The French Provence • Part two
My family vacay in the Provence was such a dream because it was the perfect mix of chilling and discovering. Days wandering cobbled streets were alternated with days by the pool. So for your stay I would definitely recommend picking a place that has a picture perfect swimming pool, such as Ferme Michel, our Airbnb. Its location near the Mont Ventoux also allowed us to do all those day trips with car rides under one hour.
Vaison-La-Romaine almost feels like an open-air museum thanks to the many relics of its rich history, of which a big part was Roman. Start by exploring the 'Site Antique de Puymin' and the 'Site Antique de la Villasse', which together form the greatest Gallo-Roman site in France. Walk through the ruins of the ancient streets and try to imagine what life must have been like 2,000 years ago. Crossing the Roman bridge, you'll access the high part of town, which is of the medieval kind, with streets made of pebbles and an old Castle standing on top of a cliff. If you're brave enough to climb up there, you'll be rewarded with magnificent views. End by exploring the Western, Romanesque part of town, with the Notre-Dame de Nazareth Cathedral (don't miss its beautiful cloister) and the Saint-Quenin Chapel.
If you're going to Vaison-La-Romaine, you can't miss the 'Théâtre Antique d'Orange' which is about 30 km from there. This Roman Theatre is the best preserved theatre in Europe and its sheer size is guaranteed to take your breath away! Can you imagine this was actually built by Romans around the year 0 and it is still standing today?
Although Uzès isn't technically part of the Provence (it's located in the Gard department) you should definitely spend a day there. Not only is it less known among tourists, which gives it a major peace and authenticity advantage over other villages, it also appeared extremely beautiful to us with its overall light, sand color. Uzès is known as the first Duchy of France and is all about history and romance. The imposing Castle in the middle of the town is still occupied by a Duke but parts of it can be visited. Right next to it you'll find the Medieval Garden, which on its own is a little bit disappointing but the panoramic views from the tower make it worth a visit. From up there you can see the Saint-Théodorit Cathedral with its signature 'Tour Fenestrelle'.
About 15 km from Uzès stands the impressive 'Pont du Gard', a huge and perfectly preserved Roman aqueduct. This is again proof that Romans had high longevity standards when it came to architecture! Besides the bridge's splendor, you can also enjoy the exceptional, natural surroundings or chill on the banks of the River Gardon.
One of the main attractions of the Provence are the lavender fields, which are said to bloom from June to August (the Plateau de Valensole is supposedly the best place to experience them). Unfortunately this year it was cut exceptionaly early (already in the second half of July), so we didn't get to see any. No big deal though, it gives us an excuse to go back! But I would threrefore advice you to plan your trip in June.