15 Best Day Trips From Avignon, France

The best day trips from Avignon, France.

A city of great history and intrigue, Avignon has lured visitors from around the globe for centuries. Follow in the footsteps of the Popes as you discover what this enchanting city has to offer. From hilltop gardens to grand palaces and a bustling central market, there’s plenty to keep every visitor occupied. And if you’re staying a little longer, Avignon also makes a great base for exploring the wider region as it’s ideally located close to many of Provence’s finest attractions. Here are my recommendations for the best day trips from Avignon.

Essential Information For Visiting Avignon

Many people choose Avignon as a base for exploring the wider Provence region. Onward travel can be accomplished by car, bus or train. Although, as with my guide to day trips from Aix, I’d recommend the former for ease of exploring.

While the thought of driving in a foreign country can be daunting, Avignon City is fairly easy to navigate and parking is plentiful. There are even several free car parks at your disposal just outside of the old city. As with most cities and towns in Provence, driving into the ancient city is not advised unless you’re confident navigating the narrow streets and can understand the road signs!

Avignon in Provence. Things to see in Avignon on a day trip from Aix-en-Provence.

Getting to Avignon

Avignon is known as the transport hub of western Provence, and it’s easier than ever to access by plane, bus, train or car. The TGV will get you to Avignon from Paris in less than 3 hours, and Avignon airport is served by a limited number of international carriers offering direct flights from the UK.

To travel onward from Avignon airport you have the choice of renting a car, taking the bus, or catching a taxi for the short journey into the city. From the TGV station, it’s as simple as jumping on another train for 5 minutes to reach the city centre.

Transport Options for Exploring Avignon

As mentioned, Avignon is well served by train and buses especially, but I’d still recommend hiring a car to get around. Public transport routes are more geared towards daily commuters than tourists and you may find yourself restricted in where you can travel.

If you don’t want to hire a car, your next best bet is taking day tours, which are plentiful and leave daily from the city centre. Where possible, I’ve included options for day tours from Avignon below.

Day Trips From Avignon by Car

The following tours from Avignon are designed in a way that they are manageable to do in a day. And each of these destinations is reachable within an hour’s driving. If you’re looking for more things to do a little further afield, be sure to also read my post about day trips from Aix-en-Provence.

Simply choose which of these day trips from Avignon suit you best and build your itinerary from there! Below is a map detailing each day trip destination so you can get your bearings and visualise how far everything is from each other.


Les Baux-de-Provence and Carrières de Lumières

The charming village of Les Baux-de-Provence belongs to the “Most Beautiful Villages in France” association, and you won’t be left wondering why it deserves such a title! Located on a rocky hill in the Alpilles, this archetypical Provencal village is a must-see in Provence. There is plenty to see and do within the village itself, as it’s brimming with historical treasures. The most notable of which is the Château des Baux de Provence. A spectacular sight, even in its ruined state. It’s one of the most impressive châteaus in Provence and hosts demonstrations, events and shows throughout the year.

Carrières de Lumières is located a very short distance from the village and is an incredible experience. A music, light, and art installation set within an old stone quarry. Each year, the underground space features different artists’ work. From now through until January 2019 you can get acquainted with works by Picasso, Goya, and Sorolla, in a totally unique and mesmerising fashion.

Insider tip: If you’re planning on visiting both the Château des Baux de Provence and the Carrières de Lumières, be sure to pick up a joint ticket which will save you €5.

Les Baux de Provence is one of the best day trips from Avignon, France

Day Tours to Les Baux-de-Provence and Carrières de Lumières from Avignon


Pont du Gard and Uzès

The Pont du Gard is one of those iconic sites that shouldn’t be missed on any trip to the South of France. The Roman aqueduct is an impressive sight looming over the Gardon River, and it’s a joy to discover. Walk the ancient road or take a tour to the upper level of the aqueduct. Take part in the Mémoires de Garrigue – a marked 1.4-km trail through vineyards, olive groves and oak treesor have a refreshing swim in the river beneath the looming bridge. The site is also home to an interesting and informative museum, and events are held in the grounds surrounding the aqueduct throughout the year.

Nearby, the medieval town of Uzès is a fascinating place to spend time before, or after your trip to the Pont du Gard. It has the same charming feel of many towns and villages in this part of France, and the old town has been lovingly restored. The Saturday morning market wraps itself around a central fountain in the Place aux Herbes square and is a medley of delicious smells and flavours, while the famed medieval garden stimulates the senses even more.

Insider tip: Experience the magic of this magnificent UNESCO site from another angle – take a guided kayak below the bridge!

The Pont du Gard is an easy day trip from Avignon.

Day Tours from Avignon to Pont du Gard


Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

After leaving the nearby city of Arles, Vincent Van Gogh spent a year at a psychiatric institution in Saint-Rémy. It’s here, and in the surrounding countryside, that the renowned artist painted some of his most famous masterpieces. Boulevard Mirabeau will be forever immortalised in the painting ‘The Road Menders” from 1889, and Van Gogh’s legacy can further be appreciated with a visit to the Van Gogh Art Centre.

The old centre of the city is encircled by the remnants of an ancient protective wall, and many of the portes (doors) still lead you from the new, into the old. Saint-Rémy is celebrated as a bit of an artists hub, and it’s not hard to see where they get their inspiration. Beautiful townhouses wear a veil of ivy, the streets are flanked by leafy trees, and the atmosphere is most certainly alive and welcoming!

Insider tip: Buy the Saint Rémy Pass to visit several of the town’s finest sites (including Glanum below) at a reduced rate.

The streets of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. A great day trip from Avignon.

Day Tours from Avignon to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence


Glanum and the Thouzon Caves

Walking around the fortified town of Glanum, it’s easy to see why the Greeks and Romans chose this idyllic spot to set up shop. Framed by the craggy mountain ridges of the Alpilles, Glanum is a remarkable place to visit. Walk among the ruins, peer into the sacred well and gaze up at the remaining three columns of the twin temples as you try to imagine what life was like here 2000 years ago.

A little further Northeast, in a somewhat nondescript pocket of Provence you’ll find the extraordinary Thouzon Grotto. Also known as the Cave of Fairies, it is a magical experience being led through the underground world of stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, underground lakes and cave pearls. I’m not a huge fan of the ‘media’ element of the tour, but the guides are informative, funny and helpful – making this a worthwhile stop on tour Provence road trip.

Insider tip: If you’re visiting Provence in the summer, explore Glanum in the morning, before seeking shelter in the caves in the afternoon.

Glanum is a great day trip from Avignon.

Day Tours from Avignon to Glanum


Arles and the Camargue

While Aix is the cultural capital of Provence, Arles is rising to be the capital of art. The former home of Vincent Van Gogh, Arles is a beautiful, compact city to explore. Walk through the town and follow in the trail of Van Gogh, to see the exact spots depicted in some of the illustrious artist’s paintings. Take in the history that surrounds you as you walk past the amphitheatre and intricate church façades. And discover the underground world through the cryptoporticus.

As the gateway for the Camargue, it’s a great place to hop on a tour to explore the river delta. It’s here you’ll find the famed Camargue bulls roaming freely, the fairytale-like Camargue horses with their long white manes, and the vibrant pink flamingos that flock to the wetlands every year. You can, of course, drive yourself through the Camargue. If you do, be sure to call in at the medieval city of Aigues-Mortes and stretch your legs on Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer beach.

Insider tip: Arles is very walkable so I’d recommend heading first to the tourist office to pick up your walking map of the city. For the Camargue – if you’re short on time, head straight to Parc Ornithologique for your best chance to see flamingos.

Arles and the Camargue make an excellent day trip from Aix-en-Provence.

Day Tours from Avignon to the Camargue


L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Fontaine de Vaucluse

As the antique capital of Provence, L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a must visit for anyone interested in perusing the brocantes and antique markets. Twice a year (at Easter and in August), the town hosts some of Europe’s largest antique fairs. But if you’re not lucky enough to be visiting at those times, the habitual Sunday morning market will not leave you disappointed.

L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue translates to ‘the island on the Sorgue’ and as you walk over and around the flowing canals, you will have no doubt that you are, in fact, walking on an island. The water wheels that pepper the town are a remnant of when the town was home to a burgeoning textile industry. And during summer, you’ll find locals and visitors alike flocking to Le Partage des Eaux to relax under a shady tree, or to dip their feet in the softly flowing Sorgue.

Fontaine de Vaucluse

A short drive from L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue is the Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. The name relates to both the fountain that feeds the Sorgue River and the picturesque village which surrounds it. The petite village serves to accommodate the masses of visitors who come to enjoy the fountain every year. A short walk past riverside cafes and tempting gelato stalls will deliver you to the source, which always looks different, depending on the season. Sometimes it’s overflowing with water and at other times you need to climb over the barrier to be able to catch a glimpse of the turquoise pool below.

Insider tip: On the way up to the mill you will pass Vallis Clausa, a traditional paper mill. It’s open every day and is an interesting place to see how paper is made the traditional way (powered by the river) and to pick up a unique and locally made souvenir.

Fountain de Vaucluse makes a great day trip from Aix-en-Provence

Day Tours from Avignon to L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Fontaine de Vaucluse


Villages of the Luberon

If there’s one thing you must do when visiting Provence, it’s taking a tour of the villages of the Luberon. These hilltop havens have harboured artists throughout the years, who were inspired by the incredible landscapes, pure light, and simple pleasures available. You can still sample this authentic Provençal way of life today, it lives on in the villages of the Luberon valley.

Touring the Luberon villages can be done in a day, or you could linger over each village for much longer. Visit the iconic village of Gordes, see the Sénanque Abbey surrounded by fields of lavender, wander through the unique landscapes of the ochre trail in Roussillon, walk through a cedar forest near Bonnieux, and visit the restored mill in Goult.

To read more about the villages of the Luberon, click here.

To find out how to drive the villages of the Luberon in a day, click here.

