Life happens, which means that often Chris and I are working 6 – 7 days a week (clients visit houses on weekends!) and therefore we don’t get to enjoy what is on our doorstep, being Provence, beautiful beautiful Provence.
10 days ago, we had 2 sets of clients for visits, in Saint-Remy-de-Provence and in Le Thoronet, which meant that we “had” to spend two nights in Provence (it’s a tough life as a real estate agent)… so here we share with your our 36 Hours in Provence.
1.) 3:00 P.M. THE PLEASURE OF THE DRIVE
Part of the pleasure, for us at least, is to leave “the big city” behind and within 45 minutes, be on tree lined roads, like this… the Lavender isn’t quite out yet, but the fresh air, leafy Plain trees and colorful fields never disappoint.
2.) 5:00 P.M. SAINT-REMY-DE-PROVENCE
First stop was work, and a visit to a lovely Mas on the edge of Saint-Remy (more details here), and from there, on to a gorgeous Hotel we found, bordering the old town Hotel du Soleil. We popped our bags down, laced up our walking shoes and headed straight out the door to discover the world-renowned town of Saint-Remy-de-Provence which is only 2½ hours drive from Cannes and Nice Airport).
With only one night in Saint-Remy, the tourist office gave us a walking map of the old town with 10 points to discover on foot. Historic pedestrian towns such as Saint-Remy are best explored by meandering through the streets, where you can happen upon sights such as this… post card material!
3.) 7:00 P.M. “APERO” HOUR
Pairing local wine, with local olives, and local cheese, can you ever go wrong? There are so many little bars and cafés to chose from, and we found the one that matched the atmosphere we were after, but you can be guaranteed that whichever you chose will not disappoint.
4.) 8:00 P.M. TIME FOR DINNER
It’s not surprising that in a little Provencal hotspot such as Saint-Remy-de-Provence, there’s no shortage of drool-worthy menus that will suit your personal budget, and the atmosphere and cuisine preferences you’re looking for.
In a new city, we are so used to picking up our smart phones and checking what Trip Advisor has to say about where is best to eat, but this time, our phones stayed in our pockets (for real estate agents, that’s quite something!) It must have been the easy and relaxed, slower pace of life that meant we didn’t even think to ask Google, we went old school, reading chalk boards outside the bustling little restaurants, and when we found “the one”, we put our dinner faith in the hands of the Universe… and it worked a dream. We’re no food snobs, but living in France, we appreciate fresh, local and good quality food, and Brasserie les Variétés offered us just that. Friendly staff, a locally sourced menu and easy going atmosphere; all enjoyed outside on the terrace on a warm spring evening. Bliss!
4.) 8:00 A.M. IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF LOCALS
Over indulging at dinner, and knowing that your hotel puts on a fabulous home made breakfast, means that an early morning walk or jog is always a good idea… to make space of course, but also to get in those last few precious hours of exploration.
Having done the Old Town in the evening, we wanted to see what the neighborhoods around Saint-Remy had to offer… and they didn’t disappoint. What we found, off the tourist map, was beautifully gardened homes, wisteria cascading from many-a-stone-wall, and a lovely quiet and peaceful environment. One of these neighborhood lanes led us to some old Romain ruins, the cherry on the cake to our morning jog, and entirely unexpected. Saint-Remy, although small, due to its’ history and place on the tourist map, has surprises and interest around every corner.
Our jog did the trick, and after a quick swim back at the hotel, followed by coffee and a fresh local breakfast under the wisteria (it’s everywhere!), we were off to meet our clients for their visits in Le Thoronet.
5.) 11:00 A.M. EYGALIERES – THE HYPE IS ALL TRUE!
Eygalieres is famous for being home to, well, the famous. It’s a discreet and alluring location, and the detour was well worth taking. On approach, the town, perched on the hill, comes into view, and it’s unashamedly charming. The Friday morning market was no let down either, locals and tourists alike meandering the stalled streets, a man playing the accordion in the square; the atmosphere is just so idyllic, and just so French – it’s Provencal perfection! A single morning wasn’t enough for us, so we will be back to Eygalieres, that’s for sure.
6.) 5:00 P.M. WE ALL DESERVE A TREAT
Having finished visits at one of our all time favorite properties, an absolutely charming and very unique riverside farmhouse near Le Thoronet, we headed up towards Lorgues (a larger Provencal town, only 1 hour from Cannes, but a world apart and full of its own charm). Before we knew it, we were turning into Chateau de Berne, and following the forest lined road into (our version of) paradise. After driving for 5 minutes through thick forest, the landscape opens up in front of you, into vineyards as far as the eye can see, and a Chateau to make your heart skip a beat. This was our treat, a night at Chateau de Berne. Work Hard Play Hard, isn’t that what “they” say?
We have visited “Berne” (as those “in the know” like to call it) a few times, for wine tasting, or lunch at their hip and trendy Bistro, but staying the night in such a peaceful and exceptionally beautiful natural environment was recharging for the soul.
We’re not ones to sit around pool side though (even if it was incredibly enticing), and especially not in such surroundings, so on went the walking shoes again, and we headed out to wander the Domaine, amble among the vineyards, sit in olive trees, and (this was unexpected) happen upon one of the coolest old school Gypsy caravans I have ever seen.
10.) 09:00 NEVER STOP EXPLORING
Making space for the next meal is a constant battle… and we had heard (mouth watering) things about the breakfast at Chateau de Berne, so on went the running shoes again, and using their trail route map provided by the Domaine we disappeared into thick forest first, then vineyards, vegetable gardens and olive groves. There were various routes between 2.5km and 15km, so there’s something for everyone.
Breakfast at “Berne” was everything we had hoped for. From raw Granolas and chia seed delights, fresh raspberry juice, and various local honeys, to homemade yogurt, pastries, breads, and a hot buffet that had Chris’s eyes watering. A true feast, for which two stomachs would have been ideal.
The Hotel invite you to “hang out” in the spa, or by the fabulous pool before checking out, but our favorite farmhouse was calling, and so we headed off for our second visit… and so here ends our 36 hours in Provence, with fresh country eggs from the delightful, kind and generous owners!