Top 6 Picnic Spots in Provence
Time to eat outside
Picnics are a great way to escape from routine and spend some quality time with friends, family or your partner. Whether you opt for the seaside, a park or vineyard, they are an ode to simple pleasures and sharing.
Here are our Top 6 picnic spots in Provence:
At a novel venue
The garden of the ancient Couvent Levat in Marseille, a stone's throw from the Friche Belle de Mai cultural centre.
The association Juxtapoz has breathed new life into the Couvent Levat by transforming it into an "artist nursery" in the framework of the Quartiers Libres Saint Charles Belle de Mai project. The site already welcomes around 80 artists.
Jardin Levat offers a gorgeous countrified setting, complete with an orchard and kitchen garden open to the public.
A little anecdote: the nuns from this convent recently moved out, freeing up the site's 17,000 m2 of green spaces. The nuns were self-sufficient and lived mainly off their own produce. Rabbits, hens and even a cow lived there until recently.
Practical information: Jardin Levat is open every Wednesday and two Sundays per month from noon to 7 p.m. In May: Sunday 6th and 20th. Reminder: only outdoor areas are open to the public.
The added extra? You can pick up everything you need for your picnic just down the road at the Drogheria Belle de Mai, a solidarity grocery store where you'll find regional artisan produce and ready-to-eat dishes prepared in the little kitchen.
In a green forest
This is an easy walk for all the family. The valley features impressive natural scenery, including a river and waterfall, together with an ancient building and Cistercian Abbey built in the 13th century. An ideal spot for getting back to nature.
The site's beauty and the historic wealth of its monuments make it a family weekend favourite, where you can enjoy walking, running or relaxing under the trees... And if you want to eat sitting down, picnic tables are also available!
The added extra? Located between Aubagne and Gémenos, the SCOP Cambuza is a 100%-independent cooperative offering authentic produce from Provence and elsewhere and promoting local and fair trade.
In a fishing village
Carro is a charming little working fishing port situated just near Martigues and home to a large, half-sand, half-shingle beach.
If you're feeling sporty, you can opt for the beautiful Cap Couronne walk and picnic on the rocks – the itinerary is interspersed with welcoming little nooks set overlooking the sea – ideal for relaxing and laying down your check tablecloth.
The added extra? You can shop for your picnic at Carro market held in the Carro quarter every Wednesday and Saturday. The ten or so stallholders sell fruit, vegetables, meat and charcuterie.
On an island…
It's time to set sail for an uninhabited island off the coast of La Ciotat. This is the only island whose forests have grown back naturally. The boat bus takes you there in just 10 minutes and boom – a total change of scenery!
This is the perfect venue for a stroll, dip in the little coves or dive off the rocks, followed by a **picnic by the Med **cradled by cicada song. Simply divine!
The added extra? Nothing beats a delicious ice cream when you get back from the island… L’Ecume des Glaces offers a tempting range of ices, sorbets and refreshing fruit juices! A definite must. And if you fancy a light dinner, grab a slice of takeaway pizza napoletana and a bottle of wine here: le Four Pop !
In the vines
At Château Gassier in Puyloubier
It's time for a change of scenery, so let's set off for the vines! Château Gassier hosts a plethora of events throughout spring and summer offering a different angle on the stunning Sainte-Victoire area, including open-air yoga classes and film screenings under starry skies…
Genuine ambassadors of Cézanne's favourite mountain, the vineyard teams invite visitors to discover the local natural treasures and wines.
You can also enjoy a picnic lunch at Château Gassier at the foot of the slopes. And after lunch, what could be better than a soothing stroll along the Wine Walk?
The added extra? Château Gassier offers guests a choice of fabulous natural cuisine picnics courtesy of Aurore Aïta, chef of the L’Emeraude food truck in Puyloubier. If you'd like to sample her wares, it's easy! Simply book your hamper at the latest at midday the day before (Friday midday for the following Monday) and collect it the next day from the vineyard reception
In a park
Parc de Roques Hautes near Aix-en-Provence
This is a favourite picnic spot for many Aix families and you'll soon see why!
This 1,200-acre paradise pans out under the benevolent eye of Sainte-Victoire mountain amid the poetic rocky ridges of Les Roques Hautes.
The "Parc de Roques Hautes" is also home to 25 acres of plantations, including almond trees, fig trees, truffle oaks, asparagus and olive trees.
_The added extra? _A picnic without bread isn't a real picnic! Don't miss a visit to La Fabrique à Pain in Aix-en-Provence before you head out! You'll find bread made with natural yeast there, together with a host of delicious treats such as brioche, "pompe à l'huile" (flatbread made with olive oil) and oat biscuits.
On a beach
Plage de Beauduc in Camargue
Looking for somewhere unique? Just follow the guide to Plage de Beauduc, one of the Mediterranean's largest sandy beaches, boasting a unique decor of saltmarshes, pink flamingos and dunes as far as the eye can see...
The added extra? Take your tent, plenty of water (there is no water available at the beach), mosquito-repellent and, of course, all the gear you'll need for a beach barbecue as you watch the sun go down.
You can also hop on the ferry to pick up some tasty fish conserves (anchovy, mackerel, sardine mousse, etc.) at the Conserverie Ferrigno in Port Saint Louis!
Important: opening times 8-12 a.m. and 1.30-5 p.m. Closed on weekends
Time to row
Fancy grabbing your paddle and swishing off to the translucent waters of En-Vau fjord? Test your biceps with a kayak tour of the myriad of fjords dotted along the coast between Cassis and Marseille.