French Charm in Provence
Last summer, Robin and I took an unexpected trip to the south of France. I've been long wanting to go there so my excitement level was beyond measurable when we found a long weekend that would work for the trip in the last moment. In my mind, the south always seemed like a fairytale with endless lavender fields, winding countryside roads, and picturesque homes. It turned out to be just that and so much more though.
After some vigorous last minute apartment searching, I came across an Airbnb in Lamanon: Les Ecuries du Mas. One of the great things about this location was that it was close to everything we wanted to explore while still being in the calm countryside: best of both worlds! It ended up being by far one of the best stays we've ever had, which also made it extremely difficult to leave. It was a gorgeous French-style home offering a bed & breakfast style stay, available to adults only. Being run by the cutest couple, Muriel and Michel, we instantly felt at home and in paradise. I'll just let the pictures speak for themselves though. ;)
Although it wasn't planned, we were lucky enough to be here during the Avignon Film Festival. It's honestly a must-do at least once in your life. I had no idea what to expect but ended up being amazed by the creativity and ambience that filled the festival. As you walk the streets, just about every inch of the buildings are covered in posters advertising different shows. These shows are occurring throughout the days in locations around the city, some being in outdoor theatres while others in secret pop-up rooms. Groups of actors and actresses of the shows are constantly walking the streets, giving mini-performances in order to attract an audience. I've never seen anything quite like it!
Since the trip wasn't very planned, we got some tips from Muriel & Michel on some nice places to explore. There was no strict agenda, which I'm honestly not in favour of anyways so we simply chose a place that sounded interesting and let the day flow.
And eventually, we were led to finding lavender fields! This was what I was waiting for ever since we had left Luxembourg so you can just imagine the excitement level.
One of my favorite villages we came across was Lauris. It was nestled on top of a hill so the views were really something else. And what amazed me most were all the ridiculously beautiful buildings. They all literally looked as if they came out of a Disney fairytale movie & I was instantly hooked.
Farm stalls with local produce could be found on almost every road when we were en-route to a different location, and of course we had to stop at most of them. I'm someone who gets so excited by fresh, locally grown produce so this was honestly such a highlight for me. Everything was so fresh & delicious too so multiple stops were a must.
While visiting a winery in Menerbes to get stocked up on some of the best wine in the region, we were in awe by the strong smell of lavender in the air. Apparently on that particular day, a producer was there with his machine turning the lavender into oil. It was so neat to see and for him to show us how it all works! I could have sat there all day with that smell surrounding me. He even offered to let us fill any water bottles we have with lavender water so obviously I immediately rummaged through the car to find as many as possible.
We also had the chance to walk through the vineyard to take it all in. After talking with the owners, it amazed me to learn just how much of science making wine is. There's an intense amount of thought, experimentation, precision, and dedication that all goes into it, which not many of us don't realise when popping open a bottle.
After more exploring, we found out there was a special event occurring in a town nearby called Cavaillon. And we sure were in for a treat! It was the night of the bulls, which is organised every year. During this, the center of the town is blocked off with fences for bulls to be released to run through the streets with trained professionals on horses leading them. It's a yearly tradition that was definitely a one of a kind experience.
Cavaillon is also known for it's delicious small melons, a popular speciality in France, so I highly recommend trying them there. You can even find melon juice in the bars, which is pure heaven!
And of course the trip ended with stopping to pick more lavender. We were told that it's not good to pick the ones that are full as farmers work very hard to take care of this and it's a part of how they can make their living. Instead what's a better option is to go to the fields that have already been harvested. There you can still find a ton of lavender to pick that won't be picked anymore otherwise leaving it a win-win for everyone.
France is truly a beautiful country with so many different regions all offering completely different experiences. I've had my share of experiences with having already explored many different parts but the south definitely has a special charm that I haven't found elsewhere. My first time there ended up being more than what I imagined it would be and I already can't wait to return! You don't need a plan to go there, it can be something as spontaneous as our trip and still, you'll discover an endless list of special things to do.