Travel: Arrive in Avignon. If coming from London, check out Eurostar’s new direct route! Pick up rental car outside the TGV station.
Activity Options: Explore Avignon. Wander up the main artery of the walled city, the Rue de La Republique, stopping for a glass of the local Cotes du Rhone wine. Check out the Palais des Papes (9-7pm, €13 admission with audio guide), Cathedrale Notre Dame des Doms (730-830pm, free admission), or Fort St Andre (10-6pm, €5.50 admission). The tourist office also offers maps with four walking routes.
Travel: Road trip!
Activity Options: Go for a drive through the Les Dentelles de Montmirail wine region. Follow the circular route from Avignon detailed here. Don’t forget your swimsuit if you want to take a cool dip in the Ouveze River in Vaison-la-Romaine. Pick up fresh charcuterie, cheese, wine, and fruit at Avignon’s Les Halles indoor market for a scenic picnic lunch on the road beside a vineyard. Admire the best views of the jagged Dentelles mountains just outside of the village of Suzette.
Travel: Drive to L’isle-sur-la-sorgue and Fontaine de Vaucluse
Activity Options: Wander the streets of L’isle-sur-la-sorgue and admire the 16th century water wheels still in operation while perusing the many antique shops. Feeling adventurous? Do a canoe/hike combo between the two cities, more info can be found here. Stop for a late lunch or early dinner at Longchamps in L’isle-sur-la-sorgue for the incredible tasty Longchamp burger!
Travel: Drive to Manosque
Activity Options: Get up early to beat the heat and escape the crowds during the summer lavender season. Start off at the Abbaye-de-Senanque, stopping in the beautiful hillside village of Gordes on the way, to admire the picturesque 12th century abbey and lavender fields. Keep heading east, stopping every mile to take in yet another scenic field of lavender or sunflowers along the way, passing through Saignon for a late lunch before stopping in Manosque for the night.
Travel: Drive to Gorges du Verdon
Activity Options: If you didn’t get enough lavender and sunflower yesterday just wait until you get back into the car today. The drive between Manosque and Valensole offers mile after mile of the blooms. Head towards the village of Moustiers Sainte Marie, stopping for lunch, before heading towards the waterfront of Lac de Sainte Croix to rent a paddleboat for the afternoon and explore the gorge up close. For boat rental info check out L’Etoile Boat Rentals website. There are electric boats and kayaks available as well!
Travel: Head towards Aix-en-Provence
Activity Options: Spend the day getting a history lesson at the Camp des Milles WWII internment camp (10-7pm, €10 admission) before wandering the grand squares and tree lined boulevard of Cours Mirabeau and enjoying the night life at one of the many bars, restaurants, and cafes. More into art than history? Check out the studio of Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne (10-6pm).
Travel: Drive to Marseille
Activity Options: Make your way up to the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde uphill of the city for fantastic views (7am-715pm, free admission, stiff 1km hike uphill or catch the tourist petit train or Bus 60 from Vieux Port) before wandering the streets of the old district in Le Panier grabbing dinner at one of the many outdoor restaurants in the square. Try a bowl of the city’s famous bouillabaisse!
Travel: Boat trip!
Activity Options: Discover Les Calanques National Park to the east by taking a scenic cruise from Marseille. There are several circuit options available, check them out here. Take the morning cruise when the waters are calmer if you are prone to sea sickness! Catch the sunset from the roof garden and parapets at the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations near the waterfront. Visiting in the summer? Fridays are late nights from May 2nd to Oct 31st with a 10pm closing time instead of the usual 8pm.
Travel: Drive to Arles
Activity Options: Spend the day exploring the many impressive Roman ruins in the area before having dinner next to the 1st century BC Roman amphitheater at one of the several restaurants nearby. Or grab a map from the tourist office of the Van Gogh Trail, a walking circuit of the city taking you past famous scenes depicted in the artist’s work during his stay in Arles such as Starry Night.
Travel: Drive to Les Baux de Provence
Activity Options: Wander the many shops and restaurants lining the cobblestone streets in the hillside village of Les Baux de Provence before checking out Chateau des Baux, the ruins of a historic medieval fortress overlooking the city with unparalleled panoramic views. For a unique experience, head down the hill afterwards to the Carrieres de Lumieres (quarry of lights), where vast images are projected on quarry walls in an orchestrated sequence along with music.
*All admission times and fees current as of June 2015