Explore France > Provence

My time in Provence has been limited, unfortunately; however, there are two places that I must mention.

Saint Paul de Vence is referred to as "the jewel of Provence" - a suitable description indeed. It is one of the most breathtaking little towns. Yes, it hosts many tourists every year; but do not let that discourage you from visiting. I also love and appreciate the off-the-beaten-track places, but Saint Paul de Vence is a must-see.

It's already exciting as you approach the city. You can see the walled "jewel" for miles away, rendering your winding advance full of anticipation.

As we pulled in we were head-to-head with a big black concrete stump blocking our only way in. Sitting there, puzzled and feeling a little silly not knowing what to do, we noticed the tiniest little intercom system to the side. We buzzed..."Bonjour?" Without a response the stump magically disappeared into the road. Voilà, we were admitted!

I've never seen such narrow, awkward little roads. Coming to what appeared to be a dead end we looked around, wondering where on earth we should go next. But then we noticed it was just a turn. "We have to drive around that?!?" I hollered. With the locals looking on, my husband handled the sharp corner quite well, I must say, and off we went to find our hotel. Hotel Le Saint Paul is a charming and adorable hotel. On the side which faces the valley the structure is enveloped within lush green plants and palm trees. The village side exposes the beautiful old brown stone structure with its old shuttered windows.

We stayed for two nights, giving us plenty of time to tour the entire town, which holds many art galleries and shops. We had a few splendid meals, a memorable one being at Le Caruso. One evening we made our way to the base and watched the locals play bocce ball for hours; it's a favourite memory for my husband.

Saint Paul de Vence is located in the country but close enough to the coast for brief visits, such as a lunch or a bit of shopping in one of the coastal wonders like Nice. You can actually catch sight of the sea from the top of the village.

We left vowing to return.

Terre Blanche is the other place I must tell you about. This incredible hotel is located in Tourrettes, a small town surrounded by other gorgeous little hill-side towns such as Fayence and Callian.

After traveling for a few days we were not completely over the jet lag; we were tired and wanted to do nothing. Though we were conflicted about not touring every inch of Provence while we were there, we opted for rest and relaxation. There is always next time, no?

All of the rooms have terraces: your own private outdoor space with very comfy lounge chairs! The living room makes for a large area giving you the feeling that you're right at home. The bathrooms are the standard luxurious Four Seasons special, of course, and I cannot say enough about their comfortable beds. So we unpacked and got ourselves organized to do nothing!

"Nothing" included a full day in a cabana by the pool which is situated on a hill providing you with incredible views of Provence, a visit to the spa, lots of scrumptious meals, movies in bed, and a tour to the neighbouring little towns of Fayence and Callian.

It's difficult to describe excellence without sounding exaggerated, so I will stop here!