5 Unforgettable Road Trips in Provence: Exploring the Heart of Southern France
5 Unforgettable Road Trips in Provence: Exploring the Heart of Southern France

5 Unforgettable Road Trips in Provence: Exploring the Heart of Southern France

Discover the beauty and charm of Provence through these epic road trips. Explore captivating landscapes, historic sites, and cozy villages. This guide provides detailed route information, key stops, and camper van-friendly accommodations for an unforgettable adventure.

Are you ready to embark on a journey through the picturesque landscapes of Provence? Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or simply seeking an escape into the tranquility of the French countryside, these road trips offer an unparalleled experience. Grab your keys, pack your bags, and get ready to uncover the hidden treasures of Southern France.

Trip 1: Lavender Dreams and Rustic Villages in Provence

Prepare to be enchanted as you dive into the world of lavender fields and timeless villages. This road trip takes you through the heart of Provence, where every turn unveils a postcard-perfect scene.

Route: Start your journey in Avignon, a historic city known for its stunning Papal Palace. Then, head east to the charming village of Gordes, nestled on a hilltop with panoramic views. Next, venture to the famous Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, surrounded by lavender fields in full bloom (best in June to August). As you continue south, explore Roussillon, famous for its ochre cliffs and vibrant streets. Your road trip ends in Aix-en-Provence, a cultural hub with art, history, and delicious Provençal cuisine.

Key Stops:

  • Avignon: Visit the Palais des Papes and stroll across the Pont Saint-Bénézet.
  • Gordes: Wander through narrow streets and enjoy the stunning vistas.
  • Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque: Immerse yourself in the fragrant lavender fields.
  • Roussillon: Capture the beauty of the unique ochre landscape.
  • Aix-en-Provence: Explore Cours Mirabeau and indulge in local delicacies.

Camper Van-Friendly Accommodations:

  • Camping de l’Isle Verte (Avignon): A peaceful campsite along the river.
  • Camping Municipal Les Sources (Gordes): Basic facilities with a serene atmosphere.
  • Camping Le Colorado (Roussillon): Nestled in the heart of the ochre cliffs.
  • Camping de la Sainte Baume (Aix-en-Provence): Surrounded by nature, yet close to the city.

Trip 2: Coastal Charms and Mediterranean Wonders

Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Mediterranean coastline and explore the vibrant towns that dot the azure shoreline.

Route: Begin in the bustling port city of Marseille, known for its diverse culture and historic sites. Journey along the coast to Cassis, a small fishing village surrounded by stunning calanques (rocky inlets). Continue to Bandol, famous for its vineyards and relaxed atmosphere. Your road trip then takes you to Saint-Tropez, a glamorous destination with sandy beaches and a lively arts scene. Conclude your adventure in Nice, where the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean greet you.

Key Stops:

  • Marseille: Discover the Old Port, Le Panier district, and the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde.
  • Cassis: Take a boat tour to explore the calanques and relax on the beach.
  • Bandol: Enjoy wine tasting in one of the many vineyards.
  • Saint-Tropez: Experience the luxury yachts, visit the market, and unwind on Pampelonne Beach.
  • Nice: Promenade des Anglais, Old Town, and the Marc Chagall National Museum are must-visits.

Camper Van-Friendly Accommodations:

  • Camping du Garlaban (Marseille): Surrounded by hills and close to the city.
  • Camping Les Cigales (Cassis): A family-friendly site with modern facilities.
  • Camping de La Baume (Bandol): Offers spacious pitches and a relaxing atmosphere.
  • Camping de Saint-Tropez (Saint-Tropez): Within walking distance of the town center.
  • Camping Les Pins (Nice): Scenic location, near the beach and public transportation.

Trip 3: Historic Treasures and Provencal Heritage

Step back in time as you explore the rich history and cultural heritage of Provence, from ancient Roman ruins to medieval towns.

Route: Commence your journey in Arles, known for its Roman amphitheater and Vincent van Gogh’s inspiration. Head north to Nîmes, where the stunning Maison Carrée and Pont du Gard await. Journey on to Uzès, a charming town with a medieval character. Continue to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, a picturesque village with its own Roman heritage. Your road trip culminates in the impressive city of Orange, famous for its well-preserved Roman theater.

