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The Best Spots for a Family Trip To Provence

Below, a question from a reader.


Q

Next year is a big birthday for me so I’m gathering up friends and family and heading to Provence. It’s such a vast region and I need our home base to be in an area that offers:

  • A charming town with at least a few restaurants and shops.

  • Close to vineyards for the wine lovers.

  • Less than an hour’s drive to the sea for the beach combers.

  • Not crazy touristy (we are tourists but hope for a slightly more organic experience)…

A

La Colombe d’Or in Saint-Paul de Vence, where rock stars and cognoscenti stay, sounds fantastic. Artists like Picasso, Miro, Braque, Chagall and Calder stayed here and you can see their contributions throughout the hotel. Guests of the hotel have their own table guaranteed at the popular restaurant for every night of their stay. I hear the service is outstanding.

Saint-Paul de Vence is a medieval town that is basically intact and full of interior design boutiques, art galleries, and gourmet shops. It does tend to be touristy, so one suggestion is to go during the off-season. The famous Fondation Maeght—the home of an incredible Modern and Contemporary Art collection—is in St. Paul and most definitely worth a visit. The Fondation also owns the nearby Le Mas Bernard vineyard. Le Mas wines are a rare treat, as you won’t find them sold in the United States.

I had the most terrific meal at La Chevre d’Or in Cote d’Azur (so not in Provence, but nearby and still highly recommended). Not only was the food there out of this world, but the view from the dining room was breathtaking. I can only imagine staying there would be the same. The town of Eze, where it’s located, is a true medieval village that overlooks the sea.

Finally, the Grand Hotel Nord Pinus in Arles is the place to stay in the culturally booming city. The historic hotel has welcomed people like Picasso and Napoleon and the hotel’s decor has a funky lived-in feel. Arles cannot be beat for Provencal culture, and this hotel is one of its fixtures. A short journey from the hotel is the Camargue, an enormous and beautiful wildlife reserve.

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