France's most popular tourist region
everything that there is to see and do in this region
defeat the object of this website, which is to provide tourists and
travellers with a selection
of ideas to occupy a week or two's holiday in this beautiful region.
However, we have selected more than enough ideas for day trips or
outings to keep most visitors occupied for far longer than a short
For information on Provence's greatest historic monuments, see
Places and sites:
HISTORIC PROVENCE area
February in Aix :
the Cours Mirabeau
(13) : the old
town is a gem, with its narrow
and honey-coloured stone. The main street is the Cours
Mirabeau, a wide tree-lined avenue with shops, pavement
cafés and restaurant. Do not miss the Cathedral of
St. Sauveur and the Cézanne Museum, among other
sights. In the morning, wander through the narrow streets of the old
town, with its small shops, boutiques, restaurants, and daily markets,
then, when it gets warmer, relax and enjoy a drink on a shady terrace
under the plane trees on or near the Cours Mirabeau or in one of the
city squares. Aix is a great base from which to discover other local
sights, including Mont Saint Victoire, the Luberon, les Alpilles, Arles
and les Baux de Provence - to mention just a few.
(13): this small town in the Rhone Delta has classical remains,
as well as the very famous "Saint Trophime" church, and a
number of museums. The Vincent Van
Gogh Foundation has a small
gallery with works in homage to Van Gogh by modern artists including
Francis Bacon and David Hockney
(84) The old city is clustered within impressive mediaeval
walls. The most important monuments are the ► Palace
of the Popes
Calvet Museum. There is also the famous "Pont d'Avignon", the remnants
of a medieval bridge across the Rhône. Across the river, the
ruins of the castle of Villeneuve d'Avignon are worth a visit. The
centre of Avignon is a UNESCO world heritage site.
Baux de Provence
(13) The remains of what was
once a town
of 4000 inhabitants, built on the Alpille hills at the edge of the
Rhone plain. A lot of the buildings have been renovated since the 1970s.
(05) capital of the Hautes Alpes
department; at an altitude of 1350 metres (over 4000 ft) this
is the second highest town in Europe, after Davos. The high town is
encircled by ramparts built by Vauban. Nearby is Les Ecrins national
A major wetland and nature reserve in the
Delta; it is famous for its white horses, water birds including pink
flamingoes, and for bulls that are bred there
(13) This small port is popular with yachtsman; the coastline
east of Cassis is famous for the "Calanques", a series of rocky inlets
where limestone cliffs come down to the water's edge. The area is
popular with ramblers.
(13): the OK Corral - a western theme
park with rides
and activities, plus cowboys and indians. Not very
Provençal, but something to keep the kids happy.
(84): the dramatic source of the river
which emerges as a full river at the foot of a cliff. It is the fifth
largest spring in the world.
(83) Reputedly one of the prettiest villages in France, Gordes
is a large Provençal village standing on a rocky outcrop
above the Calavon valley. The renaissance castle is worth a visit.
The ► Gorges
(83 - 04) The deepest and most dramatic gorge in
France - one of France's finest natural sites
(13) Marseille is the oldest city in France. A large port
city, it boasts a number of monuments, including the Abbaye Saint
Victor and the Fort Saint Jean, both near the old port. A
must at Marseilles is a boat trip to the Chateau d'If, a historic
castle / prison built on a small island in the bay.
(84): the last outcrop of the pre-Alps, rising to
metres, to the east of the Rhone Valley northeast of Carpentras. A road
leads to the summit. For much of the year, the snow-capped summit is
visible from Avignon. A climb to the top of Mont Ventoux is often
included in the route of the ► Tour
(84) Famous for its ►
remains, notably the amphitheatre
(used for the annual festival) and the triumphal arch.
(30) Just outside modern-day Provence, 11 miles west
Avignon, this dramatic Roman aqueduct is listed as a UNESCO world
(13) Roman remains (see ► Roman
(13) is a small village on the coast in
Camargue, with a fortified church: it is famous as a pilgrimage spot
for Gypsies or Roms, who come here from all over Europe each year in
May, for the festival of Saint Sara. See
(13) City on the banks of the Rhone, with a remarkable
Attractions in the ALPES
MARITIMES / RIVIERA area
Riviera hotel finder:
the independent traveller: a large choice of hotels, from sea-front
palaces in Nice or Cannes, to smaller and more affordable hotels away
from the centres, or slightly inland.
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(06): One of the most famous seaside towns of the Riviera,
with 17th century ramparts and a mediaeval castle. There are a number
of sights of special interest, including notably the Picasso museum (in
the castle) and the Archeological Museum, which has vestiges
Antibes classical past. There are also some beautiful gardent to visit,
notably the Exflora gardens and the Eilenroc gardens.
(06): a Riviera city famous for its festivals and business conventions,
and particularly for its annual Film Festival
de Fer de Provence
; the only public-service private
railway in France, the CFF is a narow-gauge line running 151 km. from
Nice (06) to Digne (04); from sea livel at Nice, the line rises to over
1000 metres before dropping back to under 600 metres. The journey, by
diesel railcar, goes through spectacular scenery. A steam service is
operated on part of the route during summer weekends. See ► Scenic
railways in France
(06) twenty kilometres inland, Grasse is famous as the centre
of the ►
; tons of flowers are harvested
annually for this industry, including jasmine and lavender.
(06): very popular and attractive Riviera resort, fashionable with the
jet set, film stars and tourists in general.
(06) an old coastal town almost on the Italian border, is
famous for its warm climate and its gardens.
(06) The capital of the riviera, Nice was made popular almost
ago by the English, and the seafront is known as the Promenade des
Anglais. The town has plenty to offer including a Matisse museum, a
Chagall museum, the famous flower market, the old town, and the gardens
of the castle.
.(06) One of the most exclusive places to
live, this is a small peninsula just east of Nice. The peninsula has
some fine sandy beaches and a coastal walk. The Villa Ephrussi de
Rothschild is a beautiful Italianate villa set among sepctacular
gardens overlooking the sea.
Paul de Vence
(06) : small mediaeval walled town in the
hills just inland from Nice. Popular with artists and musicians, it is
home to the Maeght Foundation, a remarkable private
museum and collection of modern art.
(83) : very chic resort, popular with film stars
and TV personalities.
The Parc National du
( ► website
a high alpine park, culminating at the Cime du Gélas - 3143
metres - on the Italian border. Popular with hikers and mountaineers.
national des Ecrins
is partly in Provence, is another high
alpine national park.
For more details and other parks, see ► Provence's natural heritage