Photo: Villeneuve-les-Avignon, by Oliver Fly

Provence is a corner of the world that first grew very dear to our family as we began renting homes across the region more than a decade ago. Over the summers as the children were growing up, we rented many homes in various villages, starting with a crumbly little cottage atop a vineyard and ultimately ending with the large farmhouse outside Avignon that we would purchase and renovate to become our own.

There’s something about Provence – the way time slows down and draws you to appreciate life’s simple pleasures. There is as much to see and do as you’d like, but above all we recommend doing nothing but enjoying the delicious food the region is known for, and relaxing by the pool to the tune of the cicadas.

While we only wish we could host everyone at Le Mas des Poiriers, for those we cannot accommodate we have put together a comprehensive list of our favorite villages, sights, hotels and restaurants that we have come across throughout our journeys in Provence. Should you choose to visit the region, we are certain you will love these special places as much as we do.

Our favorite villages:


Photo: View of Avignon from the Rhone, by Oliver Fly

Avignon is near and dear to our hearts as it is the closest town to our home at Le Mas des Poiriers. Avignon is not the countryside Provencal town you may imagine, rather a bustling city with a Medieval past and historic architecture. As the second-most visited city in France, it is not to be missed.

For those coming from Paris, we recommend taking the TGV straight into Avignon, renting a car from there, and doing some sightseeing in the old city before continuing on with your Provence experience.

Photo: Avignon, by Oliver Fly

Most important to note is the Palais des Papes, which served as the Papal center of the Catholic Church for seven Papacies and home to the Pope from 1305 to 1378. It is a must-see for any first-time visitor.

Photo: La Mirande’s interior, by Nadia Meli

La Mirande, a charming hotel that sits adjacent to the palace, lives in the building that once housed the Cardinals when Avignon was the epicenter of Catholicism. It has recently been restored to perfection and provided much inspiration during our own renovation and design process for Le Mas des Poiriers. Every corner is covered in traditional French wallpapers and fabrics. Enjoy a cup of tea in the parlor or lunch on the patio to finish off your visit to the city of Avignon.


Photo: Gordes, by Bruno Rezza

Gordes is widely known to be the most beautiful and picturesque village in Provence. Formed fully out of limestone drawn from the hill on which it is built, it is quite a sight to behold. Don’t forget to pause for an iconic photo opportunity as you approach by car. We recommend wandering the town as you will inevitably be led to stunning views over the Luberon valley in every direction.

Photo: Samantha and Peter overlooking the Luberon from Gordes

For lunch or dinner, make a reservation in advance at Bastide de Gordes (a favorite of ours!) to dine at one of their patio restaurants with unforgettable views.

On your way out, don’t miss the Abbaye de Senanque nestled in the foothills of Gordes. A medieval abbey that is still functioning today producing honey, the stone structure is set amid vibrant lavender fields. The lavender blooms peak during June and July but the rows and abbey are beautiful any time of year.

Photo: Abbaye de Senanque at the base of Gordes, by Samantha Varvel

Isle sur la Sorgue

Isle sur la Sorgue is the centre of antique furniture and vintage finds. We sourced much of the antiques at Le Mas des Poiriers from the many vendors in this town. Antique stores are open Friday through Sunday, with a market taking place on Sunday mornings for smaller items, including antique table linens and china.

We recommend lunch at Jardin du Quai, a charming restaurant set in a little courtyard amongst the antique stores. They prepare a set multi-course menu every day and it’s always fresh and delicious.

St. Remy

St. Remy is known to be a favorite town in Provence among Americans. It hosts one of the largest and most famous produce markets in the region on Wednesdays (do be warned, it can get very busy and parking is difficult to find on market days). You will find some lovely shopping in St. Remy – we recommend the beautiful Souleiado shop for traditional patterned Provencal table linens and clothing. For lunch, try the charming Chateau des Alpilles on the outskirts of town.

Les Baux

A medieval castle / fortress atop a hill, Les Baux boasts sweeping views over endless olive groves as well as family-friendly activities for children to enjoy — from petting farm animals to reenactments of canon firings. The approach by car is stunning, making it even more worth the trip.

To make a day out of it, we love the Carrieres des Lumieres for a unique show of art and lights inside a former marble quarry / cave. For Michelin-star dining at the base of the hill, we recommend L’Ousteau de Baumaniere in their garden restaurant or their more casual La Cabra d’Or on the patio.


This is a little town that we are especially fond of after renting a home there for a full month one summer. While small, it is particularly charming and offers a slightly more high-end market on Fridays for those who want the experience with less of a crowd. Book a table at Maison Hache for a delicious lunch right on the main market street.

Luberon Villages: Lacoste, Menerbes, Bonnieux, Venasque

The tiny hilltop villages of the Luberon are known to be the most charming and beautiful of Provence. Spend a day exploring Lacoste, Menerbes, Bonnieux and Venasque. A drive through these towns would pair nicely with lunch at the lovely Bastide de Marie amid its bountiful rose gardens.