VOL. 132 | NO. 153 | Thursday, August 3, 2017
The Daily Traveler
48 Hours In Provence
Provence conjures images of great food and wine, fields of lavender, Rhone Valley vineyards and ancient hillside villages, all tucked into an unforgettable romantic package.
Peter Mayle’s book “A Year in Provence” has helped this region in southern France spike in popularity for tourists, but his humorous story of an Englishman in the French countryside didn’t play a role in our spending 48 hours in Provence. Our story isn’t destined for the annals of timeless travel classics, but it is one of realistic family travel to this iconic region.
We visited Provence with our 10-year-old son, so while we did spend time relaxing at cafes, aimlessly strolling quiet villages and stopping in at wineries that dot the countryside, it had a different feel.
Spending just two nights in Provence seems like a travel crime. Linger, lounge, taste, relax, sip, stroll, wander, savor and relish all describe the extent of Provencal action. But it fit my travel philosophy that a momentary experience is better than no moment at all.
It took a few hours to drive up from Spain. We started our time in Provence visiting the ancient Roman aqueduct, Pont du Gard, built some 2,000 years ago to carry water across the Gardon River. It’s beautiful and worth an hour or so to explore and gaze at its beauty before continuing deeper into the region.
Provence is known for wine, and just north of Pont du Gard is Tavel, a village that sits in the middle of an abundance of vineyards that sell the famous Tavel rose. There are several wineries, many of which have small tasting rooms. But we decided to just stop in at Caveau Saint Vincent, a small shop that represents 30 Tavel wine producers where we learned more than I can possibly remember about the rose produced there, leaving with several well-priced bottles.
There are other villages around Provence with recognizable names to wine drinkers; we made quick tasting stops at two: Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Gigondas. Tasting wine in Provence is different than a trip to California wine country, where you drop $10 and get three to five tastes. There wasn’t a fee in Provence, but we did decide before entering a tasting room or store that we would buy at least one bottle. The wines were all reasonably priced and quite good, so that was never an issue.
We centered our stay in a beautiful little inn at the foot of Seguret. I say foot because the inn sits in the middle of vineyards just below the tiny village that wraps itself up a hillside. The inn was quiet, but the village even more so, particularly when I decided to stroll its paths in the moonlight one night. There wasn’t a soul on the streets other than a random cat peering out from a doorway.
We encountered several other villages like this; they dot the countryside. My advice is find one to base a stay, and with a rental car go out exploring others on short day trips. Stop off and smell the lavender and taste a wine while looking at the Alps in the distance.
Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.