Le long weekend is a favourite pastime for the French. Lazy days by the beach, eating good food, and even more time spent exploring every little square inch of chic old towns and offbeat cafés. Coupled with Provence, a long weekend here is the kind of long weekend that you’ll never want to end! This is where sunflowers and lavender grown, where soap is produced, and where some of the finest olive oil in the world is made.
A land of sea, food and good wine, the region of Provence has been the muse for artists, sculptors and writers alike for decades. The region has inspired the likes of Picasso, Van Gogh and Gaugin to name just a few. Even though Provence is the kind of place you could easily stay and explore for ten lifetimes, if you do it right, then a long weekend can be just enough time.
Day 1: Marseille
Perfect for: People who truly want to experience the Mediterranean!
A port by the sea, Marseille lies by the glistening turquoise water, just waiting to be discovered. From a multitude of museums to breathtaking panoramic views over the city, make sure you don’t forget your camera and your curiosity!
As the largest city in Provence, Marseille is definitely not a city to be missed. And despite decades of poor ratings from travelers, with over 1000 years of history, Marseille definitely shouldn’t be dismissed! There’s an old port to explore, many markets to discover and my favorite activity of all, climbing up to the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde.
Day 2: Cassis
Perfect for: Nature lovers and hikers!
Rumour has it that Cassis may well be the prettiest town in all of Provence. Famed for its Calanques; a kind of rocky limestone cliff formation, Cassis is the perfect place to go hiking. The Calanques of Cassis are world famous and at the end of each hiking segment, you’ll stumble on your very own private beach.
Whilst in Cassis, don’t forget to try out some lavender ice-cream at one of the many vendors in the old town. It’s a regional specialty and you won’t be disappointed!
Day 3: Aix-en-Provence
Perfect for: People who love architecture and museums!
“The city of a thousand fountains” was how my friend described the charming city of Aix-en-Provence to me. And to be honest, this seems exactly like the perfect description! Narrow cobblestone alleys and shuttered houses are here in abundance; the kind which you can only really expect to find in France!
The sprawling city also happens to lie at the base of Mont Saint-Victoire; an impressive mountain that makes a perfect day hike. You can easily take a bus from the center of town to the foothills. There’s plenty of information on hikes available at the Aix-en-Provence tourist office.
If you’re looking for something a little more culture inspired, then it’s worth noting that the famous painter Paul Cézanne was born and raised here; you can visit his museum and even take a free self-guided walking tour to trace his steps from cradle to grave.
How would you spend a long weekend in Provence?