Top little-known but beautiful places in Provence to visit in 2022
Provence is a unique region of France. There are numerous natural attractions in this region. Nice, Cannes, and Saint-Tropez are all Provence, but calanques, mountains, lavender fields and ocher canyons are also Provence. However, to see all the diversity of this region, you will need an appropriate rental car. Provence is a special place that constantly attracts billionaires and celebrities, so we suggest you try on the look of a “rich and famous” person and rent a car like a Mercedes or another luxury car. Not many people know that renting a car today has become incredibly affordable and convenient for anyone: check out the Mercedes c-class price – even in the world’s capital of luxury, the rental of such a car is low, which makes it affordable for any tourist.
1. Le Poët-Laval
This fortress can be reached in 2 hours by car from Lyon. The fortress was built here by the military order of the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem (later the Order of Malta) in the 12th century, and it has survived to this day.
Le Poët-Laval is a small settlement, there are no roads and modern houses, but only paths, and steps. About a thousand inhabitants live. There are three restaurants and one hotel. In the south of France, most restaurants have a siesta from 15:00 to 19:00. Therefore, check the opening hours in order to have time to order food.
In the family restaurant La Rose des Vents, which is lost in the alleys between stone houses, there is no siesta. You can spend the night in the commune of Truinas, an hour’s drive from Le Poët-Laval. There in the mountains, in the middle of nowhere, there is a guest house. Chambre d’hôtes Le Saint Maurice is a stone house with lavender shutters and a swimming pool.
We recommend staying here to all travellers in Provence who want to relax for a day or two in silence. Stop at Avignon on your way to the sea. In the palace, apart from the walls, little has been preserved, and the bridge is best viewed from a free observation deck. A whole day for Avignon is a lot, but four hours is just right.
Two hours from Avignon and here it is – the sea. Cassis is a fishing village half an hour from Marseille. There are not very many people here, two city beaches, and many small restaurants of different price categories. And between Cassis and Marseilles, there is the Calanques National Natural Park (Les calanques), where the two most beautiful bays are located – Port Pin and d’En-Vau. Port Pin – 40 minute walk from Cassis. D’En-Vau – 1.5 hours. a stunning sight: the bay seems to crash into the rocks, azure water, untouched nature and silence.
Cars are not allowed in the park and there are no shops. Trekking enthusiasts will love well-laid trails for beginners and experienced. Stock up on food, water, and “see the calanques and die” motivation. You won’t go there the second time.
3. Porquerolles Island
One hour from Cassis by car to Ports de Hyères and from there by ferry 15 minutes to the island. Porquerolles has several hundred inhabitants, three large beaches with golden sand and azure waters, also there are huge fines for garbage. Therefore, the beaches are clean, you can hear the singing of birds, and cars are extremely rare.
In 1912, the millionaire François Joseph Fournier bought this island as a gift to his second wife. Planted 180 hectares of vineyards and hundreds of trees. In the 1970s, France bought Porkerol, made it a national park, and the nature of the island has since been untouched by man.
In the port, you can rent a bike, buy fruit on the beach, have an ice cream snack on the way back and buy local wine.
4. Port Grimaud
Port Grimaud is another gem on the list of non-tourist places on the Côte d’Azur. The port is located 7 kilometres from Saint-Tropez, so you can see both towns in one day.
Port Grimaud is not a port at all. The city was artificially created only 50 years ago, channels were dug and multi-coloured fishermen’s houses were built. This is a favourite place for yacht owners who rent houses and moor at their doorstep.
Getting around Port Grimaud is much more convenient on a rental boat or car. You can dine at the La Maree restaurant. It is located in a back alley, away from the tourist areas. It has very fresh seafood and reasonable prices.
5. Plateau de Valensole
Located 100 km from Marseille. The commune itself is not surprising. But this is the main lavender grower in Provence, and at every turn, you will see those same fields from the Windows wallpaper. Nearby are farms and shops selling everything from lavender soap and perfume to lavender pate. If you want a photo against the backdrop of an endless sea of lavender – you are in Valensole.
On the way, find time to stop by the Sainte-Croix-du-Verdon lake (20 km from Valensole). The lake causes cognitive dissonance – it looks like the sea, with waves and the sound of the surf, but the water is fresh.