Sunday, 19 August 2018

TRAVEL | HOW TO SPEND 48HRS IN PROVENCE


Near the end of last month, my family and I made a pretty spontaneous decision to visit the south of France just in time for lavender season. I whipped up an itinerary a mere week before we left, packed my DSLR, dad's drone and a tripod, and we were off! It was sweltering hot the time we were there but that didn't manage to put us off from enjoying the breathtaking and ever so unique landscapes of Provence. Here are some of my recommendations for making the most out of the region if you're thinking of heading there in the future.


To stay:

We based ourselves in the commune of Mane, which is a much quieter area than the famous Aix-en-Provence. It's about an hour and 15 minute drive from Marseille airport and only half an hour away from the famous lavender fields of Valensole. We treated ourselves to a stay at Le Couvent des Minimes Hotel. They are owned by beauty brand L'Occitane, whose very name I'm sure evokes the image of endless purple rows of lavender. The hotel is quite small but boasts some beautiful private surroundings so it felt like having a huge farm as a backyard and there are no cars about. It also used to be a convent, which makes the architecture so much more unique and they've done such a great job at interiors and juxta-positioning the old with the new. When we stayed there it was quiet so it was pretty much like having the hotel to ourselves. I think the guests are all super relaxed there so the vibe is slow paced and no one gets in your way. They have a restaurant overlooking their own lavender field, a L'Occitane spa, and a spacious lobby. The perfect place to just unwind under a huge tree with a drink or lay about by the pool, or if you're anything like me, turn all the quaint corners into photo opportunities.


To eat:

Less than a 20 minute drive from Mane (you'll need to drive or take a taxi because the road is super steep and winding), lies the village of Lurs. It's situated on a hilltop and there is a lovely little family owned restaurant there called La Terrasse de Lurs which serves hearty, homemade food on an open terrace over looking a breathtaking view of Provence. I had the swordfish with ratatouille and it was delicious!

If you're craving Asian food, there's a really good restaurant that does a fusion of Chinese and Thai on Rue Plauchud (unfortunately the name has slipped me but I'm pretty sure it's the only Asian restaurant in that area). One of my favourite delicacies is frog legs but not many countries have them even though it's a very common meat in Asia. France is the perfect opportunity to eat as many frog legs and escargot as you can and you'll find them cooked in both Asian and French styles in almost every restaurant you come across.

Last but not least a wander around the charming town of Mane will surely warrant a coffee stop and there are several small ones around that serve a great brew and the tables set up on the side of the street are the most idyllic setting for a sip and an instagram worthy snap.


To do and see:

You obviously cannot visit Provence in the summertime without seeing the famous lavender fields in Valensole. Prime time to visit would be in June, we went a little later in July so some of the rows had actually been harvested by then (still plenty though). There are quite a few lavender farms around this area and if you're lucky, you might also spot sunflowers growing side by side with them, so the best way to go about it would be to hire a car to Valensole so you're free to stop by on the side of the road at any time. 

Hot air balloons are also pretty iconic in Provence with plenty of places offering rides including L'Occitane at our hotel and one in Forcalquier. They operate every day weather permitting, taking off at dawn so you're able to witness the sunrise from the balloon and the rides typically last for around 3 hours.

Explore the neighbouring towns of Mane, Lurs, and Forcalquier. If you're a bit of a hiker than it's only about a half hour walk (though very steep), each commune is so unique in architecture and landscape with dramatic hills and a rich collection of monuments from the Roman Empire including Cistercian monasteries, and medieval palaces and churches. The scenery reminds me of the buildings of the mediterranean Italian countryside mixed with the cinematic inclines of Positano (I've never been to either locations bahah but they still remind me from what I've seen them to be like).



Wearing (in order of appearance):
Stevie May dress / Primark hat
People Tree dress / Aldo shoes
Urban Outfitters dress / ASOS floral headband / Aldo shoes / Cult Gaia bag
Stevie May dress / ASOS hat (old) / ASOS shoes (old)

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