Best Villages to Visit in Provence – Road Trip Itinerary
Provence is one of the most renown regions of France. Its charm and colors are legendary. However even those aware of its beauty are still left mesmerized when visiting Provence. It’s not only the beautiful lavender fields stretching until the horizon or the ancient cities. The atmosphere of Provence is unique, people friendly and landscapes will amaze even frequent travellers. We visited Provence in June and already can’t wait to go back. In this article, we will take you on a road trip through the most spectacular villages and sites of the Provence and tell you where to find the best lavender fields. Hop in your car, put on great music and enjoy the ride : it will leave you speechless.
You can start this road trip at any of the cities and just follow the route clock or anti clockwise. This full road trip covers roughly 100 km and can be done in one day. The villages and towns in Provence are located close to each other and the views along the road are spectacular.
We will start the itinerary in Gordes, the biggest town in Provence and finish in Gordes. It’s a good base for anyone traveling around this region as it has many accommodations and restaurant options.
You can find full Google Map itinerary here.
Gordes is one of the most well-known hilltop villages in the region. The narrow cobblestone streets and white stone houses rise up in a spiral around the rock where the village is set. At the very top is the church and the castle.
↬ TIP : Make sure to stop at the magnificent view point here.
After visiting beautiful Gordes drive to the charming village of Goult, this place is one of our favourites in Provence. The small streets are stunning and the whole village looks like a movie set. Let yourself wander around making your way up to the moulin and the view point. Maybe you’d like to take a break at a cute bench and read one of the books left for the usage of passersby?
↬ TIP : Each Thursday there is a local market in Goult. You can get fresh vegetables and fruits, but also decorations, clothes and local cosmetics.
Located just a 10 min drive from Goult, Lacoste will teleport you to a completely different era. There, little has changed since the 14th century. Entering the medieval heart of the village, past the Portail de la Garde gate, direct your steps towards the château, towering above the village. From this castle built in the 11th century, you can admire views of Provence reaching as far as the horizon. Hop in you car and lets continue this road trip itinerary of the best villages of Provence.
In 2001 the famous fashion designer Pierre Cardin acquired the château and big parts of the whole village.
Bonnieux kept all its authenticity since 16th century as it’s one of the less touristy villages in the region. The earth-toned houses beautifully cover the hill-side on which the village was built. At the very center, a 425m tall tower dominates the surroundings. Make sure to climb the 86 stone steps to discover a beautiful view of the Monts du Vaucluse, and the villages of Gordes and Roussillon – your next stop.
Roussillon is one of the most beautiful villages of France. Situated in the heart of one of the biggest ochre deposits in the world, Roussillon is known for its magnificent red cliffs and the color pallet of the buildings. After a walk in the village, direct your steps to the Sentier des Ocres. This path leads through the ochre lands.
↬ Note : The path is short, takes around 30 min return. Wear closed shoes as the red sand leaves dust everywhere.
Murs is a charming little village built on a hill above a valley and set amongst the vineyards and cherry trees. A 15th century chateau dominates the village. Unfortunately the castle is not open to the public visit, however you can walk around it admiring the views.
Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque
Notre-Dame de Senanque is a Cistercian abbey near the village of Gordes in Provence. It’s beautifully located deep in Provençal valley, surrounded by lush mountains. The Senanque Abbey was founded in 1148. Until this day it’s occupy by Cistercian monks who gather in the abbey church seven times a day to pray together.
The Senanque is open for visits just few hours a day. The entrance ticket costs 8 EUR and you can check the exact visiting hours here.
↬ TIP : If you come to the Senanque Abbey to get a picture with purple lavender fields, visit by end of June, beginning July when the lavender is at full bloom.
Note that the lavender fields in front of the famous Abbey are actually of reach of visitors, and were not purple when we visited … So we took some liberties 😝
Venasque is a medieval town perched on a steep cliff. Enjoy the special atmosphere of this place, infused with the Provencal lifestyle as you stroll around the beautiful streets. Don’t forget to pass by the 12th century church and its three Saracen towers. From there you can admire the magnificent landscapes of the Monts de Vaucluse and nearby villages.
