Food, Fun and Historic Sites in Provence: A Road Trip in France
Enjoy Gallic life at its best, exploring historic sites, sampling delicious food and wandering around charming villages on this nine-day Provence road trip. Learn about the area's ancient Roman history and explore the unique beauty of the mysterious Camargue marshlands on this self-drive trip.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Explore Avignon, including the historic Palais des Papes
- Slow down in your charming, private farmhouse in one of the most beautiful villages in France: Baux-de-Provence
- Wander through the ancient streets of Glanum, and enjoy the Provencal charm of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
- Head to the crumbing walls of the clifftop Château des Baux, and spend time exploring Les Baux
- Indulge in local wines and oils, at a private tasting with an expert
- Travel to the Camargue and explore the waters of the Rhone delta by boat, on a private cruise
- Explore the marshlands of the Camargue on a guided ride
Why Book with Original Travel?
When To Travel
All of the holidays we create are completely tailor-made to you
Day 1: London to Avignon
Your tailor-made Provence road trip itinerary kicks off today as you drive to Folkstone for the Eurotunnel Le Shuttle service to take your car under the Channel to Calais in just 35 minutes. We recommend upgrading to FlexiPlus tickets to benefit from a dedicated check-in, access to the exclusive lounge serving complimentary non-alcoholic drinks and snacks, and priority boarding on the next available shuttle so you don't have to worry about catching a specific train. Alternatively, you can use this French road trip as one part of an epic road trip itinerary that starts in the UK.
Once you arrive in Calais, you'll be ready to wind your way south through France, towards Avignon. The direct drive from Calais would take around nine-and-a-half hours, so you'll want to make frequent stops, to stretch your legs, and to best break up the journey we recommend an overnight stay in Reims, the capital of the Champagne region. We will book you into a charming local hotel for the night.
Day 2: Avignon and onto the Baux Region of Provence
Today you'll be heading to Avignon, continuing to make your way through the French countryside, travelling south, towards Provence.
We can recommend stops en route, and the journey should take around six-and-a-half hours. When you arrive in Avignon, you'll want to stop for a bite to eat in this beautiful city, which is situated on the Rhone River. Go for a stroll along the medieval Pont Saint-Bénézet taking in the sights of the city, including the Palace of the Popes. A UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the largest and most important medieval, Gothic buildings in Europe, the Palais des Papes was the papal residence in the 14th century - it's well worth a visit for its impressive architecture and rich history. Home to many-a-museum, you might find it hard to pull yourself away from the streets of Avignon, for the next leg of your journey.
Time to jump back into your car and make your way to Baux-de-Provence, it's a 40-minute drive, travelling south from Avignon. Your destination is a charming Provencal farmhouse of your own. Drop your bags and start to explore the stunning house that is your base for the next three days.
The sun-drenched farmhouse oozes French-charm, with shady spots to snooze in the afternoon sun, listening to the gentle hum of bees buzzing around the lavender. Cool off in the large swimming pool and retreat from the heat of the sun in the large, cool rooms as you disconnect from the real world for a few days.
No need to worry about your dinner plans, we will have already reserved a table at the best place in town. Expect simple and delicious Provencal dishes, as you toast the first night of your Provence road trip.
Day 3: Exploring Antiquity in Glanum and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Take your time this morning, enjoying a leisurely breakfast before heading out for the day's adventure.
Today you'll be heading to Glanum, which is at the gates of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. A 20-minute drive from Les Baux de Provence, St Remy is well worth a visit for its Provencal charm alone, but it is also home to incredible Roman ruins (some of the most impressive in Provence) and, of course, the perfectly preserved ancient town of Glanum, all of which add to the town's appeal.
Glanum is just south of St Remy. Take a walk around this ancient city with a lovely location at the foot of a gorge in the foothills of the Alpilles. Founded in the 6th century BC, the town was a spiritual and religious centre, evident from its many temples. Driving from St Remy, you'll pass the Triumphal Arch and the Mausoleum before entering the town. Wander through the ancient streets, imagining the people who used to live there, before heading back to St Remy for a relaxed afternoon and a spot of lunch.
The town's streets of honey-coloured stone buildings give way to shaded squares dotted with cafes - the ideal place to while away a few hours in the heat of the afternoon.
Once you've had your fill of all that St Remy and its satellites have to offer, it's time to head back to your villa for a relaxed evening and a delicious meal.
