I love Provence. Ever since I studied in Nice as a teenager I’ve been enamored with the region. But most of my travels in southern France have focused on the coast. Which is a shame, because there are so many amazing places to discover in the interior. And that’s why I’m excited to spend 36 hours in Provence discovering the under-the-radar inland highlights.
36 Hours in Provence
I’m here with my boyfriend for a quick weekend getaway. After our flight from London we drive to Var, where we’re ensconced in vineyards and serenaded by cicadas.
It’s beautiful, peaceful, and everything the bustling Cote d’Azur isn’t.
We start our visit the way any trip to France should: wine tasting. There are lots of wineries with tasting rooms in the Lorgues area, and the local rose wines at Chateau de Berne go down a treat.
Afterwards we hike through the vines, taking in mountain panoramas and rocky terroir as we go. There are beautiful trails here, and it feels good to stretch our legs after a long journey.
But our 36 hours in Provence are going quickly, and we want to cover more ground. We hop in the car and head north to Tourtour, a hilltop village that deserves its place in the Les Plus Beaux Villages de France association.
The narrow streets and colorful shutters are reminiscent of Saint-Paul-de-Vence and Eze, two of my favorite towns in Provence.
It’s less crowded here, though, and we have fun getting lost in the lanes and having lunch with a view on the terrace of a restaurant in the main square.
From Tourtour we continue our journey with a visit to Aups, a market town on the edge of the Verdon Natural Regional Park.
Aups is larger than Tourtour, but still has plenty of pretty streets to explore, archways to duck under, and yellow facades with turquoise shutters to admire.
We stop for a coffee (ok, and an ice cream) at one of the cafes, absorbing the ambiance and seeking out more of the details that have awed us from the time we arrived.
After another beautiful drive through the hills, we come to the last stop on our trip to Provence. Vinon-sur-Verdon is full of stone stairways, pink checkered facades, and colorful doors.
As we climb the hill, we take in grapevines hanging from stone houses, cats napping on post boxes, and gardens running wild.
The view from the church at the top has all the ingredients of a Provencal scene: orange tile rooftops, verdant hills, and singing birds. But I’m still obsessed with the details closer in, and as we make our way back down I’m delighted by the flowers and painted houses.
And that pretty much sums up how I feel about this undiscovered part of France. As much as I enjoy Nice and adore Antibes, I’ve loved getting to know Var. Its towns and villages, wineries and walking paths have won me over and made me excited to come back again and uncover more of Provence’s secrets.
How about you? How would you spend 36 hours in Provence?