There can’t be many places more perfect than St Rémy de Provence. Situated 20km south of Avignon this ancient Roman town is now a mecca for wine lovers, painters and holidaymakers alike. Marked for its deep purple landscape due to the lavender meadows, this is the place to come and fall in love with. We’ve picked the five best things to see in this year-round favourite...
Mercredi marche in St Remy © St Remy Tourism Office
A real treat for visitors, the local market takes place on Wednesdays and Saturdays. A feast of aromas and fragrances, you’ll be bowled over by the choice of artisanal goodies. It’s worth a stroll for the food alone. Don’t miss the olives, a regional speciality or the appetising saucissons secs (similar to salami), and of course the cheese... Olive oils and local wines are also a must. Aside from food all the Provencal souvenirs are always a pleasure too, from lavender based products to soaps and textiles in typical Provencal prints. Just the spot for a stroll followed by a coffee in the shade of the platanes or perhaps a cheeky ice cream?
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Le Domaine De Manville
© Le Domaine De Manville
The one-time working farm, and local golf course in the Alpilles National Park has been revamped into a glorious country retreat. Set in a 100 hectare estate, with a gourmet kitchen run by Head Chef Steve Deconinck, this is a truly charming hideaway with a mouthwatering menu that includes favourites like poached king crab bathed in olive oil, lobster Breton and the chef’s melt-in-the-mouth mash. To finish? The chocolate parfait is perfection...
Other trimmings include a pristine 18 hole golf course, the pool, 30 stylish bedrooms revamped by local designer, Annie Zéau and a private cinema. The lovely spa features Beauty By Clinica Ivo Pitanguy products and its own homegrown range specially made for the Domaine using local products – Maritime pine, olive oil, verbena and Provençal lavender - another must-go destination for those in search of relaxation. www.domainedemanville.fr
The area around St Remy is rich with vines. Fertile lands and a clement climate make for the ideal vineyards and thus the perfect place to explore for wine amateurs, be it red, white or rose. With the IGP Apilles or AOP Vallée des Baux de Provence labels, the local winemakers are also making forays into organic wine growing. Worth visiting are the Chateau Romanin, famous for its castle ruins and its cellar tasting sessions, the Domaine de Lagoy for its organic fruity IGP Alpilles reds and roses and the Domaine Dalmeran where you can take a walk in the beautiful gardens, lunch on the terrace, admire the Baux or appreciate some jazz while sampling the limited edition gourmet wines.
Les Baux De Provence
Les Baux De Provence © Relais & Chateaux
One of France’s most picturesque villages, set amidst the rocky outcrops of the beautiful Alpilles mountain range (the last before the Mediterranean), Les Baux de Provence blends perfectly into its natural ochre backdrop. Overlooking the valley and surroundings, its dramatic location makes it a unique sight, as well as its higgledy piggeldy narrow, shady streets and Provencal houses, all golden stone and grey shutters.
The village is topped with castle ruins, and home to several charming restaurants and cafes, as well as souvenir shops and art galleries - so just the thing for a day out. Hiking around in the Alpilles is also a must do for sportier types. www.lesbauxdeprovence.com
Le Vallon De Valrugues
© Francois Philipp/Flickr
For a lunchtime treat, head to the Hotel Vallon de Valrugues & Spa where its new chef, Thibaut Serin Moulin is spoiling guests according to his motto 'Bien manger, c'est le début du bonheur!’ ie to 'Eat well is the start of happiness'. Having trained with the best, including Eric Briffard (2 Michelin stars) at the Plaza-Athénée and Anne-Sophie Pic (3 Michelin stars) at the Maison Pic, his restaurant, Château de Courcelles, also earned it’s own star in 2014.
Settle down in the shade of the sycamore trees and sample melon with a twist, cooked and raw with foie gras and balsamic or scampi in coconut mousseline and pesto followed by local Ventoux pork confit in lemon or Camargue bull with Provencal ratatouille. For desert don’t miss the poached peach infused with red berries... Chemin Canto Cigalo, 13210 Saint-Rémy-de-Provence www.vallondevalrugues.com