While I lived in the area, I had the opportunity to travel to Aix-en-Provence's surrounding cities.
I traveled to Glanum, Arles, Pont du Gard, Gorges du Verdon, Cassis, Roussillon, and I hiked up to the top of Mont Sainte-Victoire.
Glanum is an old Roman city way back when the Romans moved to France and fought the Gaulois that is now in ruins. I can’t remember why the city was destroyed, but it was, and then over time it was covered with dirt and grass, and eventually, olive trees were planted there. One day fairly recently in history, it rained a lot, the mud washed away and part of the city was uncovered. Eventually, the entire city was uncovered and archaeologists discovered what the city was. It was really interesting to learn about how the Romans lived and to be able to see parts of their lives.
I also spent some time Arles, which is a pretty small city in France in which the Romans also inhabited for a while. Just another fun fact: it’s also the place where Van Gogh cut off his ear. I visited the Colosseum, the Amphitheater, and some underground tunnels. All were very well preserved and were sooo cool to see. I also went to the farmer’s market that was going on when I first got there. It’s supposedly one of the best in France, and I can see why now. They sold so many different types of food and it all looked amazing. I also found the best macarons I’ve ever had in my life.
I was also able to visit Pont du Gard, which is the largest, most well-preserved Roman aqueduct that exists today. It was so much cooler than I expected! It was ENORMOUS: you can fit 3 airplanes on top lengthwise and it’s as tall as the statue of liberty. We were able to walk on the first level, but the top was closed off until summer. I would love to go back someday when it’s nicer and the flowers have bloomed.
Gorges du Verdon is a place that I will absolutely return to! When I went there it was a rainy day and we couldn't do much, but it was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life. The water is actually the color blue in the photos below. Although I was only able to spend a couple hours there, when I go back I would camp there for several days, and they have a couple companies where you can rent equipment, like kayaks and paddle boards, and companies for other fun excursions. Seriously friends, if you ever find yourself in Provence you need to find your way to Verdun!
I haven't been to every city in France, but I believe that Cassis might be my favorite. It's the most adorable coastal town that has so many beaches, cafes, a gelato shop, and gorges. Everywhere you look you will find beauty. I have visited the city a couple times, once to lay on the beach and another to hike around the Calanques (gorges). This is another must-see if you are in Provence!
Le Luberon is an area in the Provence region of France where many of the vineyards are located. I went on a day trip with my program there and had a fantastic time! We visited several little French towns, such as Gorge and Roussillon, had a fantastic lunch with an incredible view. In Roussillon, we were able to walk around in Les Carrières d'Ocre, which is this area made of ochre, or orange clay. I had never seen anything like it, but you do not want to get that stuff on your clothes! We also visited L’abbaye de Senanque, which is a really old abbey in Provence that has a large lavender field surrounding it. The whole trip was very beautiful I finally got to see the real Provence- the Provence that you see in pictures with the lavender fields, the vineyards, the stone houses that were built over a century ago. Unfortunately, the lavender only blooms in July so we weren’t able to see that, but it was honestly still beautiful.
One day, some friends and I climbed up Mont Sainte-Victoire. I mentioned it in my post about living in Aix-en-Provence, but the mountain is outside of Aix and you can often see the mountain when walking around the city. It's incredibly majestic and Cezanne, who lived in Aix for many years painted several canvases of the mountain. On the path we took, It was 7 miles up the mountain and 7 miles back down. By the time I got home, I was EXHAUSTED. What's really fascinating is that there is a church at the top of the mountain that has been there for centuries, and people still hike all the way to the top on Sundays in their church clothes to attend church.
The Provencal region is breathtaking, the people are incredibly nice and genuine, it's full of wine, sunflowers, and lavender, and the people who live there enjoy their lives. What I mean by that, is that they enjoy the little things- like sitting at a cafe with a dear friend for 3 hours on a Wednesday morning, or a glass of wine (or two) with dinner, or a stroll around the city after dinner. It's such an amazing way of life and I cannot wait to go back!