Gay Guide • PROVENCE | Itineraries, Tips and What to See | Practical Complete LGBT Friendly
GAY FRIENDLY PROVENCE
Travel solutions with itineraries to discover all the wonders of this destination, places not to be missed, tips about where to sleep and what to eat, and above all many small special tips to enjoy your journey !
The Violet of the Lavender Fields, the candid white of the Camargue Horses, the Yellow of the sweet local Honey, the green of the Vineyards of the Avignon area, the Blue of the Côte d'Azur and the shades of Roman antiquity. These are just some of the fantastic colors you will find in this magical region of the South of France.
Visiting this destination at its best depends essentially on how long you have to fully enjoy it. Here is a solution based on the number of days available to you:
Day 1 - Marsiglia - Google Maps
Extra - Calanques (da Marsiglia) - Google Maps
Day 2 - Aix-en-Provence, Salon de Provence & Martigues - Google Maps
Day 3 - Arles & Camargue - Google Maps
Day 4 - Avignone & Châteauneuf-du-Pape - Google Maps
Extra - Pont du Gard & Nimes (da Avignone) - Google Maps
Day 5 - Luberon - Google Maps
Day 6 - Campi di Lavanda & Valensole - Google Maps
Day 7 - Gorges du Verdon - Google Maps
Day 8 - Nizza - Google Maps
Extra - Costa Azzurra (Eze, Principato di Monaco & Menton) - Google Maps
Extra - Costa Azzurra (St Tropez, Cannes & Antibes) - Google Maps
(By opening the Maps with Google, you can easily follow our itinerary)
Click'n'Go - Click on the places to find them on the Map
WHAT TO SEE in PROVENCE?
10 THINGS TO SEE in PROVENCE
The second largest city in France is in a fantastic location on the Mediterranean coast with some attractions that will blow your mind.Although chaotic and very busy, this city is a must see on a trip to Provence. Of the different districts of Marseille, the one we prefer is the old port, a pleasant place with a very lively atmosphere. Don't miss a visit to the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica and an excursion to the fantastic Calanques or the Isle of If.
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One of the main attractions to see in Provence are undoubtedly the lavender fields that color this area every summer between mid-June and mid-August. Sitting in the middle of a flowery field, smelling lavender and listening to the buzz of bees is one of the most romantic things to do. The fields don't all bloom at the same time, so plan your visit to the fields as best you can.
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You cannot visit Provence without spending some time in the spectacular landscapes of the Camargue, a world apart with marshy lands, fishing villages, lagoons with large groups of pink flamingos and fields where native white horses run, the main symbols ofthis land.
Rural and traditional, with its mountain villages, its vineyards, its lavender fields and its ancient abbeys, the Luberon valley is the most idyllic image of Provence. Here, life flows quietly: you shop at the weekly market, taste wines, or stroll through the villages like those of Gordes and Roussillon. It is also a perfect area for outdoor activities, with many hiking trails to explore (e.g. the Calavon River canyons) and cycle paths (such as the disused Véloroute du Calavon railway). Don't miss the Sénanque Abbey, immersed in the purple of lavender.
The city with the most impressive historic center to visit in Provence is undoubtedly Avignon. The sites that stand out in this fantastic medieval complex are the Palace of the Popes, the beautiful Bridge of Avignon, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame-des-Doms, the Petit Palais and the city walls. In addition to visiting these main places, we also recommend that you get lost in the cobbled streets of the historic center or enjoy the atmosphere of the city squares.
Nice & French Riviera
Nice is undoubtedly the most important city on the Côte d'Azur and is one of the most popular destinations in Provence. Known as a holiday destination for wealthy people, Nice has a beautiful old town with Baroque churches and numerous museums. What we like most about Nice is the view from the Castle Hill (Colline du Château). In addition to magical Nice, don't miss other wonderful cities such as Cannes, St Tropez, the perched village of Eze or the Principality of Monaco. Furthermore, the Cote d'Azur is a fantastic natural paradise with dream beaches and rocky coves.
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The Verdon Gorge
The Gorges du Verdon are one of the most spectacular natural sites that can be encountered on the journey through Provence. The Verdon River flows for a stretch of 25 kilometers between truly amazing vertical walls that in some places reach 700 meters in height. The most popular activity is kayaking.
Aix en Provence
One of the most elegant cities to visit in Provence and one of the most beautiful in all of France. The bourgeois atmosphere, the fantastic cultural and architectural heritage, the elegant squares and the daily markets contribute to the charm of this city.
