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Provence - The French rural idyll

From the verdant vineyards that line the banks of the River Rhone to the carpet of lavender fields in the foothills of majestic Mont Ventoux, Provence is a spectacular showcase of natural beauty. The stunning countryside is interspersed with historic towns, making the region ideal whether you want to spend your days discovering the local history, or relaxing with a glass of local Pastis in your tranquil Provençal hideaway.

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St. Remy de Provence

The quaint village of St Remy de Provence is located amid attractive countryside 30 kilometres south of Avignon. Wonderfully traditional and picturesque, the village features narrow streets, shady squares, excellent restaurants, and small boutiques. The best way to soak up the atmosphere here is to stop and enjoy a leisurely coffee in one of the small pavement cafes. Vincent Van Gogh produced many paintings of this beautiful surrounding countryside. You’ll find plenty of opportunities for walking and cycling to explore the wonderful scenery.

  • 1hr fromMarseille

Domaine de Camiole

Situated in an elevated position close to the hilltop village of Callian, lies the wonderful Domaine de Camiole Resort & Spa. Situated amongst lush Mediterranean countryside in the heart of Fayence, the resort exudes an ambience of quality and high life living. Bordering the Massif de l'Esterel mountains and only 5km from Lake St. Cassien, there is a rich array of natural beauty to be discovered! For those who like to stay on resort, there is still plenty to keep all the family occupied. The kids' club, open during high season, provides fun activities to keep the little ones amused, whilst the wellness centre can provide a wonderfully relaxing experience. The outdoor pool is an ideal place to sunbathe at, or to socialise with other families. The resort offers a fine standard of accommodation, from villas with pools to wonderfully Provencal style designed apartments, perfect for families, groups of friends or couples alike!

  • 45mins fromNice

Isle Sur la Sorgue

Isle sur la Sorgue is known as an ‘island city’, with branches of the river Sorgue surrounding parts of it. Several picturesque canals also run through the medieval streets in the centre of the city. Many beautiful old buildings line the streets of the town centre, including attractive mansion houses of the 17th and 18th centuries. The town is also known for its antiques shops and nearby 300 of them are based here. Various great antiques fairs are also held during the year. A popular local produce market is held on Thursdays and Sundays, where you can enjoy meeting the locals and absorbing the traditional French way of life. The stunning countryside nearby is a great area for walking, with plenty of beautiful scenery to explore.

  • 1hr 20mins fromMarseille

Roussillon

This wonderful, picturesque village is a ‘must-see’ when visiting the Luberon, and many visitors are attracted by the beautiful old buildings, great restaurants, and several art galleries. The village is a labyrinth of winding narrow streets and squares, lined by beautiful, rustic houses. Various local festivals take place during summer months, offering a great opportunity to soak up some of the local way of life. Roussillon is surrounded by beautiful countryside, and the area is well-known for its dramatic red-rock cliffs, interspersed with lush woodland. There are plenty of opportunities for walking and cycling amid this wonderful landscape.

  • 1hr 40mins fromMarseille

Eygalieres

Eygalières is a small calm village just 5 mn from Saint Rémy de Provence. The village is surrounded by pretty landscapes, with olive groves, green valleys and vine fields punctuated here and there by pretty restored houses. Eygalières is a village which has known how to preserve it's authentic charm with it's beautiful stone houses, lavender and sweet smelling flowers which allow glimpses of beautiful gardens and fields in the area.

  • 2hrs fromMarseille

Callian

The picturesque hilltop village of Callian enjoys stunning, far reaching views over the surrounding countryside, with quaint winding streets lined with pretty Provencal buildings, and dotted with a delightful selection of restaurants. Situated in a beautiful area of Provence, with many pretty Provencal villages waiting to be discovered, and just 30km from the renowned Riviera coastline.

