Hidden Gems of Provence in 4 Days

Advisor - Christian Caudill
Curated By

Christian Caudill

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  • France

  • Road Trip Travel

  • Off-the-Beaten-Path Travel

  • Hidden Gems

  • Sightseeing

  • Local Culture

A picturesque view of Gorges du Verdon.
Curator’s statement

There’s no doubt Provence is a popular destination, but this road trip takes you off the beaten path to discover some of Provence’s best kept secrets. Best enjoyed during the late spring or fall shoulder seasons, this itinerary takes you into northern Provence through the Gorges du Verdon for breathtaking views, dramatic landscapes and turquoise lakes. Along the way you’ll stay in quaint villages and immerse yourself in provençal culture. It’s a wonderful trip for return travelers to France looking for something new, or a perfect addition to a South of France itinerary. This loop starts from Nice, but it can also start from Marseille – just reverse the route!

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Where to stay

Le Domaine du Mas de Pierre

Nestled amidst breathtaking gardens, this exquisite hotel offers refined accommodations, exceptional dining and world-class amenities.

Fora Perks
  • $100 food / beverage credit.

  • Breakfast daily.

  • Upgrade & extended check-in/out whenever possible.

Château de la Gaude

Discover the elegance of Provence, where a historic château, vineyard views, and luxurious amenities come together for a refined and enchanting stay.

Hotel Le Colombier, Moustiers Sainte Marie

Nestled in the charming village of Moustiers Sainte Marie, Hotel Le Colombier offers a serene retreat with picturesque views and elegant accommodations.

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Day 1: Start your road trip

Brown concrete buildings can be found in Saint Paul De Vence, a medieval village.

Once you’ve arrived and picked up your rental car, start your road trip with a quick drive to Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a medieval hilltop village full of picturesque cobblestone streets, art galleries and terraces with panoramic views of the Côte d’Azur. After a walk around, grab a table outside for lunch and a coffee before continuing into the mountains. The next driving stretch is about three hours, and you’ll want to stop for photos along the way, so you’ll want to have plenty of daylight left. Depending on your travel schedule, I recommend spending the night at a bastide (traditional stone country house) between Saint-Paul and Grasse, and continuing your drive in the morning.

Day 2: Drive to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Aerial view of Moustiers Sainte Marie, a picturesque Provençal village.

Soak in the morning sun from the terrace of your bastide before packing up for the drive to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Perfume aficionados will want to make a stop in Grasse, home to the Fragonard Parfumerie. Pack for a picnic lunch before you head out or plan to stop in Castellane for lunch as you’ll be driving through rural areas without many places to stop. Take your time on the drive - the roads can be narrow and windy and it’s easy to be distracted by the ever-changing landscape. There are plenty of shoulders and observation points to pull over to stop for as many photos as you want.

Sometime in the afternoon, you’ll arrive in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Check into your accommodations, relax, and make your way to the center of the village, home to just 700 permanent residents. Shop for artisanal, locally made ceramics and explore the village before a traditional provençal dinner at La Gringotière.

Day 3: Driving Break in Moustiers

Boats on Lac de Sainte-Croix near mountain view.

Take a break from driving today with some hiking, water sports, or even a swim. There are many hiking trails of all lengths and difficulties that start in Moustiers. Regardless of which you choose, make sure to wear sturdy shoes for walking over rocky and uneven surfaces. Prefer to spend the day on the water? Just under four miles away, Lac Sainte-Croix offers boat rentals from electric to kayaks, sailing and swimming. Want even more adventure? The Verdon area has some of the best rafting, canyoning, and rock climbing in France.

Day 4: Travel to Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence is a small town brimming with quaint cafes and vibrant markets.

Bid Moustiers-Sainte-Marie à bientôt (see you soon!), and make your way to Aix-en-Provence for your last night. If you are traveling between early June and early September, stop in Valensole to admire the lavender fields which typically hit peak bloom in July.

Aix-en-Provence isn’t exactly a secret, but it is a beautiful town and quintessential Provence. This sunsoaked university town has a laid-back vibe, tons of history, and plenty of delicious food. Spend the afternoon taking a tour or shopping and find a welcoming terrace in the historic town center for a relaxing evening meal.

Tomorrow you’ll head back to the airport or on to your next destination!

Need to Know

Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, The French City You Should Visit Next: Lyon, France.

Advisor - Christian Caudill

Travel Advisor

Christian Caudill

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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to South of France.