an old fishing trawler to ferry you to The Blue Cave, La Grotte Bleue, where you can snorkel the mesmerising tidal cave. Light spills through the semi-submerged tunnel and fills the cave with an impossibly blue luminosity. This is an unforgettable experience, which can be reached by boat or on foot. Plunge into the cavernous rock pool to see the marine life that inhabits this magical cave.

The best things to do in Cassis, Provence

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Cassis has endless discoveries waiting to be stumbled upon: find a quaint seafood restaurant tucked away from the bustling crowds, or walk to the narrow rocky inlets that provide shelter to mooring boats. You'll find some of our favourite things to do in Cassis (to be published soon) here.

Do not miss: Clamber up Cap Canaille

Standing at 394m, this is the highest seaside cliff in France. Hike to the exceptionally beautiful cliff to admire the seascape and vistas of the coastal cliffs of Calanque de Cassis. 

Catch some rays on the beaches of Calanque de Cassis

Plage de la Grande Mer is the main beach of Cassis with great swimming. Walk down in the morning, when the beach is at its quietest, for a dip to start the day feeling fresh. Or, walk to the edge of town to submerge in the relative quiet of Plage de l'Arene: a more wild and picturesque beach with rocky shores.

Port Pin Beach is a small beach at the end of a peaceful inlet, where still waters make for perfect swimming conditions thanks to the cover of the surrounding tree-crested cliffs. For a cove of untold natural beauty, flanked by sheer rock faces, head to Calanque d'En Vau Beach.

Hike the wild landscape of the National Park

Some of the area's finest scenery is cradled in this park. Exploring the park makes for an awe-inspiring day trip. The path winds its way across the coast-hugging cliffs, offering staggering views of the dramatic coastline and stretch of blue that disappears into a haze on the horizon. We have some amazing day trips in Provence (to be published soon) for you to discover here.

The best things to do in Aix-en-Provence, Provence

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This university city in the south of France is a charming and friendly destination, where you can easily meander the streets lined with Gothic buildings and neo-Gothic influences. In the spring and summer the markets are bulging with the fruits of the harvest. From one of our luxury villa rentals in Aix-en-Provence, you can explore the area and tailor experiences to suit your holiday desires. Read more of our favourite things to do in Aix-en-Provence here.

Do not miss: Paul Cézanne's Studio for the lovers of art

Throw open the curtain on the life of the great artist and Post-Impressionist paint Paul Cézanne by visiting this studio-cum-museum. This museum feels like a freeze-frame, a mere glimpse, into the painter's life, with his furniture and tools still occupying the space that was once filled with Cézanne's great genius. 

Yoga among the vines of Aix-en-Provence

Speak to your dedicated holiday tailor to arrange a yoga class in and amongst the cascading vines of one of the famous Provencal vineyards. Andrea will guide you through a soothing session as the sun sets the sky ablaze with the sounds of nature all around.  

Follow the leader on a day trip of climbing

As the sun begins its climb across the blue sky, begin yours up the mighty Montagne Sainte-Victoire. This colossal limestone mountain beckons hikers up to its lofty summit, from where the view is truly breathtaking. Follow our experienced guide to make the most of this epic experience. 

Sample the grapes of the French Riviera

Chateau La Coste is a fusion of two crafts: one steeped in history, the other with an eye to the modern and the contemporary. Discover the history of wine growing in the region, whilst surrounded by modern art sculptures and installations. There is no better feast for the eyes and the palate than an afternoon at Chateau La Coste, sampling the delicious wines whilst learning about leading modern artists.

The best things to do in Avignon, Provence

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Avignon is steeped in history and a beautiful place to visit. The city centre is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site, with incredible architecture of historical significance and preserved medieval ramparts that were constructed during the Avignon Papacy. The city alone is worth visiting for its beauty, but in the summer the city comes to life as it hosts an annual arts festival - Festival d'Avignon - which promises countless memorable performances and displays from both local and international artists. Discover the best things to do in Avignon (to be published soon)

Do not miss: Pont d'Avignon

This picturesque bridge, once an old wooden bridge traversing the Rhône, now just four out of its 22 later concrete arches remain. On the bridge, the Chapel of Saint Nicholas remains unperturbed. It is a wonderfully picture-perfect setting, so keep your camera at the ready. 

