Some have called it a bridge between past and present, the Greeks and Romans filled the landscape with cities boasting baths, theatres and arches; its beauty and brilliant sunlight inspired artists the like of Van Gogh and Picasso for more than a century; its sweet, fresh air is perfumed by endless fields of lavender and its cuisine, a marriage of mountains and seaside enchants any palate.
Driving in Provence will give you lots of opportunities to head off the beaten track and discover places that are beautiful and intriguing.
Some places to visit:
Aix en Provence: Beautiful and plentiful gardens and fountains as well as 17th century mansions and sidewalk cafes.
Arles: Roman ruins including one of the most well preserved Roman amphitheaters (1st century) in existence. Home to Van Goghfor many years, Café de Nuit, made famous by Van Gogh?s like-named painting, is located here.
Avignon: Home to the Palace of the Popes; a beautiful castle and cathedral located in the city center surrounded by lovely gardens.
Cassis: A small fishing town on the Mediterranean, Cassis is charming yet sophisticated.
Digne-les-Bains: In the foothills of the Alps. Known for its cultivation of fruits for preserving and for its beautiful lavender. There is an annual lavender festival.
Moustiers Sainte Marie: In a beautiful location perched in the Gorges du Verdon and known for its pottery shops,
Buis les Baronnies: On a hill-top and with many sections of its medieval city walls intact, as well as the 17th century Roman Bridge, the former oil and water mills, the Ursuline Convent Hall and the Aromatic Garden House where you can purchase all kinds of herbs.
Bonnieux: Perched atop a hill offering memorable views of the area around, as well as medieval streets and historic sites to visit such as the 15th century village church, and the Bakery Museum (Boulangerie Museum).
Gordes: With its exceptionally beautiful and well preserved castle. The popular "Village de Bories?, with a beautiful collection of dwellings built of stone; and Senanque Abbey's popular Cistercian Monks who sell delicious lavender honey!
Les Baux de Provence: An exquisite hill town, consists of the "live city? with tourist shops and restaurants and the "dead city? carved out of rock at the very top of a hill. Louis XIII razed this city in1632.
Orange: A city of art and history, As soon as you come inside the gates you will find yourself in the midst of Roman civilization with the Arch of Triumph standing majestically over the city.
Roissillon: Hilltop and photogenic, a protected village since 1943 and has benefited from a complete absence of modern development. An enormous deposit of ochre gives the earth and its buildings that distinctive red color.
St Paul de Vence: Perched atop a hill with wonderful views of the countryside, the Mediterranean and the Alps. The streets are paved with river-rock in a delightful sunflower pattern.
St Remy de Provence: Abuzz on market day and a charming tourist town the rest of the week. It is set near the ancient Roman site of Glanumand.
St Tropez: Chic in the 50s. Set on the lovely blue water of the Bay of Saint-Tropez, this modern version of a medieval town is most popular for the line of yachts along the quai, and the facing line of terrace cafés, divided by a parade of strolling tourists and slow cruising expensive cars.
Note: Lavender season is late June through August and there's nothing more breathtaking than lavender fields and yellow fields of sunflowers. Lavender is harvested beginning in July. Most travelers come here in the summer. But fall is an ideal time as well, after the high-season onslaught of tourists in July and August, Provence can be even more enjoyable. It's easier to drive and easier to park in the small villages. The temperatures are comfortable, and life, especially in smaller towns, returns to normal.
Paris and Provence
Begin with a stay in exciting Paris, then catch a flight to Nice, pick up your car and continue for a stay at a charming Inn and the opportunity to experience Provence. Return to Nice for a stay there, before flying back home.
France (281) Nice (62) Paris (254)
Recomended for 6 to 9+ nights.
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