Just in case you're up for an outdoorsy vacation in France
In June, three generations of the Tucker-Texier family converged in the south of France. For ten days we drove around Provence in rented cars, stopping to visit medieval castles and Roman bridges and what-not. And what does this have to do with me?, you may be wondering. Absolutely nothing, unless you are looking for a really good place to have a fun family vacation that involves hiking, bicycling, or rock climbing in a UNESCO world biosphere reserve and geopark. In that case, I can recommend the Luberon region of central Provence, just east of Avignon.
Forty-six miles long and 27 miles wide, Luberon Regional Natural Park encompasses deep gorges, medieval chateaus with stunning views, hiking trails, bicycle and climbing routes, and acres of agricultural land—lavender plantations, sheep meadows, wheat fields. It's laced with narrow winding roads, and if you avoid the high season (July and August), you are unlikely to run into crowds. You can travel the entire region by bicycle, stopping in pretty little villages for rest and refreshment. The south-facing cliffs of Buoux are some of the most beautiful rock-climbing routes in southeastern France.
And that's all I'm going to say about Provence. See below for a few travel tips. In the next few days, I'll post some stuff about Vermont. I leave you with this quote from Thomas Jefferson's autobiography:
“So ask the travelled inhabitant of any nation, ‘In what country on earth would you rather live?’ ‘Certainly in my own, where are all my friends, my relations, and the earliest and sweetest affections and recollections of my life.’ ‘Which would be your second choice?’ ‘France.’ ”
How to Get There From Paris, take the train to Avignon, rent a car, and drive east. I stayed in an Airbnb.com rental in the village of Saint Saturnin les Apt, which is centrally located and has splendid views, especially from the chateau. The town of Apt is even more central, with more restaurants and hotels. Better yet, get my friend Wendy Perrin to arrange everything for you (we met at Condé Nast Traveler years ago and have been working together on various projects ever since). Get in touch with her via WendyPerrin.com, and tell her Sara sent you.
Bicycling Info Velo Loisir Provence, a group of tourism professionals, has outlined 28 one-day cycling tours in the Luberon. The routes run from 9 to 56 miles in length and are graded in three levels of difficulty. You can get more info and download maps at www.leluberonavelo.com.