The Alpilles region, located in the South of France, is a hidden gem that should be on every British tourist’s travel bucket list. With its picturesque villages, breathtaking landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, this beautiful area offers a unique experience for British holidaymakers seeking an authentic taste of Provence. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the loveliest villages in the Alpilles, how to get there from the UK, what to see and do, the region’s gastronomy, and the best time to visit.
Getting to Alpilles from the UK
For British tourists, getting to the Alpilles is relatively straightforward. The nearest airport to the region is Marseille Provence Airport (MRS), which offers direct flights from several UK airports, including London, Manchester, and Edinburgh. From Marseille, it is an easy drive to the heart of the Alpilles, taking approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes by car.
Alternatively, British holidaymakers can travel to the Alpilles region by train. The Eurostar connects London St Pancras International to Avignon TGV station in just over 6 hours, with a quick change in Paris or Lille. From Avignon, it is a short drive or local train ride to the main villages in the Alpilles.
Loveliest Villages in the Alpilles
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is a picturesque town in the heart of the Alpilles, known for its Roman architecture and as the muse of Vincent Van Gogh. Wander through the charming streets, admire the stunning views, and explore the Glanum ruins to experience the history of this captivating town.
Van Gogh’s Legacy
While in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, British tourists should not miss the opportunity to follow in the footsteps of Van Gogh. The artist created some of his most famous works, such as Starry Night, during his time in this town. Visit the Saint-Paul-de-Mausole monastery, where Van Gogh was a patient, and take a stroll through the surrounding countryside to see the landscapes that inspired his art.
Just a short drive from Saint-Rémy, Les Baux-de-Provence is a medieval fortress perched on a rocky outcrop in the Alpilles. This popular tourist destination offers dramatic sunsets, outstanding views all the way to the Camargue, and the opportunity to explore its ancient streets and shops. Don’t forget to check out the Carrieres de Lumieres, a unique art experience housed within the village’s limestone quarries.
Eygalières is a charming village that British tourists will love for its lovely paved streets, stone houses, and incredible views of the Alpilles. Surrounded by olive tree orchards, this picturesque town offers a farmers’ market frequented by locals and a chance to visit the small chapel at the top of the village.
Aureille is a peaceful village located on the south side of the Alpilles, offering British holidaymakers a break from tourist traffic. With stunning views, challenging hiking trails, and a historic 12th-century castle, Aureille is a perfect destination for those seeking a quiet escape in the heart of Provence.
What to See and Do in the Alpilles
Hiking and Biking
The Alpilles region is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a range of hiking, mountain biking, and road cycling opportunities. The rugged limestone peaks and rolling hills provide challenging trails and stunning panoramas for adventurers to explore.
No trip to the Alpilles would be complete without sampling some of the region’s finest wines. Visit the vineyards and cellars in the area, such as the Caves du Romanin in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, and enjoy a wine tasting while admiring the beautiful Alpilles landscapes.
The Alpilles boasts a rich cultural heritage, with numerous monuments and historical sites to explore. From the Roman ruins of Glanum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence to the medieval citadel of Les Baux-de-Provence, British tourists will be immersed in the fascinating history of this region.
The Alpilles region is famous for its olive oil production, with Maussane and Mouriès being the top producers in France. Be sure to sample some of the local olive oils, as well as other regional specialities, such as the famous herbs de Provence, local cheeses, and delicious wines.
From quaint bistros to Michelin-starred restaurants, the Alpilles has a diverse culinary scene that will delight the taste buds of British tourists. Enjoy a leisurely meal in a charming village square, or indulge in some fine dining with a stunning view of the Alpilles.
Best Time to Visit Alpilles
The Alpilles region can be enjoyed year-round, with each season offering its own unique charms. Spring and autumn are ideal times to visit, as the weather is mild and the tourist crowds are smaller. Summer is a popular time for British holidaymakers, with warm temperatures and plenty of outdoor activities, while winter offers a quieter, more intimate experience of the region.
In conclusion, the Alpilles region is a must-visit destination for British tourists seeking an authentic, picturesque, and culturally rich experience in the South of France. With its charming villages, stunning landscapes, and rich heritage, the Alpilles offers a unique and unforgettable holiday for British holidaymakers looking to explore the heart of Provence.