Last August we were in Provence, in the area around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence for a couple of days. The south of France is always a popular destination with a guaranteed warm summer. It was definitely sizzling when we were there and afternoon naps were a must! Here are some of our favourite places around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence that we think you will love visiting on your next dream holiday.
A dream holiday in and around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence!
Some of my best childhood memories have been spent in holiday homes in France. There is something special about everyone being together on holiday, away from the rat race and day-to-day life.
Long lunches, swimming in the pool, no schedules – except to know when the boulangerie is open! – no school runs or appointments… just being!
My family were instantly eight without adding any extras and it wasn’t always easy to find the right accommodation.
We usually chose large gîtes to rent in France, often with a pool which meant my parents got to relax a bit too as we were happy to swim as much as possible!
Big Domain specialise in large holiday homes across the UK and Europe, sleeping 8 or more people. They offer not only luxury holiday homes but also party houses for unforgettable special occasions, wedding venues and corporate venues.
If you have a big family or are planning to go on holiday with a few family groups or treasured friends then check out Big Domain’s lovely selection.
Once you’ve got to your holiday destination, there is nothing better than unpacking your suitcase and then heading to the terrace with a bottle of rosé, and perhaps some local cheese and olives, to start off your holiday the way you mean to go on!
The next morning you wake up in paradise… Provence is waiting for you with sunshine-filled days that start with coffee and croissants in the garden surrounded by lavender.
After breakfast starts your adventures off with one of the amazing markets that are held in many of the Provençal villages and towns around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence! For information on local market days click here.
The local produce is so colourful, and if you’re like me, you’ll feel like buying all the vegetables and fresh fruit in sight! Provence is well known for its local goats cheeses, and don’t forget to grab some marinated olives, fresh bread, candied fruits and nougat.
You might also find some local pesto and freshly baked pissaladière which is a Provençal pizza made with onions, olives and anchovies – trust me, it’s delicious!
By now it’s probably nearly time for lunch and the terraces of lively restaurants are waiting for you to tuck into their plat du jour:
In the afternoon, you might like to retire to your home for a ‘sieste‘ before going out again to do some sightseeing around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence:
After a warm day full of new adventures and memory-making you will definitely have earned a glass of chilled Provençal rosé back at your holiday home!
At sunset, the atmosphere is serene and eerie. Enjoy the peaceful evening and the lyrical chorus of the cicadas. Time stands still.
Just divine, isn’t it?
Is this the kind of holiday in Provence you’re dreaming of too?
After visiting the main sites of the old town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, you’ll want to enjoy some days discovering the fantastic neighbouring countryside made up of charming villages, old medieval castles, delightful Provençal views, olive groves, vineyards and craggy, rocky mountains. Pierre is now going to share a selection of the best sites to see around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
What to see around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
I (Pierre) have selected a number of must-see sites around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence that are found within a radius of 25 kilometres.
To discover the many places of interest around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, it is recommended that you have access to a car. Public transport would make it difficult to go from one place to the other… and remember, there is no train station in Saint-Rémy!
The old town of Saint-Rémy
The old town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence itself makes a great outing (if you’re not staying in town). You will need half a day to explore the narrow streets and intimate squares of Saint-Rémy.
I have published a self-guided walk that you might find useful or use for inspiration for your own exploration. You’ll find the old fountains, cobbled narrow streets lined with aged buildings, boutiques and Provençal restaurants irresistible!
The Roman ruins of Les Antiques and Glanum
On the outskirts of Saint-Rémy are some of the most spectacular Roman ruins that History has left us. They rank amongst the best architectural examples of Roman civilisation in France.
The first is Les Antiques. Under this name are two amazing edifices: the Triumphal arch and the Mausoleum.
The Triumphal arch
The triumphal arch is known for being the oldest from Narbonese Gaul, dating back to the beginning of the 1st century A.D.
It was built to celebrate the Roman conquest of Gaul by Julius Caesar. At the time of its construction, it was located at the entrance of the Roman city of Glanum.
The Mausoleum is arguably the most beautiful one of its kind from the Roman Empire which has survived perfectly intact. The monument was built in 30-20 B.C. by the Julii. This influential family dedicated the monument to their father and grandfather who had served in Julius Caesar’s army.
