Provence is one of France’s most classic destinations, and is also one of our most cherished destinations. From festive market days to great food (check out local boulangeries for breakfast!), and adorable towns to explore, Provence offers a myriad of different ways to fill your time. Our favorite town to stay in is Saint Rémy, France since it is large enough to offer plenty of restaurants and fun streets to wander through, yet it is smaller than Provence’s larger towns such as Avignon. Saint Rémy is the perfect stop after larger cities such as Paris, and is a great addition to any European trip.
Where to Stay in Saint Rémy, France: Le Château des Alpilles
Located just outside of town, this beautiful Château offers incredible rooms and a relaxed vibe. Most of the rooms are in the Château’s historic main building, but some of the rooms and suites are located in the converted farm house, chapel, and wash house. In addition to use of the beautiful tree-lined grounds, guests can enjoy all of the five star amenities offered, including a gym, pool, and grand restaurant. We love Le Château des Alpilles because of the beautiful grounds and great rooms. Plus, the town of Saint Rémy, and nearby towns such as Arlés and Avignon are perfect spots to visit while in Provence.
Where to Eat in Saint Rémy, France
Like most French towns, Saint Rémy is filled with three types of restaurants: small boulangeries, cute cafés, and higher end French restaurants. Our rule of thumb: avoid the high end restaurants (you can get great food at a much lower price down the street). Additionally, visit boulangeries for breakfast, since they serve the freshest and cheapest varieties of quiches, croissants, and other French pastries. Check with the hotel or locals to find the best boulangerie. (Note: the hotel offers breakfast, but we found it cheaper and more fun to visit the boulangeries in town instead.)
Our suggestions for lunch and dinner don’t change much: Saint Rémy offers enough café’s serving similar food that we don’t suggest one specific café. Rather, we suggest you find one that looks cute near where you are exploring and enjoy! If you want to splurge one night, consider eating dinner at The Manor, the restaurant at Le Château des Alpilles. During the summer, diners can enjoy dinner on the terrace under the trees that line the chateau. The Manor has a fun atmosphere and offers fantastic food for those looking for higher end French cuisine.
Things to Do around Provence
France’s Provence region offers visitors plenty of opportunities to explore, while also enjoying the slower pace of life in Southern France. We loved exploring different towns around Saint Rémy, but also enjoyed spending time enjoying our hotel. Below were our favorite things to do while in Provence:
Day Trip to Avignon
Avignon is the largest major town in Provence, and offers plenty to see. It’s the perfect spot for a day trip! Highlights include the Pope’s Palace, plenty of shops to visit, and historic streets to wander.
(NOTE: For those traveling from Paris, we suggest taking the train to Avignon, and then renting a car. France’s bullet trains are extremely efficient, and time saving rather than driving all the way from Paris. If you do take the train to Avignon, make sure to walk through town a bit before moving on!)
Day Trip to Arles
Arlés is another great town in Provence to day trip. While in Arles, make sure to visit the café made famous by Vincent Van Gogh’s painting to appreciate the same real life image Van Gogh painted over 100 years ago (address: 11 Place du Forum, 13200 Arles, France). In addition, Arles is famous for its Roman amphitheater, which looks like the famous Colosseum in Rome! Beyond these two famous sights, our favorite part of Arlés was the variety of Provencal shops and boutique stores.
Provence’s Market Days
By far our favorite thing to do in Provence is visit the neighboring towns on market days. Throughout the summer (and part of the spring and fall), markets rotate through nearby towns on a weekly basis. Saint Rémy offers a great market on Wednesday Mornings. If you don’t plan to be in Saint Rémy on a Wednesday, don’t worry! Plenty of other nearby towns offer markets on different mornings of the week. Check with your hotel for updated schedules of when each town offers their market day.
These markets offer everything from fresh food to clothing, Provence-inspired fabric tablecloths, and even wood craftsmanship products like tables! Prices are generally cheaper than buying similar goods in shops, and the mix of tourists and locals offers a lively look into these villages and towns.
One of our favorite aspects of time in Saint Rémy is that we get a vacation during our European sightseeing! We love spending time by the pool and relaxing on Le Château des Alpilles property. We also really enjoy playing a family card game at the bistro tables scattered around the mansion. While we definitely suggest exploring Saint Rémy and nearby towns, make sure to budget time during your stay to relax as well.