How can I call myself a fashion editor when I've never been to Paris? It's a question I've jokingly asked myself for years, but I recently decided to skip the fashion capital of the world in favor of a jaunt through the small towns of the Provence region. Where did I get the idea? Instagram, of course. My mom and I originally booked the trip last year for my 30th birthday, but we ended up canceling due to COVID (which I'm sure sounds familiar to a lot of you).
We landed in Marseille in mid-September, rented a car, and promptly left the city in our rearview mirror, heading straight to the picturesque Luberon area of Provence, which includes villages such as Gordes, Lourmarin, Bonnieux, Roussillon, Goult, Ménerbes, and Lacoste. Scroll down to read my full fashion editor's guide to Provence.
A Fashion Editor's Guide to Provence
Village With the Best Views: Bonnieux
The Provence region is chock-full of adorable villages, but the small town of Bonnieux won my heart because of its incredible views—no hike required. The Italian restaurant La Terrazza di Bonnieux has ample outdoor dining tables with second-to-none views. Just make sure you make a reservation to nab a good seat at sunset. I also enjoyed the delicious crêpes, omelets, and ice cream on the ivy-covered patio at Glacier Crêperie Le Tinel.
I know I said you don't need to hike to admire the views in Bonnieux, but if you're willing to do a relatively short walk up a steep cobblestone alleyway toward Église Haute, you'll be handsomely rewarded with even grander vistas.
The view near the restaurant La Terrazza di Bonnieux.
If you're willing to walk a bit, an even grander vista awaits you at the Église Haute.
Chicest Hotel: Capelongue
I first came across Capelongue on Instagram and was bowled over at how beautiful the property looked. It recently came under new ownership and underwent a stylish renovation, so it's no wonder that fashion girls like Jeanette Madsen and Emma Hoareau were 'gramming up a storm during their chic stays.
What struck me the most about Capelongue is how peaceful it was. My mom and I particularly enjoyed the scenic walk from our room to breakfast at La Bastide, where they make a mean omelet. Be sure to meander over to the gym area—not for working out but for the unobstructed view of the town of Bonnieux. Speaking of the town, Capelongue is within walking distance of Bonnieux yet feels like you're in the middle of nowhere, so you really get the best of both worlds.
The hotel has two main restaurants, La Bastide and La Bergerie, as well as an adorable café that's decorated with terra-cotta tiles and charming oil paintings. My mom and I were blown away by the deliciously fresh food at La Bergerie, which is located near one of the hotel's two pool areas and boasts great sunset views.
The weather at Capelongue was still fantastic in mid-September. Be aware that tourists flock to Provence to see its famous lavender fields, which are in peak bloom from roughly mid-June to mid-July. If you're bound and determined to see the lavender, by all means, go during that time period, but Capelongue is truly a delight any time of year.
A quintessentially French scene at Capelongue.
How sweet is the hotel's café?
My mom and I reveled in the yummy breakfasts served here each morning.
Most Impressive Architecture: Notre-Dame de Sénanque Abbey
This was certainly one of the more touristy stops on our agenda, but we don't regret a thing. It was fun to learn about the abbey's rich history and see the beautiful architecture. This is also a prime spot for lavender-watching if you come in June or July, but even in September, it made for a lovely afternoon stop. Oh, and don't skip the large gift shop if you want to bring home any souvenirs.
Cutest Teatime Spot: Café Caumont
We only spent a few hours in the bustling city of Aix-en-Provence, but I had done some research beforehand and knew to make a beeline to Hôtel de Caumont for teatime. As I mentioned, I've still never been to Paris, but I imagine this beautiful parlor is as close as I've come.
After sipping tea and munching on macarons, don't forget to check out the garden and see if the hotel is hosting any current art exhibitions. While we didn't have time for it, I'd also love to check out the studio of Postimpressionist painter Paul Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence.
How sweet is this pink room?
Best Souvenir: Provincial Textiles
I'm a sucker for souvenirs, so I was on high alert during my trip for non-cheesy mementos to take home. I immediately fell in love with Provincial textiles, which feature a wide range of colors and patterns, each as beautiful as the next. I bought two different kinds and will be making them into pillows for my living room.
What to Wear for Sightseeing
Provence certainly isn't Paris, so you can leave your best blazers, trousers, and heels at home. All the quaint cobblestone streets and hilly villages call for comfortable footwear, so sneakers really are the best option. As for clothes, go for relaxed, laid-back pieces to fit the zen vibe of Provence. You're far away from the hustle and bustle of city life, and there's no need to impress anyone in the French countryside, so you might as well stay comfy in chill outfits.
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