If you are fond of history and ancient ruins, one of the cities to see in Provence is Arles. This city on the banks of the Rhone, where Van Gogh also stayed for a period, is rich in traces of the Roman and medieval times. Don't miss the Roman amphitheater, the underground galleries and the Baths of Constantine.
The Provençal town famous for the ancient theater, the only one in Europe that still retains the stage wall (the other two are in Syria and Tunisia).
Provence is a region that really offers many different ideas and itineraries, depending on your passions, here are some itineraries that we suggest (click on the name to open the itinerary):
Itinerary "Provençal Villages"
10 MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES to SEE in PROVENCE
This wonderful Luberon village perched on a spur of rock is simply spectacular, in fact it is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Provence and all of France. It is a real pleasure to get lost in its cobbled streets with a peaceful medieval atmosphere, visit its castle or contemplate the glimpses of the surrounding landscape that have inspired many artists such as Marc Chagall.
In the heart of the Luberon, it is one of the most picturesque villages to visit in Provence and is famous for its ocher-colored houses that take on a different appearance depending on the light. In the outskirts of the town it is possible to visit the area of the old mine where ocher was extracted. The "Sentier des Ocres" (Path of the Okra) is a very easy path to walk that will leave you speechless.
A little gem in the western Camargue completely enclosed by walls and perfectly preserved. One of the most scenic places to view Aigues-Mortes is from the pink salt flats outside the walls. Lose yourself in the refined shops of master chocolatiers, craft shops and bistros where you can sip a good glass of wine.
Also known as the Venice of Provence, it is one of the most beautiful cities to see in southern France. Its riverside cafes, water mills still in operation and the typical Nego Chin boats that can be found along the river, contribute to the beauty of the place.
Perched atop a mountain range in the Alpilles. The ruins of the castle dominate the views of this village of just 400 inhabitants and walking through its medieval streets and among the ruins of picturesque houses will transport you to the past.
Located on a hill, it is one of the Luberon villages that can be seen from many points in the region. Recognizable for its large bell tower and beautiful terracotta houses. It is worth climbing the 86 steps of the church for a panoramic view of the area which is especially beautiful in the summer when the lavender fields turn purple.
Saint-Paul de Vence
This small and romantic medieval village on the Côte d'Azur stands on the mountain and is full of artisan shops and artists' studios. Do not miss its romantic squares, the spectacular views of the valley and the Chapelle du Rosaire painted by Matisse. In this place artisans and painters live and it has always been a favorite destination for artists and intellectuals.
A village that looks like it came out of a storybook. White houses, many restaurants where you can taste the typical dishes of the area and an endless beach of white sand.
Saint-Remy de Provence is one of the most famous villages in French Provence and is the city that inspired Van Gogh. We recommend that you discover the city by following the "footsteps" of the painter looking for the views that inspired him.
This area is also known as Provençal Colorado for the ocher quarries with columns and pyramids ranging in color from yellow to orange to red.
PROVENZA on THE ROAD - VINTAGE VAN EXPERIENCE
Imagine yourself in Vintage Volkswagen Camper Van, endless purple fields of lavender and two guys full of adventure spirit: the result is something unforgettable! Thanks to Yes Provence (click here for more info) and Vintage Roads we crossed Provence aboard our new inseparable friend Combi, a vintage 1970s Van in a beautiful Mustard Yellow. In the pre-selection phase you can ask for different colors (depending on availability) and choose for different travel options: one or more drivers, the regions and the area you want to visit, the mileage, etc. The procedure for booking (via website or email) and for the car service are really simple, just download the appropriate Vintage Roads App and that's it (we only had some problems to download it from the Apple Store Italian, but Vintage Roads staff helped on site and completed the procedure easily).
But now let's start our journey!
