Provence covers the south east corner of France, bordered by Italy to the east, the Languedoc to the west and the Haute Alpes to the north. Along the Mediterranean coast, known as the Cote d’Azur, are a string of famous resorts such as Marseilles, Toulon, Cannes, Antibes and Nice. Just inland from Cannes is the old town of Grasse, home of the perfume industry in France and surrounded by fields of jasmine, roses, lavender and other sweet-smelling flowers.
Provence is well known for its warm sunny climate, superb beaches and attractive scenery. It is one of the most exclusive, and priciest, areas of France with glamorous resorts which are the haunt of many celebrities.
The old capital of Provence was Aix-en-Provence with its famous spa springs used since Roman times. It hosts an International Music Festival each summer. The Vaucluse area has some of the prettiest villages in France to explore and Orange has some of the finest roman remains.
Provence is good walking and cycling country with fields of lavender and small towns just waiting to be discovered. The Verdon River feeds a series of lakes for sailing, water-skiing, white-water rafting and fishing for perch, carp and trout. In the winter, the Alps are popular for skiing and winter sports.
Nature lovers should head for the wetland reserve of the Camargue, home to thousands of nesting birds and pink flamingoes as well as wild black bulls and untamed horses. Art lovers can visit the home of Paul Cezanne and the Foundation Vasarely dedicated to his work. Festivals, concerts, museums and theatre all offer cultural attractions in this classy region.
Avignon has retained its magnificent legacies from when it was the residence of the Popes and it still has an impressive bridge and palace.
The Cote d’Azur is the ideal place to enjoy a holiday gites in Provence from March to November. In the summer, temperatures reach 35C (95F) with low rainfall, making it ideal for days on the beach or in the cooler mountains.
Provence is olive and truffle country and olive oil makes a particularly welcome souvenir gift to take home. Visit the caves near Rousillon where mushrooms are grown and enjoy local regional cuisine based upon cured ham, fresh fish and ewe’s milk cheese wrapped in chestnut leaves.
Holiday villas in Provence are served by regular budget airlines to Marseilles and Nice Airports. By car it is a 10 hour drive from Calais (1175km) after the ferry crossing and roads can be busy during the summer. High speed TGV trains link Paris with Marseilles, Cannes and Nice during a three hour journey. A hire car can then be rented for exploring the area.