Provence

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Provence Travel Guide

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 ...

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. 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 the editors of glossy magazines around the world. 

Recommended Luxury Hotels in Provence

All Andrew Harper-recommended hotels offer impeccable accommodations and high levels of personal service. Only the best of the best make our list, so we rate them on a scale from bird icon 90 to 100.
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Best 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 Auffes. 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

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

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

For a terrific catch-of-the-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 offers a spectacular setting overlooking the Mediterranean from a craggy promontory. Closed Sunday and Monday.

2 Boulevard de la Libération Marseille
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