While road-tripping through France may sound like a dream, for many it means driving in a foreign country (ack!), and being completely self-reliant (yikes!). This is why a self-guided tour through Provence’s wine country is the perfect itinerary for any level of traveler. First off, it’s stunning. Secondly, nothing is too crazy-far away from anything else, so you won’t feel like you’re spending your whole vacation in a car. And lastly, depending on the time of year – anytime except July and August, really – you won’t have to deal with insane amounts of traffic.
I’ve done a version of this itinerary; we had the best time and it could not have been more beautiful. We did it over what would be Memorial Day weekend in the States; so late May in France, particularly in Provence, was truly ideal – big blue skies, not too hot, and not crowded at all.
Anyway, you don’t want to hear about my vacation. You’re trying to plan your own! This would be a great long weekend trip out of Paris, or you can tack it onto almost any other European trip you have planned. Here’s what to do:
As far as I know, the only direct flight to Nice is from New York’s JFK. However, many long-haul flights can connect through Paris to Nice, or Marseille. And European budget airlines fly to the region often, sometimes for pennies. From there you can:
If you’re flying into Paris, save yourself some time and money and take a train south, then rent a car from there. You can take the super-fast TGV to Montpellier, Marseille or Nice. If you’re flying into Nice, you could rent a car in town or at the airport.
Find a home base and accommodations.
I recommend the ridiculously adorable town of St-Rémy-de-Provence and the affordable, pretty Hotel du Soleil.
Places to eat in Provence:
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L’Assiette de Marie
1 rue Jaume Roux, St-Rémy-de-Provence
04 90 92 32 14
Outstanding food. Have the hotel make the reservation for you, otherwise you won’t get in. Note that it’s closed in the winter.
Le Jardin de Frédéric
8 bd Gambetta, St-Rémy-de-Provence
04 90 92 27 76
It’s so Provence, you’ll love it. Again, really great food. They know what they’re doing in this region.
Chocolatier Joël Durand
3, Bd Victor Hugo, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
04 90 92 38 25
Ok, no, it’s not a place for lunch. Or is it…? Get the chocolate alphabet, is all I’m saying. Then take it back to the hotel, crack open a bottle of the best red you’ve bought, and boom – you’ve got lunch.
Provence sites to see when you’re not drinking or eating:
Pont du Gard – a Roman bridge and aqueduct in beautiful surroundings. Pick up some food and have a picnic by the river.
Les Baux de Provence – this can be touristy, but is worth it – especially if you can go after the tour buses leave, say around sunset, and take in the stunning view and haunting alleyways.
>>If you’d like to do a bit more exploring or lengthen your trip, check out these eight enchanting villages in Provence.
Day 1: Travel east along the D99 autoroute
1. Domaine des Terres Blanches
Route de Cavaillon RD-99
Tél : +33 4 90 95 91 66
2. Chateau Romanin
+33 4 90 92 45 87
3. Domaine Hauvette
Quartier Haute Galine
+33 4 90 92 03 90
Day 2: Travel south on the D5 autoroute
1. Mas de la Dame
Chemin Départementale 5
13520 Les Baux de Provence
+33 4 90 54 32 24
2. Mas Ste-Berthe on the D27
13520 Les Baux de Provence
Come back up the D27 then turn onto the D99 east back to St-Rémy-de-Provence. (This would be a good day to visit Les Baux de Provence.)
Of course, since you’re self-reliant and free-spirited, this should serve only as a guide – hey, you’ve got a car and in you’re in Provence, live it up! To help you, here are some additional informative posts:
- Top 10 things to do in Provence
- Fall in Provence
- A map of France
- Summer travel guide
- Provence travel guide
- A guide to French wine
- Understanding French wine classifications