Provence Travel, Part II - Why Provence

One of my most asked questions when we were in France was, "Why Provence?" I think when most people envision visiting France they think of Paris. For us, we prefer the French Countryside in the southern region.  

It goes without saying that Provence has an amazing climate and gorgeous landscapes. Within hours you can be exploring hilltop villages throughout the Luberon Valley or spending the afternoon on the Mediterranean coast. There is truly something for everyone. 

Provence has been home to many painters, writers, sculptors and musicians, who have been inspired by the landscape, climate and culture.

In 1888, after spending a few years living in Paris, van Gogh decided to move to the South of France. The unique light in Provence fascinated him and the quality of life there suited him. This trip, we loved visiting Saint-Paul de Mausole where he produced some of his most famous works.  

The psychiatric hospital was founded during the 19th century in an ancient Augustine Monastery nestled among wheat fields, vineyards and olive groves.

We were married in Provence six years ago and the French Countryside continues to be our top vacation designation. 

Some of our favorite villages include:

Bonnieux - Built on a plateau above the valley, Bonnieux is such a charming little village. The houses spread out on the hillside form a striking harmony of earth-toned colors and shapes.

Some residences dating back to the 16th, 17th, and 18th century serve as a reminder that Bonnieux was a wealthy village when this region, the Comtat Venaissin, belonged to the Popes. We were fortunate to stay in Bonnieux this last trip and the location was perfect for daily excursions to nearby villages. 

Gordes - Built on the foothill of the Monts of Vaucluse, facing the Luberon, Gordes is one of the most well-known hilltop villages in the region, and one of the most beautiful in France.

Seeing it again literally took my breath away. 

Forcalquier - The village is built around the stopes of a steep conical hill, crowned by an octagonal chapel, Nortre Dame de Provence, where the medieval citadel once stood. The citadel was destroyed in 1601 and the chapel was built in 1875. We climbed to the top when we were married in 2013 to capture these images :)

Wedding Photography: Manuel Meszarovits, International Photographer 

This trip, we visited Forcalquier several times to visit the Monday morning market and local antique stores.

I'll be sharing our favorite places to eat soon, but Café du Commerce also was one of our frequent stops. 

Goult - Goult is an historic village situated inthe Parc Naturel Regional du Luberon. It will be especially enjoyed by history and nature lovers alike. Restored with the utmost care, Goult has many beautiful buildings made of stone and ochre.

I loved the architecture and foliage of this little village! 

MénerbesThis superb little village in the Luberon is considered one of the finest in France. Built on a hill, it is surrounded by magnificent countryside. When visiting Ménerbes you will notice that its rich historic past has been well-preserved. 

Nicolas de Staël and Picasso both owned houses at Ménerbes and they have been joined by other famous artists, musicians, comedians and writers, all of whom own one of the farmhouses scattered around the village. 

 In Provence, the countryside is still wild, and unscarred by golf courses, theme parks, or condominium colonies. The way of life is simple, but in a good way. Each little village has its own thriving economy where everybody knows everybody. There's a church, grocery, local stores and restaurant and a boulangerie. They continue to "shop local" and support each other. Provence will continue to be our top vacation designation and I hope to take our girls on our next trip. My dream is to own a little cabanon there someday. 

As always, thanks for stopping by the blog and following along on our journey.