Not gonna lie: our motto for this girls' trip to Provence was "Do it for the 'gram." It seems like so often in our 20-something lives that we do or buy silly things just to post a photo for social media. And was this 8-hour road trip into France definitely inspired by ~all the amazing photo potential~? I mean, I'd be lying if I was saying it wasn't. But let's be real: pain au chocolate, lavender soap, and being able to since that song from "Beauty and the Beast" about provincial lives literally was also a factor.
So, we Instagrammed our way through Provence — we, as in my trusty travel buddy Delaney, fellow photographer Cait Griffin and Delaney's French bulldog Winston, who was obviously very happy to be visiting his homeland. We squealed literally every time we saw a lavender field, planned our outfits around them, stopped multiple times to do a photo session in them, all the while breathing in that lavender air and the listening to the sound of hundreds of bees pollinating the fields.
It was a perfect girls trip — getting dressed up to take photos in flower fields, eating excessive amounts of bread, cheese and butter (really the only thing you have to consume in France) and then stopping on the way home in a gorge to swim in some milky blue waters with a donut floatie. Let me tell you more about it.
WHAT WE DID:
- Got new profile pics in the lavender fields: I think taking photos in flower fields has kind of become a thing for me and my friends since moving to Italy. Delaney and I went to the Netherlands for the tulips. We stopped on the side of the road for poppies in Normandy. And we await the sunflowers every year here in Vicenza. So when friends of mine started sharing photos of lavender last summer, I had to add it to my bucket list, but was super worried we wouldn't make it before the lavender harvest. The lavender season is from mid-June until early August — the final lavender festival is August 15 in Sault and I wouldn't look for too many fields after then. We were there July 26-29 and a ton of the fields were already cut down, but luckily, the blooms at higher elevation were still kicking. Once hearing about this, we planned our trips around these high elevations, since we heard Sault would be a good place to go. Though a lot of the fields were gone, we still found plenty for frolicking! There were also a lot of lavender fields on our drive east to Verdon Gorge that were already harvested, so if you do this similar trip earlier in July, it would be a beautiful drive. I highly recommend this website for lavender frolic planning — it has a super helpful map and some routes for driving, biking and walking! I added some of the fields we found on my map, too, but just be aware that they're probably on private property (so be respectful and get permission! And buy things if there's a vendor nearby) and that the fields may rotate from year to year.
- Stayed in a charming Airbnb with a flower-filled porch: We kind of always do Airbnbs off the beaten path (they're more budget options) but we totally loved our place, even if it wasn't in Sault, where we spent most of our time. Our host, Noël, was a sweetheart and helped us with a lot of our quests for antiques and lavender. We spent a ton of time on the beautiful porch, eating dinner and drinking coffee, and loved that it had three bedrooms — one for each of us girls! Delaney's French bulldog, Winston, loved the place, too. We love traveling with Airbnb and almost never use anything else — if you haven't used it before, try it out with this coupon code for $41 off your first night!
- Spent the afternoon eating lavender gelato in Sault: Since Sault was the hot spot for lavender during the time period we visited (it has a later bloom due to higher elevation), we made it our go-to spot for our trip. Luckily, the town was super cute, and we spent the afternoon having lunch, popping into shops and buying lavender things, of course! We especially loved shopping for pretty soap and lavender bundles at La Loubatière and then enjoying the lavender (yes!) gelato next door at Café du Siècle.
MORE OF WHAT WE DID:
- Stopped by the famous abbey: On our way out of Provence, we stopped by the famed Sénanque Abbey, which you basically see photo after photo of all over Pinterest because of it's gorgeous facade and lavender field out front. Personally, I thought it was a little underwhelming, which sounds a little douchey to say about an abbey — but we also went late in the season, when the lavender wasn't so much in bloom, and we also didn't care to do a tour of the inside or check out the abbey. So, if you're into that sort of thing, you might like it — we just found prettier fields elsewhere. If you do, be aware that it is a religious site, and you'll want to bring appropriate clothing (no showing shoulder, knees covered, no midriff baring).
- Explored the city of Gordes: After visiting the abbey, we popped down to the nearest city, Gordes. The town is a little touristy — I think a lot of people do the same itinerary we did after the abbey — but it's really very pretty and worth a walk around. Make sure you check out the panoramic views — the whole city is built into a hill! I also bought an excessive amount of pain au chocolat (my favorite) and croissants from La Boulangerie de Mamie Jane — which isn't necessarily a Gordes thing, but something I recommend doing for anyone in France, no matter where you go!
- Lac de Sainte-Croix and Verdon Gorge: Driving to Provence was about 7-8 hours from Vicenza — which I guess is a lot if you don't love road trips (good thing we do!). To break it up on the way home, we stopped near the Verdon Gorge literally based on a pretty photo Delaney found on Pinterest — don't you just love the internet? We decided to hit up Lac de Sainte-Croix near the gorge based on a tip from our French waiter — luckily, it was the site of the photos we kept seeing, which were sort of incorrectly labeled as Verdon Gorge! We had a blast renting a paddle boat for 2 hours and paddling up the lake and then a small river and swimming in the milky blue water. The water is totally gorgeous and really that color! It was a perfect stop on our way home, and the Verdon Gorge driving to the east was especially scenic (though also very windy and carsick-inducing!). We stayed the night in a gorgeous town called Gréolières on the way home, which was about 1.5 hours from the lake. We had the best Airbnb host ever (hey Karen!) and had a perfect rest at her beautiful little French gite overlooking the hillside before making the rest of the drive home to Italy.
Photos and text copyright © Katie Currid, 2017. All rights reserved.