Schöne Orte in der Provence

Provence sights: our tips around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

More than half a year has passed since our trip to Provence. So it’s high time to write down the beautiful memories here on the blog. And who knows, maybe you’re thinking about taking a trip to Provence this summer and still looking for tips? Then you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we have put together our highlights around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence for you. The charming small town in the south of France is ideally suited as a base to explore the diverse sights in the triangle Avignon – Arles – Luberon.

Beschauliche Basis: Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is located about 20 kilometres south of Avignon at the foot of the Alpilles. The limestone chain is also the namesake of the Regional Natural Park of the same name, which stretches from Cavaillon to Arles and is characterized by extensive vineyards, olive plantations, orchards and cypress hedges. In this idyll, a city was founded as early as 500 years before Christ under the name “Glanum”. Today’s Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is considered one of the oldest cities in France.

For visitors to Provence who are interested in art, this historical component is of secondary importance. In Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, you will follow in the footsteps of Vincent van Gogh. He spent a year in the sanatorium Saint-Paul-de-Mausole and created some of his most important works during this time. The two-kilometre-long themed trail “Les Paysages de Vincent van Gogh” passes a total of 19 places where the famous artist set up his easel during his time in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence from May 1889 to May 1890. The theme trail starts in front of the Musée Estrine in the middle of the picturesque old town.

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence Gassen

Fein Essen in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

For me, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is the perfect example of a laid-back Provençal small town; in the summer months well attended, but not overcrowded. We immediately felt comfortable strolling through the pretty old town alleys. However, the decisive reason why we chose Saint-Rémy-de-Provence as our base was neither the historic past nor Vincent van Gogh. No – if you know us well, you know that we are often guided by the culinary component when making travel decisions. And that was highly the case here! With the l’Auberge de Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and the Restaurant de Tourrel, the small town scores with two first-class star restaurants.

And in one of them – l’Auberge de Saint-Rémy-de-Provence – Fanny Rey is finally the focus of attention on a female top chef. This inspired us so much that we not only reserved a table at l’Auberge de Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, but also checked into the associated hotel for two nights (room rates from 270 euros/night (partner link).

Auberge Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

I can only warmly recommend all foodies out there to plan a stop at l’Auberge de Saint-Rémy-de-Provence when making a trip to Provence. The ambiance, the service as well as the great vegetable-heavy tasting menu were perfect all around!

Tomate Fanny Rey Jonathan Wahid Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Unfortunately, it is not possible for me to say which of the two Michelin-starred restaurants is ahead in a direct comparison, as the Restaurant de Tourrel received a closed party on our second evening. Well, what a pity. Instead, we switched to the “roof terrace“, where a menu is also served. In terms of sophistication, it is logically miles away from l’Auberge de Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, but still a really chill location to really celebrate the balmy summer evenings over Provence.

And if you like stylish design hotels, it’s best to take a quick look at the website of the Hotel de Tourrel. The accommodation looks really chic (room rates from 280 CHF/night)!

What to see around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

We explored Provence by rental car. And in this case, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is really the best base. Directly in front of the old town (about five minutes walk from the l’Auberge de Saint-Rémy-de-Provence) there is a large (free) parking lot. It doesn’t get any more practical than that. From here, you can reach Arles – a mecca of art and culture as well as a starting point for the Camargue – and Avignon in just under thirty minutes. It doesn’t take much longer to drive to some of the most beautiful villages in the Luberon.

Not all sights in the area are equally accessible by public transport. In this case, the connections run from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence by bus in a star shape via Avignon. However, if you allow enough time for this and are flexible, this is also possible in principle.

Below I show you the sights that we explored from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

Tip 1: Multifaceted Arles

Once the provincial capital of the Roman Empire, Arles, located on the Rhône, is once again rising to the ranks of internationally acclaimed city break destinations. One of the initiators here is the Swiss patron of the arts, Maja Hofmann. In 2010, it acquired an industrial wasteland in the immediate vicinity of the historic city centre and, in collaboration with renowned architects and artists, developed it into the “LUMA Arles” art and culture complex, which opened in the summer of 2021.

