Summer in Provence, France
Following our three day stay in Paris, we train down to Avignon and took a bus into Saint Remy de Provence, a small city in the heart of the Alpilles, and the next stop on our 3-week honeymoon through France and Italy.
After the bustle of the city, my husband and I are ready for a slower pace. St. Remy's quaint little village and surrounding areas are just the ticket for long strolls through town, sight-seeing in Provence's lavender fields, and evenings relaxing at the cutest little B&B you can imagine (more on that below). You can hear the cicadas, a small but noisy bug, everywhere here. Our host at the B&B, Marlene, tells me they don't bite and you're less likely to see them, but they make for a peaceful background noise.
Despite it's popularity, St. Remy has managed to retain its medieval charm and rich architectural heritage. Dedicated to the arts, it has hosted illustrious artists from Van Gogh to Gounod and still has an impressive number of art galleries. Walking along the cobble stone path in the middle of July, the sun beats down on my shoulders and my skin feels sticky, but it's nothing that a slice of pizza and a glass of wine can't fix.
Saint Remy de Provence City Centre
Where to go:
Saint Remy de Provence City Centre: Saint Remy de Provence's downtown area is easy to get around and great for souvenir shopping. After you sample the fresh fruit, cheeses and bread from the local farmers market (every Wednesday morning), walk through the town and you're sure to find an olive oil tasting bar, bakery, and specialty stores selling lavender and little kitchen knick-knacks. Each corner is more picturesque than the last! If you're looking for a break from traditional French cuisine, there's an Asian restaurant, Le Mandarin that serves a tasty selection of dishes from pork dumplings, to thai soup and beef satay.
Avignon: The center of Avignon is fascinatingly enclosed by medieval stone walls like a modern day fortress. We happened to visit during the Festival d'Avignon so the entire square was packed with people, posters and characters parading around in costume. Though an interesting spectacle, I'd recommend planning your trip around the less kitschy Avignon Jazz Festival in August.
Sault: This hillside town is the best place to see acres of lavender fields. It's a bit of a trek outside of St. Remy, so you'll definitely need a car. Stop on the way at the lavender museum and pick up some pure lavende to take home with you!
Where to stay:
Mas Valentine is a charming little B&B converted from an 18th century farmhouse situated northwest of St. Remy's downtown area (7 minutes by car). Each room had a different name that fit its decor. Our room (the Audrey room) had a classic french provincial flair with clean white linens, lavendar accents, a view of the gardens, and a tub I could have stayed in all day. It was the perfect retreat to our long days touring the area. The property also offered savory house-cooked meals for breakfast and dinner for purchase.