INTIMATE WEDDINGS & ELOPEMENTS 
IN PROVENCE AND L'OCCITANIE

You are probably already familiar with these sites as they are located close to my home in the middle of Provence. 
The Verdon Canyon and its light green water will be a sight for your eyes to see. 
I would suggest your visit to the canyon consist of 3 parts: First, visit the Moustiers Sainte Marie village. Next, visit the main entry of the canyon. There you can swim and rent a paddle or electric boat. Third, go through the canyon itself (there’s one way in and one way out!).

What to see: You must take a round trip by car starting in Moustiers Sainte Marie to Aiguines. Along the way, you will travel to La Palud, le Pont du Soleil, and Trigance before reaching your final destination in Aiguines. It’s a beautiful journey you don’t want to miss!
If you want to take a shorter trip, take the des Cretes route after la Palud to travel the 30 km round trip that starts and ends in Moustiers Sainte Marie. During the des Cretes route, you can stop and enjoy the views. My favorite view you cannot miss is Belvedere de la Carelle.

What to eat and drink: My favorite restaurants in Aiguines are l’Antidote, le Rive Gauche, and le Barda.  Another option with a wonderful view and great service is le Relais des Balcons, located 30 minutes away from Aiguines in the middle of the canyon.

Favorite restaurants in les Salles sur Verdon:
La Plancha and l’Escapade.
Original experiences: 
 *Visit the canyon in a kayak or paddle boat. And if you are a good swimmer, enjoy the water. The paddle boats have a ladder, so you can easily get back in after taking a dip in the water. My favorite pedal boat company is MYC PLAGE.
 *Paragliding Moustiers is a great experience I would recommend. Make sure you book in advance as the weather conditions and season make it difficult to get a spot. 
 *Hiking is also a great opportunity in the area. If you are an experienced hiker, the best path is called l’Imbut. Even though it’s difficult, you get to see the Verdon River and canyon up close. That being said, it’s not for children or anyone with impairments. 
If you’re looking for a complete overview of the canyon, Col de l’Ane is your desired hiking path.
You will be at the same level as eagles and vultures.  There are many other paths to discover. Simply ask any tourist office at Moustiers Sainte Marie, Aiguines, or les Salles sur Verdon.

Moustiers Sainte Marie is famous for its pottery and a mysteriously hung star between the Verdon Canyon rocks. There are some theories about the star: where, who, and when it was hung. But I’m not going to spoil the details. You’ll have to see it for yourself!

When to visit: The best time to visit is the end of May through the end of June since crowds are inevitable after that time.
A great alternative I would recommend is the end of August through the end of September.
Try to find a parking spot at the very top of the village (paid parking lot).

The other option is at the entrance of the village, but it requires a further walk. So be mindful of that if you’d prefer not to hike through the village.

What to eat and drink: Go to les Delices d’Italie and ask for the flowers (2 flavors) ice cream.
Try the lavender and violet ones! You won’t be disappointed.
  
Favorite restaurants in Moustiers Sainte Marie:
La Bonne Auberge, le Relais, la Part des Anges, and la Grignotiere.

Gorges du Verdon and Lac de Sainte-Croix 

Moustiers Sainte Marie 

Other Areas Around the Corner

Provence is a very large region, so there are plenty of villages to see and areas to explore. From where I live, you can drive 30 minutes up to 2 hours and 30 minutes and still be within Provence. That’s just a slight idea of the size of the region.

tourtour

Tourtour is a charming village surrounded by grasslands and meadows. It has a spring that feeds the 8 village fountains and also turns the wheel of the olive oil mill that’s still in operation. For many years it’s been considered “one of the most beautiful villages in France.”

Cotignac

Cotignac is a charming little town with some troglodytic caves and original streets. During 2019 it was also named one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Original experience: On Tuesdays you can enjoy the market that’s full of local products and wine.

riez

Riez is well known because of its Roman ruins and its local market. During high season you can enjoy its market on Thursdays until 11:00 p.m.

Fontaine de Vaucluse

Every region has its legends, its stories and tales, passed through the generations to frighten each other to succumb to the fascination of the inexplicable.
The Vaucluse is no exception to the rule.
Many scientists, including Jacques Cousteau, explored the cave to unlock its secrets without ever truly succeeding.

La Fontaine retains its secret more than 315m underground.

When to visit: The best time to visit is the end of May through mid-June.
Original experience: Take the path to la Fontaine and don’t forget to visit the museum of paper.

