La Bastide de Boulbon is a charming seasonal boutique hotel with 10 rooms and a beautiful garden. The hamlet of Boulbon is conveniently located just minutes from Avignon TGV.
Eygalières small house in the old village
Are you more interested in self-catering and unstructured touring? Then book accommodation through Untours European Vacations. You can read more about Untours in Nutmeg’s blog post here.
Moulin de la Roque – just 800m from the heart of Noves is an old flour mill that has been converted into beautifully appointed villas.This private corner of Provence has you thinking you could be in Tuscany.
Mas de la Rose – between Orgon and Eygalieres in a beautiful setting, their restaurant Potager de la Mas is exquisite
St Remy: As the name suggests Provence Paradise is just that a sublime hideaway just an 8 minute walk from the heart of St Remy. William and his team offer a warm welcome from start to finish, including stocking your fridge with a homemade dinner on the night of your arrival.
Provence is filled with dining possibilities. Cafes generally offer table service for coffee and other beverages throughout the day, they typically only serve light snacks. Café-restaurants and brasseries are one step fancier where the proprietors offer a limited menu. Bistro is a small restaurant. Salon de thé is a tearoom or coffeehouse, usually they serve sweet treats along with your drink of choice. And then there are then markets for foodies.
Cassis is located just east of Marseille and is very famous for the adjacent large towering white cliffs. The cliffs are equally stunning as those found along the English Chanel in Normandy. There are beautiful inlets called les Calanques that are accessible mostly by boat, or in some cases by tough hiking routes. It is a great spot for a casual sea-side lunch.
Near Eygalieres: Le Potager du Mas – located on property at Mas de la Rose. Wonderful setting and delicious market fresh cuisine.
France is a country of foodies, with broad tastes. Who would have thought of pairing foie gras with gingerbread? Hence, it is also the place with many opportunities to try some downright strange things. Sea urchins or oursin are one of those foods. The first three Sundays in February there is a festival in the seaside town of Carry-le-Rouet called Le mois de Fete de l’oursin et du coquillage.
Mas de Capoun – in Mollegues, a consistent favourite with locals and visitors.
Maussane: Aux Ateliers Chez Franck et Flo don’t let the casual atmosphere fool you. This sought-after restaurant serves seriously delicious food. Do make a reservation otherwise you will be out of luck. Tel: 04 90 49 96 58
Seguret: Côté Terrasse – bar/restaurant with a big shaded terrace. They have generous, interesting salads and daily specials Tel: 04 90 28 03 48
Paella is very popular in Provence, you will often find one our two vendors in the markets preparing a big dish from scratch. Pick some up for an easy (read lazy) lunch or dinner. Paella is often served at summer village festivals, read more here about “la Grande Paella.”
Provence is the oldest wine growing area in France, where vines were first planted by the Phoenicians over 2000 years ago. There is absolutely no way to go thirsty for long with over 350 active vineyards in the region. There is also no point in creating a comprehensive list. The following are some good reference sites and some personal favourites: Official Provence Wine Website.
Château la Dorgonne – located in the Luberon, they welcome you for tasting and encourage walks through their vines.
Domaines des Terres Blanches – between Eygalières and St Remy this vineyard has fabulous views of les Alpilles.
Château Val Joanis – Luberon vineyard has produced wine since the Romans. It is also home to one of the Jardins Remarkablesone of the beautiful garden’s of France.
Wine store: But if you go to Gordes, check out the wine store that is connected to the Bastide de Gordes hotel. They have an amazing selection, knowledgeable staff and very reasonable prices.
Not exactly wine, but find out why Manguin Distillery imprisons roughly 1400 pears in glass bottles in their orchard each season.
Where to SHOP
MARKETS AND MORE:
If you are a market lover you are in heaven in Provence. There is a market somewhere everyday of the week. In larger centres like Aix en Provence there is one every day. On top of regularly scheduled markets there are many seasonal markets and celebrations around harvests and other events. Here are some good articles for reference.
Need some ideas for souvenirs and presents to take home? Check out Christmas Presents from Provenceand kitchen essentials for an aspiring Provencal cook. Speaking of Christmas the Marchés de Noël start up in every town and village in late November. Of course there is food, that pretty much goes without saying. Food specialties of the season include; gingerbread, chocolates, mulled wine, local truffles, dried fruit, clementines, walnuts and the first pressing of the year’s olives. The markets also include handicrafts, seasonal decorations and gift items.
At one time, soap production was a huge industry in Provence – read the story of Savon de Marseille.
The Cucuron market is always worth a visit, if you are planning to eat lunch make sure to make a reservation as the town is lively on Tuesdays.
Always good for entertainment, and the odd little treasure are the vide greniers France’s answer to garage sales. On the subject of treasures, flea market finds are plentiful in l’Isle sur la Sorgue. This is where you will find permanent stores filled with antiques to family heirlooms. Twice a year there are large weekend sales – not to be missed if you are a market hunter. Read more here about l’Isle sur la Sorgue a touch of Venice in Provence.
The traditional clothing and textiles of Provence make for wonderful gifts, even if you keep them for yourself. If you can find someone making traditional lavender fuseaux in a market make sure to stock up, this is an old artisan form – they last forever.
Olive groves are found in abundance in Provence, as the climate is similar to other growing areas around the Mediterranean (Greece, Spain, Israel, Syria, Italy etc..). Records confirm that olives have been produced in several middle east countries since prehistoric times. By 2000 BC, there are references to a form of olive press and oil exports, from what is now Syria. It would be nearly impossible to not sample some of the high quality regional oil during your visit. But, what to buy? Extra Virgin Oil an Olive Legendmight help.