  • 1hr fromNice

Cucuron

Cucuron is a splendid village located at the footstep of the Luberon mountain.It is part of the Regional Luberon Parc, where you will admire beautiful views and vegetation. The village is also known to have been used as the set for the 1995 rewarded movie "the horseman on the roof" and offers plenty of activities and entertainment such as concerts, theatre and sport activities. You will enjoy walking around the medieval part of the village inside the old rampart walls in half an hour, taking in the best view over the rooftops from the donjon (dungeon) St Michel, exploring the pretty winding streets and fountains to the church at the other end of the village.

  • 1hr fromMarseille

Fayence

Sitting on a hillside between the sea and the mountains, and set in picturesque Provençal countryside, Fayence is rated highly by tourists. It has a southerly climate, charming old streets, pretty and welcoming bars emitting the beautiful lavender and floral aromas of Provence, and even some hints of times gone by. Fayence is also well known for its top European gliding center, where competitions are held.

  • 2hrs fromNice

Fontvieille

Fontvieille is situated in the heart of the "Provence des Alpilles", not far from the historic arena at Arles, the citadel of the Baux de Provence, the museums of Saint-Rémy and the Avignon Festival which is less than 30km away

Gordes

This famous village is both beautiful and welcoming. Tourists come here from round the world to see this famous village in the heart of Provence with its stone buildings, church, views, restaurants and culture. Take the opportunity to visit here and take with you some great memories of this wonderful area of France.

  • 1hr 5mins fromMarseille

Joucas

The quiet village of Joucas is set on a hill surrounded by tranquil countryside and farmland. Joucas remains off the main tourist trail, and offers a fantastic, traditional atmosphere – a great place to really get away from it all. There are picturesque narrow streets to stroll around, as well as beautiful architecture amid the old stone houses. There is also a church that houses an interesting museum of Italian painting. All around the village you will find wonderful Provençal countryside where you can enjoy relaxing walks in the great outdoors.

  • 2hrs fromMarseille

Lagnes

Raised above the Luberon plain, Lagnes is a small and charming village in between Gordes and Isle sur la Sorgue. You will enjoy walking about to discover some photogenic 16th century buildings, panoramic views, and one very unusual hobbyist. If you carry on to the back of the village the land keeps rising and gives you a great view to the Alpilles with Lagnes in the foreground. The ancient 14th-century walls and the towers of the 13th-century château give the village a distinctive medieval flavor.

Le Muy

Surrounded by verdant forests, the typically Provençal village of Le Muy is well known locally for its colourful markets held each Thursday and Sunday morning. The area is also renowned for the surrounding vineyards, which produce several high-quality wines. Rural in character, this area is the perfect place to explore the great outdoors, with many activities such as canoeing, and cycling to be found nearby.

  • 55mins fromNice

Les Baux

This is an extremely picturesque village and area, surrounded by the Alpilles national parkland with beautiful forests, rocky outcrops and lots of space. Small roads wind through this area passing through pretty olive groves and vineyards, with spectacular rocky scenery characteristic of this rugged region. "Baux" means a cliff and bauxite is named after this region, and the village is historic and pretty with narrow cobblestone streets and terrace cafés to enjoy.

  • 2hrs fromMarseille

Lioux

Stunning countryside backdrops surround you in Lioux, set in the Luberon National Park there is no escaping the breath taking countryside views. The quaint village is peaceful and very traditional, perfect for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Nearby resorts like Joucas, Roussillon and Gordes keep in with the traditional Provencal charm and have a wider range of shops and restaurants for you to indulge in, these are reached approximately a twenty minute drive away.

  • 1hr 10mins fromMarseille

Lourmarin

Lourmarin is regarded as one of the most beautiful villages in France. The rustic old buildings, winding cobbled streets and elegant little squares attract many visitors during the summer months. Whether you want to relax with a coffee in a pavement café, enjoy a delicious meal at a local restaurant, or browse the small boutiques of the village centre, you’ll love spending time amid the laid-back atmosphere. Another point of interest here is that Albert Camus, winner of the Nobel prize for literature, lived in Lourmarin. The village is surrounded by beautiful countryside including lush vineyards, olive groves, and almond trees – perfect for exploring at your own pace.