Insider tip: If you can’t make it to Les Baux-de-Provence on this trip, take a trip to Buoux in the Luberon instead. Less famous than it’s Alpilles counterpart, it is just as intriguing and the views are astonishing!

The villages of the Luberon are one of the must-do day trips from Avignon, France

Day Tours from Avignon to the Luberon


Aix-en-Provence

The golden tones and relaxed vibe of Aix-en-Provence will seduce you from the moment you step into the sultry streets of the old town. Wander the labyrinth of winding lanes as your gaze is pulled in every direction by beautiful cafés, curated shop displays and the mouthwatering scents wafting from corner boulangeries. Known as the cultural heart of Provence, Aix is awash with galleries and museums showcasing work from both homegrown and international artists, telling the story of the town’s rich past.

Don’t miss the markets which take place throughout the week, visit Paul Cézanne’s former studio, delight in the collections displayed at Musée Granet, take a dip in thermal waters at Thermes Sextius, and soak in the welcoming atmosphere of this cosmopolitan city. Then when it all gets too much, rest in the exquisite surroundings of the Pavillon Vendôme, a manicured garden framed by flowers at the foot of the museum.

Insider tip: For amazing Lebanese food in an intimate setting, head to Sajna in the old town. The flavours are wonderful, the service is excellent, and they cater to vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free diets.

Best Day Trips from Aix en Provence, France. Top Tours from Aix-en-Provence.

Day Tours from Avignon to Aix-en-Provence


Châteauneuf-du-Pape

A must-do day trip from Avignon for all the wine lovers out there! Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a charming small village crowned by a ruined medieval castle. And while the village itself is worthy of a stroll, it’s the wine that draws in the visitors year after year. The first vines were planted in the surrounding countryside by the Romans, but it wasn’t until the 14th century that viticulture was firmly rooted in the history of the area.

Nowadays, wine from Châteauneuf-du-Pape has the AOC accreditation, meaning that the warm red wine grown in this area is protected. There are around 300 wine producers covered by the appellation which encompasses Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Orange, Courthezon, Sorgues and Bedarrides. You can taste these famed wines either at the cellar door or at one of the tasting rooms in the village.

Insider tip: The best way to sample the wines of Châteauneuf-du-Pape is to book a tour with a local guide. Get picked up from Avignon (and don’t have to worry about having a glass too many) and enjoy learning about this unique area.

Châteauneuf du Pape is a great day trip from Avignon, France

Day Tours from Avignon to Châteauneuf-du-Pape


Nîmes

Often referred to as the Rome of France, Nîmes is home to an absolute goldmine of historical sights dating back as far as 600 BC. The Nîmes Arena is perhaps the most stately monument in the city. The Roman amphitheatre remains wonderfully intact, unlike its famous Italian counterpart, but is slightly smaller in stature. It still seats around 20,000 people and as a venue, it hosts concerts and historic reenactments.

A short walk from the arena will have you standing in the shadow of the Maison Carrée – another incredibly well-preserved relic of the Roman era. But my favourite part of this intriguing city is without a doubt the Jardins de la Fontaine. One of the first ever public gardens in Europe, the Jardins de la Fontaine is the perfect place for an afternoon stroll. Wander through the network of ponds, have a picnic beside baroque sculptures, and climb the hill for unmatched views of the city.

Insider tip: Climbing the hill behind the Nimes gardens will bring you to Magne Tower – the last trace of emperor Augustus’ rule. You can have a look inside for a small fee.

Nimes is one of the best day trips from Avignon.

Day Tours from Avignon to Nîmes


Avignon is an amazingly interesting, cultural and vibrant city in western Provence. It also makes a great place to stay while you discover the delights of the region, as there are many of Provence’s key attractions within a short drive of the city. Please let me know if you try any of these day trips from Avignon on your next trip to the South of France!

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The Best Day Trips From Aix-en-Provence, France

Best Day Trips from Aix en Provence, France. Top Tours from Aix-en-Provence.

If you’re thinking about planning a holiday to Provence, deciding on the best place to stay to explore the greater region can be a difficult choice. Aix-en-Provence is a great option in this respect as it’s centrally located for many of the regions’ key attractions, and it’s easily accessible. It’s also one of the most beautiful cities in Provence, with plenty to see and do while you’re there.

If you’re visiting in summer you can take advantage of the annual (music) Festival d’Aix when the charismatic city comes to life with melodic sounds spilling from every open space. And as the cultural capital of Provence, you’ll be spoiled for choice with museums, galleries and historical sites peppered throughout the city. You may have a hard time pulling yourself away from exploring the labyrinthine of lanes of the old town, and the fresh flavours and smells at the farmer’s markets. But when you do, there are a number of places to explore within easy reach of the city. Here is my pick of the best day trips from Aix-en-Provence, France!


Essential Information For Visiting Aix-en-Provence

Before considering which day trips from Aix-en-Provence you’d like to undertake, it’s worthwhile putting some thought into the logistics of getting to, and around the city. Aside from the fact that I absolutely adore Aix, I also recommend it as a place to stay because it’s a lot less daunting than some other cities in Provence. Driving into and out of the city is straightforward, and car parks within the town are plentiful and easy to find.

Best Day Trips from Aix en Provence, France. Top Tours from Aix-en-Provence.

Getting to Aix-en-Provence

Unlike other main centres in Provence, Aix doesn’t have its own airport. Instead, it shares services with nearby Marseille airport, which is a little more than a half hour drive away. So if you’re flying from within France, or from abroad, you’ll need to arrange onward travel from Marseille to Aix. There is a bus that runs between the airport and Aix every 30 minutes. You can find fare and timetable information here.

If you’re taking the train down from Paris, be aware that the Aix TGV station is a long way out of the city. The same bus that runs between Aix-en-Provence and Marseille Airport also calls in at the TGV station.

The other option is hiring a car from the TGV station or Marseille airport and continuing your journey at your own pace.

Transport Options for Exploring From Aix

I always advise visitors to Aix to hire a car for the duration of their trip. Half the fun of exploring this beautiful region is going on a Provence road trip! Getting lost in the countryside and discovering a charming village or boutique vineyard by chance… But it’s entirely possible to explore with the help of day tours from Aix-en-Provence, or with public transport – the former requires a little more money and the latter requires a little more patience! Wherever possible, I’ve included suggestions for Aix-en-Provence tours so you can explore without a car.


Day Trips From Aix-en-Provence by Car

The following tours from Aix-en-Provence are designed to be manageable within one day of sightseeing. And each of the destinations is around an hours’ drive from Aix.

All you need to do is choose which of these Aix-en-Provence day trips suit you best and slot them into your itinerary! Below is a map of every option listed, so you can visualise how they fit into the Provençal landscape.


CASSIS TOWN AND CAP CANAILLE

The portside town of Cassis is located around an hour south of Aix-en-Provence, not too far from Marseille. It’s often touted as one of the must-see villages in Provence due to its bustling quai, blissful beaches, and stunning natural scenery. Spend the morning browsing the boutiques and having a leisurely lunch next to the water before strolling behind the tourism office and along the harbour walls for the best views of the pastel-hued village. In the afternoon you might like to visit one of the local vineyards to sample award-winning wines before continuing on to Cap Canaille.

When you head out of Cassis by car, turn right onto Route des Crêtes which will lead you up a gently winding road with the most breathtaking scenery! Take advantage of the many lookout points to stop the car and take in the beauty of your surroundings. It’s especially lovely in the late afternoon when the sun isn’t as harsh as midday. If you’re up for a short walk, there are plenty of trails starting from the parking areas. Just leave your car behind as you explore the rugged natural landscape of this unique spot in Provence.

Insider tip: Don’t miss the weekly farmer’s markets held every Wednesday and Friday in the town square.
The village of Cassis makes an excellent day trip from Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence Tours to Cassis


CALANQUES OF CASSIS

The Calanques de Cassis are an incredible spectacle that must be seen to be believed. A series of jagged cliffs create natural inlets along the coast from Marseille. The only way (by land) to access the spectacular beaches hidden between the towering precipices is to hike up and over the unforgiving limestone landscape.

It’s a walk well worth doing though, and one you won’t forget anytime soon! You can find full details of how to hike the Cassis Calanques here. If you’re short on time, unable to walk, or simply want to see the calanques from another angle, you can book a boat tour directly from the port in Cassis. Or even rent a kayak and paddle around!

Insider tip: Allow a full day to explore the calanques. You can do the hike in less, but if you want to appreciate the beaches and scenery you could easily spend all day there. Also, do note that the hiking trails are subject to restrictions during the summer period of  1st June to 30th September, due to the risk of wildfires. During this time, check this website to find out if the trail is open, only open in the morning, or closed all day.
The Calanques de Cassis make a great day trip from Aix-en-Provence

Day Tours from Aix-en-Provence to Cassis


VILLAGES OF THE LUBERON

The Luberon valley is home to some of the most stunning villages in Provence. Hilltop havens overlook a lush green landscape, olive trees litter cobbled lanes with their dark juicy fruit, and Cypress trees punctuate the terracotta rooftops. It’s like walking into a beautifully executed painting. In fact, you’re doing just that, for this is a region that has been favoured by artists throughout the years.

Touring the Luberon villages is one of the most popular Aix-en-Provence day trips, but there’s a lot to see in just one day! If you have the time, it’s better to split a Luberon tour over two days. This way you can savour the sights, scents, and simplistic joie de vivre this region is famous for. Due to the complexity of the Luberon, I’ve put together a separate post detailing the best ways to see the Luberon villages during your trip to Aix. You can read it here.

Insider tip: If you can’t make it to Les Baux-de-Provence on this trip, be sure to head to Buoux in the Luberon. Much less famous than its Alpilles cousin, but just as intriguing and the views are astonishing!

Villages of the Luberon day tour from Aix en Provence.

