Italy was the next stop on our European road trip after Provence and it was stunning. The views from our hotel took our breath away in every direction we looked. Driving from France was a little hectic as people drive faster and the roads are a little narrower but it was worth it. The Coastal road, hectic as it may have been provided some of the most stunning vistas Sam and I have ever seen. We spent our brief time in Sestri Levante strolling the streets and doing our typical routine of finding the best local fares and enjoying them by the sea for sunset. The pizza was as good as they say (even though pizza isn’t my go to) and the seafood was spectacular. Our initial plan was to drive from Sestri Levante to Florence then Milan and finally back to Paris by way of Geneva through the Alps. We had an issue with our hotel in Florence which threw off the rest of the dates and we ended up opting to head back to Saint Tropez. I definitely want to come back to Italy when I have more time. I have been dying to see Venice and Milan and although it wasn’t in the cards for this trip, I’m definitely heading back soon.
Today I’m sharing my quick and easy guide to Provence. As I mentioned in my previous post, Sam and I rented a villa for our stay in Provence so we could get an authentic experience of what it would be like to live in this gorgeous region. It was a beautiful experience and below I’ve outlined a few of our favorite villages and points of interest.
Saint Zacharie – This was the village right next to our villa. It’s a sleepy little village but one of prettiest with almost every building painted in pastel hues. It had a wonderful local boulangerie and a market that sold a lot of produce from local farms.
Saint Rémy – This town is definitely a must see. The Monastary where Van Gogh spent a year and painted some of his most famous works of art like the Irises is in this town. It’s worth a visit to see his room and understand why he painted so many flowers. The Chateau des Alpilles is also located here. It’s been converted into a lovely hotel with a great little restaurant on site. Make sure to make a reservation ahead of time as it is usually booked up.
Apt – Is the perfect spot to find those iconic lavender fields. As you drive you will see stretches of purple everywhere and it’s easy to pull off and snap some pictures. Pop into the lavender distillery and pick up some fresh Herb de Provence and bushels of lavender.
Gordes – We didn’t have as much time to explore this mountain village but it’s absolutely worth the visit. It offers some of the most breathtaking views and the La Bastide de Gordes is a stunning hotel with 2 amazing restaurants. We dined at The Citadel on our last night and it was one of the best meals we’ve had in France.
Saint Tropez – Our villa was located only 30 minutes from Saint Tropez making it an easy day trip. We ended up spending 2 nights there on our way back from Italy and I’ll have a more detailed guide to Saint Tropez later on.
Happy Friday, everyone! Today I’m sharing a quick post from the first day we spent in Provence. I have been dreaming of visiting Provence since I was about 11 years old. It’s a place I always thought would feel like home, and for someone who spent the first 10 years of their life living in 3 different countries the feeling of home is totally unfamiliar. Provence did not disappoint. In fact it only solidified my resolve to find a way to live there even if it’s just for a few months. Nothing has ever felt more familiar while remaining so foreign and unattainable. I can’t possibly explain I can only show you through the pictures we took.
To get the most authentic experience we could, we decided to rent a villa in the heart of the countryside. It was the best idea we have ever had. The property was stunning full of fruit trees, olive trees, lavender bushes and wild flowers. The villa was beautiful, but best of all, our hosts were the loveliest couple. We will forever keep in touch with them. We spent our days exploring villages and our evenings cooking fresh dinners with local ingredients at the villa. I’ll have more detailed posts from our stay in Provence, but for now I hope you enjoy these photos from our local village of Saint Zacharie where every street just happens to match my dress.
P.S. That photo of me sitting down was taken right as a lovely lady peeked out of her window to tell me my dress was “très jolie”, which means very pretty in French. It melted my heart.
The first stop on our European road trip was France’s second largest city of Lyon. We had a limited amount of time to spend here, so we did our best to capture the essence of the city in just 24 hours. Lyon has a very different feel than Paris. Even though it receives almost as many visitors, the city has a calm energy and it is not uncommon to find yourself walking through a street totally alone.
We started our day with a grand breakfast spread at Mama Shelter which is the hotel we stayed in. I highly recommend it. It’s brand new and situated a few blocks from the Seine. After breakfast we strolled along the Seine people watching and taking in the city. Our next stop was a decadent lunch.
The most important part about Lyon is that it is considered to be the gastronomic capital of France. It has produced the world’s greatest chefs and this was the main reason we wanted to visit. At the top of our list was the iconic restaurant, Paul Bocuse. Bocuse’s restaurant is the oldest 3 Michelin star restaurant in the world. He is considered to be one of the most famous chefs in France and his restaurant is an ultra authentic experience in French fine dinning. The dishes found on the menu are more than iconic, they are a history of French cuisine. Make sure to bring an appetite because the portions are large, rich, and they keep on coming. This place is an experience in culinary time travel, you have to keep an open mind.
After one of the best meals of our lives Sam and I took one of those touristy boat rides up and down the Rhône river. It was the perfect way to learn more about the extensive history of the city in a short amount of time. We had a dinner reservation at another 2 Michelin star restaurant with a modern take on French cuisine, but to be totally honest we were so stuffed from lunch we never made it. Instead we grabbed a bottle of Rosé and some light snacks, settled down on the banks of the Rhône, and watched a spectacular sunset that seemed to last forever.
Lyon is a beautiful city and worth a visit if you’re looking for a new French city to explore. Make sure to follow along with my Insta Stories. We’re in Provence now on the second leg of our road trip, and off to Italy tomorrow. Let me know if you have any suggestions for the areas around Portofino and Florence.
Welcome to the first post from our European road trip. We spent our first day in Paris where we did what we do best, sit at open air cafes while people watching. We visited our favorite touristy spots like Place de Trocadéro which is the best place to get those iconic Eiffel Tower shots you see everywhere (it’s best if you go early in the morning). We also stopped by the Arc de Triomphe before being treated to an exquisite dinner at Ladurée. The next morning we picked up our gorgeous rental car from Sixt and took off on our road trip.
Follow our road trip on Instagram~ @LateAfternoon and come back to read our travel guides for Lyon, Provence, the coast of Italy and Florence.