Destinations Europe

Provence, France

A place where the Mediterranean weather turns fields of corn and lavender into picture-perfect backdrops, where you can sip your locally bought wine and enjoy the landscapes.

Provence is the most popular holiday region in the south of France.

It covers a large area from the Mediterranean Sea in the south up to the French Alps in the north and extends west to east along the coast from the river Rhône all the way to the Italian border.

Its identity as a geographical region being a legacy of the Roman Empire, the Provence includes the French Riviera and is famous for its sunny weather, colourful countryside, long-standing traditions and local language (Provençal).

The region’s favourable climate makes the variety of available local produce second to none. Flowers, fruits and vegetables all grow in abundance, the sea’s fish and shellfish stocks are rich and all this without forgetting those two most Provençal of industries: wine-making and perfumery.

The Provençal way of life is one that’s deeply tempting for anyone who’s been feeling the need to get away from it all. This is a place where the Mediterranean weather turns fields of corn and lavender into picture-perfect backdrops, where you can sip your locally bought wine and enjoy the landscapes before heading out and tackling them head-on with a range of great activities for families, groups of friends and adventurous foodies.

Each area in Provence has a very unique feel.

• Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence is a sophisticated and affluent town, bursting with Provençal charm. Known for its pleasant streets and quaint squares, this elegant city is bursting with museums, galleries and historical attractions.

Aix-en-Provence is a delightful city break destination and a fantastic base from which to take day trips around the region.

Aix-en-Provence is a foodie’s heaven, with entire streets devoted to small trattorias, delicatessens, cafés and bars. It’s no surprise then, that the Aix-en-Provence markets are a gourmet experience. They’re a place to indulge all five senses, and a joy to wander, working up an appetite between breakfast and lunch or as a place to socialise on balmy summer evenings.

Sustenance aside, Provence markets are also awash with linens, clothing, antiques, and fragrant rows of Marseille soap.

• Avignon

Avignon is a city with a village feel. The cultural hub of Provence, it’s the go-to place for art lovers and history buffs alike. Pair its cultural cred with leafy parks, river walks, and city squares overflowing with café terraces and you’ve got an utterly charming spot for a city break.

As you may have guessed, the best things to do in Avignon are largely centred around the city’s rich heritage.

A city in name, the inner heart of Avignon feels more like a lively village in reality. Behind the beautifully preserved ramparts lay streets bursting with history, alive with the sound of music, and adorned with art. It’s a city that will seduce you and have you yearning to return.

Known as the gateway of Provence, Avignon is a popular base for exploring the wider region. It’s often chosen as a convenient place to stay, but once visited, it wins people over and becomes a firm favourite in its own right.

What I liked the most about this city are the hotels hidden among the trees, such as the Baumaniere Les Bains, hotel where we had the opportunity to meet Glenn Viel, the 3-star Michelin elected youngest chef of the year in France, and of course let him delight our national product Iberian Ham Torrencinas.

• Marseille

Marseille is a melting pot of cultures and this plays out in the city’s diverse architecture. It’s a city that will keep you on your toes while seducing you with its raw and sometimes rugged appeal.

Often touted as the new Barcelona. But while it shares the same glistening Mediterranean shores, Marseille attractions, in general, are far less touristy and much more affordable.

Marseille has a rich sense of itself – this is, after all, where the La Marseillaise, the French national anthem comes from – and sitting at the border of southern French and North African culture, it offers edgy art, sumptuous history and delicious food.

The beaches in France’s second city are just as beautiful as any on the French Riviera. Yet, they’re more reflective of Marseille’s multicultural nature and much more inclusive than those of Cannes or St Tropez.

Marseille beaches offer lots of choice with a style for every occasion: inlets carved out of limestone cliffs, the perfect antidote after long hikes; idyllic boat trips to nature reserves on sandy islands; wide city beaches to play sport or to party with friends in luxury beach clubs like Farniente Plage.

• Luberon

The Luberon Valley is one of the most beautiful areas of Provence. Its impossibly perfect hilltop villages, landscapes of lavender and olive trees, crumbling stone farmhouses, and fragrant wild bush create a spectacle in every direction.

The lavender fields of Provence seduce visitors year after year with their heady scent and ethereal appearance. And nowhere is the scene so seductive as it is in the Luberon Valley.

Crisscrossing the plains, in between ancient villages, crumbling châteaux and poker-straight cypress trees, you’ll find a patchwork of vibrant lavender fields.

The Luberon lavender fields are not about making grandiose statements, their beauty lies in their composition. More often framed by a stately mas or old stone farm building, they’re a delight to see and to photograph.

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is the true heart of Provence, easily accessible, 20 km from Avignon TGV station and near the Marseille-Provence International Airport, a rich and charming accommodation. Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is ideally located for exploring Provence.

In the Provence hills, the chic little town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is very well popular with artists and key figures for its charming boulevards lined with plane trees, its pretty narrow streets, its shops, its cafés and restaurants, and its République square, very lively during market days.

Outside of the city is the Antiques plateau, the ancient town of Glanum. Beautiful Roman remains there include the mausoleum (18 metres in height), the municipal arch and the field of ancient ruins comprising temples, a forum, thermal baths, and an ornamental lake.

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