Susana's TOP 20
In order of closest to furthest away,
travelling by car
1. Sillans-la-Cascade (10 mins)
2. Lorgues for their Tuesday market (20 mins)
3. Aups (25 mins)
4. Tourtour via Villecroze (30 mins)
5. Saint Maximin-la-Ste Baume (35 mins)
6. Gorge du Verdon, Bauduen and Quinson (40 mins)
7. Moustiers-Ste-Marie (50 mins)
8. Grimaud (50 mins)
9. Aix-en-Provence (50 mins)
10. Sanary-sur-Mer (1 hr)
11. Marseille (1 hr)*
12. Fontaine de Vaucluse (1 hr 10 mins)
13. L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (1 hr 15 mins)
14. Cannes (1 hr 10 mins)*
15. Nice (1 hr 20 mins)*
16. St Tropez (1 hr 20 mins)
17. Estagnol Beach (1 hr 30 mins)
18. Lourmarin (1 hr 40 mins)
19. Les Baux de Provence (1 hr 45 mins)
20. St Remy (2 hours)
Special mentions: Uzès, Eygalières, Pont du Gard (over 2 hours away, but well worth it for a two-day trip)
*Large cities like Marseille, Nice and Cannes would obviously take a lot more than a day to check out. If you only have a day I recommend going to the old port and fish market at Marseille, a walk through old Nice and morning Saleya market, and beachside walk on the famous Croisette in Cannes. Restaurant recommendations to all of the above destinations coming soon :)
Three day visit
If you have three days to spend here I recommend visits to: 1) Moustiers-Ste-Marie which can be combined with a stop to see the lavender (in June to early July) on the plains of Montagnac-Montpezat, 2) Aix-en-Provence for shopping OR Bauduen for a day at the lake 3) Les Baux de Provence combined with St Remy. If you still have time, do check out the quaint village of Tourtour and combine with Villecroze.
One week visit
See my recommendations for the three-day visit then add the following if you want a full schedule: Grimaud combined with St Tropez, Lourmarin combined with Eguilles, St Maximin-la-Ste-Baume with Barjols or a walk in Pontevès, Cannes (full day trip) and Nice (full day).
Two week visit
Challenge yourself to visit all 20 places on my list! Combine Aups with the Gorges du Verdon, Lourmarin with Eygalières, Les Baux with St Remy, Quinson with Bauduen, Moustiers with Aups, Tourtour with Villecroze, and Grimaud with St Tropez. Scroll down for the Top 20 list.
Department of the Gard
I recently took my other half on a memorable, two day trip to visit Eygalières, Saint Remy, Uzès, Collias, and the UNESCO heritage site, the Pont du Gard. Although the drive took a total of almost 3 hours, it was worth it. We took a morning walk in Eygalières, lunched in Saint Remy, spent the afternoon and night in Uzès, took a walk the next morning in Collias, then visited the very impressive museum and surrounding park at the Pont du Gard, the Roman aqueduct built in 100 A.D. I highly recommend the restaurant L'Aile ou la Cuisse in Saint Remy, great value for money (3 courses for 29 euros) and just walking around the Medieval town of Uzès felt like a royal treat. The hotel Entraigues had impressive, sweeping views of the town here and their beds were super comfortable. Next time we'll rent a canoe at Collias and float down the river to Pont du Gard.
Department of Aude: Carcassonne
Another fabulous weekend trip away from Cotignac - this time we drove out to the Aude. It's further West from the Gard but impressive all the same. If you don't mind the 4 hour drive, you'll love the walled Medieval city within a city of Carcassonne. Coming from America this place looked at first like Las Vegas or even Disneyland. It was unreal. It reminded me of Shrek's castle with its spiked turrets and moat. Except people actually lived here for hundreds of years. The castles were built by generations of slaves; not unlike how the pyramids in Egypt or the Great Wall of China were built. And if you like rich stews then do not leave Carcassonne without trying the specialty dish called Cassoulet: a slow cooked duck with white beans, finished off in the oven for a crusty top. It's delicious albeit a bit heavy.
We stayed at the Hotel du Roi in Carcassonne. It has a five-star rating at one end and a 4 star hotel adjacent. We did not have time to try out the Spa or the indoor swimming pool but it did look great and the views from the hotel are hard to beat. I highly recommend this place Go to: https://www.hotelduroi.com/en/
On the same trip we also stopped at Pézenas and Gruissan so stay tuned for a little summary and photos of those pretty towns too!