Cycle between perched villages and the tracks of Tour de France

There are some truly unique things to do in Provence, but perhaps the most is to cycle up the jaw-dropping Mont Ventoux alongside a renowned biking champion. Below, the landscape glints in the golden sunlight.

Palais des Papes

The city of Avignon was once the main seat of the papacy in the 14th century and remained under the control of the Pope until the 18th century. The Palais des Papes, built in the 14th century, is one of the most significant medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. Avignon Cathedral, built mostly across the beginning of the 13th and end of the 12th centuries, is also an astonishing structure to explore on your trip to Avignon.

The best things to do in Luberon, Provence

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Luberon is a place of diversity within the already deeply varied countryside of Provence: perched villages, crafted in golden hues, peer from commanding hillsides down on the verdant valleys below, where flat expanses of farmlands and fields of lavender swiftly rise into scattered mountains once more.

In the centre of this area sits the imposing Luberon Massif, which is comprised of three major ranges: Lesser Luberon, Greater Luberon and the Eastern Luberon. As one of the most intriguing and exciting holiday destinations in Provence, we have no shortage of luxury villa rentals in Luberon. In Luberon, things to do spring forth in their droves.

Do not miss: The dazzling charm of Gordes

Once more, the region's fascinating and captivating villages are a must-see attraction. It has been listed as one of the "Most Beautiful Villages of France" many a time, and rightly so. A fortress-like castle, Château de Gordes, sits in the centre of the village, with its walls and defensive posts drawing visitors. The Sénanque Abbey, with its glowing fields of lavender, is a short distance from Gordes.  

Soar above the Ochre Valley

In the early morning, hoist yourself and your family into the gondola of a hot-air balloon to watch the sun rise over the Ochre Valley, its sandstone earth growing in vivacity. The only disturbance to the complete serenity while hovering above this brilliant landscape is the occasional burst of flame into the cavernous mouth of the balloon. 

Hunt for the black diamonds of France: Provence's black truffles

A truffle dog has a very particular set of skills and take their jobs incredibly seriously. And, we can assure you, it doesn't make them any less cute. The dogs' acute sense of smell will guide you to learning more about the fine art of cultivating and hunting for the area's famous black truffles, which are of great value in the culinary world. The experience is made far better by being taught by a truffle grower whose family has its roots in the refined tradition. 

Learn the South of France's winemaking history

One of Luberon's most historic vineyards will show you the way that wine making has evolved through the centuries. After delving into the flavours and history of the award-winning cellars, spend the afternoon with a lunch amongst the vines.

Gluten-free cooking French-Riviera style 

Learning to cook with Reine Sammut and her daughter Nadia of Auberge la Fenière will be unlike any other cooking experience you have had before. Known locally and beyond as "the Queen of Flavours", Reine has mastered the local ingredients and will guide you and your loved ones to crafting an especially delicious lunch for everyone to feast upon. Their gluten-free recipes will put a smile on your face without fail.

The best things to do in Alpilles, Provence

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The Alpilles mountain range rises with great majesty from the Rhône Valley. Although the Alpilles aren't particularly high (literally, the small Alps), the surrounding valleys and plains lend to their grandness. It is yet another astounding example of the geographical range of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region.

Rock-strewn mountainsides, casting long shadows in the afternoon sun, overlook the ancient olive groves in the valleys below. A gentle hum of birdsong and chattering insects rises from the tangle of branches and grass on the lush valley floors; flitting insects occasionally catch the last lengths of light, freckling the air like a canopy of stars. Endeavour to tick off the list of the best things to do in Alpilles (to be published soon).

Do not miss: Become a cowboy in the Camargue National Park

Just south of the Alpilles, where the Rhône debouches into a two-pronged delta that trickles and babbles its way into the Mediterranean, is Camargues - a natural park where the natural beauty is just as at ease as the thriving wildlife. Follow our well-trained guide through the Camargue atop a steadfast steed and explore this rich and lively natural area. 

Learn about honey: From the lavender fields to the hive

In the heart of the Alpilles, you can visit a bee farm to learn everything there is to know about honey from the local professionals... and their owners - a local family of beekeepers. 

Travelling to Provence with Le Collectionist is an adventure of a lifetime. Our experiences will not only allow you to collect and share in unique memories with those you love, but they will also complement all of the other wonderful activities and adventures that are on offer in this beautiful region.

Explore our magical Provence villa rentals to springboard your next unforgettable trip to the region that feels inexhaustibly full of surprises.

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