The next stop on our trip was to the Provence area. We stayed a little off the beaten path more in the Drome region in a tiny, tiny town called Grignan, but it was a close drive to do things in Provence.
- Pont Du Gard: This was hands down probably my favorite part of the trip. The Pont Du Gard is a Roman built aqueduct that is the second tallest Roman Structure behind the Colosseum. Aside from being beautiful and impressive, the reason why it was my favorite is that you can actually swim in the river below. There were tons of tourists and locals alike enjoying the river, but it wasn't overly touristy. It really just struck me as such a neat interaction with a piece of history that I have never experienced before. The water was beautiful and ridiculously refreshing after being so toasty in Antibes. The water was really chilly, so you probably wouldn't want to plan on swimming much past Summer, but none the less I would still visit. And if you stay late (I think they said at 10pm) there is a light show. We didn't have time to stick around to see it unfortunately.
- Grignan was charming, small and had pretty good food.
- Isle-Sur-La-Sourgue: One of the biggest markets in the Provence region. Tons of yummy foods to get a picnic, and some really neat antiques that are more flea market style buying. I didn't buy anything because it was close to the beginning our trip but I wish that I had because the prices were better. Go early though-- it gets very crowded later in the morning. When you're buying produce make sure to look for a sign that says Producteur-- that means that they are the actual farmer. We learned that some market vendors are like grocery stores and will import their goods.
- If you do go to Isle-Sur-La-Sourgue, across the main street from where the market is there is a little shop called La Maison Jouvand. SO. CUTE. And good coffee, cute home goods, and tasty little treats enclosed by a black viewing case with brass fixtures. I bought a cream puff with caramel on top just so I could see them package it, and I wish I bought about 80 because it was amazing.
- L'essentiel De Lavande: Our friend Lou gave us a National Geographic article about Provence, so we saw found this lavender farm through NG. A lot of their fields were cut already, but the owner Odile is charming and gives tours of her beautiful farm. They also offer massages outside in the trees next to the lavender fields. As long as you aren't weirded out about being naked in the forest, I highly recommend it. :-)
- Driving: Driving was really pretty easy in the countryside and it was nice not to be tied down to train times. It also allowed us to see so much of the countryside and enjoy watching beautiful farmhouses all the sudden pop up in the middle of a field. France has a thing called Les Plus Beaux Villages de France which basically means "the most beautiful villages in France." We had some friends who hopped from town to town enjoying their charm, which is a nice way to travel and see little places if you have the time and don't know exactly where to go on your driving journey.
- The biggest disappointment of our trip was that the lavender that Provence is so well known for wasn't blooming. Everything we read said that the high of lavender season was in July. But because of a drought everything bloomed early so we were about a week too late. So if that is something that you are traveling to France to see pay close attention and research what the climate has been like to make sure you don't miss out.
- Not a lot of places had AC.