Provence-Alpes Villas & Chateaux

The Provence-Alpes make for an idyllic French retreat steeped in history and culture. Showcasing the authentic flavours of the Mediterranean, historic ruins preserved from the Roman Gaul and stunning views that inspired the impressionist art movement, the Provence-Alpes will treat you to a glimpse of French paradise.

Our handpicked collection of villas in the Provence-Alpes allows you to truly immerse yourself in the unspoiled beauty of this remarkable region. Our France destination experts have ensured that our collection of villas and chateaux are situated near to local activities such as, wine-tasting, cycling, hiking, watersports and historical sites so you can relax and indulge on your Provence-Alpes holiday.

Why visit?

    • The Provence-Alpes offer unspoiled scenic views of romantic lavender fields, remarkable white beaches and snow-tipped mountains.
    • The world-famous Provençal cuisine is not to be missed. Explore a diverse range of tastes including ratatouille, bouillabaisse and ravioles.
    • Provence prides itself on its exciting traditions and festivals. If you’re a music lover don’t miss The Chorégies d'Orange classical music festival or art lovers can enjoy the Avignon Arts Festival.

    Read the Provence-Alpes Travel Guide


    Why stay with us?

    Style and character are everything at Oliver’s Travels, and our collection of handpicked villas in the Provence-Alpes have this in spades.

    We have destination experts who know the ins and outs of all our regions, picking villas that aren’t only unique, but also in the best locations. What's more, our villas are 100% family-friendly, and have the ‘wow’ factor.

    Our helpful concierge team are on-hand to make your stay extra special. Whether you want a fully-stocked fridge, a local in-house chef to cook your meals, housekeeping or any other extra service – consider them your holiday genie, who will happily grant your wishes.

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    Villas in the Provence-Alpes: Our Top Picks

    Why visit

    Lavender fields, silvery olive groves, snow-tipped mountains, Roman ruins – it’s hardly surprising Provence has long stoked the imagination of artists and writers. Van Gogh, Rénoir, Chagall, Cézanne and Picasso all flocked to this sensual parcel of France for inspiration. The lyrical landscapes feel as if you have stepped into an Impressionist painting: hilltop towns drenched in golden light at sunset; forests and vineyards shrouded in mountain mist come morning.

    Once part of Roman Gaul, Provence’s history is etched across the stones of its ancient ruins. From the glorious amphitheatre in Arles to a whole town near Vaison-la-Romaine, Provence is a textbook in ancient Rome. That’s not to say it’s a museum piece though. Groups of friends linger over bottles of rosé wine on sun-dappled squares, while the Côte d’Azur is the summer playground of the rich and famous. Throw in local markets, lively festivals and idyllic Provence villas, and you have a timeless destination.

    Food and drink

    The natural larder of Provence is packed with gastronomic riches: truffles from the Ventoux forests, olives from Nyons, strawberries from Carpentras. Flavourful dishes are thrown together using simple ingredients – olive oil, plump red tomatoes, garlic, freshly caught seafood, washed down with the region’s beloved rosé wine.

    Local bistros dish up steaming bowls of bouillabaisse and daube (beef stew) while street stalls sell candied fruits. Foodies should visit in late September for the countrywide Fête de la Gastronomie festival.

    What Oliver loves

    The sensory romance of Provence from the heady perfume of lavender and earthy scent of wild herbs to the sun-drenched landscapes and rich Mediterranean flavours. 

    Roman amphitheatre in Arles

    Best time to go

    • In the summer, Provence shakes off its sleepy image and comes to life with events and festivals. June is prime lavender season as the countryside reaches its perfumed zenith, while the street parties and concerts of the annual Fete de la Musique (21 June) brings joie de vivre to locals and visitors alike.
    • Though July and August can be very hot, the summer festivals in Avignon and Orange draw the crowds, nonetheless. However, spring or autumn can be more pleasant, with cooler temperatures and off-peak prices.

    Top tips

    • Provençal olive oil soap, made using 72% olive oil, is the perfect souvenir; buy some from St-Rémy’s market.
    • If you want to try your hand at truffle hunting, take a tour from Aups or Carpentras during peak season (November to March).
    • The world’s largest museum dedicated to Pablo Picasso is set to open in Aix-en-Provence in 2021.
    • Many cities, such as Aix-en-Provence, Arles and Avignon, offer museum passes.

        Family friendly

        Provençal culture is warm and welcoming to families, and there is plenty to keep kids busy. It doesn’t just have to be adults following in the footsteps of Van Gogh, Matisse and Chagall; art-loving children can also seek inspiration from this creative corner of France. Dreamy afternoons can be spent taking part in ceramic classes or outdoor art sessions, painting the very landscapes that have inspired artists for years. Older teens may enjoy visiting the studio of Paul Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence.