Day Luberon Tours from Aix-en-Provence


MARSEILLE CITY HIGHLIGHTS

As France’s second largest city, Marseille has a very different feel to Aix. I find many visitors to Provence either love it or loathe it. Whichever way you swing, there’s no doubt it’s worth at least a day of your Provence itinerary. Take a stroll around the Vieux Port, where you’ll find a number of key attractions to visit nearby including the Palais du Pharo, the Fort Saint-Nicolas, the Santons museum, the Savon de Marseille museum, the ‘big wheel’, Fort Saint-Jean and the impressive Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations.

If you wander a little further north you’ll enter Le Panier – Marseille’s oldest neighbourhood, although it was rebuilt after suffering immense damage in WW2. Other noteworthy sites include the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, which you won’t be able to miss sitting high above the city. The Marseille cathedral in all its splendour, and the incredible Palais Longchamp.

Insider tip: If all the walking gets too much for you, you can jump on a ferry boat to cross the old harbour. It only costs 50c and runs every 10 minutes.

Marseille in Provence makes a great day trip from Aix-en-Provence

Marseille Day Tours from Aix-en-Provence


MARTIGUES

I feel like Martigues deserves a whole lot more attention than it garners. Situated on the southern side of the Étang de Berre, it’s perhaps a little far removed from the usual tourist hot spots to gather the crowds found in other areas of Provence. Nevertheless, it is popular with the locals, who can be found strolling the colourful streets with gelato melting in their hands.

It’s where the lake meets the Mediterranean Sea, and it’s this canal running through the middle of Martigues that gave the town the nickname Venise provençale (Venice of Provence)There is certainly a nautical feel to Martigues which is further reflected by the number of eateries selling traditional Mediterranean seafood dishes.

Insider Tip: Be sure to stop off at Guénat’s for lunch or dinner. It’s not traditional French food, in fact, it’s not French at all – it’s Lebanese – but it’s amazing, you won’t regret it! They also cater very well to vegans which is a rare find in this part of the world.

Martigues makes a great day trip from Aix-en-Provence.


LAC D’ESPARRON

Quieter, and undisputedly wilder than nearby Sainte-Croix lake, Esparron lake is a charming place to spend an afternoon. Although perhaps more of a summer day trip from Aix-en-Provence, you’ll still enjoy visiting on a fine day in the other seasons. In summer, the usual water-sports are in full-force, but motorized boats are forbidden, so the tranquillity is restored.

Surrounded by gorges and craggy green hills, Lac D’Esparron is a turquoise oasis and a wonderful place to discover at leisure. If you have time, don’t miss the tiny, but beautiful Esparron-de-Verdon village which is crowned by a medieval castle.

Insider tip: Pack a picnic, hire an electric boat, find a beautiful spot, and spend the day in your own secluded paradise!

Lac d'Esparron is a beautiful lake with beaches near Aix-en-Provence

Photo Credit – JeroSig @ Flickr


LAVENDER FIELDS OF PROVENCE AND VALENSOLE

There are many places to see lavender fields in Provence, but the highest concentration (and arguably the most picturesque fields) can be found in and around the Valensole Plateau. It can take a little exploring to find the most beautiful fields, but you’ll soon come across a cluster of cars which is a dead giveaway you’ve hit the jackpot.

Popular spots are usually where the land gently swells, or there’s a crumbling house or the perfectly placed tree that makes the scene even more photogenic. And, very conveniently, many of these iconic fields can be found just off the D6, which is the road you’ll be following from Aix to Valensole. Stop in Valensole for lunch or a lavender ice cream before continuing on the D6 to Riez. It’s here that you’ll pass another of the iconic lavender fields.

If you’re content to see and smell the lavender fields in the morning, but don’t want to hang about all day, you could combine this with a trip to the Verdon Gorge (below) or Lac d’Esparron (above).

Insider tip: The Valensole plateau is the most well known and photographed area, but you don’t have to travel that far to see flowering lavender fields. If you’re travelling in the summer months, simply driving through the Luberon on your village tour will have you passing many beautifully fragrant fields also.

Lavender tour from Aix-en-Provence

Experience a Lavender Tour from Aix-en-Provence


SAINTE-CROIX-DU-VERDON AND VERDON GORGE

Overlooking Lake Sainte Croix, the village of the same name benefits from striking views over the expansive teal coloured waters. It’s worth visiting for the views alone, but if you linger a little longer you’ll find a charming Provençal village brimming with character. The lake itself offers plenty of ways to spend a day. Simply enjoy one of the exquisite beaches that line the lake, hire a kayak or pedal boat and take a tour, or go for a walk in the pine-fringed hills that surround it.

Nearby, you’ll find the famed Verdon Gorge. At 700m deep and 20kms long, the Verdon gorge earns the title of the deepest canyon in Europe. The river flowing at the bottom of the steep canyon feeds the Sainte-Croix lake and offers many more opportunities for water-sports. Depending on which vantage point you’re after, both walking and kayaking the Verdon Gorge allow you to experience the canyon at its finest.

Insider tip: To drive the Verdon Gorge, you can take both the D23 and D71 to see spectacular views, and there are viewing platforms provided. Just beware, it’s a hair-raising ride!

Gorges du Verdon, France is one of the best day trips from Aix-en-Provence

Photo by Jens Peter Olesen on Unsplash

Aix-en-Provence Day Tours to the Verdon Gorge


SAINTE-VICTOIRE MOUNTAIN

Outdoor lovers and hiking enthusiasts will love the outdoor playground that is Mont Sainte Victoire. There are several different routes up and around the mountain. Choose the path right for you, or mix n’ match routes to take a different path on the way down. You can also visit the Sainte-Victoire Priory and refuge, which sits a little lower than the Croix de Provence.

Also known as Cezanne’s mountain, Sainte-Victoire features heavily in the late artists’ work. It’s a prominent mark on the Provençal landscape and it’s not hard to imagine why the artist was so infatuated with it. But Cezanne wasn’t the only artist to be allured by its charms, Pablo Picasso also set up a studio at the foot of the mountain.

Insider tip: In the warmer months you’ll want to hit the track early in the day to avoid the scorching midday sun. When the risk of forest fires is greater, the track may close at 11am.

Montagne Sainte-Victoire, a day trip from Aix-en-Provence, France


PLAGE DE SAINTE CROIX AND SURROUNDS

Not too far from Martigues (and not to be confused with the lake with the same name), you’ll find one of the most beautiful beaches in Provence. Surrounded by the typical warm toned rock and fragrant scent of garrigueSainte-Croix is hidden in a sheltered cove of soft golden sand, bordered by the shallow azure sea. It’s not far from another of the area’s finest beaches – La Couronne – but has a more rugged and raw feel than the busy atmosphere of its more accessible neighbour.

Sainte-Croix is an oasis in the off-season but come summer it does attract the hoards, so be prepared to search for a space to pitch your umbrella in the sand. From the beach, you can swim or walk around a small headland to Plage de la Saulce next door. Or wander in the other direction to the shallow beach and tiny port of Tamaris where you can hire pedal boats to explore further.

Insider tip: There are no facilities right on St. Croix beach, so it’s better to use the public toilets by the car park before you go! It’s a fair walk back if you forget…

Sainte Croix Beach is a great day trip from Aix en Provence


L’ISLE-SUR-LA-SORGUE AND FONTAINE DE VAUCLUSE

The town of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is most famous for its antique markets. In fact, it’s the third largest centre for antiques in all of Europe! This reputation is evident when you wander the streets lined with bric-a-brac and antique stores. Every Sunday there’s a brocante where you can pick up original Provençal souvenirs to take home, and there are two large antique fairs held every year at Easter and again in mid-August.

Apart from antiques, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is famous for the canals that flow throughout the town. And the moss covered water wheels that pepper the canals aren’t the only remnant of what was once a booming textile industry in the area. You’ll find many exquisite shops selling home furnishings and fine linens. It’s a beautiful place to wander around, and unlike anywhere else I’ve visited in Provence. Be sure to pick a water-side cafe to have lunch with a view!

Fontaine de Vaucluse

15 minutes from L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue you’ll find Fontaine de Vaucluse – the village goes by the same name as its most famous attraction. The fontaine feeds the river Sorgue and it always looks different – sometimes it’s very high, spilling over the rocks surrounding it, and other days you have to climb over the railings in order to see any water at all!

It’s a short walk up beside the river to reach the spring which is the biggest in France. On the way up you will pass a traditional paper mill, Vallis Clausa. It’s open every day and is well worth popping inside to see the paper getting made (powered by the river and water wheel) and browsing the paper products on display.

Insider tip: There’s a set fee of €4 throughout the village for parking – regardless of where you park or how long you stay. However, the fountain and the paper mill are free of charge.

Fountain de Vaucluse makes a great day trip from Aix-en-Provence

Day Tours from Aix-en-Provence to L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Fontaine de Vaucluse


AVIGNON

Avignon is just over an hour’s drive from Aix, and yet the two Provence cities are very different in appearance. I’d very much recommend you experience both while you’re in the area. Built on the left bank of the Rhône river, Avignon is famous for its Medieval monuments and well maintained historical town centre. In a day you can cover off some of the most impressive sights, but you could easily spend longer.

Some must-see attractions include the Palais des Papes, the largest gothic palace ever built, the Pont d’Avignon which is famous in part for the French song, “Sur le Pont d’Avignon”, and the walled town, where you can spend hours browsing the pretty lanes. Be sure to pop into Les Halles, the town’s covered market, to fill up on fresh, local food. Then to walk it all off, head up to Rocher des Doms, a lovely garden with amazing views of the city.

Insider tip: Dine at Christian Etienne for Michelin starred cuisine or Fou de Fafa for a more affordable option. For parking, this website has information about car parks in Avignon, including where to find free parking.

Avignon in Provence. Things to see in Avignon on a day trip from Aix-en-Provence.

Day Tours from Aix-en-Provence to Avignon


ARLES & CAMARGUE

The compact city of Arles is the perfect place for art aficionados. The home of Vincent Van Gogh for a little over a year, and the inspiration behind many of his paintings, Arles is a beautiful city that’s easy to take in throughout the morning. Take the free Van Gogh walking tour to see the scenes from his work come to life before you. There are many ancient sites to visit such as the amphitheatre,  beautiful churches and the cryptoporticus to discover beneath the city streets.

