• Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Exploring the Magic and Enchantment of the South of France

Bysonal gupta

Oct 6, 2023

Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of history and culture that defines the South of France. Whether it’s the regal Palais des Papes in Avignon or the stunning Beyrepertuse Castle, you can sense the power of this region’s past throughout every turn.

Reconnect and recharge in fairytale towns that boast dreamy canals, medieval vibes, and colorful timber-beamed houses. Become one with the landscapes that inspired artists and writers alike, from Provence to the Verdon Gorge.

1. Avignon

Clinging to the banks of the Rhone River, Avignon has the feel of a fairy-tale city. While this walled medieval town may be best known for its 14th-century heyday as the Papal capital, it also has much more to offer today.

Explore the historic centre on foot, a great way to get a true sense of this place. It’s easy to spend hours wandering the cobbled streets, taking in the sights and stopping off at some of the cosy cafes. You could also try your hand at a bit of shopping, as this area has some luxury boutiques that will surely appeal to fashion lovers.

Another fun thing to do is to follow the city’s walls, which are a UNESCO World Heritage site. Although you’ll have to go outside of them a few times, it’s worth doing as you can catch glimpses down some intriguing streets you wouldn’t otherwise be able to reach. The walls are dotted with Trompe L’Oeil paintings, which are the art technique that creates the illusion of statues and columns on a two-dimensional surface.

For a more in-depth look at the town, you can take part in an Avignon Tour that will give you priority access to the Pope’s Palace. This means you won’t have to wait around while the crowds build up, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the palace and its ornate rooms and chapels.

2. Provence

Provence’s breathtaking landscapes, cherished traditions and artistic legacies have long captivated travelers. Whether strolling through lavender fields or savoring the flavors of Provencal cuisine, a journey here is an experience that lingers in mind and soul long after your return home.

The enchanting natural beauty of the region unfolds like a tapestry throughout the year, with the iconic purple blooms of the Luberon region painting the horizon in summer and mellifluous chorus of cicadas serenading the nights in spring and autumn. But even the winter brings an air of mystery, as snow-capped peaks crown the rugged massifs that tower over the Cote d’Azur coastline.

One of the best ways to appreciate the beauty of Provence is on foot, with an itinerary that visits many of the region’s pretty perched villages, such as Menerbes and Gordes. Aix-en-Provence, the birthplace of Impressionist painter Paul Cezanne, is another highlight. Small metal “C” markings on the streets lead to where the artist painted his masterpieces, and a visit to his studio is a must.

The culinary scene in Provence is thriving, with more and more wellness-focused hotels opening up alongside charming old classics. There are also new varieties of accommodation to choose from, including modern, minimalist B&Bs and villas. And of course, a trip to Provence would not be complete without sampling its world-famous wine, including the robust reds of Chateauneuf du Pape and the refreshing whites of Cotes de Provence.

3. Saint-Emilion

The medieval Bordeaux wine community of Saint-Emilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999, is a dream come true for any wine lover. This small appellation on the Right Bank specializes in the production of red wines, especially Merlot and Cabernet Franc, and is known for its fruit flavors that can become stewed or dried with age and for balanced flavors of vanilla, toast, and nutmeg from oak aging.

This unique area’s viticultural heritage is also evident in the many fascinating architectural monuments that can be found throughout the town. From the imposing spire of the region’s oldest church to the 13th century King’s Keep, you can see evidence of past Romans, Celtic priests, and French and English kings.

Strolling the quaint cobblestone streets feels like stepping back in time. The village’s layout and architecture have remained remarkably unchanged over the centuries, and you can feel the history as you pass historic doors, visit wine cellars, and admire ancient hermitages. The renowned Maison du Vin de Saint-Emilion is the best place to get an overview of the appellation’s rich viticultural history, with interactive displays and historical artifacts that are sure to fascinate any wine lover. You can also join a guided tour and tasting at the famous Cordeliers Cloister, which offers a one-hour experience including wine tasting for 15 euros.

4. Verdon Gorge

The breathtaking Gorges du Verdon is one of the most amazing natural phenomena in Europe. It used to be underwater 250 million years ago but as plates moved and glaciers wore away at the rock, it formed the gorge. Today it’s one of the biggest gorges in Europe with stunning turquoise water from glacial minerals. You’ll love paddling between the impressive cliffs covered in lush greenery and enjoying their dramatic scale.

The gorge’s spectacular geological wonders create a unique habitat for a variety of plant and animal species, including the rare Griffon vulture. It’s also home to a third of the flower species found in France and 22 of its 32 bat species. Its cultural heritage is equally remarkable: remarkable villages, artisans (especially those who make faience), and agriculture all contribute to the region’s unique character.

While Gorges du Verdon is easy to do as a day trip from Nice, it’s best to stay in the area for a couple of days to enjoy all it has to offer. We recommend renting a car so you can enjoy the cliffside roads and explore more of the beaches around Lac Sainte Croix. You can book a cheap car through Sunny Cars with free cancellation and insurance included.

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