        Provence is scattered with Roman ruins and imposing fortresses that fire the imagination. Take the history lesson beyond the textbook with tales of war and feudal lords at Chateaux des Baux – a 10th-century fortress outside St Remy – where atmospheric ruins will transport young minds back in time.

        The mountainous and forested landscapes are ripe for adventure, with everything from kayaking to horse riding and ziplining on offer. If you visit between April and October, watch the Course Camarguaise in the Arles arena, a no-harm bull race where daring young men (razeteurs) finesse ornaments off the animals’ horns.

        Provence holiday villas can be a more family-friendly option than hotel rooms, with more space and your own kitchen. It can be a godsend to be able to cook at home in remoter areas, rather than cart hungry kids an hour to the nearest restaurant. Plus, there are plenty of luxury villas in Provence, many with private pools, if you’re worried about scrimping on hotel perks.

        Why it’s perfect for families

        • For babies: Self-catering villas in Provence can be a good idea if you’re travelling with tots, so you can prepare food and wash baby clothes throughout your trip.
        • For kids: There are tons of child-friendly walks and bike rides in Lubéron Regional Nature Park to help kids burn off energy.
        • For teens: Bring history to life by signing up for tours of the Roman ruins, including the glorious amphitheatre in Arles. Teens will also love the Camargue, where black bulls are tended to by gardians (local cowboys) and wild horses roam free near flamingo-topped lagoons.

        Top tips

        • The Vaucluse Passerelles des Cimes adventure park is good for families with multiple children as circuits are divided by age.
        • Sign up for a guided kayak trip along the stunning Verdon Gorge.
        • Go riding on iconic Camargue horses along the Rhône.
        • Provence villas with a pool will keep kids occupied while parents linger over a glass of rosé.
        • Don’t miss the Carrières de Lumières, a spectacular light show outside Les Baux.

          Best beaches in the Provence-Alpes

          While the shimmering beaches of the Côte d’Azur tend to steal the limelight in Provence, a few lesser-trodden gems can be found further west along the coast.

          Les Calanques de Cassis are renowned across Europe for their beautiful coves of teal water and sheer limestone cliffs laced with coastal trails. The urban beach at Marseille draws a young crowd to its volleyball courts and vibrant bars and restaurants, while daring sorts head to Plage de l’Almanarre for windsurfing and kitesurfing.

          A jigsaw of lagoons and tidal sandbars makes up the wilder coastline near the Camargue, an extraordinary delta famed for its wild horses, indigenous bulls and pink flamingo.

          In the other direction, a string of blonde beaches wraps around the charming village of Villefranche-sur-Mer and the forested peninsula of Cap Ferrat; all powder-soft sands and jewel-toned waters. Many of our Provence villas are right on the beachfront for the perfect seaside sojourn.

          Just offshore from the Riviera is a scattering of islands, whose rocky landscapes make for excellent diving and rock-climbing sites. Children will also love the adventure of hopping on a ferry and going all Robinson Crusoe for the day.

          Oliver’s Hidden Gem

          L’Ile de Riou is a tiny island cast adrift south of Marseille. The uninhabited reserve of cragged ravines and sheer rock faces is popular with intrepid rock climbers, while old wrecks and vibrant coral lure divers to its crystalline shores.

          L’Ile de Riou

          Plage des Catalans, Marseille

          A young crowd gathers at Plage des Catalans, south of the Vieux Port, for impromptu games of beach volleyball or to kick back in the sun. This buzzy urban beach has lively bars and restaurants all along the shore.

          Calanque d’en Vau, Cassis

          Les Calanques de Cassis are long, narrow inlets cleaving through limestone cliffs that lend the water its unfathomably blue colour. Our favourite is Calanque d’en Vau, reached by a two-hour clifftop hike or one hour by kayak from Cassis.

          La Plage de Piemanson, Camargue

          Near the flamingo-filled Camargue, the wide, sandy Plage de Piemanson stretches a few miles west of the Rhône. It’s a wilder part of the Mediterranean coastline, and a great spot for a bracing dip. Free parking available.

          Plage de l’Almanarre, Hyères

          La Plage de l’Almanarre is a popular spot for windsurfing and kitesurfing in Hyères. La Route du Sel is wedged between the sea and salt lagoons, where it is not uncommon to spot flamingos feasting in the marshes.

          Sainte-Croix Beach, Martigues

          Locals’ favourite Sainte-Croix Beach slips under the radar of most tourists, though it is popular with French holidaygoers in peak season. Bottle-green foliage creeps towards the shore, where the limpid sea washes over the powder-white sand.

