Five Days, Five Themes in Provence

June 30 – July 4, 2014

Photo set on Flickr

A mere three weeks after our herculean trip to Tibet, I found myself flying again, this time to Paris for a conference. My job has brought me to Paris several times over the past two years. Maybe familiarity does breed contempt; I find myself feeling increasingly apathetic towards the French capital. Beyond the tourist spots I haven’t been able to find a spot where I truly enjoy lingering in. When pick pocket becomes so common the staff at the Louvre was compelled to go on strike for a day to express their concern and displeasure you know the situation has gotten out of hand.

With a few days of free time afterward and my wife joining me from Hong Kong, we decided to head south to Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. Count us lucky – our arrival coincided with the region’s lavender season, which runs from late June to early August.

Trying to see as much of Provence and Côte d’Azur as possible in a mere five days – we knew going in it was a foolish proposition. But between lavender fields, Roman ruins, hilltop villages and seaside resorts, there were too many interesting draws that demanded our time. We tried to allocate a theme for each day, which again underlines the great variety of sights this popular region offers.

Here comes the question: If there are so many worthwhile sights competing for your limited amount of time, which are must-sees and which are not? I will share my findings in these following posts.

Day 1 

Everyone will pass by Avignon in one way or another. Should you actually spend any time there?

Day 2
Arles, Nîmes and Orange

Arena of Nîmes

Provence has a wealth of Roman ruins. Obviously Pont du Gard is a must-see. How about the slightly lesser known ones in Arles, Nîmes and Orange? Are those worth the time, especially when you have seen the ones in Italy?

Day 3
Lavender Fields


These famous lavender routes span hundreds of kilometers. How to cover it in one day so you won’t suffer from a lavender overdose?

Day 4
Hilltop Villages


With dozens of villages in the area, I am not going to pretend I know enough to properly rate them. What I can do is share where are the best spots to photograph the ones I had been to.

Day 5

Le Rocher, Monte Carlo

Actually I will address this right now since there is not much to say.

We took a half-day trip to Monaco before flying out of Nice. The entire city was a tourist trap. Everything was overpriced. This was a place so barren of dining options I would have happily pay €10 for a Big Mac. You want attraction? How about a palace that has been continuously in use for seven centuries, which sounds interesting until you see the real thing and realize it is so bland that Louis XIV would use it storage. As for its casino – ever heard of Macau or Vegas?

Really, the only thing to see in Monaco are yachts. No, not those you can find at your local harbor. Recall the most over the top boat you have seen in movie, like the one in the Wolf of Wall Street, only there are dozens that are even more outlandish parked unattended at Monte Carlo’s waterfront. If you don’t own one of those, Monaco might not be your type of town.


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