Starting from Berre-l'Étang, just outside Marseille, our adventure began in the Camargue region, among white horses, bulls and pink flamingos. After the impressive Aigues-Mortes salt flats we reached our first campsite in the heart of the Camargue. The Van proved immediately functional, we cooked thanks to the supplied gas stove (along with a table, chairs and a complete set of pans and dishes for four people) and enjoyed our early evening as campers. As night approached, we raised the roof of the Van et voilà, our room was ready. The experience of sleeping in a vintage Van was a sensation that we will never forget. Falling asleep with the chirping of birds thinking about the kilometers traveled and those still to go the next day, is priceless. The next morning, breakfast and again on the march towards the fields of the Gard and Provence region, through Nimes, Pont du Gard and towards Avignon where we spent the night. The van is very comfortable to drive, just get used to the absence of the power steering and remember not to exceed 90 km / h. Thanks to our legendary travel friend we have rediscovered the pleasure of crossing Provence admiring his wonderful landscapes from the window. Our journey continued towards the Luberon villages (Gordes and Roussillon). But the best moment was when we headed towards the lavender fields of Valensole at sunset. Before our eyes a spectacle we could not believe: endless expanses of lavender illuminated by the warm light of the sun, the two of us, our van and no one else .. we will never forget these moments. Our road trip then continued towards the Gorges du Verdon to Aix-en-Provence for a short ride and to spend our last night aboard the van. The following morning, in fact, we returned to the starting point to return it. We were very sorry to abandon it and, we must admit, we also about to cry. The experience of a road trip aboard a vintage Van is something we would recommend to everyone. There are certainly no comforts of a night in a hotel and you have to adapt a bit, but believe us, it's really worth it. Ah, we almost forgot.. thanks to our travel friend we snatched a lot of smiles from the people we met and we were the protagonists of many of their photographs.
BEST THINGS TO DO in PROVENCE
Wine Tasting in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape vineyards
A medieval village with a castle (it was the summer residence of the Avignon Popes) overlooking the lavender fields. This area is famous for its wine and there are many vineyards that offer tastings and sell their products. Think that there is also the Musée du Vin, to learn more about the history of the area and its good wine.
Admire the famous white horses (and cowboys) of the Camargue
At the mouth of the Rhone River, on an island where the river divides, you will find French cowboys raising black bulls and riding white horses through the marshes. This area is also famous for its amazing variety of wild birds, including pink flamingos. If bird watching is your thing, don't miss the Parc Ornithologique du Pont-de-Gau, just north of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
Buy Vintages Items in L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
If you are fond of antiques, L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is the city you have been looking for. Close to Avignon, you will find more than 300 shops selling antiques, porcelain, glass, furniture, paintings and anything you can imagine.
Climb Mount Ventoux
A mountain of almost 2000 meters in the middle of the flat territory of Provence (for this reason it is nicknamed the Giant of Provence).
Excursions to the Dentelles de Montmirail
The Dentelles de Montmirail is a mountain range surrounded by terraced vineyards and olive groves, the perfect place to take some nice hikes.
Visit the Mercantour National Park and the Valley of Wonders
The Mercantour National Park is a vast mountain park to the east near the Italian border where it is possible to meet chamois, ibex, golden eagles and birds of prey, partridges and many other species. One of the most spectacular walks to do inside the Park is the Vallée des Merveilles (the Valley of Wonders), with rock carvings from the Bronze Age.
Visit a soap factory in Salon de Provence
There are two of Savonnerie (Marius Fabre and Savonnerie Rampal Latour). In the 19th century, the cultivation of olive trees and the oil trade were one of the main resources of Salon which, following the example of Marseille, began the production of soap and became one of the main regional centers of oil and soap trade.
Follow the footsteps in the cities that inspired the painters of the past
There are many places in Provence where you can retrace the footsteps of great artists. Undoubtedly one of the places not to be missed is Cézanne's studio in Aix-en-Provence. In Cagne-sur-Mer, on the other hand, you can visit Renoir's studio, now transformed into a museum. Continuing towards Vence do not miss the Chapelle du Rosaire designed by Matisse. In Saint-Paul de Vence, a beautiful medieval village, After strolling among the quaint shops and art workshops of this wonderful medieval village, Saint-Paul de Vence, head to the Maeght Foundation dedicated to modern and contemporary art. Heading south, stop at Mougins, where Picasso was portrayed in many photographs. In Vallauris, the National Picasso Museum "War and Peace" awaits you. Continue on to Antibes to visit the Picasso Museum in the Château Grimaldi.
BEST EVENTS of PROVENCE
Avignon Festival (July)
One of the most important artistic events in France with theatrical, cinematographic, musical and dance representations enliven the city. (For more info www.festival-avignon.com).
Corso de la Lavande (August)
The lavender festival held every year in Digne les Bains. Stalls with lavender-based products festively decorated floats cheer up the streets of the city (www.ot-dignelesbains.fr).
Bravade of St. Tropez (May)
The feast in honor of the patron saint of St. Tropez. The statue of the saint is carried in procession to the beach (www.ot-saint-tropez.com).
