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With wall-to-wall sunshine, avenues framed by majestic plane trees and fragrant lavender fields that as far as the eye can see, Provence is a feast for all five senses. It’s no wonder that artists from Van Gogh to Cezanne were inspired by this luminous landscape to create some of their most loved paintings, and that the region is France’s most popular with tourists after Paris, welcoming an incredible 31 million visitors per year. Bordered by the Mediterranean on one side and the Alpes Maritimes on the other, with rolling hills, olive trees and vineyards in between, just one visit here is enough to capture your imagination and bring you back time and time again.
If this is your first trip to Provence you could be forgiven for thinking that the region’s iconic lavender fields are nothing but a tourist trap, less vibrant in real life than those seen in the many postcards available to purchase in every town and village. Don’t be so quick to write them off; we guarantee your opinion will change when you see the dusty pale purple bushes swaying in the breeze, the sun-drenched scent filling the air.
The fields are in bloom from June to August across the Luberon region. If you want to enjoy the view with fewer crowds, make the trip in June or early July before the main tourist season kicks into action. For active types, a bike tour around the area is a great way to see the fields and snap some photos along the way. L’Abbaye de Senaque is one of the most iconic spots to stop and take photographs. If you’re visiting Provence around the national holiday of August 15, you can visit the town of Sault to watch the harvest and enjoy the annual Lavender Festival. Our Luberon villas make the ideal base for a vacation exploring the beautiful scenery of the region.
While the Loire Valley is famous for its crisp white wines and Bordeaux’s rich reds draw people from all over the world, Provence has its own specialty: Rosé. It’s the official drink of the region so you won’t have to look hard to find a chilled glass. Every bistro small or large will have a few palatable choices on the menu. If you’re a little more serious about your wine, take the time to explore the Bandol region, located to the east of Marseille, where the limestone soil and sea breezes create the perfect growing conditions for winemaking. Bandol rosés are made up of at least 50% Mourvèdre grapes, often blended with Grenache and Cinsault to create the end product. Two great choices for a wine tasting stop or vineyard tour are Domaine Tempier just north of Bandol town, the beautiful Chateau de Pibarnon.
In towns and villages across the region, the weekly market is a major event, with stalls selling everything from fresh produce to local crafts and bric-a-brac. One of our favorites takes place in three times per week in the charming town of Aix-en-Provence. Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday the town’s main squares are transformed into bustling marketplaces, with armfuls of flowers, fruits, and vegetables waiting to be snapped up. In summer and fall, the produce is especially tempting - ripe red tomatoes and peppers, sweet white peaches and an incredible variety of different olives - all waiting to be transformed into a feast fit for a king. Don’t come with a shopping list already in mind - instead, walk around and see what looks the most appealing, and the ideas of what to cook will start to come to you, we guarantee you’ll be cooking up a storm in your villa’s kitchen come dinnertime!
For those that love to eat but don’t love preparing meals, your concierge can organize a private chef to deliver those Provencal flavors straight to your plate, and you won’t have to lift a finger.
Stretching from the mountains to the sea, the landscape of Provence is extremely diverse. However you imagine your southern France getaway, Luxury Retreats has a property to match - from charming homes in rustic hill towns to impressive chateaux with landscaped grounds (and even some that come with their own wedding chapels). Many properties have private swimming pools, and all have shaded terraces where you can while away the sun-filled afternoon hours with good friends and bottle of chilled rosé.
One of the most charming towns in the region, Aix-en-Provence has long been a favorite with artists, writers, and vacationers in the know. The post-impressionist artist Cezanne was born here and was constantly inspired by its beauty. He returned to the same landscapes over and over again—painting Mont Sainte-Victoire, just outside of the town, countless times during his life. His home and studio are now a museum where you can learn about the artist and see exactly how he lived in the late 19th century—his furniture and painting tools are here, even the knife and fork that he ate with.
Our beautiful Aix-en-Provence vacation rentals are sure to inspire your inner artist with their charming decor and beautiful scenery. With historic charm and the modern amenities you need to make your vacation extremely comfortable, you’ll be feeling right at home in our villas in no time at all. With grand chateaux sleeping up to 22 people to sweet stone cottages with room for just 4, whoever you’re traveling with, there’s an option to suit.
Aix is not the only town in Provence with serious artistic pedigree. Vincent Van Gogh made St Remy de Provence his home for one year and painted some of his most famous works while he was there, including Wheatfield with Cypresses and Starry Night. The countryside is still dotted with cypress trees, and impressive views come as standard with all our luxury villas in St Remy de Provence . Our properties in the town each have their own private pool too, perfect for cooling off with a swim after a day walking in Van Gogh’s footsteps.