Arles is also the gateway for the Camargue – a regional natural park most famous for its wildlife. White horses and black bulls roam freely through the marshes, and it’s one of the few places in Europe where you’ll find greater flamingos. You can drive through the Camargue to discover its treasures for yourself, stopping at the walled medieval city of Aigues-Mortes, and the beach of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer along your way.

Insider tip: Arles is quite compact and walkable. I’d recommend starting at the tourist office to pick up your walking map. If you’re only spending the afternoon in the Camargue, head to Parc Ornithologique for your best chance of flamingo sightings.

Arles and the Camargue make an excellent day trip from Aix-en-Provence.

Day Tours to Arles and the Camargue from Aix-en-Provence


Aix-en-Provence is an immensely appealing city in the centre of Provence. It’s the perfect place to stay while you discover the delights of the region, as there are many attractions within a short drive of the city. Please let me know if you try any of these day trips from Aix-en-Provence on your next trip to the South of France!

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Driving the Luberon Villages of Provence – Ultimate Luberon Tour

Touring the Luberon Villages. A self-Drive Luberon Tour in Provence, France.

The villages of the Luberon valley are some of the most spectacular in Provence, and indeed France! They’ve hosted artists and celebrities throughout the years. They continue to attract visitors year-round. And they are home to an immense and varied history. And yet, wandering through the cobbled lanes, past dusky shuttered houses and golden stone churches, you get the feeling that life here exists much as it has done throughout the years.

I won’t go into the specifics of what makes each village in the Luberon so special, as I’ve already written about the Luberon Villages in detail. Read The Most Beautiful Villages in Provence post to get inspired, and then head back here to find out how to self-drive your way around Provence for the ultimate Luberon tour!

LUBERON VILLAGES TOUR

It’s somewhat unrealistic to think you can cover all of the best villages in Provence in just one day – unless all you plan on doing is driving! I’d recommend splitting the Luberon into two (or more!) separate day trips. But if you’re really pushed for time and want to see the highlights, I’ve included an option for that below too.

Knowing that most visitors to this area of Provence either stay in Aix-en-Provence or Avignon, the following itineraries originate from both cities. If you’re staying within the Luberon, I’ve also added a map of the Luberon villages and attractions so that you can create your own itinerary.

Villages of the Southern Luberon – From Aix-en-Provence Day 1 (2 Day Tour)

The first day will see you set off from Aix and head towards the beautiful village of Ansouis (pictured below). Here you can visit the château and its manicured gardens, wander past sunbathing cats, rest in a shaded square and then visit the brilliant church that creates a juxtaposition between a hard angular exterior and a shabby chic interior.

Next up is Cucuron, a stunning small village centred around a ruined castle at the top. As with Ansouis, the church is worth peering inside for a peek at the 16th-century wood mural and restored organ. Then head to the village square where you can have a mid-morning coffee beside the beautiful bassin. Leaving Cucuron, you’ll head towards Lourmarin where another lovingly restored village awaits, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves. Pause for lunch, as Lourmarin is well known for its thriving cafe culture. If you’re interested, a trip to the Lourmarin Château is a unique and insightful visit.

If you take your time visiting these three villages, this may be enough for one day. But if not, continue into the heart of the Luberon valley.

The villages of the Luberon make a great day trip from Aix-en-Provence

The village of Ansouis in the Luberon

Here you’ll find Buoux, which is most notable for the ruined fort that resides in the hills above the village. It’s a fascinating place that deserves to be explored. And the views over the rock-faced cliffs and dense bush below are breathtaking. Continue on to Bonnieux where you should park your car and continue by foot up to the centre of the village. Browse the boutiques, grab a fresh baguette from the boulangerie, and walk the stone stairway to the 12th-century church at the top.

The final stop on this Luberon itinerary is Lacoste. The grand Château de Lacoste is privately owned by fashion icon Pierre Cardin and hosts an annual festival showcasing dance, theatre and opera. Throughout summer you can tour the inside of the castle, but the rest of the year you’ll be satisfied to see the sculptures that frame the views at the top. Watching the sunset here, or nearby at the Forêt de Cèdres is the perfect ending to day 1.

Villages of the Western Luberon – From Aix-en-Provence Day 2 (2 Day Tour)

On the second day, you’ll set off from Aix in another direction, towards Avignon. Leave the motorway at Cavaillon where you can choose which order to undertake this circular Luberon tour. I would suggest starting by learning about lavender at the Musée de la Lavande, and ending the day with dinner in Ménerbes, but you can absolutely do it the other way around. Perhaps even staying around Gordes to see the sun setting over the valley below.

The lavender museum is the perfect way to gain an appreciation of how important this crop was, and still is today. It won’t take you long to watch the short movie and take a tour of the petite museum, but it’ll leave a lasting impression. You can also stock up on lavender-scented goodies in the gift shop before continuing on to Gordes. On the way into Gordes, make sure you pause to appreciate the iconic village viewpoint. It’s marked, but easy to miss if you’re not paying attention. Then sidestep the village to visit the renowned Sénanque Abbey, which is especially lovely in summer when it’s framed with lavender. After looking around the abbey, carry on back to the village car park which is situated a short walk before Gordes. Visit the Château and the Pol Mara Museum housed within, before wandering the delicate laneways.

The hilltop village of Gordes in Provence

Driving on towards Roussillon, you may catch a glimpse of the ochre-coloured hills in the distance. Roussillon is one of the more colourful villages in the Luberon thanks to these rich ochre deposits, and it’s a pleasure to explore. Across the street from the village, signs will lead you to The Ochre Trail – a short but impressive walk through the former mines. Reset with a cool drink in the bustling town square afterwards before driving towards Goult. Goult is one of my favourite villages in the Luberon. It gets less attention than the Luberon villages who are part of the “Most Beautiful Villages of France” association, but it’s by no means less attractive! Here you can follow a trail to see the main sites, ending at the reconstituted Jerusalem Mill at the top of the village. If you have time, wander down past the mill to the Conservatoire des Terrasses de Cultures, which will give you a unique insight into the ancient farming techniques of the region. End the day with a stroll and supper in the magnificent Ménerbes before returning to Aix.

Highlights of the Luberon Day Trip -From Aix-en-Provence 1 Day Tour

The third option from Aix-en-Provence will have you covering 167km of lavender laced fields and hilltop villages. You’ll start from Aix early and drive first to Ansouis before continuing on to Lourmarin. From here you drive up into the Luberon valley. You could add a stop at the Buoux Fort, or keep going until you reach Roussillon and the ochre trail. Then pop over to Gordes, and down to Goult, before completing the circle with Ménerbes, Lacoste and Bonnieux. Then it’s just a matter of retracing your steps to Lourmarin before taking the slightly shorter route home via Cadenet. This is a big day, and you won’t have long to linger in each village, but it’s doable. Alternatively, you could follow this route but leave a village or two off of your itinerary to make it more manageable.

Highlights of the Luberon Day Trip -From Avignon 1 Day Tour

This Luberon tour from Avignon will show you some of the highlights of the Luberon, with the least driving time possible. If you wanted to reduce it down a little further I’d suggest leaving Buoux off, as that will close the circle considerably.

Starting off from Avignon in the morning, you’ll drive directly to the Sénanque Abbey. If you are travelling in summer, I’d recommend getting here early, as once the tour buses start to arrive it can get very busy. Continuing on towards Gordes, you’ll want to overshoot the village a little, in order to get to the viewpoint (marked on the map as Town View Point Gordes). Alternatively, you can head straight into the village and visit the viewpoint on the way out, but I find it’s a nice way to get your bearings before entering the village.

Sénanque Abbey is an excellent stop on your Luberon tour.

The Sénanque Abbey surrounded by lavender.

After Gordes you can head in the direction of Roussillon, a village famed for its brightly coloured palate. Perhaps this is a good time to stop for lunch, in one of the many restaurants clustered around the town square. Afterwards, pop over the road and walk the Ochre trail – it doesn’t take long, but really shouldn’t be missed! It’s a short onward drive to Bonnieux, and then next door to Lacoste. Both Luberon villages could be lingered over, or briefly explored – it’s up to you. Just don’t miss the sculptures at the back of Château de Lacoste.

A short walk through Goult will show you its best bits, but be sure to walk up to the windmill at the top of the village and to the terraced gardens beyond if you have the time. The last stop is Ménerbes where you can finish the day with dinner in a divine setting.

Luberon Villages Overview

The above map details all of the Luberon Villages I’ve highlighted here and in the Most Beautiful Villages in Provence article, so that you can make up your own Luberon tour itinerary based on what interests you most. I’ve also included the village of Cadenet which is a little off the beaten path, but that has a wonderful ruined castle to explore. And the Forêt de Cèdres near Bonnieux, which has a number of beautiful walks offering unbeatable views over the Luberon.

Village of Cadenet, Provence, France

Village of Cadenet


The Luberon is such a magnificent place to explore, there’s no doubt that you’ll love it, whichever itinerary you choose! From the ruined castles to the flame red ochre mines, and the soft hues of lavender and the habitual scent of the garrigue, the Luberon will forever be imprinted in your memory.

If you undertake one of these tours, please let me know how it goes in the comments below. And remember, if you’re staying in Aix-en-Provence, check out my post on the best day tours from Aix for more ideas about how to spend your holiday in Provence!

To find out more about the Luberon region, visit the Luberon Valley’s official website here.

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The Xennials’ Bucket List – 40 Things to do Before 40(Something)

40 Before 40. The Xennial's Bucket List.

The internet is buzzing with bucket lists for the under thirties crew. But what about us late bloomers? The Xennials (not quite Millennials, not quite Gen X-ers) that ferreted away our twenties studying and working on our careers. Trying to get a foot on the property ladder, or maybe starting a family. Back then, “quitting your job to travel the world” was a far-flung dream, not a daily affirmation.


