Jamie Ivey, author of the Moon Guide to Provence chooses the 5 best places for a Picnic in Provence.
Pont Julien, Bonnieux
The Roman Pont Julien bridge is a real survivor. Built around 3BC, the bridge straddles the Calavon river and incredibly carried traffic until 2005. Rent a bike in Apt on a Saturday morning, whizz around the market to pick up lunch and then cycle 5km or so along the car free Calavon cycle route to the Pont Julien. Climb down under the ancient arches, cool your feet in the tranquil pools of water trapped between the large rocks, and gaze up at over 2000 years of history.
2. Jardin de Pavillon de Vendome, Aix en Provence
Aix is full of students perching on steps munching on fast food. Escape the crowds and head to the beautiful formal gardens of the Pavillon de Vendome. A beautiful example of the Maison Particulier which characterise Aix, the Pavillon was constructed in the 17th century and now houses art exhibitions. Make yourself a sumptuous sandwich, pick a spot on one of the shady benches which line the walls of the park, and admire the symmetrical patterns of the flowers which converge on the central fountain.
3. Lac de Peiroou, Saint Remy de Provence
Hidden in a pine forest just a few kilometers from Saint Remy de Provence, is this tranquil small lake. Swimming is not allowed, but a pleasant shady trail leads around the Lac, and along the way there are plenty of spots to lay out a rug and enjoy the view. It’s an ideal spot to let children and dogs off the lead and enjoy a memorable picnic in Provence.
4. Pont du Galetas, Lac Sainte Croix
The adventurous and dexterous can take their lunch onto either an electric boat or pedalo, and head-up the Gorges du Verdon to gaze at the vertiginous cliffs as they snack on a saucisson-filed baguette. For those who prefer a more leisurely approach to a picnic in Provence, the Plage du Galetas, is the perfect place to set-up base. Swim, sunbathe, eat and drink, and most importantly reserve yourself a boat/pedalo for an early evening trip up the Gorges du Verdon.
5. Foret de Cedres, Luberon
For a friend’s 40th birthday, we hiked out into the depths of this wild cedar forest high in the Luberon hills. The path was occasionally vertiginous, but eventually we came to a rocky plateau with views south towards Mont Saint Victoire and north towards Mont Ventoux. The air was clear, not another person was in sight, and the afternoon passed in what seemed like a moment. The Foret de Cedres is full of secluded glades and view points where you can stop and enjoy a similar experience.