How to spend 48 hours in Provence
Nobody schedules a two-day vacation on purpose, but traveling can get a little hectic. Maybe you’re on your way elsewhere and have been stuck with a long layover, or perhaps you’re dabbling in the art of booking open jaw flights. Maybe you’re on a quick business trip and you’ve got the weekend to yourself. Whatever your reason, if you’ve found yourself in an exciting location for just a few hours, why not make the most of it? It’s almost like adding a whole second vacation to the trip you’ve already planned.
Provence is a fascinating region in the south of France best known for its diverse landscapes and rich history. If you’re stranded for the weekend, there are far worse places to be. You may be thinking that two days isn’t enough time to get any real enjoyment out of your stay, but nothing could be further from the truth. Here are a few surefire ways to make the most of your brief stay in Provence.
1. Get gothic
French gothic style emerged in the 12th century. If you’re someone who thought the cathedral in the Hunchback of Notre Dame was the most interesting character, then you owe it to yourself to see some of France’s other gothic buildings in person. Provence is home to the Pope’s Palace, one of the most important high gothic buildings in the world. And unlike a lot of other historic buildings around the world, the Pope’s Palace is still host to many events and activities. In the summertime, it is home to a magnificent art exhibit, and in the early fall it is filled with a magnificent video show. No matter the season, there’s sure to be something going on that will help bring this historic building to life.
Avignon’s Pope’s Palace is far from the only piece of gothic architecture you’ll want to see in Provence. You could fill an entire photo album with pictures of the castles and palaces in and around the region. Literary fans will definitely want to take a few moments to gaze upon the Chateau d’If, or even schedule a visit if time allows.
There’s so much to see that even a month wouldn’t be enough time. If your stay in Provence is going to be short (and it probably is if you’re reading this article) then take this advice: pick a couple buildings you’re really interested in and make sure you get your fill of them, rather than trying to see everything.
2. The markets are to die for
Produce, flowers, antiques, clothes–you name it and you can find it at a southern French market. Perusing the daily or weekly markets are a great way to fill in the spare hours of your day in between other events or activities. Scheduling is loose and you’re free to come and go as you please. Market shopping or sightseeing is the perfect activity for a brief stay because of the inherent flexibility of planning.
Even if you’ve got only an hour to spare, it’s better to spend it soaking up some local culture rather than sitting in your hotel room checking Facebook on your phone. Are you learning French? The markets are a great place to practice! Some companies make a living replicating the kind of unique purchases people find at local French markets. Who knows, maybe you’ll find your own piece of priceless art.
3. Check out the Camargue
There are endless sightseeing possibilities in France, but if you’re a nature-lover and you’ve found yourself in Provence, then you don’t want to miss out on the marshy wetlands where Rhone meets the sea. The flamingoes alone are worth the trip. You can walk about on your own or partake in some of the more exotic sightseeing options like helicopter rides and horseback trails.
4. Share the sights with your friends
If you’re just touching down in France for a moment on your way to elsewhere in the world, then you’re probably not completely prepared for life in the country. After all, you’re just going to be there for a couple of days, right? But no matter how short your stay, you’ll want to keep connected while you’re there. It’s safer, for one thing, and it’s just more fun if you can keep in communication with your friends and loved ones while you’re there.
You’ve got two basic options for staying in touch while you’re in Provence. You can get a local SIM card meant to work in France (and by extension, the rest of the European Union) or you can go for a global SIM card that will work almost anywhere in the world. Europe SIM card data won’t be too expensive, so it’s definitely worth it to buy some coverage. Just make sure your phone is unlocked and you’re good to go.