Few places match the perfection of St-Rémy-de-Provence.
This pretty village near Aix-en-Provence has taken my heart.
By now you know that I just love beauty and atmosphere, and truly appreciate calm and simplicity. St-Rémy-de-Provence is a dream come true for the stylist and Francophile in me. Everything is clean, with pristine stones and render, and simply acres of pastel shutters. It is the perfect marriage of an understated French aesthetic and gorgeous funky shops, bistros, and cafes. I’m not much of a shopper myself, preferring to travel light, but the styling and presentation of the village centre is truly wonderful.
In St-Rémy-de-Provence, the buildings are simple, with muted lavender, pink, and blue shutters.
As is often the case with rural villages, there is a predominant design aesthetic that is apparent across a region or even just a village. St Rémy has a small and divine range of chalky shades that works deliciously against the blonde, perfectly-maintained stone façades, and paving. Just sublime...
St Rémy is elegant and understated, and surprisingly quiet in the backstreets. My idea of an utterly relaxing and uplifting experience is just walking around these beautiful cobbled rues. I love to get up early before the (other) tourists arrive, and saunter late into the afternoon to catch the beautiful dusk light. Perfect for photography...
St-Rémy-de-Provence has a large, shaded square, bordered by shops, bistros (bien sur!), and delightful vine-clad buildings.
Settle down at any of the plentiful tables under the trees, relax into the ambience, and enjoy a speciality of the region - rosé wine avec pamplemousse.
Even if you are not a fan of grapefruit, the finely-sectioned wedges perfectly balance the sweetness of the chilled rosé. I find it just delicious. Please do try it, but make sure it has the genuine pamplemousse, not the syrup (which, sadly, is becoming increasingly popular).
One stalwart disbeliever in our party tried it and was very pleasantly surprised. It tasted so good! The afternoon was so delightful and the square was becoming even quieter as most people left. Only those lucky enough to be staying in St-Rémy-de-Provence lingered.
Another? Oh yes, please!
The things I enjoy about St-Rémy-de-Provence.
There is so much to love about this beautiful village. Here are a few things:
◦ St-Rémy-de-Provence is beautifully clean. I admit to being a bit of a clean freak, and whilst I adore discovering the hidden parts of even the oldest villages in France, I particularly love the pristine places. 10/10 for this town. Yay!
◦ I don't know if it's the layout or that I was just lucky, but walking around this town was remarkably civilised and not-too-busy. (Except on market day, bien sûr!) And be sure to visit the Place Favier, the Place de la République, and the Place Mireille. Of course, I've told all of you about it now ...
◦ The cafe culture is just lovely. What can I say? So far, French coffee has a bit of a way to go before it catches up with the very fussy Australian palate. However, the café scene in St Rémy is just fabulous - as you would expect with any bistrot en France. Oh yes, give me an outdoor table and chairs in a St Rémy square and I'm in heaven!
◦ Lovely accommodation. St Rémy has many different accommodation options suited to a variety of tastes and budgets. Nice hotels, a healthy range of Airbnb's, and some delightful luxury options also. Take your pick!
Things to do in St-Rémy-de-Provence:
◦ The Van Gogh walk and Saint-Paul de Mausole monastery: You can do a walk in the footsteps of Van Gogh in Saint Rémy. Enjoy a free walking tour through the places that inspired Vincent van Gogh. A signpost will guide your steps from the historic centre. Start at the Estrine Museum, and head to the Monastery of Saint-Paul de Mausole. The route is marked out by 19 reproductions of his more symbolic paintings.
◦ Visit the Glanum archaeological site: This ancient Roman city was founded in the 3rd century BC and is now a popular tourist attraction. The site includes a temple, a marketplace, and several other ruins. Once located at the very crossroads of major routes in the region, Glanum was created from both Greek and then Roman influences. Find out more about this incredible ancient ruin here.
◦ St Rémy has loads of boutiques, shops and beautiful local businesses to explore. If you're into shopping, spend some time exploring this paradise. Plus, don't forget the local market on Wednesdays from around 7am to 1pm. Be sure to arrive very early if you are travelling by car or be prepared to park well away from the centre.
◦ Take a wine tour: France is, of course, famous for its wine, this region is no exception. There are several wineries in and around St Rémy de Provence that offer tours and tastings.
◦ Enjoy a cooking class: The Provence region is known for its delicious cuisine, and there are several cooking schools in St Rémy de Provence that offer classes on how to prepare local dishes.
◦ Hike in the Alpilles mountains: St Rémy de Provence is surrounded by beautiful mountains, and there are several hiking trails that offer stunning views of the countryside.
My Favourite Things to Do Around St Remy de Provence.
Discover Les Baux-de-Provence
Les Baux is situated on a rocky outcrop with a rich architectural, cultural, and historical heritage, and crowned with a ruined castle overlooking the plains of Provence. It is considered one of the most beautiful villages in France. Well worth a visit. Less than 20 minutes’ drive.
Experience Carrières des Lumières
An utterly unique experience that is completely unique. Although the show has come to Paris, the location of the lightshow inside a former limestone quarry is nothing short of spectacular. The cavernous spaces lend themselves particularly well to the visuals and sound presentation of whatever the current show is. First-class.
Visit Avignon, the City of the Popes, and tour the Palais des Papes, one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe.
The Palais is actually two buildings joined together. The old Palais of Benedict XII and the new Palais of Clement VI, the most extravagant of the Avignon Popes. Combined, they form the largest Gothic building of the Middle Ages. Impressive indeed. About ½ hour away.
Take a walk in the countryside and visit the Pont du Gard.
An ancient Roman aqueduct bridge built in the first century AD to carry water over 50 km (31 mi) to the Roman colony of Nîmes. The Pont du Gard is the tallest of all Roman aqueduct bridges, as well as one of the best preserved. Because of its unparalleled preservation, historical significance, and architectural ingenuity, it was added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage sites in 1985. About 40 km.
Discover the Beauty of Gordes, about 45 mins drive north-east of St Remy.
You may recognise this village as featured in the movie ‘A Good Year’ and shared widely on social media. It’s very picturesque, so try to get there early. Be prepared for some serious shopping (if that’s your thing) and very sweet streetscapes. There are also some spectacular views of the Luberon Valley. About 45 mins drive.
Don’t miss out on Roussillon, the stunning ochre village in the Luberon.
Roussillon is situated in one of the largest ochre deposits in the world and is officially one of The Most Beautiful Villages in France. It is justly famous for its memorable cliffs and quarries in magnificent sunset colours. It’s spectacular hilltop location overlooks the Provençal countryside for miles around and lovely walks can be taken through the colourful cliffs and along the Ochre Trail.
How to get there?
There are buses from Aix-en-Provence to St-Rémy-de-Provence. I haven’t tried one, but I certainly would if I needed to. It’s not far.
My favourite way to travel around regional France is en voiture. On this adventure, our ride was a Fiat Bambini. Oh, so cute! As well as relatively inexpensive, and remarkably roomy for 2 adults with luggage.
St Rémy is a lovely place to visit if you enjoy easy walking. The main rue in St Rémy runs entirely around the old village centre, so it’s easy to park on or near this ring road. Then, make your way into the heart of the town via level, carefully-maintained streets.
All in all, I would highly recommend visiting St Remy if you are in the region, or even making a special trip. You won't regret it. I've been back 3 times and will definitely go again. Enjoy!
If you have visited St Rémy, let us know about your favourite experiences in the comments.