          Plage des Marinières, Villefranche-sur-Mer

          One of Villefranche-sur-Mer’s two public beaches, Plage des Marinières has a swathe of buttery sand, lapped by turquoise-emerald waters. A dreamy swimming spot, and an even dreamier dining destination – with a cluster of toes-in-the-sand terrace restaurants.

          Things to do

          Beyond the quintessential Provençal towns and sea of lavender, follow the nature trail into fruit orchards and vineyards and up into the hills and mountains beyond. Here, you can test your mettle with everything from canoeing to climbing, biking to hiking, skiing to snowboarding. This corner of France is home to Europe’s greatest canyon: The Gorges du Verdon – a place of white-water rapids and looming cliffs.

          Offshore are rugged islands of cliffs and creeks, while the Camargue delta is filled with indigenous white horses and prized black bulls, not to mention the famed flamingo.

          There’s more to Provence than spectacular scenery: the region has layers of history to unfold, from Roman ruins and villages to medieval architecture and papal palaces. Throw yourself into the pages of a living textbook and loop around the prehistoric sites, medieval abbeys, churches and art deco buildings peppered across the landscape.

          Hike or rock-climb among the mountains

          Most people start off in the Dentelles de Montmirail, the foothills of the 2,000m-high Mont Ventoux – one of Europe’s most forbidding peaks. A lesser-trodden alternative is Lure, whose wild, untamed slopes are surrounded by a wall of forest, protected as part of the Ecrins National Park. Other excellent peaks make up the Lubéron massif, a rugged range that’s great for mountain climbing and hiking.

          Visit the Camargue, Western Europe’s largest delta

          An extraordinary mix of rose-hued salt flats, rice paddies and vineyards provide habitats for indigenous white horses, black bulls, flamingos, hawks and eagles. Relatively flat, it’s a scenic place for cycling as well as horse riding and bird-watching.

          Shop for antiques

          A 40-minute drive from Avignon, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is an antiques hotspot thanks to treasure-trove stores and its huge market – the biggest outside of Paris. Around 400 dealers set up stalls selling everything from vintage underwear to marble lions.

          Discover Roman ruins

          Travel back in time to the Roman Empire and visit the ancient ruins across the region. Start in the charming old town of Vaison-la-Romaine, where the Romans once settled north of the first-century Pont Romain, before heading south to the Roman city of Glanum, which includes a first-century BC triumphal arch. Continue south to Arles, where you can gawp at the extraordinary amphitheatre that nods to the town’s former status as the Roman capital of Gaul, Britain and Spain.

           

          White horses and flimgoes at Parc Regional de Camargue

          Oliver's Hidden Gem

          Jump on the Frioul-If-Express from Marseilles to If, an island dominated by a château-prison that held political prisoners between the 17th and 19th centuries, including the fictional Count of Monte Cristo. Another 20 minutes by ferry and you’ll reach the Frioul isles, a rugged archipelago of cliffs, creeks and beaches.

           

          Chateau d'If

          Towns and villages

          A picture of bucolic charm, small towns and villages are cradled among the rolling hills of Provence. Many are dotted with historical remnants from different periods: Roman, Byzantine, medieval, renaissance. These evocative ruins lie in stark contrast to modern monuments and contemporary buildings – an enchanting mix of old and new. Nowhere is this clearer than in Arles, home to a spectacular Roman amphitheatre and Place du Forum, which today brims with bars and restaurants.

          Elsewhere, the beautiful village of Gordes is draped over a forested hill, while gnarled olive groves and plane trees provide a beautiful backdrop to St-Rémy-de-Provence – inspiration for the works of Van Gogh. It isn’t all sleepy villages and country towns though. Marseille is undergoing a cultural renaissance, with a wave of new museums and galleries. To the north, L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is an antiquer’s mecca, home to France’s biggest antiques market outside Paris.

          And whether you’re browsing the museums of Aix-en-Provence or markets of Ménerbes, this idyllic region can’t fail to get under your skin. Some of the sleepier towns don’t have hotels, though you can often rent Provence villas for a local experience away from the tourist hotspots.

          Oliver’s Hidden Gem

          One of France's oldest towns, St-Rémy-de-Provence embodies Provençal life and local traditions like no other place. Surrounded by olive and almond groves, a tangle of streets brims with restaurants, chocolatiers and boutiques. Van Gogh spent a year here during which he painted several works, most famously Starry Night.

          Monastery of St. Paul de Mausole in St-Rémy-de-Provence

          Marseilles

          The main city of the Provence-Alps-Côte d'Azur region is having a moment. A crop of museums and galleries are springing up across the ancient port city, while the restaurant scene is thriving. Be sure to visit the food market at Place Jean-Jaurès to try local specialities, before taking in the extraordinary views from the hilltop Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde – one of France’s greatest basilicas.

