Eating and Biking My Way Through Provence
I’m back from an extraordinary trip to France. I wandered through Paris by foot, I biked the hills of Provence, sipping un café in every pretty small town, and I got into the sunny spirit of Montpellier, a college town with a Mediterranean spirit.
I ate croissants at every turn, sampled the goat cheese from each region of Provence, and plucked grapes right from the vine. I indulged in steak and frites, smeared my baguette with foie gras, and sipped glass after glass of wine, red and white. I admired how mealtime, in France, delivers as much joy from the co-diners as the (really good) food, and I loved watching how little anxiety sits between a Frenchwoman and her meal.
I thought I’d share some images of the trip. They’re mainly focused in three areas: pretty landscapes featuring the region’s abundant produce, adorably old small towns, and food. There are a few more details at the bottom, in case you’re planning a trip!
Let’s start at Les Baux, a town originally settled by the Romans…
For the first time in my life, I used a travel tour company. I figured it wouldn’t be easy to rent a good bike, repair any bike issues, and carry all my gear with me as I rode. I was right. Backroads was an awesome company to travel with, and I would use them for another biking vacation. They planned amazing routes, provided support in the form of vans, water, and food, and reserved us great rooms at inns in Les Baux, near Menebes, and in Mazan. We rode through many towns in between, including Les Baux, Saint-Remy, Fontaine de Vaucluse, Oppede le Vieux, Menerbes, Lacoste, Rousillon, Gordes, Venasque, and Sault, starting and ending in Avignon. Foodwise, if you go to Provence, you must try banon, an aged goat cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves, olive oil, olives, anything lavender flavored, and a sweet bread called fougasse aux aigues mortes. Other than that, I subsisted on the American-visiting-France standards: steak, frites, foie gras, baguette, butter, croissants, and pain au chocolate. Yum!
For food recs in Paris, I referred to David Lebovitz for recommendations, with a happy few extras from Anna and Mardi. In Montpellier, I absolutely adored staying in the Baudon de Mauny, a converted 18th-century townhouse. If you go, don’t skip lunch on the terrace at Les Bains, one of the most pleasant meals I had. You’ll also want to pack a picnic and people watch over by the aqueduct, near the city’s Arc de Triomphe.