Although savvy travelers know that spring, summer, and even autumn can be glorious times to getaway to Provence, the winter is also a good season to pay a visit. As one luxury travel blogger has explained, “Although Provence is more typically associated with the summer months, those in the know make a point of ensuring they take a trip or two during the Autumn and Winter. With the crowds largely gone, you’ll be able to enjoy everything this region has to offer without having to share with others!”
Naturally, it could be argued that this is the reason to see any summertime favorite during the winter months, but when it is Provence that is the focus, there are more reasons that just “smaller crowds.”
Take the Calanques as a prime example. This is an area tucked between Cassis and Marseille, and it is a remarkably beautiful stretch of coast that is full of bays and beautiful limestone cliffs. It is a French National Park and is extremely popular with those who enjoy swimming, sunbathing, hiking and boating. However, should you visit during the peak summer seasons, it is incredibly likely that you’ll find great swaths of the Calanques closed when there is even a small risk of brush fires. It is quite common, and many who had hoped to drive the scenic stretch will be unable to enjoy the views, the towns, and the warmth of the sunny shores!
The Many Things to Do in Provence During the Winter
The Calanques are a good reason to book a luxury villa in the area, but you can also enjoy such benefits as:
- You Can Have Marseille to Yourself – Okay, so not entirely to yourself, but it is a much more accessible and tranquil spot during the winter. You can leisurely stroll the Panier, or old town, to sample the delicious beverages and snacks in the many cafes, visit artists’ shops, and see the remarkable Museum of the Mediterranean, which is typically very crowded in the summer. Even more important is that a hike up to the beautiful Notre Dame de la Garde is much more comfortable in the cooler weather, but just as scenic.
- Cheval Passion – Every winter is then when the Cheval Passion event occurs in Avignon. This is a fair devoted to everything to do with horses and you can see more than 1200 horses competing in almost 100 different events and shows.
- Avoid Many of the Million-Plus Visitors to Les Baux de Provence – This gorgeous village doesn’t look as if it could accommodate so many, but it does indeed see more than a million travelers throughout the course of each year. The good news is that the winter months are when very few of them pay a visit, so your winter stay at a luxury villa in Provence will make it far more enjoyable to stroll the old village, take in the panoramic views, and take your time in the shops and cafes.
- Savor Truffle Season – Did you know that truffle season begins in November and the rest of the winter is when you can make the most of the different truffle markets that let you sample black or white truffles from various areas in any number of dishes or presentations? It all begins in Richerenches, but the markets are everywhere in Provence.
- Touring the Camargue – The emblematic flamingos stop here during the migration every winter, and it is the ideal time to take in its dramatic mountains, its Natural Park, and more. Without the summer crowds, you can enjoy this amazing natural area, do some horseback riding or cycling, and enjoy a cool and relaxing tour of the amazing Aigues Mortes (one of the most well-preserved walled cities in France).
- Les Hivernales – This is remarkable annual dance festival that occurs in late February of each year in Avignon and is noted for its liveliness and growing popularity.
- Street Arts and Circus Festival – The Bohemians of the world love the fun and folly that is this annual, month-long celebration in Marseille. Typically beginning in late January, it has a long list of ever-changing events that will make even a day in the city more enjoyable than ever.
- Mimosas – If you thought we meant the sugary sweet cocktails, we’re sorry to disappoint. However, if you are a fan of the beautiful flowering trees known as the Mimosa, their blooming season runs throughout the winter in the Provence region. Travelers can even enjoy a formal route that includes Mandelieur – La Napoule, where a winter festival celebrating Mimosas is held every February.
- Tourrettes Violet Festival – If you are in a luxury villa in mid-February, the village of Tourrettes sur Loup has an annual Violet Festival in which the delicate blooms are celebrated.
No matter where your luxury villa is situated, you are likely to find some sort of food festival as the winter months are packed with olive festivals and fairs, sea urchin harvest celebrations, open-air seafood celebrations, and much more.
Just outside of the area, but easily a day trip is the Roquemaure area where every Valentine’s Day there is a celebration, the Fete de la Saint Valentin. Here are some relics of the saint, and the entire town dresses up in period costumes dating to the 1800s to enjoy a procession, dancing, and town-wide celebrations.
You don’t have to leave the area to enjoy winter activities during a stay in a luxury villa in Provence. The list of things to do in the winter also include stops in Lourmarin for its cafes and bars, and visits to such usually crowded towns as L’lsle Sure la Sorque, La Ciotat, Hyeres, Cassis, and Saint Remy de Provence, among others.
Don’t let the idea of winter keep you from enjoying some of the tastiest foods, lovely sights, charming towns, and other delights that are all defining factors of Provence. It is never too late to book a villa or family retreat, a romantic getaway, or a luxury holiday to this amazing region.