Growing up in New Zealand, ‘travelling the world’ was something you did once to get out of your system. Typically, you finished university, worked for a couple of years to save some cash, then left on your big “OE” (or Overseas Experience for the uninitiated)Most people would go to the UK where you’d work in an office and live in a flat full of other Kiwis and Aussies having the same experience. Cultural immersion this was not. And unless you hit the jackpot of having an English grandparent (so you could get your hands on a coveted burgundy passport) or getting sponsored by your employer, most of us had to return home at the end of our 1-2 year working visa.

Which is what I had to do.

In 2008 I stuffed what I could of my new London life into my backpack, gave the rest to the Salvos, and returned home with my tail between my legs. I was so not done with travel, but going home was the only option I had left.

Fast forward a marriage, a kid, two dogs, countless moves and a new career later, and I’ve finally found myself back in Europe. This time with a stronger sense of who I am, where I want to go and how I’m going to get there (hello 30’s confidence!). So without further ado, here are 40 travel experiences and life goals I’d love to conquer before I’m forty-something.


40 Before 40 Bucket list

I realise this is an ambitious list, but you’ve only got one life right? In all honesty, I don’t mind if I tick these off before I’m 40 or 100. It’s all about having fun and chasing dreams. After all, the definition of a bucket list reads as “a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime”.

Xennial's Bucket List. 40 Things to do Before 40.


#1 Go on Safari in Tanzania

An African Safari has been at the top of my bucket list forever. I imagine there’s nothing much more humbling in life than seeing elephants, giraffes and hippos, happy in their own environment. Time to make this dream a reality!

#2 Climb Mt Kilimanjaro

I was a bit nervous about writing this one down. But I’ve always been in awe of people who can conquer a mountain. I want to be that person. And as Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro seems a good place to start.

#3 Learn How to Dive

It’s so enthralling seeing dolphins, whales, seals, or pretty much any marine mammal, in the wild. Getting out on the water is something I try to do in every country I visit (where practical) and I’d love to get a different perspective. This is a biggy for me though. As a kid, I was scared to be in the swimming pool on my own in case some mystical creature morphed from the filter and grabbed me from below… Yep, I’ve got issues to overcome.

#4 See the Northern Lights

Enough said really. This one I’d love to share with my son as he’s obsessed with the magical ‘green lights’. I’m not too fussed about where or when we see them, but Iceland seems like a good choice!

#5 Exploring the Algarve in Portugal

Or more specifically, the caves of the Algarve. Preferably by private boat so we can jump off and discover hidden beaches at our leisure. A girl can dream, right?

Benagil Caves, Algarve, Portugal

Beaches of the Algarve, Portugal.

#6 Continue to Travel Solo

When I was 27 I spent a couple of months living on the island of Syros, helping out at a local dog shelter. I spent 99% of my time alone. Walking the dogs, sitting on the roof of my ramshackle accommodation looking at the stars, exploring the deserted beaches and empty villages (it was January). Something shifted in me, and my love of solo travel was cemented. Of course, I love travelling with my husband and son. But it’s a different type of travel. I need both to stay balanced. But that’s a whole other post.

#7 Go Hot Air Ballooning in Cappadocia

This was going to just be “go hot air ballooning”. But if you’re going to do something, why not do it in the most epic way possible? Gliding above the mystical landscape of Cappadocia in a hot air balloon sounds magical. And Cappadocia in winter looks even more fascinating!

#8 Make a Difference

I’ve always been passionate about animal welfare, environmental concerns and ethical travel. But haven’t yet found a way to give back, or to help educate others. I feel like I can, and should, be doing more.

#9 Stay in an Overwater Bungalow

Bora-Bora or the Maldives, I’m not fussy (my husband might disagree on that one). As long as it’s hot, tropical, and there are fish swimming beneath our bed.

#10 Learn How to Pilot a Drone

A drone is #1 on my ‘things I really want but don’t have the money for’ wish list! Maybe it’s all the dreamy photos on Instagram, or because every travel blogger and their dog seems to have one now, but I really want to get my hands on a drone and learn how to take stunning photos and videos with it. Imagine how amazing Provence would look from above!

40 things to do before 40

Drone in the Maldives. Photo by Saffu on Unsplash

#11 Try Stand-Up Paddle Boarding

SUP looks like a lot of fun and a cool way to stay fit. It’s not something I could really do regularly unless we move closer to the water, but I’d like to give it a try!

#12 Island Hop in Greece – Off the Tourist Trail

Santorini was stunning. Mykonos was lovely. And I absolutely adored Crete – away from the main tourist hubs. But I’d love to travel slow in Greece. Discover the lesser-known islands, stay as long as we like, and then jump on the ferry to the next island oasis.

#13 Go Back to Rome

I’ve come to realise that I’m not a city girl. I thought I was in New Zealand because I chose to live most of my adult life in Auckland, and as far as cities go – it’s incredible! Surrounded by miles of beautiful coastline, it’s home to some amazing beaches and if you get too bogged down in city life you just jump on a ferry to a nearby island. Cities in Europe are a different breed. I adore going to London or Paris for work or a short break, but after a few days, I’m craving the quiet of my country haven in Provence. This is all to say that as far as capital cities go, they have to be pretty special to keep me mesmerized and make me want to return. Rome was this for me. It’s walkable, it’s alluring, the history is awe-inspiring, and as a bonus, it’s super vegan-friendly!

#14 Go to a Yoga Retreat in Bali

I’ve been to a wonderful retreat in France, and soon I’m going to another in Italy. But if there’s one country that knows how to put on a dreamy yoga retreat, it’s Bali. Sign me up!

#15 Do a Road Trip Through Canada

Canada was my first overseas trip. I was 18 and my brother was getting married, so I was travelling with family. The country left a huge impression on me. And it wasn’t just because of the epic fries (drop into the chip truck in Kenora if you’re ever in the area)! But forget just popping over for a week or so. No. If I go back, I want to do it properly and spend a month or two road tripping (maybe camping) our way through Canada.

40 Things to do before 40

Alberta, Canada. Photo by Matt Thomason on Unsplash

#16 Hiking the Torres del Paine in Patagonia

I’ve got to admit, I don’t know a whole lot about Chile. But I got talking to a Chilean when I was in the Falklands, and he totally sold his home country! Ever since, I’ve been slightly obsessed – wondering why it took me so long to click on to this amazing destination. And the Torres del Paine National Park looks like an incredible place to spend time in nature.

#17 Conquer French

I finally, finally, feel like I’m making a little headway with this. It has taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears (ok, maybe not so much blood) to get here. I can make myself understood in most situations – just not eloquently yet. I’d love to be able to have some personality in French and not talk like a toddler.

#18 Munching in Mexico

Hidden beaches, ancient ruins, epic festivals and an intriguing underwater world; there are many reasons to visit Mexico, but the top of my list is the food!

#19 Spend Time With Mountain Gorillas in Uganda

There are less than 900 mountain gorillas left in the wild and around half of them live in the Bwindi Impenetrable Forest National Park. It must be such an incredibly rewarding experience to finally lay eyes (and lens!) on a mountain gorilla after tracking them through the unforgiving jungle terrain.

#20 Explore More of France

We’ve been very lucky to have experienced living in three different regions of France so far. We found our feet in Aquitaine, bought a house in Poitou-Charentes, and then moved to Provence 6 months later! If anything, it’s shown me how incredibly diverse this country is, and I can’t wait to get to know more of it.

Xennial Bucket List. What to do before you're 40.

The Calanques are undoubtedly one of my favourite places in Provence!

#21 Take a Family Holiday to the VLT in Chile

You may think a barren desert is an odd choice for a family holiday, but Chile’s Atacama Desert is home to the biggest, most powerful telescope on the planet – the Very Large Telescope (VLT). Add in a space-mad 5-year-old, a husband who loves James Bond films (Quantum of Solace was filmed there), and the fact I love anything that’s a bit different and unusual – you’ve got the perfect recipe!

#22 Hike Table Mountain

You can take the cable car up Table Mountain in South Africa, but I’d bet the views are that much more enjoyable after a strenuous hike!

#23 Learn How to Take Better Wildlife Photos

In my dream life, I’d travel around the planet taking photos of wildlife in their natural habitat, à la Shannon Wild. But I’ll settle for being a decent wildlife photographer as a side hustle. Anything to spend more time with animals!

#24 Swim in the Dead Sea

OK, so swimming in the Dead Sea might be a bit of a stretch. The water is incredibly dense due to its unusually high salt content – it’s 10 times as salty as the ocean – meaning you can only bob around on the surface. And if the pictures are anything to go by, reading a copy of the local paper is a must while doing so!

#25 Visit Giraffe Manor in Kenya

Although it kind of annoys me that Giraffe Manor has turned into one of those places people go to get the perfect Instagram shot (see example below), there’s no denying the good work they do, in conjunction with the Giraffe Centre, to protect the species. Plus it looks like a whole lot of fun! This is another experience I’d absolutely love to share with my son.

#26 See the Grand Canyon

It’s just one of those iconic places that have to be seen to be believed right? The otherworldly landscape of the Grand Canyon fascinates me, even more so after walking the Ochre Trail and Colorado Provençal here in Provence, which are said to be tiny versions of the US spectacle!

#27 Milford Sound, New Zealand

I lived in New Zealand for over thirty years and one place that has eluded me during all of that time is the Milford Sound. I’m determined to change that in the next few years, either by cruising the sound or hiking the renowned Milford track.

#28 Sample Sicily

We’ve taken the ferry to Corsica and Sardinia, next up is Mallorca in May, and after that, I have my sights set on Sicily! I love everything about Italy, and this sun-soaked Mediterranean Island is sure to be no exception.

#29 Listen to More Live Music

It’s been way too long since I’ve listened to live music. And I’m not talking about big concerts. I much prefer small, intimate settings with local musicians performing. Part of this is not having a babysitter since we arrived in France. And it’s partly just laziness for not making it happen. My husband and I both love music though, so we need to make this a priority.

