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There is something magical about the South of France. From Nice and the French Riviera to the lavender fields and hillside villages in the Luberon Valley of Provence, there’s nowhere quite like it. Somehow, the best villages in Provence manage to feel untouched and undiscovered – despite Provence being a major tourist hotspot.
Maybe it’s how the buildings don’t change; how the businesses don’t cater to the whims of tourists; how the Provencal attitude towards fresh, accessible food means that despite being in the most beautiful place in the world, you can still eat a wheel of fresh cheese for under two euros and a baguette for 75 centimes. Ahh, Southern France. You just get me.
I traveled around the villages of Provence for a week, basing myself in the Luberon Valley. Provence is a surprisingly large region, and distances between villages can exceed two hours. All these towns in Provence are within a short drive of each other, so it’s ideal for a short trip, whether it is a few days, a week, or longer.
Provence is a place where time just melts, and the days stick together and drag out in the most delightful way. So no matter how long you think you need to discover the best towns in Provence, I recommend you double it.
Best Villages in Provence
Below is a list of 6 of my favorite villages in Provence — and the last is my absolute #1. I’ve listed what the best villages to stay in Provence are for each type of traveler and their priorities, and I’m also listing a few hotels I recommend in the area, though I haven’t stayed at any personally (we had three people so we opted for an Airbnb).
You could also visit these cities as day trips from Nice if you have less time to spend in Provence.
Roussillon: for natural beauty and nightlife
One of the most beautiful villages in Provence, this town is set aside gorgeous ochre cliffs, and when the sun sets, it sets the cliffs gloriously ablaze.
The architecture matches this intense hue with buildings to match. The orange facades of the buildings look as if the paint was taken straight from the cliffs themselves — because it was!
Roussillon is definitely one of the livelier of the villages in Provence in terms of nightlife. When we went, there was a massive assembly of people assembled watching a soccer game, with pop and dance music blaring loudly. There were plenty of restaurants and shopping opportunities.
Overall, though, this town seemed to lack some of the charms of the other Provence villages, despite the gorgeous setting and the lovely red brick.
Where to Stay in Roussillon: For budget, I always recommend Airbnb (sign up here for a free credit off your first stay). For a mid-range hotel, check out Les Passiflores, which get rave reviews for its delicious dining and French wines, and has affordable yet tastefully decorated rooms. If you are looking for luxury, I can think of no more luxurious place to stay in Provence than Le Clos de La Glycine with their duplex suites, stunning valley views, and beautiful flower-covered terrace.
Gordes: with hordes of tourists and gorgeous views of the Luberon
This hilltop Provence village is worth visiting for the stunning vista alone, which looks out over the amazing Luberon Valley. On your way up the mountain up to Gordes, you get the most beautiful view of the entire town built on the hillside. It’s like something out of a fairy tale (except that most fairy tales don’t include selfie-stick wielding tourists). Still, everyone flocks there for a reason, and despite being filled with tourists, this Provencal village is chock full of charm.
Gordes also has one of the more charming centers, with alleyways that are easy to get lost in, and a beautiful 12th-century church. It also has the added benefit of being close to the iconic Abbaye de Senanque, with its gorgeous lavender fields that are on everyone’s European bucket list.
Where to Stay in Gordes: As one of the more touristic villages in Provence, there are plentiful accommodation options, but the prices are a little higher than other towns in Provence. True budget seekers should always check Airbnb (sign up here for a free credit off your first stay) for the best options.
But if you prefer a hotel or B&B, I have a few recommendations. Domaine de L’Enclos is the highest-rated B&B in town — guests love the stunning garden, the private terraces in many rooms, private parking, and ability to rent bikes. The price is on the affordable side for pricy Gordes. Another good mid-range option is B&B La Burliere, loved for its traditional Provencal stone house architecture, family-owned feel, and freebies like bike rental, breakfast, and parking.
For those seeking a more luxurious experience, see if there’s availability at Hotel Le Jas, with a pool in a beautiful garden to keep you cool during those hot Provencal summers, and the most postcard-perfect view of Gordes.
Bonnieux: for upscale travelers and unbeatable views
Like Gordes, Bonnieux is considered one of the most beautiful villages in Provence, though this time the view you get is best upon leaving the city headed towards Buoux.
In fact, if you drive towards Buoux, you’ll encounter one of the most beautiful open lavender fields that all of Provence has to offer — at least, it was the prettiest we found in our week of road-tripping around the French countryside.
There’s also a 12th-century church up at the top of Bonnieux, which you usually can’t enter – but it’s worth a walk up to the top to get these views of the Luberon Valley spread out below you.
Just look at how much wide open space there is, and those red-tiled roofs! Swoon.
However, Bonnieux is definitely a little more upscale than some of the other quaint villages in Provence, with expensive shopping and pricier restaurants to boot.