Pilgrimage of the Gypsies to Saintes Maries de la Mer (May)
Gypsies from all over Europe flock to Saintes Maries de la Mer to honor their patron Saint Sara. Traditional costumes, dances and rodeos are the protagonists of these days.
Musica Festival (21th June)
A national holiday with many events and musical appointments in all regions. The streets of the cities are animated by singers, orchestras and street artists (http://fetedelamusique.culture.fr)
Tarascon Festival of Tarascon (June)
It is held every year on the second weekend of June to commemorate the defeat of the legendary Tarasca, a monster who, according to legend, destroyed Provence (www.tarascon.org)
WHERE TO STAY in PROVENCE?
BEST LGBT FRIENDLY HOTELS & APARTMENTS in PROVENCE
Marseille - Hôtel La Residence Du Vieux Port **** ® Tested by World Mappers
Marseille - Château Beaupin ****
Nizza (French Riviera) - Arome Hotel Nice *** ® Tested by World Mappers
Nizza (French Riviera) - Mercure Nice Promenade Des Anglais ****
Nizza (French Riviera) - Hotel Le Negresco *****
Aix-en-Provence - Boutique Hôtel Cézanne ****
Aix-en-Provence - Negrecoste Hôtel & Spa ****
Aix-en-Provence - Hôtel Artea Aix Centre ***
Avignon - ibis Avignon Centre Gare ***
Avignon - Clos St Pierre de Fraisse
Avignon - Les Loges En Provence "Villa Garrigue"
Bonnieux (Luberon) - Le Domaine de Capelongue
Gordes (Luberon) - Hôtel Le Jas de Gordes ****
Saint-Tropez (French Riviera) - Villa Bacchus (Gay Hotel)
WHERE TO EAT in PROVENCE?
BEST TYPICAL RESTAURANTS of PROVENCE Quality / Price
Marseille - €€ - Chez Étienne (Typical)
Marseille - €€ - Le Miramar (Delicious Bouillabaisse!)
Martigues - €€ - L'Authentique - Restaurant Martigues
Aix-en-Provence - €€ - Angelina
Aix-en-Provence - €€ - Le 18
Manosque - €€€ - Restaurant les incontournables
Valensole - €€ - Le P'tit Resto
Gordes (Luberon) - €€ - La Trinquette
Roussillon (Luberon) - €€ - Le Bistrot
Ménerbes (Luberon) - €€ - Bistrot le 5
Bonnieux (Luberon) - €€ - Le Fournil
Bonnieux (Luberon) - €€ - L'arôme restaurant
Aigues-Mortes (Camargue) - €€ - La Camargue
Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer (Camargue) - €€ - La Table des Baumelles
Avignon - €€ - Restaurant L'Épicerie
Avignon - €€ - Restaurant Le Bercail (Pont d'Avignon View)
Arles - €€ - La Gueule du Loup
Cannes (French Riviera) - €€ - L'Assiette Provençale
Nizza (French Riviera) - €€ - Les Garçons
Nizza (French Riviera) - €€ - Côté Marais
Menton (French Riviera) - €€ - D'aqui
WHAT TO EAT in PROVENCE?
BEST TYPICAL DISHES of PROVENCE
Boef en Daube
Stewed beef or wild boar marinated in red wine and cooked slowly for at least three hours.
Pieds et Paquets
Sheep's feet and sheep's tripe cooked together in wine and tomato.
Gardianne de Taureau
Camargue bull stew, served with local red rice.
Leg of lamb cooked in the oven.
Salami from donkey from Arles or from bull from Camargue.
Pork meatballs with spinach and juniper.
The most famous fish soup in Provence, consisting of at least four types of local fish and served in a generous broth with toasted bread.
The poor version of Bouillarbasse, because it is cooked with white fish.
Plat du Fruit de Mer
A mixture of seafood such as mussels (moules), crabs, prawns (gambas) and sea urchins (oursins).
Vegetable stew (aubergines, courgettes, green peppers) sautéed with oil, garlic and herbs of Provence.
Loup au Fenouil
Sea bass stuffed with wild fennel and baked or grilled.
Brandade de Morue
A Nîmes specialty, a cod mousse with potatoes and olives.
Squid sautéed and seasoned with garlic and parsley.
A sauce made from anchovies with garlic and olives.
Arichauts à la Barigoule
Small local artichokes stuffed with lard.
Mixed vegetables with boiled potatoes, hard-boiled eggs and shellfish.
