Why You Should Visit Provence in June
I’m excited to take a break from skincare this week to talk about travel, which is such a passion of mine. I believe that traveling to new countries and experiencing new cultures firsthand is one of the most profound ways to learn and grow as an individual. You may remember me talking about our experience living in Germany years ago. It was not only so rewarding in terms of acclimating to a new country, language, and culture, but it also gave us the incredible opportunity of traveling to other countries all over Europe. One of my very favorite trips was to Provence where the perfect combination of sunshine, lavender aromas, and delicious Mediterranean cuisine swept me off my feet. It was truly unforgettable.
It seems like the perfect time to talk about the paradisiacal region of Provence, since June is truly the best time to go (in my opinion at least!). It’s the time of year when the lavender fields are in full bloom, and not only is it one of the most gorgeous sights to behold, but it is also the most heavenly scent! When driving from town to town, open your windows, let the breeze blow through your hair, and breathe deep. I’ve smelled my fair share of lavender bouquets, but nothing can compare to the lavender fields of Provence. And they’re just everywhere! The colors are incredible, especially the contrast when they’re planted next to a field of bright yellow sunflowers.
June is also a great time of year when it comes to the weather in Provence. By June, the rainy season has ended. It’s sunny and warm—but not uncomfortably hot like it can be in July and August. This means you won’t be too overheated to enjoy the beach or walking around exploring the charming towns.
Don’t forget that air conditioning can be hard to find, especially if you’re renting an apartment or house, as these are more likely to be equipped by a local who is used to living sans air conditioning. Some hotels may have air conditioning as they cater more to tourists who simply wouldn’t dream of facing 90-degree weather without it. You can get away without air conditioning usually in June, but if you go later in the summer, you may want to make sure your hotel or rental has it. During the high summer months, it does not cool down at night, and no amount of window-opening is going to make a difference in the temperature. Plus, you’ll probably be attacked by mosquitos. The way the locals deal with extreme heat is actually by leaving the windows and shades shut from the time the heat begins to peak during the day (around lunch time), and they open them again in the early morning. That way, their homes are not heated by the sun and they keep the cool morning air in for as long as possible. (Yes, they really prefer living in darkness to the heat, and once you’ve experienced the heat, you totally get why!)
Provence is also not quite as packed in June as it is in August. School can let out as late as the July 7th, so most families do not go on vacation in June. August is by far the biggest month for the French to take their summer vacations. In fact, some of them take the entire month off (the French have 5-7 weeks of paid vacation on average)! The entire country just kind of gears down to accommodate, which is actually quite relaxing as a tourist. This is one of the reasons I love to visit Paris in August. The streets are not nearly as packed, and everyone seems completely détendu (relaxed).
When you’re planning a trip to the Cote d’Azur, you probably have a basic idea already of what treasures await you—eating all the food, lounging on beautiful beaches, soaking up some local French culture. But to add to your list, here are some of my recommendations on what to do in Provence!
What to Do in Provence in June
- Visit small Provençal towns. One of the most beautiful and charming towns to visit is Aix-en-Provence. Other favorites are Arles, Avignon, Antibes, and Saint Rémy de Provence. Also, a hidden gem we love is L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue. This little town is SO charming—seriously, time seems to have stopped, and it is out of a storybook! Walking around the alleys and stopping by the cathedral for the lavender gelato, which is only a seasonal treat, is one of the fondest family memories I have of Provence!
- Museums. It’s great to have some indoor options in your back pocket in case of rain (or in case it’s sweltering hot). The Van Gogh Museum in Arles, Fondation Maeght in St Paul de Vence, and Picasso Museum in Antibes (which is in a small 15th century chateau!) are all fabulous choices in towns that are definitely worth visiting. Also, the Musée de la Lavande in Cabrières-d'Avignon is a must to learn the difference between lavender and lavandin, the whole cultivation to harvest process, enjoy the breathtaking displays of the evolving steam distillation equipments per era, and either enjoy their boutique or outside seating view of the lavender surrounding the museum.
- Hit the beaches. Cap d’Antibes is the perfect place to lounge in the sun. Don’t forget to wear sunscreen, though! (Sorry, I have to say things like this because not only am I passionate about skin care, but I’m also a mom!) Also, St. Maxime has some uncrowded spots, away from the overly touristy St. Tropez. It hosts some great hidden seashore restaurants just waiting to be discovered.
- Eat lavender ice cream. It’s so fun to experiences new tastes that we aren’t used to. I had never eaten lavender-flavored foods before visiting Provence, and I quickly fell in love. Lavender tea, lavender cakes, lavender ice cream—I love it all. Lavender-strawberry jam is a go-to gift to bring home for friends and family members.
- Shop for Savon de Marseille. This olive oil-based soap is a tradition in Marseille and is sold all over the South of France. It’s not only a great soap for the family, but it’s also an excellent stain remover (rubbed onto the stain) or natural laundry detergent (if you grate it up). I keep mine in my garment drawers along with some lavender sachets—also great local gifts!
- Ride bikes through the countryside. One of the best ways to experience the vast, sweeping lavender fields is by bicycle.
- Shop at an open air market, especially in Aix-en-Provence! This is such a great way to experience local food and flair. Not only can you find the freshest produce you’ve ever seen, but you can also find local artisanal cheeses, honeys, and preserves. Sometimes there may be decorative accents, clothing, accessories, or art. You never know what you’re going to find!
- Have a picnic. Now that you’ve visited an open air market, you probably have tons of fresh, local goodies that are perfect for picnicking.
- Practice your French. The open air markets, cafés, bakeries, and restaurants are all great places to practice your French skills with locals.
- Go to a town fête in the evening. During the summer, many towns have their own festivals with entertainment and rides.
- Eat lunch or dinner in the main square in town, called a place. Every town has its own place, and it’s the ideal spot to people watch and soak up some local color.
- Shop the antique markets. The antique markets in France are amazing—no wonder why they’re so popular!
- Go hiking. If your legs still have some stamina left after walking through towns, plan a mountainside hike! Provence is full of amazing paths to hike for all levels and tastes.
- Refresh your wardrobe. Special French pieces are the best kind of souvenir. I love pulling out the clothing or accessories I bought during a trip because it takes me right back to the vacation state of mind I was in when I purchased it!
Are you planning a trip to Provence? What’s on your travel agenda?
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