DAY 4 – A DAY AT THE SEA!
Provence has a long coastline so it’s worth taking a breather from the touring and spending a day at the sea. We recommend heading to Cassis, a charming seaside town with a bustling central square surrounded by cafes and small shops. While in Cassis, the must do is to take a small boat trip to and through the ‘calanques’, the massive limestone cliffs that jut out in to the sea and are probably the most impressive natural attraction in Provence. You could also hire kayaks (the sea is perfectly calm as the calanques have a quieting effect on the ocean current) or hike one of the cliff trails but a coffee in the square and a boat trip is extremely pleasant!
Cassis has a small public beach but it’s very busy so best to drive further along the coast and make a beeline for any one of the small beaches dotting your route.
Surprising find: The pebble beach at En Vau surrounded by massive calanques and rock formations is just far enough off the beaten track to get away from the crowds and enjoy a great swim!
DAY 5: L’ISLE-SUR-LA-SORGUE AND FONTAINE DE VAUCLUSE
Although you’ll be spoiled for choice of beautiful medieval and hill top towns and villages in Provence, L’Isle has always been one of our favorites. This ‘island town’ is full of canals, bridges and water wheels and so strolling through the narrow streets and along the water just feels like a totally different and unique experience. Besides the cafes and restaurants one would expect, L’isle is famous for its antiques and galleries. Even if you’re not here on market day – dominated by antique dealers – it’s a wonderful place to stroll about.
When you’ve tired strolling and shopping, rent a bike at any number of places in town and follow an easy 20km/12.5 mi round trip to Fontaine de Vaucluse. You’ll be biking mainly on peaceful, flat country roads until you reach Fontaine, a pretty village set along a river and teeming with outdoor cafes and a ruined 14th century castle. Once in the village you can take a short trail to the fountain itself. It is all very pretty! The route back to L’Isle is the same and just as easy!
SURPRISING FIND – CARPENTRAS
A short drive from L’Isle, Carpentras is an incredibly historic town which somehow doesn’t make it into most travel books. Besides its fantastic Friday market – one of the oldest recorded in the world as we have written evidence of it existing in 1155 AD! – (we know, it’s impossible to get to all the markets!) Carpentras, the seat of the Pope before Avignon is full of lovely squares and Places. It’s home to the famous Provencal candy, the Berlingot bonbon and is a feast for lovers of anything sweet! Maybe more surprising, the local synagogue which dates back to 1367 is one of the oldest in Europe and well worth a visit. You’ll have to call ahead to make an appointment – you’ll feel a sense of the historical magnitude of the place when you arrive and have to knock on the ancient doors awaiting your guide!