Provence in the South of France is a dream destination, known for its many beautiful villages in a relaxed French countryside setting. Summer is the most popular season to visit, especially with the lavender fields in bloom, but visiting in the Spring has many advantages too! In this post, I’ll share with you why Spring is a great time to visit Provence, and also share some important travel tips!
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Springtime in Provence
Warm sunny days, pastel buildings surrounded by Spring flowers… fields of red poppies and young lavender bushes… Springtime in Provence is truly an incomparable sight and experience! Here are the top reasons for visiting Provence in the Spring.
1. Off-Peak Travel Season
Perhaps the best advantage of visiting Provence in the Springtime is that it’s not peak tourist season yet. That means that you can enjoy this beautiful area with less crowds and less congested roads. In addition, hotel and airfare rates should be lower as well. Hotels do still book up quickly, so don’t delay in booking the place you want!
2. Nice Weather
Visiting Provence in the Spring is wonderful because the weather is generally nice, with blue skies and moderate to warm temperatures even in the evenings by May. The mild temperatures are a welcome change from the hot summers! If you like outdoor activities such as hiking or bicycling, Spring weather is wonderful for that.
3. Beautiful Spring Flowers
Colorful and beautiful Spring blooms seem to decorate every door in Provence! And although the lavender fields are not yet in bloom, there are large fields of flowers that are equally stunning! Provencal flowers blooming in the Spring include peonies in pink and yellow, red poppies, purple sprays of wisteria, pink and white fruit tree blossoms, and rosemary.
And if you are a rose lover, you will not want to miss the Alterarosa festival hosted every other year by the Palaise-des-Papes in Avignon in May! You’ll get to enjoy a huge rose garden in the middle of the cloisters, the latest creations from leading French rose breeders, a picnic and concert. The festival is held on even-numbered years only. The Avignon tourism office is a good place to check for upcoming events.
If you come specifically to see the famous lavender fields, please note that the peak flowering season is in July-August with blooms starting in June.
By the way, if you love flowers as much as I do, you might be interested in my post on the Most Beautiful Flower Books – it’s one of my most popular posts!
3. Farmer’s Markets and Food Festivals
Provence is known for its wonderful farmer’s markets, and Spring is a great time to visit them. In fact, you should consider planning your days around the local markets, which operate at different towns on different days of the week. You’ll find local and regional offerings such as strawberries, artichokes, asparagus, olives, melons, figs, apricots, garlic, honey, saffron, goat’s cheese, and wine. I loved sampling local treats and products in the markets that we went to. We especially enjoyed sampling the local white nougat candy, an irresistible blend of honey and almonds.
Popular markets in Provence include the Saturday Food Market in Apt, the biggest of the Luberon weekly markets. You can check theLuberon.com website for a schedule of markets at the hilltop villages.
More Travel Tips for Provence
Now that I have convinced you that Spring is a great time to visit Provence, there are two things that you should also be aware of: possible occasional high winds and possible allergies.
Le Mistral Winds
If you visit in the Winter or Spring, be prepared for occasional strong winds. I was not prepared for this, but it’s apparently a well-known and inherent part of life in Provence during these seasons and strongest in the transition between the two seasons. It’s considered a beneficial wind that clears the atmosphere for clear, fresh weather, and plays an important role in creating the climate of Provence. There’s a wikipedia article on Le Mistral, as the wind is called.
Maybe partly because of these strong winds that we experienced at the beginning of our trip, I did experience significant allergies during my trip there in May. So if you’re prone to allergies, don’t forget to bring your allergy medication! I now always carry some with me in these great mini travel containers in my purse or backpack and more in the larger sized ones in my suitcase. To be fair, I seemed to be the only one suffering from allergies.
Transportation and Dining Tips
A car is highly recommended if you plan on exploring the area on your own (without a tour) since this is a rural area and it would be difficult to find a bus or taxi to take you around. We rented ours at the Marseilles airport.
An option to driving is to join a tour from a larger city such as Marseilles, Aix-en-Provence or Avignon. Viator has a number of these tours.
Plan your days around the limited restaurant lunch and dinner hours. I admit that I have become accustomed to being able to find food at any hour of the day in California, so it was difficult for me to adjust to only being able to eat during a few hours during the limited lunch and dinner times. Most restaurants are closed in between, so if you have a full schedule, make sure that you end up near a restaurant or cafe before they close in the early afternoon. For a sit-down dinner, plan to enjoy it over 2-3 hours as is customary for the area.
The hostess at our hotel recommended Le Carillon restaurant in the village of Goult and we really enjoyed both the food and the service. Goult is a very quaint and non-touristy village that has a number of other nice restaurants as well.
Hotel Booking Tips
Provence is a popular vacation destination, so book your hotel(s) early, even during off-season travel! Provence has some nice spas but those fill up early. We were lucky to find a fantastic B&B/hotel, Le Jas de Joucas (TripAdvisor reviews here) near Gordes and Rousillon which was a great base for visiting the hilltop towns and also has a great breakfast option.
Additional Provence Travel Tips
If you don’t know any French, I recommend that you try to learn at least some common phrases if you’re traveling there from abroad. Everyone we met was very friendly and welcoming, but not as many locals here speak English as well as they do in Paris. This easy French phrasebook is perfect!
I also recommend carrying all of the medications that you may need on your trip since any small local pharmacies you may find will likely carry products in French only and you’ll have to take your chances on medications that you haven’t tried before. I now always carry some allergy and digestions pills with me in these great little travel pop-up containers from humangear in my purse or backback and more in these larger sized ones in my suitcase.
Hi, I’m Pansy!
Hello, thanks for stopping by! I’m Pansy, California-based travel + lifestyle blogger, photographer and lover of ALL the pretty flowers! If you browse through my blog, you may notice that most of my travels, DIY and photography center around flowers and nature! 🌸🌼🌿