Eight winter adventures in Provence

You probably think that Provence = summer + pool + lavender. Well you’d be wrong! This stunningly beautiful region can be just as exciting in winter. Its gentle climate and bright blue skies reveal a very different kind of charm in the low season. Follow the guide.

Climb up to Les Baux-de-Provence.

This fortified village, perched like an eagle’s nest, attracts thousands of visitors every summer. But in winter, its narrow, cobbled streets and the rocky remains of its château radiate tranquillity. Don’t miss the light show at the Carrières de Lumières quarry and a walk around The Rock.

Enjoy a different side of Sainte-Victoire Mountain.

This mountain to the east of Aix-en-Provence was immortalised by Cézanne around 60 times and is the symbol of Provence. Instead of an exhausting climb under a blazing sun, imagine walking along the ridge under gentle snowflakes, crossing paths with goats and sheep along the way.

Brave the Calanques under a deep blue sky.

The Calanques, these narrow inlets with steep, bright white cliff walls, are even more awe-inspiring in the intense winter light. Twenty kilometres of steep, pristine inlets… or the start of a fabulous adventure whether you choose to walk, cycle or absail.

Immerse yourself in art at the Château La Coste.

Learn about contemporary art as you wander through the vines in this exceptional and charming vineyard and enjoy an in situ installation by Daniel Buren, a building designed by Tadao Ando, a mobile by Calder and a spider by Louise Bourgeois. This winter’s featured artist is JR.

Avoid the crowds in Marseille.

The city shows its true colours in winter. Visit the Mucem and architecture by Rudy Ricciotti with no queues, visit La Vieille Charité without the usual crowds and try out the eclectic cultural programme at the Friche de La Belle de Mai.

Lick your lips in Puyricard.

The village of Puyricard is the secret meeting place of real food-lovers, with its fine chocolates, orangettes, calissons and candied fruits. When a Provence chocolate-maker invites you in, you soon forget how cold it is outside.

Walk in the footsteps of Van Gogh in Arles.

Vincent van Gogh arrived in Arles on 20 February 1888, a day of exceptionally heavy snow. He spent 14 wonderfully prolific months there, inspired by the light and the seasonal colours of Provence. To immerse yourself in the same conditions, open the doors to the Van Gogh Foundation and stroll around the city in plummeting temperatures.

Celebrate olive-picking in Haute-Provence.

November is olive month on the raised terraces of Manosque and in the surrounding area. Visit the Gouvan oil mill in Forcalquier or L’Olivier ecomuseum in Volx to immerse yourself in the lively gastronomic culture of the olive and taste the first oil of the year, with its hints of artichoke, pepper and cut grass.

Getting to Provence