Provence is just a few hours from Monaco and if you’ve been dreaming of a Provencal getaway, look no further!
Can you get a taste of Provence in just one weekend? Absolutely so! Here are some tips for a weekend in paradise. Whether it’s your very first time to Provence, or you’ve been before, the secret to discovering a great location is simple – knowing where to go.
Just a two-hour drive from Monaco is the famed Luberon, praised by Peter Mayle in “A Year in Provence” and beautifully filmed by Ridley Scott in “A Good Year” with Russell Crowe and Marion Cotillard. Both are a must-read and must-see before a trip to the Luberon—you will enjoy it immensely.
We suggest three housing options for accommodation. If you enjoy evening walks under castle walls but still want to be in the midst of everything, “La Bastide de Gordes” is in the very centre of Gorda. This is one of the few five-star hotels in the area with a nice spa and within walking distance from main attractions.
If you are looking for a quiet retreat and leisurely gastronomic delights, “Le Phebus,” near the town of Joucas is the best choice. The chef and the hotel owner know how to please even the most discerning gourmets from Monaco. You will need a car to get around, but since the hotel is located in the “golden triangle” of the Luberon, everything is close by.
The third option suits a large family or a group of friends. It is a beautiful house with a swimming pool, fireplace, incredible views and a fun host who is an Englishman. The house is newly built, with a beautiful kitchen and grill, with fantastic views of the Luberon and vineyards all around. The nearest village is a five-minute walk.
Places to see
Provence markets are a real cultural phenomenon and a “must do” in that will make your holiday in Provence a real feast. Once you experience it, you will understand. Markets are held in the mornings, all days of the week, but the best and most versatile Sunday market is held in the discreet village of Coustellet. Here you can taste and buy all kinds of Provencal specialties, such as tapenade (olive paste with different flavours), olive oil, goat cheese (do not miss its dry version, chevre sec) and seasonal vegetables. But that’s not all—everything the beautiful Provence land offers can be found from fresh honey to bunches of lavender to olive wood bowls and utensils. Also don’t miss the traditional Provencal fabrics.
The town of Isle Sur La Sorque is famous for its all year round antique market, the largest in the South of France. Have a stroll around; there are always things to see. Ask the locals to recommend a lunch place. Butchers and grocers will give you the best tips – they know all the restaurants in the area and their food requirements. Tripadvisor will also give good suggestions with reviews.
Don’t miss a trip to the marvelous wine region of Chateauneuf Du Pape. You will find vineyards with tasting rooms to be at every step, follow your intuition to find the best ones. Be sure to visit the village itself and climb up to the ruins of the Pope’s castle, where the views are straight out of a postcard.
Other must-see towns are the lively and beautiful village of Gordes; the quiet authentic Menerbes; Lacoste, with its ruins of Marquis de Sade’s ancestral castle (now the property of Pierre Cardin); Venasque with the oldest chapel in Provence; and multi-coloured Roussillon, with its Martian landscapes of ochre and the Senanque Abbey—scenic beyond description.
Take time to drop-in to the nearest tourist office and ask about any rustic feasts taking place. If you’re lucky (and the odds are high), you could be a guest at one of these events, another opportunity to experience the lifestyle of Provence.
Please note! It is best to visit Provence in the high season from May to October. Once the cold sets in and the infamous Mistral winds arrive, it is not the most hospitable area.