Where: Provence, France
When: July 2017
Hotel: Le Vieux Bistrot, Cabrières-dʼAvignon
Why Provence: I just wanted to see Lavender Fields in France – it was that simple. Then as I did more research on the area, I realized I was going to be in trouble. There is so much to see in the Provence region of France that there was no way we were going to be able to see and do everything. But we would see lavender so the rest would just be a wonderful added bonus!
The Trip: Our trip was back on track after a rough start (read about Part 1 here), so I was excited for our second day adventure. We were headed to Gorges du Verdon (translation: “gorges of green”), the steepest gorge in France with limestone cliffs and beautiful blue/green water that runs through the middle of it and was also the inspiration for the name. The gorge dates back to the Triassic Period (250-200 million years ago), and the evolution of the area is really pretty amazing.
The plan for the day was to rent a boat to explore the gorge from the water before heading to Aix-in-Provence for the night before flying out the next day. Depending on the time of year you go, I suggest booking a boat ahead of time. We rented through Location Nautic, which sets you up with what is a glorified paddle boat (but with a motor) and we set out on our way to explore the gorge. It was a gorgeous sunny day and this was really all we had planned.
There are a couple of ways to get into the gorge, and ours was arguably the less touristy way. A popular entry point is Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, which was at the exact opposite end of the gorge from where we started. Our entry was less crowded and super calm, however, so I think we made a really good choice.
The entire gorge is so super pretty and very relaxing. The one thing I wish our boat had was a ladder into the water to make it easier to get in and out. We pulled over off to one side to use a rock but I saw a giant crab and couldn’t do it. I imagined my little toe getting chomped off and that’s the only image I saw in my head. The time you spend in the gorge can be as long or as short as you want it to be. We spent the majority of the day on the water and headed back so we could make it to Aix-en-Provence in time for dinner.
Aix-en-Provence is one of the more famous towns in the region, most notably known for being the birthplace of the artist Paul Cezanne. We made in time to walk along the famed Cours Mirabeau, which is shaded by rows of trees and is lined with freestanding markets and really pretty homes and storefronts. Once again, I wished we’d had more time to spend there, but I’ve just made a note to as a place I definitely wouldn’t mind returning.
Final Thoughts: Provence is definitely a gorgeous part of France not to be missed, although I would argue and say it is best seen during the lavender season because the fields are iconic. The Verdon Gorge is one of the prettiest natural places in Europe, and if it can be worked into an itinerary to the south of France, it definitely should be. I’m hoping I am not jinxing myself, but since this trip, we’ve had pretty good luck with our travels, so I am just chalking it off as an anomaly and would so love to go back and see more.