From Andrew Harper

Despite the romance of Provence, celebrated in dozens of best-selling travel books and memoirs, some parts of the region have lost much of their authentic character, owing to the influx of affluent Parisians and the hordes of summer tourists. Fortunately, there are still pockets in the Luberon and Alpilles areas where a timeless atmosphere remains intact. Exquisite hilltop villages such as Ménerbes and Bonnieux still embody the essence of the region, even with their starring roles in Peter Mayle’s "A Year in Provence." And the town of L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue retains an inimitable charm, despite the popularity of its Sunday market with magazine editors around the world.


All recommended hotels in Provence

Provence, France
Domaine de la Baume © Tristan Shu
Domaine de la Baume

Charming 15-room hotel surrounded by the former 100-acre estate of painter Bernard Buffet, just outside the hilltop village of Tourtour.

Grand Hôtel Nord-Pinus
Grand Hôtel Nord-Pinus

Atmospheric 26-room hotel, once the haunt of luminaries such as Picasso, Hemingway and Henry James, on a bustling, tree-lined square in central Arles near the old Roman amphitheater.

Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de la Celle  © D.Bordes
Hostellerie de l'Abbaye de La Celle

Relaxed but stylish 10-room auberge created by star chef Alain Ducasse from a former 12th-century Benedictine abbey in the village of La Celle.

Hotel Crillon le Brave
Hôtel Crillon le Brave

Evocative country house hotel crowning an ancient hamlet backdropped by Mont Ventoux, 45 minutes from Avignon and Gordes.

InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu © Christophe Dugied
InterContinental Marseille – Hôtel Dieu

Conveniently located new 194-room hotel occupying a restored 18th-century former hospital building.

La Bastide de Gordes
La Bastide de Gordes

Dramatically sited hotel with panoramas of the Vaucluse from a series of ancient buildings perched on the former ramparts of the medieval hill town of Gordes.

La Coquillade | 2012 Grand Award Winner
La Coquillade

Eco-friendly hotel of 28 contemporary accommodations within six stone farmhouses on 70 hillside acres planted with vineyards, five miles east of Roussillon.

La Mirande
La Mirande

This refurbished period hotel (a National Historic Monument) fits within a former 14th-century cardinal’s residence, in the heart of Avignon across from the Palace of the Popes.

Villa Gallici
La Villa Gallici

Beautifully restored 18th-century manor house-hotel surrounded by seven acres of lavender-scented gardens in residential section of Aix-en-Provence.

Le Mas de Peint
Le Mas de Peint

Country inn on a 1,300-acre working ranch in the Camargue region, an hour southwest of Avignon.


All recommended restaurants in Provence


For excellent southern French cooking, don’t miss this Marseille institution, perched on rock at the entrance to the old port of Vallon des Au#es. Chef Guillaume Sourrieu makes a superb fish soup, along with more elaborate dishes such as sea bass in caviar butter, John Dory with Swiss chard, gnocchi and black olive sauce, and chocolate soufflé with black-pepper ice cream. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Vallon des Auffes
Marseille 13007
La Boite à Sardine

For a terrific catch-ofthe- day menu in this seafood-loving city, try this casual and authentic place. Aside from superb fish from boats operating out of the port, it o#ers a spectacular setting overlooking the Mediterranean from a craggy promontory. Closed Sunday and Monday.

2 Boulevard de la Libération
Marseille 13001
Le 46

This friendly and casual bar à vin near the Palace of the Popes in Avignon is an excellent address for lunch or a light dinner. Owners Nicolas Martin and Véronique Bonnemer know their wines and serve a good selection by the glass. I especially recommend their take on shrimp tempura, and the lamb chops with pea purée. Closed Sundays.

46 rue de la Balance
Avignon 84000
Le Grain de Sel

Many of the best new tables are simple little places, a reflection of the Marseillais dislike of formality and pretension, and one of my favorites is Le Grain de Sel, located on a side street near the Vieux-Port and perfect for lunch. The chalkboard menu changes regularly, but runs to dishes such as green gazpacho with baby clams, and roast veal with polenta and anchovies. Closed Sunday and Monday.

39 Rue de la Paix Marcel Paul
Marseille 13001