Touring Provence by caris easy, the roads are well-marked and with a GPS you can find your destination with little challenge. The major highways (autoroutes) have sign-posted speeds of 130km – and you will find cars driving faster. The rule is pass and then move back to the right lane. However, to explore Provence take some of the backroads and enjoy the vistas of vineyards, sunflowers, lavender and villages. Here is a centrally located rental agency.
Before you start driving checkout this handy reference listfor common road signs. Unfortunately, young drivers (under 25 years) are subjet to a supplemental rate at most agencies. Also, important to note despite what your see in the movies you cannot park just anywhere – click here for details.
TOURING IDEAS AND CONTACTS:
AAGP Provence – Anglo-American Group of Provence is a non-profit organization serving the native English speaking community of Provence.
Take to the air! Gliding over the Alpilles near St Remy has to be a thrill of a lifetime (or at least a Provencal vacation). Read about soaring here.
French Travel Planner – Great resource, website with over 700 links (in English) to help you plan your trip to Provence and other parts of France.
Just outside Aix-en-Provence is Pablo and Jacqueline Picasso’s final resting place. Read the story here.
Avignon is more than just the Palais des Papes and the Pont d’Avignon. Just across the river is an old monastery in Villeneuve les Avignon across the mighty Rhone river from Avignon. La Chartreuse is a beautiful restored structure that is now state owned and is the home of the Centre National des Ecritures du Spectacle (CNES)
Need to understand a little more about the French postal system here is a story on La Poste.
If you are lucky enough to be in Provence in time for the traditional movement of sheep and livestock (spring and fall) you might catch a transhumance as the animals head to greener pastures. Although, this is really for tourists and kids now it remains something worth seeing.
Check out the rougher, wilder, “native” side of the Cote D’Azur. Porquerolles is the biggest of three small islands that make up the Îles d’Hyères or les Îles d’Or (Golden Islands), located just off the coast from Hyères.
Many visitors shy away from France’s second biggest port scared off by Marseille’s somewhat edgy reputation. It would be a shame to miss these sights Palais Longchamp and Fort St Jean constructed in 1660 and now home to a wonderful garden. Lots of money was spent sprucing Marseille up for the European Cultural Capital of the year in 2013 you can read about it here.
Finally another way to see Avignon! Every visitor should see the Palais des Papes and the Pont d’Avignon, but once you have seen those it is time to dive into the local’s side of the city with Avignon Gourmet Tours. This 3-hour tour will introduce you to the city and some new taste sensations. Make sure to bring your appetite.
Check out the Luberon views high up on the hill in the village of Banon. It is a great place for a hike or lunch, and don’t forget to buy some of the Banon goat cheese wrapped in brown chestnut leaves.
The Massif Saint Baume is a long windswept outcrop that reaches a summit of 1147m. It is also the place where followers of the Christian faith believe that Mary Magdalene retired to a life of penance for 30-years. Today, the sanctuary is a pilgrimage site for many. Regardless, of your beliefs the short hike up to the grotto is well worth it for the vistas.
Bright yellow flowers signal the start of spring in Provence. The mimosa is a beautiful flowering bush that is often found in gardens, green-spaces, and forests all over the south of France. They all typically flower between mid-January and mid-March. The region celebrates this early explosion of colour with a number of events, typically centred around the villages that form La Route du Mimosa.
Simply France with Dawn offers bespoke private tours of Provence for small groups. Dawn hand-picks luxurious accommodation to suit the group size, and she works with private guides to bring you the best of Provence. Her goal is to immerse you in a genuine, Provencal experience.
How is Valentine’s Day celebrated in France? As it turns out, the day is actually is quite linked to French historical customs. As far back as the middle ages, the belief was that birds started mating in the middle of February. Evidence from the 14th century, stressed a romantic theme emanating from poets and literature at this time of the year. The card or love note apparently originated in France, when the captured Duke of Orleans wrote a poem to his beloved wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London.
Inspired by the scenery to let out your inner artist the Ateliers Fourwinds Artist Retreatlocated just outside of Aureille it is a perfect venue for aspiring artists of all types.
Or spend sometime checking out the work of local artists such as Henry Ferrier who are inspired by the environment…The images of Provence are almost always perfect with cobalt skies, lavender fields, sunflowers, olive trees and the Mediterranean coastline…that is only because it is nearly impossible to take a picture of the crazy Mistral wind.
About Ginger & Nutmeg
Ginger and Nutmeg is a Food and Travel blog for Active Foodies hooked on travelling. We love food, history and digging into cultural traditions. This is a blog with a bit of humour, informative travel information and some great recipes.
Perfectly Provence provides a vast online resource for all things Provence, France. Whether you are about to travel to Provence or currently live their as a local or ex pat, we have curated the region’s best experts to bring you everything you need to know. Perfectly Provence is all about great regional cuisine, France travel tips, local markets and things to do in Provence. Bon Voyage!
Calisson d’Aix a Sweet Almond Candy for a Queen of Provence
Canistrelli Recipe Sweet Corsican Cookies to have with Coffee
Couscous a Traditional Moroccan Recipe
Claufoutis aux Cerises Recipe for When Life Gives You a Bowl of Cherries
Banana Bread Love Affair
A Perfect Date Recipe
Easy Chicken Stew from the Pantry
Provence’s Olives Start to Finish
Aioli On Fridays in Provence
Sweet Memories in an Apricot Tart
Work With Ginger & Nutmeg
Are you a blogger, brand or destination management organization?
Ginger and Nutmeg is a weekly travel blog for worldly foodies.
Ginger and Nutmeg is a digital travel guide aimed at an adult English speaking audience. These are educated, tech-savvy tourists and locals who want to understand unique stories and details behind a destination’s sights and tastes.