Hello! Our #travelwithkayu series is back and this time we’re going to the South of France with Jamie Lim, the founder of KAYU.
One of the things I love most about my job is the amazing places I get to visit. Each year I make a trip to Paris to meet buyers, get inspired and catch up with old friends. I rarely leave the city as there’s always something to do and see. This year however I made it a priority to take some time off and really explore France. Our family spent three blissful weeks traveling through the country – from buzzing Paris to the lazy Languedoc region, on to the breathtaking hill tops of Provence and then down to the Riviera. It was one of the best vacations I’ve ever had, made even more special because I had my two year old son Kyson with me.
We covered quite a bit of territory during our three weeks there, the highlights of which I’ve outlined below. We really wanted to rest and relax so I don’t offer much advice in terms of sights. To be honest, most of our time was spent having languid lunches (while Kyson was napping), lazing on the beach and watching the sunset with a glass of rose. I can’t think of a better way to spend a summer.
Geographically, Provence covers the region left of the Rhone River and extends until the Italian border. It’s a large area that includes a multitude of villages, bustlings towns and never ending lavender fields. It can be difficult deciding what to see and do given the extent of the region. My advice is to pick a central base which minimizes your driving time and focus on just covering one town a day.
Where to stay
We knew that Provence could get crowded in the summer so we wanted to stay somewhere secluded and private. We chose the little town of Joucas which is relatively unknown but situated conveniently next to all the major attractions. The photos on the website did not do the hotel justice. Situated amidst rolling hills with breathtaking views of lavender fields, impeccable service and an excellent restaurant, we throughly enjoyed our time there.
Tip: Go for the pool suites which feature a spacious living room and private pool overlooking the Luberon landscape.
Things to do
Saint Remy de Provence
One of my favorite towns is the charming village of Saint Remy. We enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Gus and spent the afternoon wandering through its narrow streets. Van Gogh produced more than 150 paintings here and a trail around the surrounding countryside covers the key locations of these works. It was also the home of Nostradamus.
One of the biggest attractions near the town of Gordes is the Sénanque Abbey. Founded in the 12th Century this is a working monastery surrounded by fields of lavender. Visit to soak in the beautiful views of the honey colored buildings and picturesque hills.
Afterwards be sure to visit the hilltop village of Gordes. Perched perfectly on the southern edge of the high Plateau de Vaucluse it offers stunning views of the Luberon and was voted one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Isle sur la Sorgue
When in Provence you must make time to visit the many markets that are held throughout the week. We visited the large Sunday market at Isle de la Sorgue which is an antique, food and flea market rolled into one. We stocked up on fresh bread, cheese, and fruit pates. I also discovered the most delicious cookies I’ve ever eaten at Les Secrets de Lola. Now I just need to figure out how to ship them to the U.S….
Again we wanted to avoid the crowds, so stayed away from Nice, St Tropez and Cannes. If you’re looking for seclusion I recommend St Jean Cap Ferrat.
Where to stay
The Royal Riviera ticked all the boxes for us; private beach, gorgeous sea views and an outdoor heated pool. It’s walking distance to both Villefranche-Sur-Mer and Beaulieu-Sur-Mer, two charming towns that are worth the visit.
Tip: Splurge on a sea view room. The mountain view rooms face a train station and are very small.
A good mid-point when driving from Provence to the the Cote D’Azur, Cassis is a delightful seaside town. The main attraction here are the Calanques, inlets carved into white limestone. Have lunch at the many restaurants in the town center (we loved L’Atelier Traiteur) and then board a boat (or hike) to visit the rugged cliffs.
We loved the laid-back town of Antibes. The beach was wide with calm waters that were perfect for my son. The town center has a fun daily market and lots of boutiques if you need to get some shopping done.
For your art fix head to the Picasso museum, an impressive castle that Picasso stayed in when he lived in Antibes. The only museum dedicated to his work, it houses the drawings and paintings he created while living in Antibes as well as some of his more unusual ceramic pieces.