#30 Madagascar

Madagascar has always seemed like such a magical place. Maybe because I was first introduced to it through the animated movie of the same name. But there’s more the to world’s fourth largest island than bushy tailed lemurs and the lush jungle landscape. Madagascar has a unique ecology that supports a large variety flora and fauna found only in this part of the world. I’d love to discover some of the country’s unique parks such as Tsingy de Bemaraha, which is known for its towering limestone pinnacles, and Isalo National Park, which offers a Jurassic-like experience and where you can see ring-tailed lemurs scurrying between the trees. And let’s not forget the famous Avenue of the Baobabs (pictured below) – this protected stretch of soil offers yet another reason to add Madagascar to your bucket list!

Xennial Bucket List. 40 Before 40.

Morondava, Madagascar. Photo by Shreekar P on Unsplash

#31 Have an all-day Spa Experience

I can’t quite believe I’ve reached the ripe age of 36 without ticking this one off my list. I came close on a recent girls weekend to Auckland, but we missed out due to our lack of planning in advance!

#32 Cruise the Canals of France

After following Diane’s trip through the canals of France, I’ve been hooked on this unique holiday idea! Not only is it a great way to travel slowly through the French countryside and discover some new places along the way, I think it’d be such a fun way to spend time together as a family. I’m not sure our two Heffalump dogs would look quite so cute as Dagny behind the wheel though!

#33 Start Running, Properly

I went on a run this week. My first ‘intentional’ (other than while playing sports) run of my life. It’s just not my thing. And I’ve always had bad knees. But I’ve come to the conclusion that if I wait for an amazing gym with Les Mills worthy classes (at convenient times) to magically appear in my neighbourhood before I consistently exercise again (I’m not sure the occasional at home yoga practice and walking the dogs’ count)… Well, the result wouldn’t be pretty. So, running it is.

#34 New York at Christmas

I blame Hollywood for this one. Movies such as Serendipity and The Family Man have a lot to answer for.

#35 Exploring the Rainforests of Costa Rica

Costa Rica landed on my radar when I was researching it for a work project back in NZ, and it hasn’t left my mind since. Again, it’s the kind of place I don’t want to just visit for a week, I’d like to stay a while, get to know it, and maybe volunteer at this awesome organisation. Also, did someone say sloths?

40 year old bucket list ideas

Sloth in Costa Rica. Photo by Javier Mazzeo on Unsplash

#36 Jamaica

As the Lonely Planet puts it, Jamaica is the best Caribbean island for spicy food, spicy music and stunning scenery. Nevermind what else you can experience in this Caribbean island paradise, they had me at spicy.

#37 Own a Mini Cooper

Ah yes, I can’t seem to shake this one. Truth is, apart from one dumb decision in my early 20’s, I’ve always bought cheap, as-reliable-as-they-can-be-for-the-price cars that weren’t a whole lot of fun. Well maybe with the exception of Daisy – who I bought off some backpackers who had painted bright flowers all over her! Anyway, my point is, I’d love to drive a fun & stylish car for a change. Now I just have to work out how I’d keep it clean between the kid-crumbs and the dog fur…

#38 Take a Helicopter Ride in Chamonix

While this mountainous region in France is best known for skiing and snowboarding, I’d like to see the incredible landscapes of the Chamonix France from another angle! A helicopter tour promises to show you the best scenery, from the foreboding glaciers to the ragged ridges and rises on either side of the Chamonix Valley.

#39 Japan

I struck Japan off my travel wish list for years after learning about the dolphin hunt that takes place in Taiji every year. But to be fair, if I was to follow the same moral compass for every destination there would be far fewer countries left on this list! So instead of boycotting these countries, a more effective method might be to continue to support sustainable and ethical activities while travelling. By doing so, I’m helping another aspect of the economy to thrive, and if everyone did the same, perhaps in the future the people of the country will be less dependant on other methods of financial gain. For example, some of the Gorilla trackers in Uganda used to be poachers, but now tourism has taken over as a primary industry, allowing these guides to make a living in a more ethical way.

My wish is that one day you’ll be able to take dolphin safaris in Taiji to see these beautiful creatures, and captive marine mammals will be a thing of the past. In the meantime, I’m happy to see the cherry blossoms, bamboo forests, temples and shrines of this interesting country.

#40 Experience the Ancient City of Petra

If you’re not sure why this made the list, I’ll just leave this here…


Wow, that turned into a whopper of a post. Originally I just wanted to jot down some ideas and inspirations! I’d love to know if you’ve had any of these experiences yourself. Or maybe you have your own ’40 things to do before 40′ bucket list you’d like to share?

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40 Things to do Before 40 - The Ultimate Xennials' Bucket List! 40 Before 40 | Bucket List Destinations | Travel Before 40 | Bucket List | #xennial #millennial #genX #travel #40before40

 

12 Most Beautiful Villages in Provence, France

Most beautiful villages in Provence, France. Best Provence Villages

The Provence region of France is one of the most beautiful and culturally intriguing places in the world. It’s also incredibly diverse. From the rich red canyons of the ochre mines to the aqua blue water running through the Verdon Gorge, it’s spectacular whichever way you look at it. But one of the biggest drawcards of Provence is its villages. By visiting these villages in Provence you can very much experience the authentic Provençal beauty that has inspired artists for decades. And these colourful hilltop havens continue to charm visitors today with their unabashed beauty and largely unchanged way of life.

Many of these bucolic villages are located in the Luberon valley. The Luberon is a magical place, full of natural and man-made beauty. You could spend days exploring its nooks and crannies and still feel as though you haven’t covered it all. The Luberon is our backyard, and our weekend playground – the place we go to walk the dogs, visit the markets, or to simply stroll through the cobbled streets while revelling in the history that surrounds us.

Map of the Most Beautiful Provence Villages


ROUSSILLON

There’s no mistaking why Roussillon deserves a spot on this list. Officially named one of France’s most beautiful villages, it lives up to its title with grace. Roussillon’s unique colour scheme of rusty red and muted orange can be attributed to the rich ochre deposits found in the land surrounding the village. Once an important economic source for the region, today the ochre mines bring wealth to the area in another way – with tourism! The former ochre mine has been mapped out for an easy walk and it’s an absolutely breathtaking experience walking through the deep canyons and marvelling at the shapes etched into the earth  – first by industry, and then by nature.

Located at the southern end of the Plateau de Vaucluse, Roussillon affords incredible views over the Luberon valley. Be sure to walk up through the Belfry to the fortified area of the village and pause at the orientation table to get your bearings.

Roussillon, Provence, France. One of the Luberon's most beautiful villages.

The buildings in Roussillon are coloured with ochre pigment.

Events in Roussillon, Provence

  • Market Day – Thursday mornings
  • The Saint John Festival of Colours – June
  • The Beckett Festival – July
  • The International Festival of String Quartets – August
  • Book Fair – September

Where to Stay in Roussillon, Provence

Villa des Roses – For an amazing view of the ochre cliffs.


GOULT

Goult is a bit of an underdog compared to the other, somewhat more famous, Provence villages. But it’s one of the must-see villages in Provence! It’s authentic in its beauty, and due to being a little lesser-known, it doesn’t play into the tourist card like many other villages. Here you can wander into the old village – an unspoilt and tranquil place – past pastel-coloured houses and leafy squares. Be sure to follow the signs to take in all the key sights, they’ll eventually lead you to the reconstituted Jerusalem Mill, where you’ll find an amazing view of the valley.

From the mill, follow the blue markers down a country lane to the Conservatoire des Terrasses de Cultures de Goult. It’s a fabulous way to experience the old farming techniques of the region, which largely revolved around planting crops in terraces. As you wander through the lovingly conserved 5ha garden you’ll feel as though you’ve been transported back in time.

Goult, Luberon, Provence - one of the most beautiful villages of Provence

Windmill at the top of the village in Goult, Provence

Events in Goult, Provence

  • The Fete du Miel (Honey Festival) takes place every year in July – check the local website for dates.
  • Market Day – Thursday mornings
  • Jazz Festival – August
  • Craft and Cultural Festival – August
  • Votive Festival – September

Where to Stay in Goult, Provence

Villa Lumières – For a friendly welcome and comfortable stay.


CASSIS

Often touted as one of the best villages to stay in Provence, I can certainly understand why visitors flock to Cassis. The only seaside village on this list, Cassis is certainly more commercial than some other villages, but the centre still manages to retain its charming village feel. Flanked by Cap Canaille on one side, and the mighty Calanques on the other, the tricky geographical location prevents it from becoming too overdeveloped. Instead, the surrounding hills are home to rows of ancient vines producing the famed wines of the region.

You could easily spend an entire day (or more) discovering Cassis. The beautiful beaches are perfect for a morning swim, the cafe-lined quai is an ideal spot for people watching, and the old town lanes are bursting with boutiques selling fine linens and local artisan’s creations. For the best views of the village, pull your car over (carefully!) on the side of the road as you approach from above. And once in the village, take a stroll behind the tourist office, along the pier, to see the pastel coloured buildings from another angle.

Cassis, France. One of the most beautiful villages in Provence.

The port of Cassis, France

Events in Cassis, Provence

  • Market Day – Wednesday and Friday mornings
  • Potters’ Market – September
  • Spring Festival – April-May
  • Festival of fishermen and the sea – June
  • Les Nuits Vagabonds – August
  • Wine Festival – September
  • Comedy Festival – November

Where to Stay in Cassis, Provence

Hotel & Spa de La Plage, Mahogany – For beachfront luxury


GORDES

Gordes played the role of a dreamy Provence village in the 2006 movie A Good Year. And it was a natural fit! It has all the old-world charm you’d expect of Provence, with the cobbled lanes and narrow passageways remaining much as they have through the ages. The village’s hillside location, coupled with an advantageous viewpoint means it’s very likely the most photographed village in Provence. Officially named one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France, it’s an iconic village that shouldn’t be missed on your Provence itinerary.