  • 2hrs fromMarseille

Menerbes

This delightful little village in the Luberon is considered one of the finest in France. Built on a hill, it is surrounded by magnificent, often lush and varied countryside. The rich and historic past of this village has been well-preserved and including, of course, the remains of Roman villas. In the Middle Ages, entry to the village was via two doors, St Sauveur et Notre Dame. Later during the 16th century, Ménerbes was the capital of the Protestant movement and you can admire the imposing citadel built between the 12th and 16th century. View the old and often impressive houses, often country hideaways for famous artists such as Picasso who owned a house here, amongst other famous artists, musicians, comedians and writers. Some of the other historic sights to see are the St Hilaire abbey, the 14th century church and perhaps the 18th century chapel Saint Blaise

  • 2hrs fromMarseille

Merindol

Nestled in amongst the Provencal countryside, Merindol is a small, quaint village situated in the Vaucluse department in the south-east of Provence. Centered between the famous towns of Aix en Provence and Avignon, Merindol is in a fantastic position for exploring the many pretty surrounding villages and for discovering the best that this fascinating region has to offer.

  • 1hr fromMarseille

Montauroux

The pretty village on Montauroux is set high on a hillside, enjoying picturesque views over the rolling countryside. Made up of narrow winding streets offering a small selection of shops, terrace cafes and restaurants. Well positioned for exploring the fascinating region, with the beautiful villages of Callian and Fayence within a short drive, well worth a visit, and the stunning Riviera coastline within 30km.

  • 50mins fromNice

Rognes

Rognes is a pretty and historic village situated between Salon de Provence and Aix en Provence. Dating back to the stone-age, the village was was built, destroyed and rebuilt several times over the centuries until a fateful day in 1909 when it was almost totally destroyed by an earthquake, and later abandoned. Today the village is peaceful and you can even see some of the original streets and houses still preserved from that time. Wine has always dominated this region, and stone masonry as well, taken from local quarries for more than 20 centuries and famous across France. The famous town of Aix en Provence is easily accessible and offers a wonderful day out admiring the scenery, fountains and culture of this beautiful part of Provence.

  • 40mins fromMarseille

Rustrel

Rustrel is a pretty and quiet village in Luberon, close to the town of Apt. This charming local town is known for its great little bakery, great food and great wine. Full of Provencal charm, Rustrel is also famous for its beautiful Colorado Provencal, quite unique for the beauty of its landscape. Located between the Monts de Vaucluse and the hill of of Caseneuve, Rustrel is the perfect holiday destination to visit the Provencal villages of Luberon. Have a walk or a bike ride, have a nice meal in one of the excellent restaurants, sit at a terrace and taste the wonderful local wines... enjoy all the beauty of Provence in a quiet and relaxed atmosphere.

  • 1hr 30mins fromMarseille

Saint Saturnin les Apt

St. Saturnin is an authentic medieval village, perfect for indulging yourself in traditional French living. Steeped in almost 1,000 years of history, with castle ruins set above the village, sharing in beautiful views of the Luberon. Here you will find quaint streets, lined with rows of connected medieval houses, dotted with a wonderful bakery, butchers and grocery store, and cafes for sampling the delightful local cuisine and watching the world go by.

  • 1hr 40mins fromMarseille

St. Paul en Foret

The traditional village of St Paul en Foret is in a beautiful setting, surrounded by forests of oak and pine. A small selection of amenities are on offer here, including a bakery, and two restaurants serving French cuisine. For further amenities the picturesque village of Fayence lies within a short drive, here you will find charming old streets, lined with interesting shops and an array of fantastic restaurants and cafes.

  • 1hr 5mins fromNice

Tourves

The small village of Tourves is perfect for immersing yourself in village life, sample the local cuisine in the patisseries and handful of cafes in the streets leading up to the typical Provencal square. Further afield you will find the charming market town of Brignoles, just 10km away, with its maze of narrow twisting streets and beautiful old town.

