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Provence and the Côte d'Azur

page pix Provence - the Midi- land of lavender, cypresses, Van Gogh landscapes and the singing accent of the South - has always been a magic land. Provence was the ancient Roman provincia - first of provinces, and the towns and countryside are dotted with the remains of Roman provincial civilization, from the Pont du Gard to the amphitheatres of Arles and Nimes. In the countryside, ancient and lovely villages crown the hilltops and come alive with colorful markets. Fields of lavender, hillsides of golden mimosas, the wild and empty Camargue, and the hillsides of the Lubéron form the backdrop against which the life of Provence goes on.

Despite her current popularity, Provence remains full of hidden corners, charming villages and ancient sites to be discovered by the curious traveler. Land of troubadors, of popes and princes, of moviestars and great painters, Provence is also the land of daily pleasures - of herbs and markets, blue-shuttered village houses, cuisine flavored with garlic and olive oil, legends of saints and sinners, and the brilliant wind-swept sky.


Regions of Provence

page pix Provence is not one, but several distinct regions, each having a particular character. Visiting Provence, therefore, can be a chance to sample a variety of places, or to explore more deeply in a special area.
For convenience, Provence can be divided into the following regions:

The Riviera and the Alps Maritimes
The best known part of Provence includes the Riviera with its famous resorts and beaches, itsdramatic coastline, and festivals, art collections and deluxe hotels. This region stretches from the Italian border to Cannes, and includes the glamourous Monte Carlo as well as Nice, Antibes and a host of other small and beautiful beach spots. Slightly inland the perched villages rise on their rocky outlooks. There is skiing as well in the Alpes d’Azur.

Bouches-du-Rhone
The southwestern corner of Provence is rich in Roman ruins, including the amphitheatre inArles and the ruins at Glanum. From the medieval period remains an extraordinary eyrie at Les-Baux-de-Provence. St. Rémy de Provence was home to Nostradamus, Aix-en Provence gave birth to Cézanne, and Marseilles is itself the oldest city in France.
This area also encompasses the Camargue, one of Europe’s major wetland areas with a unique heritage and culture - a romantic haunting area of guardians, horses and bulls, of marsh and sky and thousands of birds - and the pilgrimmage site of Les-Saintes-Marie-de-la-Mer.

The Var and the Iles d’Hyères
The Var’s most famous resort is Saint Tropez, but there is also a stunning coastline of red cliffs along the Esterel, the vineyards of the Côtes de Provence, and the region’s finest example of Gothic architecture, the basilica at St-Maximin-la-Ste.-Baume.


page pix Vaucluse
The Vaucluse includes the Lubéron, whose villages figure in the works of English writer Peter Mayle. The region is best known for the walled city of Avignon, once home of the popes in the 14th century. Mont Ventoux, called the “Giant of Provence,” offers challenging hiking. Fontaine de Vaucluse, Gordes, Rousillon, and l’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue are other villages, each known for its special characteristics.


Alpes-de-Haute-Provence

This most undiscovered region of Provence boasts the clearest air in France. It contains both the plains of Valensole, where fields of lavender bloom in July, and the Gorges du Verdon, the “Grand Canyon of France,” which was unknown to those outside theregion until the 20th century. Among the most picturesque villages are Moustiers-Ste-Marie, Entrevaux, and Riez.

Provence and Riviera Programs


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