Vibrant color, abundant sunlight, enticing aromas, open air markets, and a friendly, easy-going local culture – there is much to explain why travelers, exiles and artists have flocked to Provence for centuries.
The Romans left magnificent reminders of their empire: the Pont du Gard, the Arena in Arles, the Coliseum in Nîmes and the Amphitheater in Orange -- the setting for a renowned opera festival each summer.
To the north, Mont Ventoux soars high over the landscape, while the Dentelles de Montmirail rise above the renowned vineyards of the Rhône Valley – Gigondas, Beaumes-de-Venise, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape.
Further south, the sculpted crags of the Alpilles hills frame Les Baux and St. Rémy, where you can visit the actual scenes portrayed in Vincent van Gogh’s masterpieces. Nearby, Arles, Avignon and Aix-en-Provence have outstanding museums and galleries, excellent restaurants, and important landmarks, not least of which is the Papal Palace in Avignon, home to the Popes during the 14th century.
The Lubéron Valley, to the east, was made famous in Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence, and is noted for its picturesque hilltop villages such as Gordes, Mènerbes, and Roussillon. A lively market can be found in one village or another each day of the week, while the Sunday market at Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a mecca for antiques collectors.
Whether it is apricot blossoms in April, lavender in July, sweet figs in September, boules and pastis in the shade of platane trees, or a lazy summer day observing village life from a favorite café, Provence is a year-round feast for the senses.
Gateway airport: Paris, Charles de Gaulle or Marseille International Airport
From Paris, Avignon is just under 3 hours by the TGV (high-speed train); 1 hour by autoroute from Marseille to Avignon; 2 hours from Nice.