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  • Travel Diary: Un Petit Voyage Provençal...

    Before the summer slips away from us, a little trip back in memory lane to one of the world's most beloved (and traveled) destinations is the perfect activity - seriously, is it August already?

    Experiencing la Provence is about lengthy lunches as much as visiting medieval churches and discovering roman ruins. There are some places you can't help but fall in love with and return year after year. From endless, rippling lavender fields and honey-stone hilltop villages to local restaurants (think about the book by Peter Mayle and movie "A Good Year" starring Russel Crowe and Marion Cotillard). We are sharing some of our favorite villages and restaurants in this renowned region.

    Châteauneuf-du-Pape, perfect for the wine lovers. 

    We've had a good fortune of staying in the small but famous village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and took sequential day-trips to visit other nearby villages such as Avignon, Orange, Aix-en-Provence and Nîmes. The village itself is quite small, so restaurants tend to fill up very quickly. Hence, get down to La Mère Germaine early, where the service and food were equally top notch. If you are in a mood for a more grandiose dinner, book a table outdoor at l'Hostellerie Château des Fines Roches, where the view is exceptional and the food exquisite. After your feasts, you can have a nice walk around the vineyards which is such a beautiful stroll.

    Sainte Magnance - restaurant Auberge des Cordois  (1) Chateauneuf du Pape  (7)

    Chateauneuf du Pape - Hostellerie Chateau des Fines Roches  (37)

    Gigondas, a small provençal village

    The old village of Gigondas rises up from the surrounding vineyards. The village is known for its wine which tends to be spicy from its rocky, mineral-rich terrain. We highly recommend you to dine at the restaurant l'Oustalet (booking required) for a gastronomic lunch (even the Michelin guide agrees).

    Gigondas - restaurant L'Oustalet  (5)Gigondas - restaurant L'Oustalet  (29)

     

    Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and environs

    Enjoy the limestone Alpilles Mountain's dramatic view from the village, les Baux-de- Provence and have a nice coffee at its typical "place du village" or "main square" by the fountain and in the shimmering shade under the trees. Then head to Saint-Rémy-de Provence, this ever more high-end town was the home of various famous artists including Van Gogh, who admitted himself to the Monastère St-Paul-de-Mausolée, an asylum just on the outskirts. For a friendly meal, try the restaurant l'Olivade with its homey courtyard.

     

    Don't miss these others places:

    The beautiful ancient village of Gordes, perched on the southern edge of the high Plateau de Vaucluse is classed as one of the "Most Beautiful Villages in France". Behind the village (to the north), small roads lead into the rocks and valleys with the picturesque Abbaye de Sénanque with fields of lavender (only 4 km away), yet isolated in its own little valley.

    Abbaye de Senanque  (71)

     

    In Avignon, get cultural and historical enlightenment by visiting the group of monuments - the Palais des Papes, the surrounding ramparts and the remains of a 12th-century bridge over the Rhône, the Petit Palais and the romanesque Cathédrale de Notre-Dame-des-Doms - that testify to the leading role played by Avignon in 14th-century Christian Europe. This cultural day will not be complete without a stop at the Pont du Gard, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The ancient roman aqueduct is a technical as well as an artistic masterpiece.

    Avignon  (21) Pont du Gard (14)

     

    Aix-en-Provence, an elegant and charming small city with tree-line boulevards, aristocratic townhouses and seductive squares with fountains. If you have a sweet tooth, try a calisson, an iced marzipan candy, made of ground almonds and fruits which is a native of Aix.

    Heading to Mediterranean, don't miss Cassis, an underrated seaside hangout with its busy working harbor. From there; take a boat trip to les Calanques and explore the secret natural coves and the truly magical turquoise sea.

    Cassis-Les Calanques  (39) Cassis-Les Calanques  (24)

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