Walking Holidays in Provence
Cycling & Walking in Provence
Vincent van Gogh arrived in Arles in Provence, after a 16-hour train ride from Paris in February 1888. He then commenced the most productive period of painting in his life. He fell in love with the area at once: Arles, the Alpilles, blooming fields, Langlois drawbridges and abbey ruins. ‘My God!’ he exclaimed, ‘If I had only known of this country at the age of 25, instead of coming here when I was 35.’ This may express the feelings of many of us today. Such a diverse region, spanning from the alps of Haute Provence in the north, to the rolling hills of the Luberon and the seaside icons of Nice, Cannes and Marseille in the south, Provence has so much to offer the active traveller. Discover it all when you are walking in Provence for your holidays.
An Introduction to Provence Walking Tours
Those who decide to go walking in Provence with Sherpa Expeditions, decide to go on a journey that will take them to stay at our handpicked and charming accommodations and visit restaurants that only the insider knows. With a comprehensive book of route notes in hand, walkers will have access to information on the history and cultural aspect of places that they will pass while hiking in Provence. On top of that there are recommendations for places of interest such as that not-to-miss wine estate, the olive oil mill just around the corner, and details about the local flora & fauna. Sherpa’s Provence walking tours will prove to be a true immersion in this southern French region.
One tip before you go, plan your walking in the mornings and late afternoons and then spend your middays indulging on the fine French cuisine followed by a little siesta, as the French do.
Best Time of Year for Walking in Provence
The ideal times of the year to visit Provence for an active holiday must be spring, which runs between April and June, and autumn: from September until mid-November. The days are sunny, as the Provencal climate is characterised by the bright and ever-present sun, and there are cherry blossoms, followed by deep red poppies and lavender and in autumn the grape harvest season. These times of year are also when temperatures are between 20-30°C (68-86°F), so fantastic times to go walking in Provence.
Outside those months you’ve got the summer season in which it can be very hot and dry, although there will be the occasional thunderstorm cooling the air. If you are looking to visit Provence in this period, we would advise to go a bit higher up and travel above the 1000m altitude. Perhaps consider the Haute Provence
for your walking holiday, for example around Aix-en-Provence.
5 Best Spots for a Picnic When Hiking in Provence
The many markets you’ll come across when walking in Provence make for great places to stock up on some fine French delicacies to enjoy during a stop along the way. Bring a good camping knife
& a plaid and grab for example some saucissons
, fresh olives, honey, cheeses and fresh bread and pick one of the spots below for your afternoon break.
On your walk in Provence’s Luberon area you will pass the village of Lacoste with its medieval-looking ruins of the Chateau de Sade. It looks like a fairy-tale castle and either a nice and shady place from a distance or closer to the castle ruins make for wonderful picnic spots.
Fort de Buoux
Another perfect place to savour your picnic is at Fort de Buoux. Set high above the Aigebrun Valley, this is a small rocky perch with sheer cliffs to all sides. There are ruins from centuries of civilisations, think Romans, Celts and Ligurians among others.
A hidden path, unknown even to most locals, leads to a jaw-dropping outcrop that overlooks the village of Les Baux de Provence. It’s is one of the Most Beautiful Villages in France and from this spot it’s easy to understand why.
Abbaye de Senanque
Perhaps the most picture-perfect place in all of the Provence, the Cistercian abbey dates back to the 12th century and is surrounded by fields on end of lavender. Sit down and soak up the peaceful atmosphere and aromatic herbs.
Fontaine de Vaucluse
Take your picnic at the spring of the Sorgue River, which is in the, surprisingly named, village of Fontaine de Vaucluse. You’ll pass this village on our Rambling in the Luberon walk.
Food & Drink while Walking in Provence
Each village in Provence has its own market day and that is when colourful and fragrant stalls are set up at the village square, your perfect place to do some food sampling! On your walks, you’ll notice that this is a fertile region and so there is an abundance of high quality food and drink available. To sum up a few, try fresh goat’s cheese, charcuterie & saucissons, famous Cote du Rhone wines, quiche Lorraine, fresh olives and dishes like ratatouille
. On top of these, BBC has listed even more Provencal dishes to try
when in the region.
For a souvenir to bring back home after your walking trip, how about some fresh pressed olive oil or a tiny bottle of distilled lavender essential oil?
Other Reasons to Go Walking in Provence
Provence is dotted with vineyards and for those that are interested to learn more about the process, a great opportunity is to discover some of the estates with a wine expert. Uncover the secrets of the famous regional wines on guided walking or cycling tours through the vineyards of Provence. Wine tasting included!
Art: needless to say, painter Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cezannes have made Provence immortal with their colourful paintings. But there were, and still are, countless of other artists who got their inspiration from the colours of Provence
. This has resulted in the region being rich in art galleries and museums. After your walks in Provence, if you are interested to take in some of the art, you can visit for example the Monastere de St-Paul-de-Mausole, the art collection of fashion pioneer Jacques Doucet, the towns & quarries and that inspired Cezannes (plus his atelier), and modern art from Hungarian artist Vasarely in Aux-en-Provence.
How to Get to Provence and Away
Our trips start in St Andre-les-Alpes, Isle sur la Sorgue and Avignon and we finish in Aix en Provence, Arles, or Isle sur la Sorgue. Each of these places are easy to reach from the airports of Marseille and Nice. The TGV (high speed train) goes from Paris to various places in Provence or take a domestic flight with airlines like Air France, ASL Airlines or Easyjet.
There are regional trains that take you to or from these airports or main railway hubs. Another way to get around in France, and which is much used by the locals, is via the car sharing app BlaBlaCar
More Reading about Hiking in Provence
You probably already knew that there is more to France than the glitz and glamour of the French Riviera, in this article you can read about four active holidays
to discover the other side of Provence. Add a walk in Provence to your travel bucket list and travel during one of these most colourful times
. If you need more reasons to visit, check out these 5 things to do in Provence
or this article with six more reasons to visit the French region
, the latter given to you by an enthusiastic local!
Our Walking Holidays in Provence