  • 55mins fromMarseille

Vernegues

Perched in the heart of the Massif des Costes, Vernègues is at the crossroads of the main roads in the Rhone Valley. It lies in a beautiful countryside, offering the perfect setting for some magnificent walks with the subtle perfumes of the aromatic wild plants which line the footpaths. Vernegues boasts a rich heritage with a Roman temple, necropolis, an oil mill, some polishing stones and a Gallo-Roman oppidum. Discover this village, a true witness to history...

  • 40mins fromMarseille

Your Provence Villa holiday

Local cuisine in Provence Image

Local cuisine in Provence

Try bouillabaisse, a wonderful seafood stew made with fish, shellfish, vegetables and herbs. Ratatouille, the best-known local favourite, is a stew served in restaurants all over the region. No meal would be complete without a glass of Provençal wine – produced from the famous vineyards of Côtes du Rhône, Côtes de Provence and Bandol.

Retail therapy in Provence Image

Retail therapy in Provence

The historic towns of Aix en Provence, Uzes and Bagnols sur Ceze not only offer history, but great shopping as well. The local bargains in these towns to be snapped up are perfumes, soaps and eaux de toilettes all crafted in part from the local lavender, famous in the region, and of course the local wine, plentiful and good value. The local markets, especially in these towns, offer a rich variety of local produce, from fresh garlic, peppers and courgettes, to flowers, nougat (remember that Montelimar is not far away) and freshly pressed olive oil of all colours, hues and varieties.

Outdoor pursuits in Provence Image

Outdoor pursuits in Provence

Spend a day driving the rural lanes, stopping to picnic beside one of the beautiful hillside vineyards. If you enjoy walking, the many scenic footpaths are great for exploring the area on foot, whilst the twisting roads leading up to the barren, moonscape summit of Mont Ventoux attract many keen cyclists each year.

Wine in Provence Image

Wine in Provence

No trip to Provence would be complete without enjoying some of the wonderful wines that are to be found in this region. Our villas are within easy reach of some of the most famous vineyards in the world, so as a must do visit Chateauneuf de Pape, now world famous. Also try the Cotes du Rhone, offering great value and quality at a reasonable price. Stop off at any of the vineyards on your journey through Provence and take a wine tour, and be surprised at the history of wine and the region that you weren’t aware of.

Weather Guide

For the Provence holiday season.

Average monthly temperature and rainfall for the Provence holiday season

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Not to be missed...

  • Spend a morning in the beautiful town of Aix with its fountains, restaurants, and wonderful artistic heritage as the birthplace of Paul Cézanne.
  • Sample the world-famous wine of Châteauneuf du Pape, a medieval village overlooked by the ruins of an ancient chateau.
  • Drive through the imposing gorges and quaint traditional villages of the Canyon du Verdon – a dramatic ravine carved by the aquamarine waters of the Verdon river.
  • Visit the Gorges De L’Ardeche for an adventure day out, where you can cycle, walk, sail, sunbathe on beaches, go canyoning and many other exciting outdoor activities.
  • Spend a day on the vast plains of the stunning Camargue national park to catch a glimpse of the beautiful Camargue white horses that roam the area freely.

Villas with Jacuzzis

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Villas with Great Views

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Villas with Tennis Courts

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Provence reviews verified by reevooReevoo

Sights / Places to go
8.7
Night life
6.9
Overall rating
9.1
Scores 9.1 out of 10 based on 44 reviews
Reviews and scores from the last 12 months.
Views and opinions in these reviews are solely of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of James Villa Holidays (JVH). JVH provides no assurances regarding the accuracy of the information and cannot accept liability for complaints, loss or damage resulting from the article. It does not form part of the contract made when a holiday is booked with JVH and the information provided is not intended to be a rider or replacement to the booking conditions. Reference to the service or product of a third party, is not an endorsement or recommendation and JVH accepts no liability as a result of complaints, loss or damage arising from their use.
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