Last Summer Dennis and I spent a week staying with some friends in Provence, France. We had a lovely time and I’ve already written about some of the cool things in the area that we saw – such as the monastery-turned-asylum where Vincent Van Gogh lived for a year, and the beautiful garden that belonged to entomologist Jean Henri Fabre. While we were exploring the area with my Aussie friends and their son we also stumbled onto some very small and quaint little towns in Provence that you might not have heard of. I certainly hadn’t heard of any of them! One of the great things about staying in an area is the opportunity to explore what’s in the region and I really enjoyed discovering some of these little towns that I might never have known about. If you are ever visiting the Provence region of France then you should definitely also check out these four towns.
Camaret-sur-Aigues was the town where my friends and I stayed and it’s a beautiful little town near the more well-known Avignon. We were in Provence visiting my friends Jessie and Elvin, and Elvin’s sister has a house in Camaret with her partner, so we were able to spend a week with Jessie and Elvin and pretend we lived in this part of France! It was lovely having fresh croissants and bread from the local bakery every day, and we even tried some pretty good pizzas from a local place in the town. While Elvin’s sister’s house was a bit out of the town centre it was the perfect distance for a stroll through the town which we decided to take one evening.
This little crooked church looked enchanting at sunset, and I loved the curled lampposts all through the streets. There are lots of old buildings and winding alleys to explore, as well as a medieval city gate which looked gorgeous in the late afternoon sun. We even made friends with a local cat!
Orange is perhaps not so unknown as Camaret as it is quite a large town and features some Roman ruins which are quite a draw-card for tourists and those interested in history. The Triumphal Arch is quite a sight to see and is thought to have been built sometime between 27 BC – AD 14.
There is also a large Roman Theatre, which was built early in the 1st century AD and is one of the best preserved Roman Theatres. The Theatre, Arch and surroundings are a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the theatre is still sometimes used for performances, although mostly it is open to the public as a tourist site. If you want to have a look at the inside of the theatre without a tour, you can drive up to the Parc de la Colline-Saint-Eutrope on the hill above it and walk down to a perfect lookout spot. Here you can see the inside of the theatre and stage as well as over the whole town of Orange.
The streets around the theatre also feature lots of colourful buildings (like the ones in the main image) which I love seeing, and is a great place to wander amongst the cafes and winding alleys. There’s even a little train that takes tourists around the town! The Hotel De Ville below was also a beautiful building.
Vaison-la-Romaine was a town we visited where I didn’t actually take many photos but it is definitely worth your time, particularly if you go on a Tuesday (which we did) when they have a huge open-air market. We went purely to see the market and when I say huge, I mean it seemed to take up nearly all the main city streets and I don’t think we even managed to get around half of it! It was really interesting and sold lots of local produce and products such as Provence lavender soaps, lovely nougat, clothes, toys, and probably anything you can imagine. There were a lot of great smelling food stalls, where you could buy something to eat right there or simply get fresh or cured meats, vegetables, fruit and bread to take home. They had lots of the colourful buildings and window shutters that seem to be common in this area, and little flags hanging over all the streets.
The town is divided into two parts, an upper city and lower city. The lower part is where we visited the market, but in the upper part are more Roman ruins including a rather impressive castle. I didn’t manage to get any decent photos of this but you could combine a visit to the market with exploring the ruins if you liked! In between visiting this town and the next (below) we also ventured most of the way up Mont Ventoux, which both of these towns are nestled near the bottom of.
It was a little too cloudy to see the peak properly and we didn’t go all the way to the summit as our driver Elvin had an ear infection and couldn’t manage with the problems the altitude was giving him. Mont Ventoux is part of the Tour de France and we saw quite a lot of bike riders slogging their way to the top as we drove past. The view from the top over the region is also very impressive.
Located at the bottom of Mont Ventoux was the last little town we accidentally discovered and explored, Malaucène. There were lots of bike shops in the main street, selling very fancy racing bicycles, and also many lyra-clad cyclists having coffee in the many cafes. There were many more buildings featuring the coloured shutters I like so much, and lots of enchanting back alleys to explore. I particularly loved the bright blue door with lovely yellow flowers growing over it.
Malaucène also features Roman structures, as well as Medieval and Gallic; and we walked up to the top of the Calvaire in the old part of town for views over the rooftops.
A funny fact that we learned from Elvin’s sister; if you are living in that area of Provence and want to build a house you have to use the exact same type of roof tiles so that all the houses look the same (apart from fading) from above! I do quite like the charm it adds to these old towns.
Have you ever stumbled onto lovely places on your travels that you had previously not known about? Let me know what your favourite lesser-known places are, I’d love to add them to my list! And don’t forget to pin this for later if you are ever going to be exploring the areas around Provence.