While you’re visiting Gordes, a visit to the 10th-century château that sits atop the village is a must-do. Inside you’ll find the Pol Mara museum that houses a selection of works by the former resident of Gordes. And nearby you’ll find two of the region’s most spectacular attractions – the Sénanque Abbey that is surrounded by blooming fields of lavender in the summer months. And le village des bories, a hamlet of stone dwellings not dissimilar to the better-known trulli of Puglia.

Gordes is one of the most beautiful villages in Provence, France

View of Gordes in the Luberon Valley

Events in Gordes, Provence

  • Market Day – Tuesday mornings
  • Weavers’ Market – Easter weekend
  • “Summer Evenings” Festival – August
  • Concerts at the Théâtre des Terrasses – July & August

Where to Stay in Gordes, Provence

La Bastide de Gordes – It doesn’t get better than this!


LACOSTE

The village of Lacoste still looks much the same as it would have done when the scandalous Marquis de Sade lived here in the 18th century. The Marquis’ château is now owned by designer Pierre Cardin who also caused few ripples of unrest when he purchased the castle, along with 22 other properties in the village. But there’s no sign of any tension as you stroll around the enchanting streets of Lacoste, it really is one of the most beautiful villages in Provence.

Château de Lacoste (not to be confused with the amazing vineyard Château La Coste), dominates the village. It was in ruins when Cardin purchased it, and some castle walls have been left in disrepair, creating a jagged contrast against the sky. The renovated part is open to the public in July & August, and every July the castle hosts the Festival de Lacoste – a festival dedicated to dance, theatre and opera that typically showcases young and upcoming talent. During the rest of the year, you can visit the château by reservation only, but a popular option is to walk around the back of the château, where several contemporary sculptures frame the views over the Luberon.

Lacoste, Provence - one of the best villages in the Luberon.

Sculptures at the back of Château de Lacoste

Events in Lacoste, Provence

  • Market Day – Tuesday mornings
  • Lacoste Festival – July
  • Votive Festival – July

Where to Stay in Lacoste, Provence

Cante Grillet – Budget-friendly option with a fantastic view of the castle.


LOURMARIN

The enchanting village of Lourmarin also belongs to the exclusive Most Beautiful Villages of France club. It’s a little different from the majority of the Luberon villages due to its plain, rather than perched location (plain as in level – there’s nothing plain about this village!). The narrow streets are lined with cafes where you can sit back and soak up the sunshine to a soundtrack of everyday Provençal life. With its colourful flower boxes and lovingly restored buildings, it’s a joy to wander around at leisure.

The Château de Lourmarin is also unique to this part of Provence. The haphazard shape of the castle is suggestive of its tumultuous past. It was built in three stages, spanning from the 12th to the 16th century, and evidence of the different styles is still apparent today. Take a tour of the castle, have a picnic in its grounds, or attend one of the concerts or exhibitions that take place throughout the summer months.

Lourmarin, Provence - one of France's most beautiful villages

Lourmarin from across the vines.

Events in Lourmarin, Provence

  • Market Day – Friday mornings
  • Music Festival at the Castle – May-September
  • Festival “Yeah” – June
  • Literary Festival – July-August
  • Antiquarian Book Fair – August

Where to Stay in Lourmarin, Provence

Hostellerie Le Paradou – A quirky but comfortable stay.


BONNIEUX

It may not have the official title of most beautiful in France, but Bonnieux could be of the prettiest villages in Provence! From the ivy-covered façades to the way in which the houses cascade down the hillside, it’s a charming village overflowing with allure. The old town is petit, and best explored by foot. You’ll find some delicious looking treats in the boulangerie and can even experience first hand how bread is made traditionally in the bakery museum. Scale the stone staircase to reach the 12th-century church that adorns the village and you’ll be rewarded with magnificent views of the Vaucluse Mountains, as well as the nearby villages of Gordes and Roussillon.

Spreading out below Bonnieux is the fertile landscape that yields crops of olives, grapes and lavender. Perhaps pack a picnic and appreciate the bucolic scene from the beneath the cedars. Then to work off your indulgence head to the Forêt des Cèdres nearby, where you’ll find a range of walks for every fitness level (including a wheelchair accessible option).

Bonnieux is one of Provence's most beautiful villages.

The village of Bonnieux with lavender fields in the distance.

Events in Bonnieux, Provence

  • Market Day – Friday mornings
  • Potter’s Market – Easter

Where to Stay in Bonnieux, Provence

Le Domaine de Capelongue – For large rooms and an exquisite garden.


MENERBES

One of the most well-preserved villages of Provence, Ménerbes shines as an example of a village that is both a beautiful place to visit and to live. The medieval streets are awash with a rugged beauty that’s accentuated by the landscape that surrounds it. Nostradamus once described Ménerbes as the “navire dans l’océan des vignes” (ship in the ocean of vines) – which is an accurate description of how the village appears to float on the treetops as you approach it from the North.

Ménerbes is an exquisite village that attracts holidaymakers from around the world in search of understated luxury in tune with nature. Given its location, it has an unsurprisingly strong wine culture. And in a quirky nod to this viticulture heritage, you can visit a corkscrew museum that is home to over 1,000 exhibits from around the world. The museum, which is privately owned, is located 2km from the village in the grounds of the Domaine de la Citadelle – a charming vineyard that’s open for tastings and tours. Ménerbes is another of the official Most Beautiful Villages in France.

Menerbes - one of the most beautiful villages in Provence, France

Leafy streets of Ménerbes, France

Events in Ménerbes, Provence

  • Market Day – Thursday mornings
  • Winegrowers’ Festival – July
  • Les Musicales du Luberon – July-August
  • Saint-Louis Festival – August

Where to Stay in Ménerbes, Provence

La Bastide de Soubeyras – A stunning property set in luxurious surroundings


ANSOUIS

Yet another of France’s Most Beautiful Villages (there are 15 in total in Provence), Ansouis is a short drive from aforementioned Lourmarin. They share a similar geography, however, Ansouis is slightly raised, with a grand château sitting above the village houses. Criss-cross through the network of pretty streets and pause in the shaded village square before continuing up to the castle and the church, Eglise Saint-Martin. Make sure you pop inside the church – it has one of the most wonderfully unique interiors I’ve ever seen – it’s perfectly imperfect.

The Ansouis castle is privately owned but is open to the public (for a fee) in the afternoons from April to October. The exterior offers fantastic views of the countryside and stunning terraced gardens to explore. Inside, the exquisitely restored château is furnished with pieces from the 16th – 18th century, alongside fine tapestries and art. A short walk from the château you’ll find the Musee Extraordinaire, a quirky, family run museum full of curiosities both created and found by the owner, a painter and diver. Alternatively, the Musee des arts et des Metiers is located just outside the village in the grounds of a vineyard and offers you the chance to find out more about winemaking in the region.

Eglise Saint-Martin in Ansouis, France

The outside of Eglise Saint-Martin belies what is hidden inside.

Events in Ansouis, Provence

  • Market Day – Sunday Morning
  • Flower Festival & Market – May
  • Music Festival – June
  • Festival of Saint-Elzéar – September

Where to Stay in Ansouis, Provence

Bastide Saint Maurin – To live among the lavender.


RUSTREL

The village of Rustrel is somewhat of a hidden gem in Provence. It’s not commonly touted as one of the best villages to visit in Provence, perhaps because of its small stature, but I think it most definitely deserves your attention. Quintessentially cute, the village streets lead to the central château that today houses the Mairie (mayor’s office). Nearby, you’ll find an old oil mill where (in summer) you can learn the traditional ways of extracting olive oil.

Much like Roussillon, Rustrel is located next to a former ochre quarry. Much less developed than the ochre trail, the Colorado Provençal offers you the chance to explore the rust coloured canyons and pillars on your own time. Once you’re done, wander back to the village past the vineyards and lavender fields, taking the time to appreciate the beauty that surrounds you. Then enjoy lunch on a shaded terrace, or jump in the open air pool to cool down!

Rustrel, Provence, France

Colorado Provençal near Rustrel in Provence

Events in Rustrel, Provence

Market Day – Wednesday mornings (summer only)

Where to Stay in Rustrel, Provence

La Forge – You’ll have trouble leaving this breathtaking property.


MERINDOL

Mérindol very nearly became our home when we were searching for a house in Provence. It’s one of those magical places where time seemingly stands still. In the evenings, when the deep blue South of France sky becomes baby blue and pastel pink, the swallows start dancing – putting on a show as they swoop and dive between the rooftops. It’s a small village surrounded by olive groves that are still pressed every year in the traditional way. If you’re curious, you can watch a demo at the old olive mill during the summer months.

The Southern Luberon cradlesMérindol, and you can literally step out of the centre ville and onto one of the Grandes Randonnées (GR Trails) that lead into the mountainous landscape. Even if you’re not up for a big walk, it’s very much worth following the trail up to old Mérindol. There’s not much left to see of the village that was destroyed in religious wars, but you can visit the ruins of a Protestant church, and the view over the Durance and beyond is worth the effort!

Merindol - one of the best Provence Villages

Old vs New – Looking down on Mérindol from the old village.

Events in Mérindol, Provence

Market Day – Wednesday mornings

Where to Stay in Mérindol, Provence

Charme de Merindol – Great value for a charming, centrally located stay.


LES BAUX DE PROVENCE

Located in the rocky landscape of the Alpilles, rising up above the olive and almond trees, Les Baux-de-Provence is instantly recognised by the impressive ruined château that overshadows it. Les Baux shares the same brand of beauty as the nearby villages of the Luberon, while still managing to be uniquely intriguing. This hilltop village in Provence is bursting with ancient treasures, including the chapels, town hall and old hospital, and the tourism office provides a mapped route so you can discover them all at your leisure. The only drawback from its reputation as one of the best villages in Provence (and with being another of the Most Beautiful Villages of France), is that it has become more of a tourist spectacle than a true representation of Provençal living. That’s not to say you shouldn’t visit – it’s still very much worth your time.

