Welcome to Provence
Think about Provence and what comes to mind? Fields of lavender, sunflowers and olive trees? A slower pace of life, a Sunday lunch under the shade of plane trees in a village square, a café crème at a sidewalk café, or a long walk through a forest of oak and chestnut trees?
You may think of a village clinging to the side of a mountain, a church tower with a wrought-iron campanile where the mistral finds little obstruction, or narrow cobble-stoned lanes. And, finally, when you’re marvelling at the rocky inlets of the Mediterranean sea, or relaxing on the beach of Pampelonne, near Saint-Tropez, it’s also possible to say, ‘I’m in Provence!‘
Provence, to many a surprised visitor, also includes the Côte d’Azur. The famous towns of the Riviera – Cannes, Nice, Antibes, St Tropez are also a part of this diverse area. The French divide up their country into ‘regions’ of which Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur (also referred to as PACA) is one. This ‘region’ is then split up into six ‘departments’: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Var, Bouches-du-Rhône, and Vaucluse.
This is a vast region, of contrasts and connections, of snow-topped mountains and delightful sea resorts, of shepherds and yacht captains, of cork oak and palm trees, of a simple beef stew and an elaborate bouillabaisse. Provence is more than a lush vision that hides its complexity under a veil of simple delights. It is home to the incredible red colours of the Esterel mountains, the taste of tapenade, the scent of rosemary, the cadence of the Provençal accent, and, above all, the mistral, the fierce wind that blows down from the Alps.
Provence, a region in southeastern France bordering Italy and the Mediterranean Sea, is known for its diverse landscapes, from the Southern Alps and Camargue plains to rolling vineyards, olive groves, pine forests and lavender fields. To the south is the Côte d’Azur (or French Riviera), where the elegant city of Nice and glamorous resort towns such as Saint-Tropez and Cannes line the coast.
Pack your swimsuit and walking shoes to discover the wilderness on the doorstep of Cassis. The stretch of coast between the pretty little fishing village and Marseille boasts soaring sea cliffs and rocky inlets, known as calanques. The sparkling blue Med beckons swimmers to make the trek down to the water’s edge. Port-Miou, to the east, is the easiest to reach, just 20 minutes from the Cassis promenade. The water here is as inviting as any you’ll find at the packed Cote d’Azur beaches (St Tropez, Cannes, Cap Ferrat).
Learn more about the Provence Region of France by viewing our posts.