Les Calanques of Cassis

The Calanques National Park is home to no less than 140 protected animal and plant species, 60 of which are marine heritage species.
The ride on the boat in the park is a very nice experience.

There are also a lot of great restaurants in the little harbour of Cassis village.

Avignon and The Pope’s Palace

This city is probably best known as the center of the religious conflict that took place in the 14th century when Pope Clement V moved the seat of the Catholic Church out of Rome and to the city of Avignon for nearly 70 years.
Original experiences: Visit the bridge which inspired a very well-known childhood song that every French knows.  

City of the Thousand Fountains -
Aix en Provence

The heart of the city is filled with Provençal and artisanal shops, cafés, and restaurants. Adding to the beauty of the city are its twenty or so magnificent fountains found in the city center.

That’s the origin of its name, City of a Thousand Fountains. 

Arles, the City of Art

Arles’ main attraction is the oval arena where for more than 400 years the ancient populace would have been entertained by gladiators and chariot races. Pursued by many well-known painters such as the famous Van Gogh, he spent a manically productive 15 months there, painting more than 200 works (where he also lost his ear). Picasso frequented the bullfights and made portraits of his second wife, Jacqueline, in Arlesian costumes. 

Bonnieux Hillside

This papal town of about 500 years testifies to the prestige of its inhabitants over the centuries: ecclesiastical dignitaries, counts, lords, up until the modern times of the 19th century. Less crowded than Gordes, the village has kept all its authenticity, its steep sloping streets, its fountains and washhouses, its old church, or upper church, a mix of Romanesque and Gothic, and a view that is worth it all.

Pont du Gard-Outside Avignon

This is the most visited ancient monument in France and it’s listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO. The aqueduct itself is a masterpiece of engineering, testifying to the extraordinary mastery shown by the ancient builders. The construction of the Pont du Gard required 21,000m3 of stones and limestone rocks extracted from the Roman quarries near the ancient site.

Gordes

This famous Provençal village is listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France. Its castle, narrow paved streets, and pretty shaded square make it a lovely place to wander around. Make sure not to miss Abbaye de Sénanque just outside the city where monks still live and produce local honey and liqueurs. You will also see its own private lavender field just outside the abbey.

Cote d’Azur

Cote d’Azur, otherwise known as the French Riviera, is a region located next to Provence. And although it is not considered Provence, it is a must-see if you like the beach and the luxurious life.

Original experiences: If you take the route from Saint Raphael to Nepoules, called la Corniche d’Or, you will experience the best views of the French Riviera

Nowadays, and thanks to social media, whenever we hear about Provence we immediately think about large and stunning lavender fields. And although this is indeed a unique journey that can only be experienced for 3 weeks every year, there are other unforgettable things to see and try at this lovely South-Eastern french region that will not limit your travel dates.

I’ve mentioned this before, but in my opinion the best dates to visit Provence go from the last days of May until the last days of June since after that crowds are inevitable. Another alternative I highly recommend when speaking about travel dates goes from the last days of August until the last days of September. While I do have to warn you that the weather here is unpredictable during those dates, 2 things are for sure: there are no crowded areas and way less heat!

Those those who've followed my journey this might not be new but those who are new around here should know one small detail about me: I'm actually not french. I've been living here for the past 3 years but I am still amazed by the beauty of this country and everything it has to offer, this is why I think it is important to add a section where I can tell you little details about the region where I get the privilege to live for 5 months each summer and that has definetly stolen my heart! 

If you made it all the way until here, thank you! And now I have a little reward for you:
Some useful tips and tricks for when you visit Provence!

Let’s begin with my suroundings and some of my favorite places!!

La Belle Provence

Even though you can find small fields all over the region, the most stunning fields are located in Plateau de Valensole. 

When to visit: The best time to visit is during the last week of June until mid-July. Keep in mind these are approximate dates as the farmers wait every season to harvest the flowers according to the weather and other conditions.

What to eat and drink: Although this is a rural area, there are many farmer shops that sell lavender bouquets, honey, and other products made from local fields. If you’re looking for a nicer restaurant to dine, l’Auberge du Soleil is a great choice in Puimisson.

Original experiences: The fields are open to visitors and the public, but keep in mind that you respect the flowers and do not harm them in any way.  Also, be careful where you park as there are both private and public spaces.  And if you’re wanting a guide, many farmers will offer a tour through the fields to explain the process of growing lavender and how distillation works. 

lavender fields in plateau de valensole

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