June is a month when in the past many events happened in our family: me and my husband started dating in June, we got married in June, our son was born in June…… June is a month worth celebrating!
So we did! Rather than a fancy candle dinner, we decided to drive all the way to South of France and do a two-day road trip in Provence.
Starting from Florence heading to the west, then driving all along the coast. After 7 hours, we reached Provence. Our accommodation was a farmhouse B&B near Forcalquier (more introduction is written in “Travel Tips section” below), which was right in the middle of the two routes we planned to take. After a quick dinner then washing off our sweat, we called it a day.
Day 1: Forcalquier – Valensole – Puimoisson
We woke up to a very sunny day the next morning. After months of back-and-forth rainy and cloudy weather in Florence in the past, a big sun is something I’ve prayed for a long time! After a big breakfast at the B&B, we headed out to the first day of adventure!
From where we live, we started from Forcalquier to Manosque. On this part of the road, there wasn’t much lavender fields to see. However driving in the Provence countryside road is indeed an enjoyable thing. We passed infinite lands of straws, saw farmers working in the fields, climbed hills and cut through small villages, even took a pause for some photos, etc. Believe it or not, the experiences reminds me of Tuscany. We felt it a bit of home here.
Leaving Manosque behind, we headed to Valensole, and from there began the lavender show!
Before we arrive in Valensole, there were already countless lavender fields welcoming us on the way. Many road trippers stopped on the way to take photos. It (end of June 2016) was only the beginning of lavender blossom, but violet was already conquered tons of fields.
It is suggested to stop at Valensole for lunch and also walk around the town. It was quite common to find houses with light colored stones in South France. And in Valensole, all those old houses were with “pinky” colored doors and windows, which made the whole place very lively.
From Valensole we headed towards the next little town Puimoisson. If you are like me, who still want to see more lavender, it would be a great route to take.
Similar to the Cypress trees on the Tuscany rolling hills, you may spot few trees standing out of the flat lavender fields. Such a symbolic view of Provence! And it is not only lavender that has the violet color here in Provence!
Day 2: Forcalquier – Ferrassieres – Sault – Gordes – Roussillon – Apt
The second day we took a route to the west to visit different ancient beautiful places around. If the first day was mainly focused on the lavender, then the second day was to admire the landscape in Provence. While driving on the road of the region, we passed by vineyard, oaks forest, scrubland and of course lavender fields.
The first stop was a beautiful town called Sault. We were lucky to catch the local market and spent some time walking around and exploring what was possible to buy. Many locals took their bag/ basket and shopped lavender bouquets home. It was such a casual & chic thing to do!
Then we were on the road again……
Around lunch time, we arrived in Gordes, a village locating on top of the mountain composed full of stone houses covered by terracotta roof.
It was an ancient village, and once was occupied by the Roman Empire. Nowadays there are hotels, bed & breakfast, restaurants opened in the center, however like many other old villages in Europe, there is no big supermarket or shopping center. Once a week, there is a market open, and local people will shop for most of what they need for the week. As for tourists, most of us are here to walk around and appreciate the peaceful and simple lifestyle here. This is what I love visiting places like this: it reminds me life in the basic way! Such a detox experience.
After Gordes, our route hit other pearls around: Senanque, Roussilon, Apt.
Travel Tips in Provence:
Our Routes (map as below):
Day1 Start from A (Mane) to the east: B (Forcalquier) – C (La Brillanne) – D (Valensole) – E (Puimoisson)
Day2 Starting from A (Mane) to the west: B (Ferrassières) – C (Sault) – D (Gordes) – E (Roussillon) – F (Apt)
The Bed & Breakfast we stayed in was Le Mas Du Pont Roman, located in Mane (3km from Forcalquier). The farmhouse is 300 years old, and it was renovated and opened as a hotel 15 years ago by a couple Marion & Christian.
One of the best things of staying in a countryside farmhouse is the quietness. Marion and Christian have planted lots of flowers around the house, and decorated it with rural pieces.
The breakfast was simple but tasty. Ham, foie gras, jam & honey, yoghurt, pastry & bread, coffee and fruit, etc. Every morning we managed to fully load our stomachs before hitting on the road.
Le Mas Du Pont Roman
Before visiting Provence, it is worth researching a bit the route and pick your favorite. Provence is a big area, and although it is famous as the “hometown” of lavender, it is not that everywhere you go, you find tons of lavender along the road. So researching and planning are necessary. Here is a website that I used for my route planning, where you can find suggestions to routes, accommodations, visiting points, maps to download.
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