Continue your road trip to Le Beaucet is a charming small hill top village set within the wonderful landscapes of Provence. Stroll the tiny streets making your way up the hill. Here you’ll find Hermitage de Saint Gens, with two beautiful country chapels. Make sure to visit the ruins of the 12th century chateau proudly crowning the village.
The town of Fontaine de Vaucluse was built around its spring in a valley at the foot of a cliff of the Monts de Vaucluse. This enchanting place never ceases to intrigue and attract visitors. You can stroll along the spring, admire the old ruins and small historic monuments, visit the shops selling local and traditional crafts or just enjoy a bite at one of the restaurants sitting by the river. Don’t forget to hike up to the source of the Sorgue river- a deep, green gorge, at the foot of a great cliff carved by erosion.
↬ TIP : Fontaine de Vaucluse is one of the most popular spots in the region. On Sundays the tiny streets fill up with people- both locals and tourists. We highly advise you to visit on a weekday to avoid the crowds.
Fontaine de Vaucluse was the last, 10th stop on your road trip around the villages of Provence. From here you can return to Gordes for a sunset drink at rooftop bar of La Bastide de Gordes.
Where to find Lavender fields ?
Many people visit Provence for one particular reason : to witness the beautiful purple sea of fully bloomed lavender. This occasion happens once a year, during a short period of about 2 weeks at the end of June and beginning of July. But you will still have a chance to see the purple color from the beginning of June to the end of July.
Lavender fields can be found anywhere in the region. Following our itinerary of the best towns to visit in Provence, you will come across at least few majestic violet fields.
Our hidden lavender field
During our visit in Provence we were lucky to stay with friends who live in the area. Thanks to that we discovered few unspoiled and non touristic lavender fields. We are happy to share the exact coordinates of this fields with you – our readers.
Located just few minutes outside of lovely town of Coustellet, with a beautiful mountain backdrop, those lavender fields will make you dream.
Without a doubt the lavender fields in Valensole are the biggest and most impressive. They are located apx an hour drive from the area of our road trip itinerary. As those fields are the biggest, they also are the most popular. If visiting, have in mind that there will be tons of other people at the same time.
↬ Note : Never pick, walk on or destroy the lavender. Be respectful and walk only in between of the rows. Almost in every farm for a symbolic price (2 EUR) you can buy a bouquet of lavender to take back home.
Getting to Provence
Provence is a region on the South of France. The closest airport is located in Marseille, apx 70km from Gordes.
The biggest city is of the region is Avignon. Trains arrive here from all parts of France multiple times a day. From Paris the train ride takes only 2.5h as its the TGV (fast train).
The best and easiest way to get around Provence is by a car. You can rent a car at the train station in Avignon or airport in Marseille.
↬ Note : Renting a car in France doesn’t have to be expensive. On multiple occasions we rented a car for as little as 25 EUR per day.
Read : How to save money on your travel bookings
Best time to visit
Without a doubt the best time to visit Provence is early summer. For one specific reason. The lavender fields that are spread across the whole region starts to fully bloom end June to early July. This natural phenomenon should not be missed by anyone traveling around the area.
If you are not interested in seeing the lavender, spring and early autumn will be perfect time for your trip. Those months are considered a mid-season, when the weather is nice and the prices are not at peak yet.
Where to eat
Restaurant Philip – located in Fontaine de Vaucluse is a perfect spot for lunch. The restaurant has a dreamy setting at a terrace just by the river.
La Cuisine d’Amélie – beautiful restaurant on the southern terraces of the country house, in the shade of hundred year-old plane trees. Located in the impressive Domaine de Fontenille, this place is very budget friendly with all splendore of boutique villa.
Le Petit Chose – a cute brasserie with a terrace offering splendid views of Venasque
Restaurant Côte Cours – great, modern restaurant serving good quality food
L’encas – a perfect place for quick lunch or glass of rose. Located on the beautiful square in the center of Gordes, this place is impossible to miss
Where to stay
There are many beautiful hotels and villas in this part of Provence.
↬ Find all the best deals for Provence on booking.com
We recommend: Airelles, la Bastides de Gordes – Le Jas de Joucas