Where to Stay in Bonnieux: While Bonnieux is pricier than some of the other villages in Provence, there are some mid-range options that offer better value than most (and, as always, Airbnb is an option, especially if you use my link to book your first stay at a discount). Les Clos Les Eydins is one of the highest-rated hotels in all of Bonnieux, a beautifully renovated farmhouse with a pool for hot summer days. Le Mas Del Sol also has a pool, a garden, and a terrace with lovely Provence views.
Meanwhile, if you’re seeking luxury, you’ll find it in spades at Le Domaine de Capelongue, which is a 4-star hotel with fully equipped apartments, air conditioning (perfect for those hot summer days), and assistance with booking all sorts of memorable activities like hot air ballooning. The rooms are impeccably furnished, making it ideal for a special occasion or vacation.
Fontaine de Vaucluse: for river views and adventure
Of all the villages in Provence, this one has perhaps the most natural beauty. This cute little town is set on the beautiful Sorgue River, which must be seen to be believed.
It almost looks as if a jungle has been permanently flooded with the clearest water you’ve ever seen. So much plant life grows at the bottom of the river that it is a vibrant shade of green, both alien and wholly natural. Where the river gets deep, there are spots of brilliant blue turquoise.
There is an amazing kayaking trip starting from Fontaine-de-Vaucluse and ending in L’Isle-Sur-La-Sorgue that I highly recommend doing while in the Luberon area of Provence.
Where to Stay in Fontaine-de-Vaucluse: This is one of the smaller villages in Provence, so accommodation options are more limited. I recommend the Appartement Paisable for mid-range budgets or Hotel du Poete for more luxurious budgets. You could also check Airbnb.
Lacoste: for history lovers
This small town is best known its most famous resident: the Marquis de Sade, the man who gave his name to sadism by garnering a reputation for his… strange sexual habits. His history lives on in the remnants of his burned down castle at the top of this quaint little hilltop village in Provence.
Unsavory history aside, this is a beautiful little town, with a few cafés and not much else. It is also home to an art school, so there are quite a few American and other foreign exchange students.
Because of this, it has a younger vibe than the rest of the towns, which skew older. The Café de Sade is a great place to lunch, with gorgeous views looking over the Luberon Valley.
Where to Stay in Lacoste: For those who prefer quaint B&Bs at affordable prices, Lacoste is perfect, as there are no large hotels in town that I’m aware of. I recommend the highly-rated B&B La Bastide Desmagnans for their adorable rooms with mountain views, or Le Clos Des Lavandes for their lavender garden and friendly staff. There may also be Airbnbs, depending on the time of year and availability.
Goult: the just-right village for travelers in search of calm and charm
I’m going to say something kind of controversial: this may well be one of the most beautiful villages in France.This small Provencal village lacks the big draws of the other – and therein lies its appeal. It doesn’t have the gorgeous mountainside views of Gordes or Bonnieux, nor the stunning ochre cliffs of Roussillon. So why, then, is this my favorite of all the Provence towns?
It has a sense of peace and quiet that other hill towns don’t have, which is why I think it’s one of the best villages to stay in Provence. Like all of Provence, there are plenty of tourists; you’re just as likely to hear English or German as French. Still, the day-trippers with their selfie sticks seem to have not descended on Goult – at least yet.
It has both everything you need – a boucherie, a boulangerie/patisserie, a fruitier, a café, and plenty of restaurants.It has an amazing épicerie, which is basically a New York bodega, except you can buy duck a l’orange terrine for 4 euros there (so I guess not like a bodega at all).
The architecture is also some of the most beautiful, in its understated way. The facades of the buildings are either limestone brick or pale hues of salmon. The potential monotony of this palette is dispersed with doors and shutters in vibrant pastels, so photogenic that I couldn’t stop snapping away every few minutes.
Definitely one of the prettiest villages in France.
Goult’s Thursday market is unreal, a hedonistic celebration of the senses: lavender sachets and spices, crisp soft linens, the ripest strawberries, the softest cheeses….
Had I not been limited by my backpack, half the town would have been coming home with me.
There are so many quiet places to take in the sunset, without anyone else around. It’s really a magical place, and one I’ll be back to time and time again.
Goult is just one of the most special places I’ve been.
Where to Stay in Goult: Goult isn’t that popular with tourists yet, so there aren’t as many accommodation options as in some of the larger Provence villages. I’d recommend either Villa Lumieres (with a pool for those hot summer days) or Hotellerie Notre Dames Des Lumieres, a former 17th-century convent that’s been transformed into a modern hotel (and also has a pool). As you might have been able to tell — a pool is pretty much a must if you stay in Provence in the summer.
I personally stayed in an Airbnb and it was incredibly affordable split 3 ways. I have a discount below if it’s your first stay!