Supermarkets stock big-brand toiletries but local pharmacies (there is one in most villages, look for the green cross sign) will have the better quality ‘cult’ brands of skincare, suncare and haircare such as La Roche-Posay, Darphin, Bioderma and Nuxe. Bigger towns will have a Marionnaud or Sephora selling perfume, make-up and skincare.
For even basic medicines such as aspirin you will need to go to a pharmacie. One medicine that may be sold over the counter where you live but needs a prescription in France is anti-histamine, for example Clarityn for hay fever.
‘Bio’ is French for organic – more and more Bio shops are cropping up. Look out for Bio-Coop – a mini supermarket selling organic and special dietary foods, also organic skincare brands such as Dr Hauschka.
All supermarkets have an organic (bio) section and a special dietary section (gluten-free, sugar-free, weight-loss). Most also have a ‘global foods’ section – the focus is on Asian food with some American and British staples. You can even find Marmite, proper teabags and baked beans if you look in the right place.
Clothing – summer
In Provence in summer you will probably be eating outside 3 times a day. The climate of inland Provence is low-humidity and dry. Low humidity means it is cooler at night. If there is a summer storm coming, it will be more humid.
Provence’s hottest month tends to be July and daytime temperatures can reach the high 30s (95-100F). Although even in July, in the evening you may need a thin sweater some days.
We’ve found lots of forums giving very specific advice on what to pack, but as we haven’t met you yet we’ll just give a few pointers!
Yes this is a holiday destination, but you may feel underdressed wearing beachwear out and about, unless you are actually by the sea.
It’s a hot summer sun – think hats, sunglasses, open shoes.
You won’t feel out of place if you dress up in the evening – we find locals tend to look smarter than visitors – this is France after all!
We found some forum comments horrified at the thought of Birkenstocks and shawls for Provence – in fact both are much loved by locals – a shawl is perfect when the evening cools, and Birkies make the perfect all-terrain hot weather shoe!
Clothing – mid and low season
The good news is that Provence’s dry climate and endless sunshine make cold temperatures more comfortable. Even at 5C (40F) in winter a sheltered spot in the sun will get quite toasty. The only enemy is the mistral wind – if it blows strong you will need to wrap up warm with hat, scarf and gloves.
Mid-season can be a very mixed affair with days of T-shirts and no socks along with days of sweaters and scarves – layers are your friend!
Low-season days tend to start off cold, but it’s not uncommon to have lunch outside on a sunny winter day.
Now you know how to pack for Provence, take a look at our hand-picked Provence vacation rentals!