The Beautiful Provence in the South of France
Provence in the South of France is a dream destination, known for its many beautiful villages in a relaxed French countryside setting. Summer is the most popular season to visit, especially with the lavender fields in bloom, but visiting in the Spring has many advantages too!
In this article, I will show you why Spring is a good time to visit Provence, and also share some important travel tips!
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Springtime in Provence
Visiting Provence in the Spring is wonderful because the weather is generally nice, with blue skies and moderate to warm temperatures even in the evenings by May. The mild temperatures are a welcome change from the hot summers! If you like outdoor activities such as hiking or bicycling, Spring weather is wonderful for that.
Beautiful Spring Flowers
Colorful and beautiful Spring blooms seem to decorate every door. And although the lavender fields are not yet in bloom, there are large fields of flowers that are equally stunning! Provencal flowers blooming in the Spring include peonies in pink and yellow, red poppies, purple sprays of wisteria, pink and white fruit tree blossoms, and rosemary.
And if you are a rose lover, you will not want to miss the glorious Alterarosa festival hosted by the Palaise-des-Papes in Avignon! You will get to enjoy a huge rose garden in the middle of the cloisters, the latest creations from leading French rose breeders, a picnic and concert. The festival is held on even-numbered years only.
Farmer’s Markets and Food Festivals
Provence is known for its wonderful farmer’s markets, and Spring is a great time to visit them. You will find local and regional offerings such as strawberries, artichokes, asparagus, olives, melons, figs, apricots, garlic, honey, saffron, goat’s cheese, and wine. We especially enjoyed sampling the local white nougat candy, an irresistible blend of honey and almonds.
Popular markets in Provence include the Saturday Food Market in Arles, the Daily Food Market in Aix-en-Provence, and the Wednesday Food Market in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. If you are visiting the hilltop villages, you can check theLuberon.com website for a schedule of markets there.
Off-Peak Travel Season
Perhaps the best advantage of visiting Provence in the Springtime is that it’s not peak tourist season yet. That means that you can enjoy this beautiful area with less crowds and less congested roads. In addition, hotel and airfare rates should be lower as well. Hotels do still book up quickly, so don’t delay in booking the place you want!
Be Prepared for Winds and Allergies
Now that I have convinced you that Spring is a great time to visit Provence, there are two things that you should also be aware of: possible occasional high winds and possible allergies.
If you visit in the Winter or Spring, be prepared for occasional strong winds. I was not prepared for this, but it’s apparently a well-known and inherent part of life in Provence during these seasons and strongest in the transition between the two seasons. It’s considered a beneficial wind that clears the atmosphere for clear, fresh weather, and plays an important role in creating the climate of Provence. There’s a wikipedia article on Le Mistral, as the wind is called.
And maybe partly because of these winds that we experienced at the beginning of our trip, I did experience moderate to severe allergies during my trip there in May. So if you are prone to allergies, don’t forget to bring your allergy medication! To be fair, I seemed to be the only one suffering from allergies…
Provence Travel Tips
- A car is highly recommended if you plan on exploring the area on your own (without a tour) since this is a rural area and it would be difficult to find a bus or taxi to take you around. We rented ours at the Marseilles airport.
- If you come specifically to see the famous lavender fields, note that the peak flowering season is in July-August with blooms starting in June. I was there in late May, just before the flowering season.
- Bring your allergy medication if you are at all prone to allergies! I made the mistake of not bringing mine because I was only experiencing mild allergies in the Bay Area. I did experience moderate to severe allergies during my visit in May.
- Plan your days around the limited restaurant lunch and dinner hours. I admit that I have become accustomed to being able to find food at any hour of the day in California, so it was difficult for me to adjust to only being able to eat during a few hours during the limited lunch and dinner times. Most restaurants are closed in between, so if you have a full schedule, make sure that you end up near a restaurant or eatery before they close in the early afternoon. For a sit-down dinner, plan to enjoy it over 2-3 hours as is customary for the area.
- Consider planning your days around the local markets, which operate at different towns on different days of the week. I loved sampling local treats and products in the markets that we went to. If you are visiting the hilltop villages, this website has a schedule of the markets.
- Book your hotel early, even during off-season travel. Provence has some nice spas but those fill up early. We were lucky to find a fantastic hotel, Le Jas de Joucas near Gordes and Rousillon which was a great base for sightseeing and has a great breakfast option.
- Be prepared for occasional strong winds if you visit in the winter or spring as mentioned above.
- Learn a little French if possible if you are traveling from abroad. Not as many locals speak English here as well as they do in Paris. Our hotel hostess and restaurant waitresses spoke some English and made a lot of effort, but it did help that I can speak some French that I somehow managed to retain from high school. Everyone we met were very friendly and willing to help though.
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MY FAVORITE SOUVENIR FROM FRANCE!
I first tried this amazing shower gel from the French brand Caudalie at my hotel in Giverny near Monet’s Garden. I loved it so much that I bought four bottles from them and carried it during my entire trip! Then I found out I can get more of the shower gel from Amazon when I run out! I love the delicate fragrance of white rose and pink peppercorn, and that it contains 97% ingredients of natural origin.
All photos on this page were captured with a Nikon D750, using a Nikon 24-70 mm lens and a Fuji X100 (latest model here), and edited with Adobe Lightroom. Read more about my photography equipment here.
If you found this article helpful, please pin, share or leave a comment below! Thank you and I hope you have an amazing trip there if you have one planned! ❤️