Pompe à Huile
Sweet focaccia with olive oil, flavored with orange blossom water.
Liqueur chocolate pralines
Gâteau Secs aux Amandes
Almond biscuits perfect to accompany with coffee.
Almond biscuits covered with icing, typical of Aix-en-Provence.
Cake filled with chiboust cream (custard and meringue) typical of Saint-Tropez.
WHAT TO DRINK in PROVENCE?
BEST TYPICAL WINES of PROVENCE
Aniseed liqueur, one of the symbols of Marseille and Provence.
Wines of Côte du Rhone
Red Wine of Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Rosé Wine of Sable Camargue
TRAVEL TIPS about PROVENCE by World Mappers
While not quite in the Provence region, don't miss the beautiful Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct on the Gardon River (the one on the five-euro note).
Drive to the village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, a wonderful village perched in the middle of two mountains. Legend has it that the knight of Blacas, to thank the Virgin for having returned safe and sound from the crusades, hoisted a star, still visible today, hanging between the two rock walls. In this village you will feel like you are in a nativity scene, between narrow streets and shops of faïences, the typical majolica. If you like walking you can walk to the fourteenth-century Chapelle Notre-Dame de Beauvoir, a beautiful little church just below the mountain.
One of the villages in Provence that surprised us most is Lourmarin, another magical city in the Luberon, known above all for being the birthplace of Albert Camus, one of the most important writers of the twentieth century. In this town you can breathe a very pleasant atmosphere and there are numerous monuments such as the castle of Villa Medici de Provence surrounded by olive groves or the beautiful Romanesque church of San André.
One of the most beautiful medieval villages in Provence is Séguret, where time never seems to pass. Lose yourself in browsing the small shops, stop in one of the many cafes or enjoy a good glass of wine.
The Ouvèze River divides the municipality of Vaison-la-Romaine into two very different parts. In the upper part, on top of a large boulder, is the medieval village dotted with the ruins of a 12th century castle. After passing through a medieval gate, you will zigzag up to the fortress through the quiet cobbled streets that will make you feel like you are in a fairytale. On the other bank of the river is the modern part of Vaison-la-Romaine where it is possible to visit the archaeological site of one of the most important Gallo-Roman cities in France.
Not very far from Marseille you cannot miss Cassis, a small fishing port on the coast east of the city of Marseille, famous for its cliffs and coves, for its white stone used to build lighthouses and even used as the base of the Statue of Liberty .
Always close to Marseille, Martigues is also a city not to be missed. It was born from the union of the three towns of Jonquieres, Ile and Ferrieres in 1581 which took the unique name of Martigues. It is often called the "Venice of France" thanks to its link with the sea and the Charon canal. To see its small colorful port, the Ferrieres area and the coast that reaches up to Marseille known as Côte Blue.
Uzes is also worth a visit.It is an ancient Roman settlement, home to the famous Pont du Gard aqueduct.Today the ramparts and the famous Tour Fenestrelle remain standing, a round tower that stands out for its windows and which is part of the Cathedral of Uzès.
In Saint-Rémy-de-Provence you cannot miss the Site Archéologique de Glanum, one of the most important Roman sites in France.Just think that the Arc de Triomphe, which indicates the beginning of Glanum, is one of the oldest in all of France.
Mostly known as the lavender village, Sault is undoubtedly worth a visit.In its surroundings there are extensive fields of Lavanza.Here you will also find the Lavender Museum where you can find out everything about the history of the cultivation of this aromatic plant.
WHAT TO BUY in PROVENCE?
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SOUVENIRS of PROVENCE
You can't go to Provence and not buy something that has to do with lavender.From scented sachets to cosmetics, all based on the very fragrant purple flower.
Soaps & Perfumes
Provence is world famous for its perfumes and Grasse is its capital.One of our favorite fragrances is orange blossom water.Don't miss the chance to buy the original Marseille soap too.
We must admit, we have filled the trunk of the car with products of the typical gastronomy of this region: extra virgin olive oil, orange jams, almonds, lavender honey (exquisite), pates of all kinds, almond sweets and of course wines and liqueurs.
Handicraft & Pottery
Ceramics, terra cotta, Moustiers porcelain, fabrics and utensils in olive wood are just some of the Provençal handicrafts that you can find in the splendid boutiques of the Provençal cities.
Do you want to find out more about the main cities of PROVENCE?
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MAP'CITY • MARSEILLE