The hoped-for “Bilbao effect” worked for me, at least. It was clear to me that we “must” spend one day of our Provence trip in Arles. And this time was absolutely right. For me, Arles with its impressive architectural witnesses from the era of the Roman Empire, the LUMA and the Fondation Vincent Van Gogh is one of the absolute Provence sightseeing highlights.

The best place to start a walking tour of Arles is right in front of the monumental Arles amphitheatre. The important building and the main attraction of Arles is one of six Roman and Romanesque monuments that have been UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1981. Right next to it, you can also visit the Ancient Theatre, the Forum with its underground portico (cryptoportico) and the former Saint-Trophime Cathedral.

You can buy the entrance ticket directly on site. We opted for the 9 Euro combination ticket, which gives you access to the amphitheater and the Ancient Theater. If you want to visit all the ancient sights, then it may be worth buying the “Pass Liberté” (12 euros for an optional four admissions).

Roman Theatre Arles
Arles Provence

We, on the other hand, preferred to use our time for an extensive tour of the LUMA. Thanks to the striking 56 m high tower designed by Frank Gehry, the new art mecca is hard to miss. The great thing about LUMA is that it’s free! The tower – from which, by the way, you can enjoy a brilliant view over Arles – the art exhibitions and the parks are freely accessible to all. The only requirement is that you reserve a “ticket”. This serves to guide visitors (the number of “tickets” per hour is limited to 200). It is therefore worthwhile to reserve your ticket early.

Luma Arles
Spiral Staircase Arles

LUMA Arles Free admission | Opening hours: Wednesday to Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. | Further information:

We could have easily spent a full day at LUMA. Especially since the annual “Les Rencontres de la Photographie” with other exhibitions also took place during our stay. In the early afternoon, however, our growling stomachs led us back to the old town of Arles, where we enjoyed a light but very delicious lunch in the restaurant “L’Antonelle le Bistrot“.

Antonelle le Bistrot Arles

Last but not least, we paid a visit to the Fondation Vincent van Gogh. In addition to a few works by Vincent van Gogh, the museum focuses on works by contemporary artists who are in their own way in a context with Vincent van Gogh’s work. In my opinion, absolutely worth seeing – but if you expect van Gogh pictures here, you are in the wrong place!

Fondation van Gogh Arles

Fondation Vincent van Gogh | Admission 10 Euro | Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. | More information: Accès & horaires

Tip 2: Roman Witness – Pont du Gard

Another UNESCO World Heritage Site that can be easily visited from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is the Pont du Gard. It is considered the world’s tallest aqueduct and is another impressive structure from the time of the Roman Empire. Access to the Pont du Gard is similarly regulated to Le Mont-Saint-Michel, which we visited on our France road trip in winter 2021/2022. There are official car parks on both sides of the river, within walking distance of the Pont du Gard, which cost 9 euros per day, regardless of the number of people in the car and the length of stay.

Pont du Gard Provence
Fluss Gardon bei der Pont du Gard

The parking spaces are signposted accordingly. We used the one on the “Rive Gauche”. The walk from there to the riverbank takes a good ten minutes. As you can see from the pictures, people also like to swim in the Gardon right next to the aqueduct in summer.

Tip 3: The bridge (and more) of Avignon

While we found a good parking space at the Pont du Gard as well as in Arles and were otherwise pleasantly surprised that the crowds were kept within a manageable framework, the whole thing in Avignon turned out to be a bit more challenging. At the first attempt, we paid a flying visit to Fort Saint-André on the opposite side of Avignon. From the fortress you can enjoy a beautiful view of Avignon. Equipped with a telephoto lens (which we weren’t), this would be one of the top photo spots for postcard subjects of the old town of Avignon.

