It’s hard to beat cycling through the hills of Provence, powered by fresh coffee and the promise of crisp rosé with lunch. Later, you’re looking out at the sunset with a glass of wine and a gorgeous dinner, as your children sleep upstairs. And you know it won’t be a problem when those children wake up at the crack of dawn, because the boulangerie will already be open, laden with buttery croissants and crisp-on-the-outside-fluffy-on-the-inside baguettes. Honestly, Provence is pretty perfect.
Our first stop was the tiny, quintessentially Provençal town of L’Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue. The picturesque canal is lined with restaurant verandas and shops, and the town square boasts a watermill and a fountain.
We rented a car at the airport in Marseille and were able to find parking in the free parking lot near Square des Maréchaux. We stayed at a small Airbnb that provided a couch for Auden and a travel cot for Tristan. Approximately one hour from Aix-en-Provence and half an hour from Avignon, this town is a lovely base for exploring Provence.
Pont du Gard
Matt is good at finding random things for us to see. In other words, I’m really good at making sure the wine, food, lodgings, kids and snacks are all sorted out (pretty much in that order…); and then Matt finds a feat of ancient architecture and engineering nearby. The Pont du Gard is not actually that random. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as the highest elevated Roman aqueduct, and one of the best preserved. There is plenty of space to run around and even dip your feet in the water. You can see Avignon in the distance, and the tiered structure is incredible to behold. It’s hard to believe it was built around 1 AD.
We paused in Avignon for less than half an hour, as it was on the way to Ménerbes and the kids hadn’t fallen asleep yet. Don’t get me wrong… the Palais des Papes is really impressive… but I really needed those kids to snooze. Plus, to be honest, I was more excited about seeing the Pont D’Avignon because of the children’s song. Yes, that’s my life now. Anyway, we ducked into a parking lot (which was completely stroller-friendly), took a quick spin around the massive courtyard of the Palais des Papes, and headed back to the car for that precious nap time.
Ménerbes was our base for cycling through the hills of Provence, which was really a dream come true for me. The kids loved it, too! We rented bikes, child seats and helmets from Rent Bike Luberon, and they delivered everything to us in Ménerbes. We cycled to Lacoste and Goult, where we stopped for lunch and wine. If you go while lavender is in bloom, you could also cycle along some stunning lavender farms. We’d like to go back for that!
We joined some friends who had rented a house in the “town”. I wouldn’t say Maison O is designed for tiny children, as there is no crib or cot and there are lots of stairs; but there is certainly plenty of space and one bathroom has a bathtub. If your kids are older, they can just use normal bedrooms. I was completely happy to improvise by putting Auden on the couch, and putting Tristan in an old chest. We needed to pad it with blankets and pillows, and then he was all set!
My favourite discovery of the trip was the absolutely perfect rosé from Domaine de la Citadelle in Ménerbes. You can’t really be mad at me for burying this at the end, because there can’t possibly be enough rosé for everyone. Consider this your reward for making it through the post!
I’d love to hear your Provence recommendations and favourites!