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Sampling the best that the south of France has to offer, this epic road trip takes you through cities containing ancient roman ruins to Avignon, the one time palace of the pope. You can even drink the famous wine named after the event, chateauneuf du pape, and sample many other fine wines, herbs and fruits as Provence is a land rich in food and flora making it an ideal road trip venue.
Below is the step-by-step itinerary with links to TripAdvisor where you can research more about each destination and find great hotel deals and compare prices.
Begin the trip in Avignon, an ancient walled city often referred to as the City of Popes due the fact that it was home to seven popes during the 14th century. This event also contributed to the production of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, a well-known wine whose name literally translates into the Popes new house. The partially-finished bridge leading from Avignon into the middle of the Rhone River (Pont Saint-Bénezet) is often depicted in photographs of the city and is also famous from the French children’s song, “Sur le Pont d’Avignon“.
From Avignon head east to the L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a popular tourist village due to its beautiful setting on the emerald-colored Sorgue River. The spring-fed river keeps the town cool during the hot summer Provence summer days and is a great location to stop off for lunch or a drink while touring the region.
Further east lies the village of Roussillon, famous for its red cliffs that were once mined for their large ochre deposits for use in textiles.
Head further east until you reach the hilltop town of Moustiers, designated one of the most beautiful villages in France perched high on a cliff and fed by a spring that flows out of the cliff directly into the center of the village.
Now loop back west taking a southerly route to the last stop, the spectacular hilltop fortress of Les Baux de Provence. The village is the origin of the name Bauxite which is the main source of aluminum and was discovered here in 1821. Walk through the village until it ends at the ruins of a castle perched high upon a cliff offering incredible views of the surrounding Provincial countryside.
Complete a circuit by ending the trip back in Avignon.
This road trip is one of National Geographic’s Drives of a Lifetime. Find out more about the Back Roads of Provence road trip and other ultimate road trips on the National Geographic Traveler Website or purchase the beautiful hardcopy book of 500 ultimate road trips from the National Geographic online store for only $40. Buy Now