A Love Letter (and Guide) to Provence

We take you off the beaten track for a local's guide to our beloved Provence. Centred around three discreet villages of Venasque, Carpentras and Pernes les Fontaines — we share our intel for the very best places to stay, shop and eat, in the most beautiful region of France.

Stay

A few days at Crillon le Brave is the perfect combination of rustic charm and discreet luxury. In the heart of Vaucluse this 5-star hideaway feels wonderfully private. Built in Crillon stone around a 17th century church, secret passages and a labyrinth of rooms flank the two hotel restaurants and intimate bar. The rooms are romantic and vast, with each window and terrace framing a new postcard view of olive groves and vineyards. To complete your stay, they boast their renowned Spa des Écuries with exclusive Tata Harper treatments.

The Château de Mazan is a more palatial choice, a lovingly renovated fairy tale building dressed in Louis XV style furniture and soft colours that transport you very glamorously, back in time. The historic gardens that surround the château are charming and include an ornamental swimming pool worth the visit alone. Take part in a game of boules on their pétanque court and indulge in traditional French cuisine at the in-house restaurant La Cour du Château.

Shop

L’atelier de chauffe in Pernes les Fontaines is a cabinet de curiosités with antiques and objects, and one-off art pieces — exactly the kind of charm you'll want to return home with.

The ultimate stop for all your picnic provisions is L’Epicerie Originale in Venasque. A modern take on a classic French deli — you'll find the very best of French cheese, bread, vegetables and more.

For style, look no further than Parenthèse by Catherine Tisserant. An icon in her own right, Catherine's concept store stocks carefully selected ceramics and chic laid-back clothing made with expert workmanship. Catherine is on-hand for expert advice and is a must-stop for any discerning French woman.

Lunch

Café de la Place in Pernes les Fontaines is a very cool spot brimming with energy and nostalgic charm. A large outdoor seating area, gingham tablecloths, the freshest moules frites and an ornate bar come together to complete the perfect bistro picture.

For a more polished lunch, head to renowned truffle specialists Chez Serge in Carpentras. The kitchen is headed up by female chef Emilie Villon who works alongside founder Serge, they both share a love for seasonal produce — reserve a table under the grapevines.

Dinner

In the old town of Avignon, Pollen is a Michelin Star fine dining restaurant by Chef Mathieu Desmarest. The high quality dishes are presented into a single set menu with a concise selection of complementing wines. It's closed on weekends and its popularity requires booking well in advance.

If it's really great seafood and a lively atmosphere you are after, then Bistro du Large is for you. The service and panoramic view is a charming addition to the decor, impeccably presented dishes and fantastic wine.

We have a sweet tooth so cannot resist a good patisserie — Maison Jouvaud is the destination for home made chocolates in Carpentras. Try their speciality chocolate covered almonds and leave with some “les gateaux de voyage” (cakes for travelling)!

Markets

Discovering local markets is a quintessential Provence experience. There's a charming market in Venasque in the summer on Friday evenings from 6pm until 8pm. On the weekends, Saturday mornings at Pernes les Fontaines followed by lunch at Cafe Brocante is an idyllic way to indulge in leisure time.