Key Stops:

  • Arles: Explore the Arles Amphitheatre and stroll along the Rhône River.
  • Nîmes: Marvel at the Roman architecture, including the Pont du Gard and Maison Carrée.
  • Uzès: Wander through the cobbled streets and visit the Duke’s Castle.
  • Saint-Rémy-de-Provence: Walk in Van Gogh’s footsteps and enjoy the Provençal atmosphere.
  • Orange: Admire the ancient Roman theater and the Triumphal Arch.

Camper Van-Friendly Accommodations:

  • Camping L’Arlesienne (Arles): Within walking distance of the city center.
  • Camping Le Bois des Ésparrus (Nîmes): Offers modern amenities and easy access to attractions.
  • Camping Saint-Étienne (Uzès): A peaceful site with beautiful surroundings.
  • Camping Domaine de la Palud (Saint-Rémy-de-Provence): Shaded pitches and a relaxing ambiance.
  • Camping Manon (Orange): Situated near the city’s historic sites.

Trip 4: Hilltop Escapade and Enchanting Views

Embark on a journey to the hilltop villages of Provence, where ancient architecture and breathtaking views await at every turn.

Route: Begin your adventure in Apt, a town nestled between hills and valleys. From there, make your way to Bonnieux, where medieval charm meets stunning landscapes. Next, head to Lacoste, famous for its castle ruins and artsy vibe. Your road trip continues to Ménerbes, a village with a rich history and captivating architecture. Lastly, explore the enchanting village of Goult before concluding your trip in Cavaillon.

Key Stops:

  • Apt: Visit the bustling market and enjoy the town’s relaxed atmosphere.
  • Bonnieux: Climb to the top for panoramic views and explore the old church.
  • Lacoste: Explore the castle grounds and immerse yourself in the artistic ambiance.
  • Ménerbes: Discover the historic houses and the fortified church.
  • Goult: Relax in this tranquil village known for its authenticity and charm.

Camper Van-Friendly Accommodations:

  • Camping Le Luberon (Apt): Surrounded by nature, yet close to amenities.
  • Camping Les Hautes Prairies (Bonnieux): Offers spacious pitches and a swimming pool.
  • Camping Les Rives du Luberon (Lacoste): Riverside location with modern facilities.
  • Camping Municipal Le Clos de Saint Hilaire (Ménerbes): A quiet site with stunning views.
  • Aire Camping-Car Village de Goult (Goult): A dedicated area for camper vans with basic services.

Trip 5: Provencal Markets and Culinary Delights

Indulge in the flavors of Provence as you explore local markets, savor regional dishes, and enjoy the beauty of the countryside.

Route: Commence your culinary journey in Aix-en-Provence, where markets brim with fresh produce and artisanal products. Continue to Forcalquier, known for its Monday market and historic charm. Next, explore Manosque, the birthplace of writer Jean Giono. Your road trip then takes you to Apt, famous for its candied fruits and vibrant market scene. Conclude your adventure in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a town renowned for its antique markets.

Key Stops:

  • Aix-en-Provence: Stroll through the markets, then indulge in local cuisine at a charming bistro.
  • Forcalquier: Immerse yourself in the lively Monday market and explore the Old Town.
  • Manosque: Visit Jean Giono’s childhood home and enjoy the local ambiance.
  • Apt: Taste candied fruits and explore the bustling markets.
  • L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue: Discover antique treasures and enjoy the town’s waterside charm.

Camper Van-Friendly Accommodations:

  • Camping Sainte Victoire (Aix-en-Provence): Close to the city and surrounded by nature.
  • Camping Indigo Forcalquier (Forcalquier): A peaceful site with excellent amenities.
  • Aire de Camping-Car Municipal (Manosque): A dedicated camper van area with basic facilities.
  • Camping Le Luberon (Apt): Provides necessary facilities and a convenient location.
  • Camping Partage (L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue): Riverside camping with a tranquil atmosphere.

Provence beckons with its diverse landscapes, rich history, and enticing flavors. These road trips offer a glimpse into the heart and soul of Southern France, allowing you to immerse yourself in its beauty, culture, and charm. Pack your bags, hit the road, and create memories that will last a lifetime in this enchanting region.