On the second attempt, we wanted to visit the city center of Avignon in the late afternoon on the way back from Arles, but failed to find a parking space. So the next morning (early) we made our way again to the former “papal city” and succeeded. The fact that there was so much going on in Avignon may also have been due to the fact that we were there during the Festival d’Avignon. The theatre, dance and song festival takes place in the last three weeks of July.

From the “Allées de l’Oulle” car park, which is located outside the massive city walls, we first walked to the viewing platform on the Jardin des Doms. On the way there, you will catch beautiful views of the famous “Pont d’Avignon” (which is actually called Pont Saint-Bénézet). At the top of the observation deck, the ascent is rewarded with a panoramic view of the city.

Pont d'Avignon

Afterwards we take the steps down to the papal fortress of Avignon. Between the 14th and 15th centuries, various popes resided here. Today, the Palace of the Popes is considered one of the largest Gothic buildings in Europe and is undoubtedly the most important attraction of Avignon.

Papstpalast Avignon

For fans of green façades, I can also recommend a detour to Les Halles d’Avignon in Avignon. The vertical garden is the work of pioneer Patrick Blanc. And if you’re looking for a café in a secluded place, then pay a visit to the Grand Café Barretta.

Les Halles d'Avignon

We spent almost half a day in Avignon. This is enough to get a first impression of the winding old town and to marvel at the most important sights from the outside. If you want to see more, you should also plan (at least) a full day for Avignon.

Tip 4: Day trip to the Luberon

After two days of sightseeing in Arles and Avignon, crammed with cultural highlights, we followed the country roads from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence in a northeasterly direction to the Luberon on the third day. The plateau with its rolling hills, lavender fields, and pretty villages is one of the most picturesque areas of Provence. From Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, you can either take a kind of “mini-road trip” through the Luberon in one day or – as we did – choose the route through the Luberon in such a way that you can reach your next destination in the neighbouring department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence.

Among the villages of the Luberon, five belong to the so-called “Les plus beaux villages de France”; Gordes, Ansouis, Lourmarin, Ménebres and Roussillon. For us, Gordes and Roussillon were on the way. In Gordes we only stopped briefly at the “Gordes Lookout Parking” (you can find it with this name on Google Maps). I was prepared for a car chaos – surprisingly, this was not the case. Perhaps this was also due to the fact that the lavender bloom was already over. Not far from the Lookout is a very popular lavender blossom photo spot…

Gordes Luberon

In ochre Roussillon there was a little more going on. We parked at the “Parking des Sablons” and walked from there to the starting point of the Sentier de Ocres. Since the places to stop for refreshments here didn’t really convince us, we made our way to the hills after a short tour of the village.

Le Sentier des Ocres Roussillon

While looking for interesting restaurants along the way, I had discovered “Le Bistrot de Lagarde” in the middle of nowhere. The drive there takes us over a winding, narrow pass road. Technically, however, no problem at all, because not a single car comes towards us on the whole route. The bistro is then also a real hit. If you want to be entertained away from the hustle and bustle at the top of a pass by a young, ambitious, very friendly host couple – this is exactly the right place for you!

Le Bistrot de Lagarde Luberon

My tip: It’s best to call in advance and ask for a free table. This will save you from any disappointment. You can find the contact details on the restaurant’s website.

More tips around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

  • We visited Saint-Rémy-de-Provence at the end of July. The summer months are hot and low in water (risk of forest fires). I found the time of travel ideal in that we were able to enjoy a few really nice summer days and at the same time the area did not seem as crowded as secretly feared. This is probably because the lavender bloom was already over.
  • With the exception of Avignon, we found free parking spaces everywhere without any problems. In each case, we deliberately chose paid parking spaces on the outskirts of the city and avoided the city centres.
  • We visited the places and sights described in this article within three days. In doing so, we had to set priorities – but we were aware of that.
  • If you want to make a detour from Arles to the Camarque or towards Nîmes, you should extend your stay to at least five days.
  • Other places worth seeing in the area are Châteauneuf-du-Pape and the Abbaye de Montmajour.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *