A surfer off a cove near the ocean

“Travel Diaries: Play, Learn, Serve and Rest Well” is a series about the idea of traveling well in a society that minimizes adventure and exploration to mere Instagram likes. 

When you think of the south of France, you probably think of the photos of Provence you see on postcards. These images give the same kind of wanderlust vibe that most travel bloggers evoke on Instagram. Boarding Italy and the Mediterranean Sea, Provence provides endless vineyards, lavender fields and delicious cuisine to explore.

With far too many provincial, small villages and too much ground to cover in one day, the vast landscape draws you in to make sure that you will return again.

Play

Though the picture of serenity, Provence has plenty of adventures to fill up any itinerary. Day trips are available to fill up your weekends to stops, like the Gorges du Verdon near the small town of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Swim in the striking turquoise water or rent a paddle boat or kayak as you explore the Lac de Sainte-Croix, a river canyon formed between limestone cliffs. If you are still looking for a more heart-pounding adventure at the Gorges, then bring your climbing gear. There are more than 1,500 routes to explore.

Want a more relaxing adventure to take your breath away? Provence is famous for its lavender and sunflower fields in the height of summer. Valensole is one of the most recognizable lavender fields to frolic in and gather all your lavender scented gifts nearby. A perfect stop for all photography enthusiasts, get the travel photos you once only dreamed of.

A perfect stop for all photography enthusiasts, get the travel photos you once only dreamed of.

Learn

If you are stationed near the city of Aix-en-Provence, known for producing its fair share of artists and lawyers, be sure to soak up the Roman Ruins left behind from the B.C. era, and wander the many museums Aix has to offer. Some favorites include Musée Granet, which houses paintings and sculptures, the Pavillon Vendrôme that is surrounded by a beautiful formal garden and Musée du Vieil-Aix, which was built within a 17th century mansion with furnishings to match.

To get a better look at the art of Aix, look no further than the impressionist painter, Paul Cezanne who called Aix-en-Provence home. Make a trip up to see his hillside studio, Atelier de Cezanne. It features a wall of windows where you can imagine you are painting outside with how much light floods the space. Still life objects and personal items are also on display after remaining untouched for years.

If you are still looking to get more up close and personal to experience Cezanne’s life, then visit the spots most seen in his paintings. Set aside a few hours to climb Mont Sainte Victoire. Be amazed that you made it to the top of 3,317 ft, and of course, take in the astonishing view.

Serve

Want an up close and personal experience with some of the best wine in the world? Volunteers are commonly recruited to help with grape harvest in the vineyards of Champagne, France. You can also be on the lookout for similar volunteer opportunities in the Provençal region, or if you are in search of a more in-depth look into the world of French wine, book a visit to Clos des Roses vineyard. Go with a team to pick for a grape-to-glass experience. Many vineyards will likely pay you in gratitude and a glass of rosé.

Rest

Speaking of wine, be sure to sit back and relax with a glass. The Provence region is the birthplace of French vineyards and famous for its rosé. A refreshing pick-me-up for any time of day, wine and dine with a delicious meal in one of Provence’s many open-air restaurants. You will likely also want to bring the traditional Provençal aperitif, a before dinner drink, home with you after your trip comes to an end.

For a day of relaxation in the sun, take a boat ride from Vieux Port of Marseille past the island of Château d’If (best known for being the prison within The Count of Monte Crisco) to Frioul archipelago. A small island, Frioul is perfect for a picnic in the sun and a dip in the deep, blue Mediterranean Sea. Be sure to bring your swimsuit!

There is so much adventure and things to see in the dream-like region of Provence. Be sure to set aside a good amount of time to fully take in the French lifestyle and culture to the fullest.

Have you ever been to Provence? If you could travel abroad, where would you go next?

Image via Jose Leon, Darling Issue No. 16

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