Provence is famed for its beautiful landscapes and breathtaking vegetation: Aromatic herbs, evergreen forests, maquis shrubs and colourful lavender fields as far as the eye can see. And strewn in between it all are beautiful, picturesque villages, which invite visitors to stroll through their winding lanes and dine at secluded gourmet restaurants. Cultural aspects can also be found, as you can trace the steps of famed artists. Let Nicky Barthorp give you a few insider tips.



Charming and romantic: "La Domaine de Capelongue" is surrounded by a large garden with wonderful views of Bonnieux and the Luberon Valley. The 4-star estate has a bastion remodelled as a guest house, a hotel and ten very tasteful apartments, each with its own terrace. A highlight is the 40m swimming pool in the garden, where you can have memorable moments shrouded in lavender scent. In the restaurant you can enjoy delicacies prepared by renowned star-chef Edouard Loubet. "Living like God in France" – no problem in Capelongue!





An original Provençal country home with the most beautiful garden in southern France is the home of Nicky Barthorp's favourite restaurant: Le Mas Tourteron in Gordes. On the menu: excellent Provençal cuisine such as artichoke salad with anchovy sauce, grilled goat cheese with rosemary or lamb ragout with aubergines. The dessert buffet is a dream: Owner and head chef Elisabeth Bourgeois personally serves a seductive selection of sinful sweets, one example is the delicious raspberry-pistachio cake or Tarte au Citron. You will need to reserve ahead of time.





Lavender – also called "Blue Gold" – brings wonderful colour to the Provence from June to August. The healing plant is deeply rooted in the regional identity. The precious aromatic essence of the flower has been used to manufacture perfume and soap for ages. Bees also love the aromatic fields of flowers and use them to create their fantastically aromatic honey, which is harvested at the height of summer. Lavender fans should not miss these scent hot spots: the lavender distillery in Sault, the museum in Coustellet and the apiary Boileau in Uzès.



Provence is a Mecca for flea market fans. The town of Apt has quite a few Brocantes – French antique stores. L'air du Temps has brightly enamelled kitchen utensils, clocks, charming commodes and rustic furniture, all the collector's heart desires. Portes Antiques has wonderful antique doors, commodes and tables – all carefully restored. An excursion to the town L'isle sur la Sorgue is also worth your while. The town has 400 antique dealers and stores with unusual artefacts from past decades. Pezenas also has treasures awaiting discovery that the ancient country homes of southern France have concealed for centuries.



The enchanting beauty of Provence inspired Vincent van Gogh to paint many impressive impressionist landscapes. As an homage to the artist who resided in Arles, the city regularly exhibits his work alongside changing contemporary art to create a fertile dialogue between the past and modernity.


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