Day 4: Exploring Baux de Provence
Today on your Provence road trip, you'll be staying around the village of Les Baux, to visit its crowning glory; the Château des Baux.
The clifftop castle's dramatic and maze-like ruins, dating from the 11th century, are a thrilling place to explore, especially for curious children. The castle was largely destroyed in 1633 during the reign of Louis XIII, but you'll be climbing up crumbling towers, taking in the beautiful Provencal panoramas, as well as descending into the depths to explore the dungeons. During the summer there is plenty of medieval-themed entertainment, from shows, to duels and demonstrations. On a clear day you can see all the way to the Mediterranean from the castle's walls.
Wandering the castle's ancient halls is a great way to build up an appetite. Head into Les Baux for a bite to eat (we can recommend the best bistros), or head back to your villa for lunch at your own pace and a relaxed, sunny afternoon.
Day 5: Wine Tasting and Travelling to the Camargue
This morning on your Provence road trip itinerary it's time to bid farewell to your villa, so pack your bags and jump in the car.
Your first stop today is the Château d'Estoublon; it's only a ten-minute drive from Les Baux, so you don't have far to go to enjoy this morning's activity. The impressive Château provides a beautiful backdrop for a morning of tasting local wines and olive oils, accompanied by an expert, to guide you through each product. While tasting, you can find out more about the secrets of wine and oil production in the area, as well as learning some tasting tips.
Following your wine tasting, it's time to head south to the wild and mysterious Camargue region. A 50-minute drive through Provencal countryside and into the marshlands of the Camargue will take you to your home for the next three nights.
Your destination is a charming farmhouse on the edge of the Etang des Launes (the lake of the moons). This farmhouse will be your base for exploring the Camargue's maze of salt flats, etangs (small saltwater lakes) and marshland, dotted with farmland - the house offers beautiful views of the area's unique landscape.
Take your time, relaxing into your new home before heading out for dinner - you have a reservation at the best of the local restaurants, where you can expect fresh and delicious local produce.
Day 6: Exploring the Waterways by Boat and Discovering Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer
Today you will be exploring the capital of the Camargue - Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. Medieval legend had it that Mary Magdalene sailed to France after Jesus's crucifixion and made landfall here so the white-washed seaside town, dotted with salt-licked buildings, is a pilgrimage site, but also your starting point for your day at sea.
In order to see the best that the area has to offer, you'll be jumping on a boat for a private trip on the waves. Your skipper will navigate the Mediterranean waters, away from the crowds, so you can take in the beauty of the Rhône delta. As lunchtime draws closer, you will moor up on a deserted beach for a bite to eat, in complete privacy, enjoying the peace and quiet of this exceptional place.
Once your boat returns to shore, you have the rest of the day to yourself.
Day 7: Riding in the Camargue
This morning, on your Provence road trip, it's time to take to the beaches on horseback, to explore the wild beauty of the marshy landscape.
The native and semi-feral Camargue horse is an iconic symbol of the Camargue region. Thought to be one of the oldest breeds of horse in the world, these white horses are traditionally ridden by Camargue Cowboys, also known as the gardian. Accompanied by an expert guide, you will be able to explore the marshland, getting a 'cowboy' view of the area from your faithful steed and seeing the Camargue's black bulls and stands of pink flamingos.
After a morning of cowboy fun, you have the rest of the day to spend as you wish, perhaps popping into Arles or Nimes, two more pretty cities with impressive Roman heritage.
- If you are looking - an optional, additional activity for today, we can arrange a private 4x4 Camargue safari led by an expert guide.
Day 8: Start Heading Home
Today marks the end of your Provence road trip, it's time to pack up the car and get ready for the homeward journey. You'll be heading north, back towards Calais. It's a long drive through the French countryside, so take as many stops as you need en route to Reims. After seven hours on the road, reach Reims for another overnight stay, or we can recommend an alternative overnight stop.
Day 9: Arrive Home
Your road trip is coming to an end today. After making it to Calais on time, you'll speed under the Channel using the Eurotunnel service (again we'd recommend FlexiPlus so you can put the car on the first available train on arrival at Calais) before driving home from Folkestone.
Harriet, Kate L and Charlotte H are our experts for this itinerary and as seasoned travellers they have the inside track on the most memorable adventures.