Cabana founder and Editor-in-Chief Martina Mondadori shares highlights from a recent trip to Provence, spent exploring brocantes, beautiful houses and charming towns. 



The charming medieval town of Villecroze © Martina Mondadori 


I love a proper old school road trip, exploring towns and villages, being inspired to stop as you go; here are highlights from a recent trip through Provençe, some more predictable, some more off-the-beaten-track. Trigger warning for any contemporary art lover: I did NOT visit any sculpture park or contemporary art center.

As one drives from Italy, or France if you land in Nice, the first stop for any interiors lover is Villa Kerylos. We have all seen pictures of it, but nothing beats your first in-person experience in a place like this. The vision of the owner, his passion for the Greek world and its decorative motifs, is unrivalled. I was particularly inspired by the pattern motifs on walls and mosaic floors, and by the bathrooms upstairs.

Driving towards Hotel Crillon le Brave, our beautiful home for the trip, we stopped in Villecroze, a small, extremely charming medieval town with great views. There are plenty of brocantes on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in this area.


L’Isle Sur La Sorgue

The 'Capital of Antiques' does not disappoint, although it is now very touristic and extremely expensive. We went to the Sunday market, which allows you an extra mile of better-priced brocante stalls and antiques. The two highlights of the more established antique dealers in town were Bernard Durand for textiles and interesting objects, and Galerie Quattro for some glorious Provençal ceramics, a real feast for the eyes and celebration of craftsmanship. Also worth visiting (but not on a Sunday!) is the baroque Collegiale Notre Dame des Anges Church. 


The main purpose of my stop in Arles was to see Francois Halard’s house. It was a bit of a dream come true as I had been raving about his interiors since the very first time I saw pictures of them. But still it exceeded all expectations (not easy with me!). His layering, collecting, use of color, texture, wallpapers and fabrics is truly masterful. Read our Masters & Muses interview with Francois Halard.


A Provençal table setting, © Joanna Maclennon


A few other interesting spots to visit in and near Arles include: Fondation Vincent Van Gogh, and the artist's bedroom at the Saint-Paul asylum in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence; Museon Arlaten, dedicated to the ethnography and crafts of Provence; Musée Réattu for Fine Arts; and Vague, a shop and gallery recently opened by the Japanese artist, Teruhiro Yanaghihara. And of course, just strolling through the streets of Arles will give you a real sense of this wonderful coastal city.


No weekend in Provence is complete without a stop in Avignon. Famous for its unbelievable medieval papal palace, the highlights for me were Musée Calvet, Avignon's impressive Fine Arts museum, and the more discreet Musée Louis Vouland, which has a very original, beautiful collection of ceramics on the first floor. The Asian room, also on the first floor, is equally mind-blowing.


A Provençal table setting © Joanna Maclennon


This was the highlight of my Provençal road trip, because it was totally unexpected. Less well known than Arles or Avignon, we primarily drove to Tarascon to visit the Souleiado factory and Atelier Vime’s house and newly-opened shop in nearby Vallabrègues, but also discovered a completely charming historic town. 

Souleiado has a long-standing tradition of block printing the archetypal 'Provençal fabrics', cotton fabrics with bright floral patterns. Nowadays they mainly produce fashion and apparel, but in their museum you get a sense of the incredible history of textiles and block printing, as well as traditional Provençal costumes. I gathered leftover yardage of vintage upholstery fabrics and borders, knowing that some day sooner or later I will use them (this is a rule of mine when decorating: if you find worthy fabrics or objects, buy them, at some point they’ll turn out to be useful!).

Atelier Vime

What impressed me most about Tarascon is its utterly untouched charm. Every single street has a palace or house worth looking at, whether for its unusual color or decadent-yet-run-down architectural features. 

Just a few kilometers from Tarascon, in Vallabrègues, lies Atelier Vime’s house and shop: an hôtel particulier four rooms and a courtyard, keeping it all real and authentic. Founders Benoit Rauzy and Anthony Watson have a very unusual eye; they aren't afraid of 'looking backwards' to embrace the charm of a bygone era. 


Atelier Vime have perfected a simple rural chic in their Provençal hôtel particulier, filled with beautiful objects and aesthetic nonchalance. Their curation of every detail is impressive, and their brand one to follow.


Inspired by Provence

Read interviews with creative legends who've made Provence their home

The Interview: Christian Lacroix

The Interview: François Halard

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