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Provence, France: Part 2
Provence, France: Part 2
Provence, France: Part 2 [aix, gordes, lacoste, marseille, & bastide de marie]

On to part two of our trip to Provence! Yesterday I shared about our home base in Goult, and today’s post features five of the day trips we made during our stay.

If you’re interested in checking out the rest of our trip, you can find the posts here:

Provence: Part 1 + Part 2 (you are here) + Part 3
Barcelona: Part 1 + Part 2

Gordes

This is one of the “postcard shots” that’s often shared from Provence! This little village set on the hillside is only about 10 minutes away from Goult, and we loved this view so much that we came back for a second visit on a different day.

Aix-en-Provence

Aix (pronounced like the letter X) is a small but vibrant college town. I had heard the name so often before our trip and was curious to see what the hype was all about!

I had one sole purpose for our day in Aix: to eat as many delicious pastries as possible. Mission accomplished with absolutely zero regrets!

Our first sugar stop was Maison Weibel, one of the most popular bakeries in town. Although it’s located in a bustling square, we found a little pocket of peace in the colorful chairs outside the bakery. Such a great shaded spot to people-watch (that’s true for so many places throughout Aix!)

My mom loves The Little Prince, so this library stop was mandatory!

Aix’s beautiful fountains made the hot day seem a little cooler. Here’s the main fountain at the Rotonde, which is a central roundabout where locals hang out. We followed their lead and picked up to-go crepes from a little underground shop, then we ate them and people-watched by the fountain for awhile.

This square, called Place d’Albertas, ended up being one of my favorite parts of not only Aix, but the whole trip. I stayed here for a couple of hours just listening to a guitarist play and admiring the architecture (keep reading – there’s actually a hilarious story behind it).

 

One of my favorite things to do when we travel is to Google where we are and see what comes up. While I was listening to the guitarist, I thought I would see what I could find about the beautiful plaza…and I was so surprised to read about its quirky history! To keep the blog family-friendly, I’ll re-direct you to read more about it here. 😉

Of course, once I read about the design of the balconies, I couldn’t un-see them…and then I had fun looking at all the other unsuspecting tourists who simply thought they were looking at a beautiful everyday plaza…just like I had five minutes earlier!

Although we didn’t visit the L’Occitane factory (it’s further east toward the lavender plateau), it was fun to see one of their iconic yellow storefronts in Aix.

Aix is known as the city of a thousand fountains, and we truly appreciated finding water everywhere to help make the hot day feel cooler!

I’ll never travel to Europe again without my TOMS shoes! I’ll never forget the time we went to Rome and I tried to wear cute shoes…then quickly caved due to blisters and searched desperately for a store where I could buy TOMS. Lesson learned!

I’m such a sucker for a good umbrella display 😉

 

Bastide de Marie

E and I usually like to eat mostly quick/cheap meals when we travel, and then occasionally we splurge on a couple of really nice ones. Our dinner with Giuseppina was one, and this was the other! We heard great things about this hotel and made a day trip out of our visit for lunch.

My lunch date! E often makes silly faces when I ask to take his picture (a true photographer’s husband, ha!) So when I do get a genuine smile, it’s a framer for sure. 🙂

The food was heavenly, as others had promised!

We each enjoyed a glass of the house wines, made right in their vineyard.

The hotel grounds were absolutely stunning! We enjoyed just hanging out in the lobby for awhile – such a nice respite from the heat (avoiding the sun became a recurring theme with our afternoon plans).

We also went for a walk to explore the extensive property, including the vineyard and this lovely rose walkway:

Again with the quintessential blue shutters! I absolutely loved seeing these!

Lacoste

This village was only a quick 15-minute drive from Goult. We enjoyed sipping a cappuccino under the patio umbrellas at Cafe de la France, a lovely restaurant with a killer view of the valley below. I could’ve stayed all day!

During our visit, we learned that Lacoste is actually home to a SCAD location for students studying abroad. What an amazing college experience that would be!

We chose not to pay the admission fee to go inside Château de Lacoste, but the hike to the top of the village was well worth it for the view of the valley below!

Getting around Provence required a good amount of driving, and our drives were some of my favorite parts of the trip. It’s really as picturesque as you would expect from the movies: winding roads, terraced landscapes, vineyards everywhere, and quaint stone houses scattered throughout.

Marseille

Marseille is the second-largest city in France after Paris, and it has the largest port in the country. Besides its recognizable name, we hardly knew anything about the city and had zero expectations before our visit.

It’s impossible to really get to know a place in one day, but our initial impression was that Marseille is full of vibrant energy and a little more rough around the edges. It’s not as traditionally charming or picturesque as the rest of Provence, but the lively pace of Marseille was an appealing contrast to the rest of our slow days in France.

While searching for a coastal day trip on Google Maps, Les Calanques caught my eye. Originally we thought about hiking through the park to see the water, but closures due to fire risk in the summer meant that we couldn’t park close enough to start the hike. Instead we decided to check out the cliffs from the water, and we caught a boat tour from Vieux Port. We really enjoyed being out on the water.

E’s one request in Marseille was to walk to the top of Notre-Dame de la Garde. We walked up this gorgeous street as part of the climb. I had to stop to catch my breath many times (& later I put 2+2 together that my fatigue that day was my very first pregnancy symptom).

All those steps were worth the view!

My one request for Marseille was to find some legit macarons. We followed local recommendations and tried Pâtisserie Amandine. Between the steps to Notre Dame and the hike uphill to get to the bakery, we definitely got our steps in that day! Thankfully the macarons were delicious and I was able to eat those burned calories right back! 😉

We ate a quick dinner by the water before driving back at sunset.

One last picture that doesn’t really fit anywhere else: here’s a view of the coast from the plane as we landed in Marseille from Barcelona. Hopefully I’ll be able to share the Barcelona photos soon too! 🙂

 

If you’re interested in checking out the rest of our trip, you can find the posts here:

Provence: Part 1 + Part 2 (you are here) + Part 3
Barcelona: Part 1 + Part 2

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