The château is perhaps the most famous castle of the Provence villages, and is certainly the most impressive! You could spend all day simply exploring the caves, climbing the exposed staircases and watching the scheduled demonstrations on offer at Château des Baux de Provence. Nearby, another unique attraction awaits at Carrières de Lumières – a multimedia show that takes place in a quarry beneath the Alpilles mountains.

Les Baux de Provence of is of the most beautiful villages of France.

The village of Les Baux de Provence from the Castle.

Events in Les Baux de Provence

  • Winegrowers Fair – May
  • European Nude Photography Festival – May
  • Saint John’s Feast Day – June
  • Festival des Alpilles (Music) – June – August
  • Festival A-Part (Art) – July & August
  • Ceramics and Glass Festival – September
  • Stone and Heritage Fair – September
  • Santon Exhibition – October

Where to Stay in Les Baux de Provence

Domaine du Mas Foucray – Perfect for a longer stay in Provence


With so many villages to visit in Provence, you’re sure to find some that speak to you more than others. Maybe it’ll be the way the houses seemingly grow out of the rock in Goult, smelling a gentle scent of lavender as you wander around Ménerbes, or perhaps you’ll be swayed by the seaside charm of Cassis. Whatever your heart desires, you’re sure to fall in love with the villages of Provence!

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12 Most Beautiful Villages of Provence, France | Best Villages of Provence, France | Best Villages in Provence | France's Most Beautiful Villages | #france #provence #luberon #villages

Discover the 12 Most Beautiful Villages of Provence, France | Best Villages of Provence, France | Prettiest Villages in Provence | France's Most Beautiful Villages | #france #provence #luberon #villages #vacation
Discover the 12 Most Beautiful Villages of Provence, France | Best Villages of Provence, France | Prettiest Villages in Provence | France's Most Beautiful Villages | #france #provence #luberon #villages

Reviewed: A Luxury Villa in Puglia, Italy

Luxury villa in Puglia - review of Corte dei Messapi

Puglia is best appreciated on Italian-time. That is, slower starts in the morning, afternoon Riposo (siesta), and eating and drinking late into the evening. And undoubtedly the best place to experience la bella vita is in the comfort of your own Italian villa.

I was lucky enough to be invited by Jo from Bookings for You to stay in a luxury Italian villa on my recent trip to Puglia, and I had the most amazing time getting to know the Puglia region, people, and way of life. Read on to see if staying in a villa is the right choice for your next holiday to Puglia!

Corte dei Messapi – A Luxury Villa in Puglia

Corte dei Messapi is one of many villas in Puglia that are locally managed by Raro Villas – specialists in Puglian holiday villas, historic apartments, trulli and masserie. Melanie and Luigi from Raro Villas were my hosts for the week and they offered the most genuine and lovely welcome to Puglia. The same greeting that every visitor receives when renting one of their handpicked villas in Puglia.

The exquisite Corte dei Messapi is a luxury property tucked down a quiet cul-de-sac a short drive from The White City, Ostuni. The property comprises of a whopping 12 bedrooms spread over 4 separate dwellings.

Luxury villa in Puglia. Villas to rent in Puglia.

The Main Villa

The main villa is where I stayed for my week in Puglia, and it’s a breathtaking property! It comprises of 7 double bedrooms split over two floors – each with their own ensuite. There are two living areas complete with TV’s and a play station (although why you’d want to sit in front of a TV instead of under the stars is beyond me!), a large open plan dining room with 10 seater table (perfect for a dinner party), and a well-equipped kitchen.

The entire property is decorated in delicate, muted tones. Traditional curved ceilings feature alongside crafted stonework and handmade furniture. It’s evident that every detail has been thought through, right down to the locally made olive wood artwork that adorns each bedroom.

Large group accommodation in Puglia. Luxury villa to rent in Puglia Luxury villa rental Puglia. Holiday villa with pool in Puglia luxury accommodation in Puglia. Villa review puglia

While the inside of the villa is the perfect compromise between cosy furnishings and contemporary fixtures, it’s outside that Corte dei Messapi really shows off. A grand deck area spans the length of the villa and is accessible from all three of the upstairs bedrooms, as well as the lounge and dining rooms. It’s an inviting space that caters well for groups or families. With a permanent roof covering part of the deck, it’s a great place to hide from the sun in the hotter months, or to take shelter from a rare summer shower.

Climb the stone stairs and you’ll find a rooftop sanctuary, complete with jacuzzi. What could be a better way to end the day than grabbing a chilled bottle of wine, sinking into the warm water, and watching the night sky?

Meanwhile, on the ground floor, surrounded by olive trees and the warm tones of the stone walls, you’ll find the main swimming pool. Go for a swim and relax in the loungers with a view over the bucolic landscape, it’s an idyllic scene.

Corte dei Messapi, luxury villas in Puglia

Photo courtesy of Bookings for You

Luxury villa to rent in Puglia

Photo courtesy of Bookings for You

The 3-Bedroom Villa

With its own access and gated garden, the 3-bedroom villa is an oasis of its own. Constructed in sympathy with the main villa, it still manages to look grand while being eclipsed by extravagance. The pièce de résistance of this property is the invitingly large pool which sits directly out of the patio doors. Inside you’ll find the same features as the main villa, on a smaller scale. The open plan kitchen has all the facilities you could wish for, while the lounge/dining area offers a relaxed setting for family dinners and relaxation. Another outdoor table completes the scene for eating al fresco. As with the main villa, all three bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms, and the downstairs bedroom has the added advantage of a private shaded courtyard.

where to stay in Puglia. Holiday rentals in Puglia, Italy.

The 1-Bedroom Villa

Luxury on a miniature scale, the one-bedroom villa comes complete with the same conveniences and thoughtful finishing touches offered in the other two villas. Perfect for a couple wanting their own space, this villa has an ensuite bathroom, a small but functional kitchen, and a comfortable seating area under a beautifully barreled ceiling.

The one-bedroom villa can be rented along with the three-bedroom villa, separately from the main villa. Both smaller villas share a pool.

The 1-Bedroom Trullo

Those looking for their own space, or who simply want to experience a different kind of accommodation can make use of the one-bedroom trullo. Trulli are synonymous with Puglia, and the one at Corte dei Messapi has been lovingly restored. Like the other villas, it comes complete with a small kitchen and seating area, and the simple double bedroom has an ensuite bathroom.

Stay in a trulli in Puglia. Where to stay in Puglia.

Personal Touches

Not content with just sourcing and managing amazing holiday villas in Puglia, the team at Raro Villas really want you to experience the best of what the region has to offer. They are on hand to organise bespoke activities to make your holiday truly memorable. This could take the form of learning how to make traditional Puglian cuisine, having a chef cook you a delicious traditional dinner in the villa, or taking a guided tour to a local olive oil or cheese producer… they’d even happily organise your wedding!

By the time I left Corte dei Messapi, I felt like I’d been initiated into a long lost Italian family. Raro Villas treated us to two cooking demonstrations and they were absolutely the highlight of the trip. I and the other villa guests learned how to make multiple types of fresh pasta, and panzerotti, before munching down on our creations later in the evening. There was a real sense of camaraderie as we fumbled about with the sticky dough, trying to replicate the same shapes the chef was expertly whipping out.

Another tour was arranged to take us to a nearby village, San Michele Salentino, where we drank coffee with the locals, watched the baker work his magic (before getting to sample his creations later in the day), visited a local farm and watched how a modern trullo is constructed. A true Puglian experience!

Cooking classes in Puglia. Learning to make Panzerotti in Italy

Photo courtesy of Raro Villas

Facilities for Children

Corte dei Messapi is equipped for children of all ages. Baby equipment can be arranged in advance, saving you the hassle of bringing your own, and older children are well catered for too. There’s a playground conveniently situated between the villas, plenty of space to run around and kick a ball, and little ones will be content playing hide and seek among the olive trees. The pools are also a huge drawcard for kids, but as they’re not fenced, young children would need to be supervised while outdoors.

family accommodation in Puglia. Large group accommodation in Puglia.

The Location

Corte dei Messapi is located on the outskirts of Ostuni, one of the best towns to visit in Puglia. With its whitewashed old town, Greek island ambience and ramshackle layout, it’s the perfect place to explore at leisure. You’re also just a stone’s throw from many other interesting towns and attractions. A few include Polignano a Mare with its stunning beach and cliff-hanging old town, Alberobello for its trulli village, Castellana Grotte – the longest cave network in Italy, and Monopoli with its waterfront walk and castle.

The villa is situated around 30 minutes from Brindisi, and just over an hour away from Bari making it very accessible from Puglia’s airports.

Where to stay in Puglia. Ostuni accommodation.

Benefits of a Renting a Villa in Puglia

There’s no doubt that renting a villa in Puglia is a comfortable option. But what are the other benefits of staying in a villa over staying in a hotel or Airbnb?

Firstly, by booking a villa through Bookings for You you’re in safe hands.  A self-proclaimed holiday rental specialist, Jo takes pride in only selecting the best properties to represent. She visits each villa personally to ensure a high standard is met. Locally, Raro Villas take over this support and offer a warm welcome, while being on hand to answer queries and provide support and services to make your holiday special.

villa to rent with pool in Puglia

A large villa such as Corte dei Messapi is perfect for large groups, or special occasions such as weddings, family reunions and get-togethers. Smaller villas, such as the other two onsite, could be just the right option for an affordable luxury getaway.

Having facilities such as a full kitchen, ensuites in every room, and many outdoor seating areas, offer an unparalleled level of comfort, and allow everyone in your group to have their own space.


I had such an incredible time exploring Puglia from the comfort of Corte dei Messapi, and I can wholeheartedly recommend this villa as a base for visiting the region. If you’d like to find out more, or to book your holiday in Puglia, contact Jo at Bookings for You, or visit the Raro Villas website.

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Looking for a bespoke experience in Puglia? Corte dei Messapi is a luxury villa with a difference. Find out why this unique property may be the right choice for your next holiday to Puglia, Italy. Luxury Villas in Puglia | Holiday Rentals in Puglia | Where to Stay in Puglia

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