          Gordes

          A huddle of stone houses springs up above the forested hilltop like a pop-up book, crowned by a magnificent Roman fortress. Regeneration during the Renaissance breathed new life into the chateau, which now houses an art museum. At every turn, narrow alleyways frame unexpected views across the Provençal countryside. You can go mountain biking and hiking in Lubéron national park, nearby.

          Aix-en-Provence

          The birthplace of post-impressionist painter Paul Cézanne, Aix-en-Provence is now a thriving university town. The chocolate-box town has an old quarter of honey-hued buildings and several markets laden with local food goodies and artisan crafts. Cafés and bistros line the cours Mirabeau and museums dot the city centre; don’t miss Musée Granet and Fondation Vasarely just outside town.

          Arles

          Best known as the city in which Van Gogh lived and worked, golden-stoned Arles is one of the oldest and prettiest towns in France. A spectacular Roman amphitheatre, Les Arènes, is the most famous of a clutch of well-preserved monuments. The heart of the ancient city, the Place du Forum, remains a lively hub today where crowds gather.

          Avignon

          The history of Avignon lingers on in the medieval Palais des Papes, the former residence of Pope Clement V in the 14th century. The striking Gothic building marks the time when Clement moved the seat of the Catholic Church out of Rome for nearly 70 years. Today, a modern town centre is lined with shops, cafés and restaurants.

          Ménerbes

          This lovely Luberon village was the setting for Peter Mayle’s novel A Good Year, later adapted into a film. Overlooked by a citadel, a cluster of sand-toned buildings blends into the landscape, many housing enticing restaurants (try Bistrot le 5). Alternatively, pick up Provençal goodies from the weekly market – fresh truffles, artichokes, pickled garlic, and freshly baked baguettes.

          Getting there and around

          Three airports connect the UK with western Provence. Flybe runs services to Avignon airport from Southampton and Birmingham (summer only). Ryanair flies to Nîmes from Luton and Stansted, plus offers a summer service from Liverpool. Marseille is served by British Airways from Heathrow; by easyJet from Gatwick, Luton and Bristol (summer only); and by Ryanair from Stansted and Edinburgh. The average flight time is around two hours. Marseille is also the best airport for central Provence.

          For the eastern and northernmost parts of Provence, such as Alpes-de-Haute-Provence or Verdon Gorges, you may do better flying to Nice-Côte-d’Azur airport. British Airways runs services here from Heathrow, Gatwick and London City; Aer Lingus flies from Dublin; and easyJet runs a limited service from Edinburgh, Belfast and Newcastle; Jet2 from Leeds-Bradford and Manchester; Ryanair from Stansted and Dublin.

          By train


          Alternatively, Eurostar offers a direct service from London to Lyon, Avignon (5hr 49mins) and Marseille (6hr 27mins).

          Getting around by car


          It is best to hire a car to explore the Provence-Alpes region, unless you’re planning to stay in one town. Public transport can be hit and miss in the more remote parts, so a car offers flexibility and reliability.

          By public transport


          Public transport tends to be good for getting around the main towns, but can be sketchy travelling between towns, especially the more remote ones. The exception to the rule is from Nice to the Digne region. An incredibly scenic way to travel, the Train des Pignes trundles up into the mountains, along sheer ridges, skirting valleys and pausing at tiny villages. You can catch the train at Nice CP station, 4bis Rue Alfred Binet.

          Marseille has an excellent network of trams, buses and Metro lines, which can be accessed using the City Pass (available from tourist office).


          Getting around by train and bus

          A good rail network connects the main cities and towns of Languedoc-Roussillon, supplemented with dozens of bus routes. If you’re heading to the more remote sites, a car may be a more convenient alternative.


          By car

          We recommend hiring a car to easily get around the region, taking in the more remote Cathar castles and national parks. The A9 motorway runs from the northeast to the southwest of Languedoc-Roussillon, with quick and easy access to the coast.


          By bike

          If you’re staying in the capital, Montpellier not only has an extensive tram and bus network, but it also has over 75 miles of cycle paths – many leading to the seaside. You can rent bikes in one spot and leave them in another through Vélomagg, which has 56 stations across the city.

          Top tips

          • The Marseille City Pass not only covers all public transport for the allocated time; it also allows admission to 15 museums. Buy the pass from the main tourist office, next to the Vieux Port.
          • Consider town-hopping by booking Provence villas in each of your must-visit destinations.
          • Kids receive discounted fares for public transport.
          • Bring plenty of entertainment for children if you’re travelling long distances.

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