Provence evokes so many thoughts and emotions – it excites passionate wine lovers, chefs, nature fans and romantics alike.
It is easily one of the most popular regions of France, that doesn’t mean it’s always busy and filled to the brim with other travellers.
In fact, one of the Provence is that it’s the perfect place to choose to either stay with the crowd or to make your own way, venturing off the beaten path and having your own very different experience of this beautiful part of France.
To help you do that, we’ve got some of the very best things to do when you visit Provence – how, when and what order you decide to them in is totally up to you. That’s half the fun after all.
Here are the 13 best things to do in Provence, France.
1.) French Riviera
Hire a car to explore the coastline and the below destinations. There is a certain magic about small French coastal towns.
While all the major attractions are in the larger cities, driving from destination to destination you’ll get to see the hidden, charming parts of the French Riviera, such as Le Lavandou, the lavender town.
From the Palais des Papes (Pope’s Palace) through the historic Old Town to Pont Saint-Bénézet (a magnificent medieval bridge), this city is full of culture and history.
Surprisingly, Avignon is actually full of life under its ancient covers and having a night out here is an absolute must. For some legendary local dining try Fou de Fafa and if you’re up for it, check out L’Explo for excellent beer, cocktails, and concerts.
3.) Marché au Poisson, Marseille
One of the best things to do in Provence is to eat the food, of course. And for real fresh, local food, there is nothing like the local markets.
The fish market in Marseille offers arguably some of the freshest, most delicious seafood. It’s not only one of the best things to do in Provence, but also in France!
If you’re in the mood for a meal, check out the seafood restaurants all over the Old Port.
4.) Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations
Want to learn about the origins of the local culture and get in touch with European history? Take your time to explore the MuCEM, and while you’re there have a look at the Musée Regards de Provence to view some art as well.
5.) Calanques National Park
Visit Calanques National Park if you’re an outdoor lover – or if you just want the most stunning views of the coastline. You can even take a cruise or kayak through the pristine bays or mountain bike through the park!
6.) Frioul Archipelago
Take a ferry or boat tour to the Frioul Archipelago. These four islands have great dining, beautiful beaches, and small, secluded villages.
Most famous here is a fortress called Chateau d’If, which used to serve as a prison and towers over the ocean. If hanging out on these beautifully pristine beaches isn’t one of the best things to do in Provence, I don’t know what is! 😄
7.) Mont Faron
Hop in a cable car to the top of Mont Faron for stunning views over the town of Toulon and the ocean. The WWII memorial atop the mountain provides great insight into the role of the Provence and the city of Toulon during WWII. If that’s not for you, go hiking or visit the Wild Cat Breeding Centre.
8.) Saint Tropez
This city is notorious for its nightclubs, pristine beaches, and exclusive hotels. Feel like a star and sunbathe on the white sand with a good cocktail!
There is a good reason this town is so iconic. While you can live it up in all-inclusive hotels, you can also dig into the culture to find some spectacular art and history.
If that’s more like you, check out the Le musée de l’Annonciade for modern art.
9.) Verdon Gorge
Often claimed to be Europe’s most beautiful River Canyon, Verdon Gorge is definitely one of the best things to do in Provence. It’s the place to go white water rafting or canoeing!
The ocean is nice but a little bit of crystal clear freshwater can’t hurt. While here, get your sense of adventure on and explore more of the vast and beautiful Verdon Natural Regional Park.
10.) Mont Ventoux
While entering the Tour de France is reserved for superhuman athletes, you can still explore some of the famous routes.
Mont Ventoux has become iconic through the Tour and is said to be one of the hardest climbs. But don’t worry: you can also hike up or take your car to see the spectacular views.
If you do decide to cycle, reward yourself with a burger at Le Vendran restaurant when you get there.
11.) Îles d’Hyères
The perfect place to go island hopping. Enjoy the turquoise sea and relax in the shade of the pines, have some of the famous wine from Porquerolles Island and explore the hidden coves.
If you have time, get some lunch at Le Pelagoon Porquerolles for some of the best local food.
12.) Senanque Abbey
Senanque Abbey is the poster child of the Provence. If you decide to plan a trip to Provence, you’ll most likely find images of a beautiful abbey seated behind fields of lavender, with rolling hills as the backdrop.
This picture-perfect scenery is the heart of the region and seeing it is one of the best things to do in Provence (and a must-do).
There is a guided tour of the abbey and you can buy lavender and honey in the shop. If you fall in love with the place, the monks at the abbey actually offer for you to stay on a retreat.
13.) Arles Amphitheatre
Get a dose of ancient civilization at the Arles Amphitheatre. Not only can you see beautiful displays of French and Mediterranean culture in the Provence, but there are also traces of the Romans, as you can see in this historical monument.
If you’re interested in the local ancient history, this is one of the best things to do in Provence.