The antique city of Glanum
The antique city of Glanum is located at the foot of the Alpilles. The Roman ruins are among the oldest and largest archaeological sites in Europe.
The site was occupied by Celto-Ligurians in the 3rd century B.C., well before the region was conquered by the Romans under Julius Caesar.
Under Emperor Augustus, Glanum was elevated to the prestigious status of a Colonia. New buildings and monuments were constructed or old ones enlarged: a forum, various baths, temples, and a basilica. All of them are organised along an extensive residential avenue.
The city was prosperous until the Barbarian Invasions when Glanum was destroyed in a raid by the Germanic tribe in 260.
Visit the official website of Glanum.
The Alpilles mountain range
South of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence lies the Alpilles mountain range.
The Alpilles are the local ‘little Alps‘ (hence their name!). It’s not difficult to understand when you admire the craggy and rocky mountains. Their white slopes are made up of bare limestone rock and scrub.
On many occasions, you do feel like you are somewhere in Greece!
While driving or hiking across the Alpilles, you will most certainly see many remarkable panoramic views. There are great vistas to Avignon, Mont Ventoux and the Cévennes on the north side, the Plain of Crau and Arles on the south side.
The village and castle of Les Baux-de-Provence
10 km from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Les Baux-de-Provence is one of France’s most beautiful villages. Set atop a rocky spur, it displays panoramic views over the Crau plain, the Camargue and the city of Arles.
Towering the village is the castle of Les Baux. The ruined fortress is hardly distinguishable from the edge of the plateau on which it was built. Nevertheless, it still features remnants of its turbulent past: the dominating keep, the Saracen tower (taking its name from the Saracen raiders who came from the South), and the Paravelle tower (used as a lookout tower).
Eygalières and the St. Sixte chapel
12 km from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Eygalières is located to the east of Saint-Rémy. It is a typical Provençal village perched on a small hill and surrounded by olive groves and vineyards.
The village is made up of winding, colourful and narrow streets which lead up to the keep of the ruined castle.
Eygalières owes its appeal to a combination of a very agreeable lifestyle, good restaurants, food and wines. It is no surprise that many French celebrities have bought holiday homes here!
Just outside the village of Eygalières stands a Romanesque chapel dedicated to Saint-Sixte. The sanctuary dates back to the 12th century. It stands isolated on top of a rocky mount. A beautiful picture postcard of Provence!
Fontvieille and the Daudet Windmill
17 km from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
This typical Provençal village is famous for its… windmill! Known as the “Moulin d’Alphonse Daudet” the windmill is set on top of a hillock and dates back to 1814. For many years it has been associated with the memory of Provençal writer, Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897).
Next to the windmill is a small museum dedicated to the writer. From there, the amazing view stretches from the Alpilles to Beaucaire, Tarascon and the Rhône Valley.
Maybe you’ll be interested in visiting the nearby Montauban castle.
Built in the late 18th century, the château was the residence of the Ambroy family. Alphonse Daudet stayed there on several occasions. The monument is open to private visits during the summer season.
Abbaye de Montmajour
16 km from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
The formidable ruins of the fortified Benedictine monastery are a touristic destination for many who visit the region of Arles. The abbey was built between the 10th and 18th centuries.
Open to visits, the vast abbey complex is made up of six sections:
- the hermitage (11th century), with the Chapel of St. Peter
- the cloister (12th and 13th centuries)
- the adjacent Chapel of the Holy Cross ( 12th century)
- the fortified Monastery of St. Peter (14th century)
- the Tower of Abbot Pons de l’Orme (14th century)
- the Maurist monastery (17th century)
For more practical info, visit the official website of the abbey [in English]
The historic town of Arles
25 kms from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Listed by Unesco as a World Heritage Site, the historic centre of Arles is a must-see in France. Particularly if you are interested in Roman (and Romanesque) heritage sites! A few examples:
- The remarkably well-preserved amphitheatre was built in 90 AD to seat over 20,000 spectators.
- The Gallo-Roman theatre (built in the late 1st Century BC)
- The Alyscamps is a large Roman necropolis built a short distance outside the walls of the old town. It ranks as one of the most famous necropolises of the ancient world.
- The former cathedral St. Trophimus was built in the 12th century. It is considered a major work of Romanesque architecture in the South of France.
The twin towns of Tarascon and Beaucaire
16 km from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
The towns of Tarascon and Beaucaire face each other. They are only separated by the Rhône river.
Beaucaire is situated in the Gard département (Occitania region) while Tarascon is part of the Bouche-du-Rhône département (Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region).
Both towns are historic and make a great outing not far from Saint-Rémy.
And both towns take great pride in their castles.
Beaucaire boasts many hôtels particuliers from the 17th and 18th centuries.
Tarascon has a beautiful old town centred around a Baroque town hall (1648).
13 km from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Situated halfway between Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Avignon, Châteaurenard is famous for its ruined castle.
Built between the 12th and 15th centuries, the medieval castle overlooks the town of Châteaurenard. Only two towers still stand today. The castle grounds are open at certain hours.
The old village of Barbentane is set at the foot of the medieval Anglica tower.
Beyond its narrow streets, old houses and fortified gates, Barbentane has another surprise in store. That is the castle of Barbentane – nicknamed the Little Provençal Trianon.
This palace that could well be in the Paris region was built in 1674 and embellished in the 18th century.
20 km from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Avignon is nicknamed the City of the Popes. Indeed, no less than 7 popes resided in the city during the Avignon Papacy, between 1309 and 1377. The city was the seat of Western Christianity during the 14th century. It stayed a papal possession until 1791 when it became French.
For this reason, Avignon is a major touristic spot. The historic centre has been listed by Unesco as a World Heritage site since 1995. It will take you a full day to visit all the main sights.
Be sure not to miss the following sights when visiting Avignon:
The Cathedral of Avignon
The cathedral of Notre Dame des Doms dates back to the 12th century. The Romanesque sanctuary overlooks the Rhône from a rocky outcrop. The western tower is surmounted by a gilded statue of the Virgin placed there in the 19th century.
The Popes’ Palace
The Popes’ Palace (Palais des Papes) is an impressive fortress and palace built next to the cathedral. Construction started in 1316 and lasted until 1370. The medieval residence of the Popes is one of the largest Gothic buildings in all of Europe.
Sur le Pont d’Avignon…
You may well have heard about the French song “Sur le pont d’Avignon” (on the bridge of Avignon). The bridge still exists today. It is called Pont Saint-Bénézet. But it doesn’t reach the other bank of the Rhône any longer. Only four of the twenty-one piers are left. On one of the piers stands the picturesque Romanesque chapel of Saint-Bénézet.
The town is one of the few French cities to have preserved its medieval ramparts. Built by the popes in the 14th century, the 4 km long fortifications still encircle Avignon with 39 massive towers, 7 gateways, and walls surmounted by machicolate battlements.
Facing the historic city of Avignon, on the other side of the Rhône is Villeneuve-lès-Avignon. The residential town is spread out around the rocky spur dominated by the impressive Fort Saint-André.
Visit the website of Fort Saint-André [in English]
Good to know…
The area around Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is truly inspiring and we absolutely love this part of Provence. Here are a few of our tips for making the most out of your holiday there.
If you are a keen cyclist then it is a beautiful part of the world to cycle through.
Families will love exploring the Roman and Medieval ruins and learning a bit about ancient history.
We highly recommend booking a holiday home with a pool as it does get really hot in summer there. A good plan is to get up early and out before it’s too hot and then go back for a nap and a swim in the pool before maybe heading out again later afternoon.
Boutiques stay open late in France so it’s possible to go visit somewhere early evening when it will be a little cooler and then stay out for dinner or an evening stroll.
French restaurants generally do two sittings. If you’re travelling with children note the earliest you can probably book is for 7 pm or 7.30 pm but often locals will eat much later. Or why not book a private chef to come to your holiday home for a relaxed evening and have a leisurely meal once the children are in bed!
We hope we’ve inspired you to visit Saint-Rémy-de-Provence on your next trip to France! Let us know if you have been and what you thought!
More info about Saint-Rémy!
- the old town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence on the blog
- the Alpilles on the blog
- the village of Les Baux-de-Provence on the blog
- The Tourist Board of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
- The Tourist Board of the Provence region
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