Introduction to Provence
Provence is a region on the Mediterranean coast in southern France running from the Italian border in the east, to the bustling port city of Marsailles in the west. The region was once a Roman Province whose power and roam can be felt whilst visiting the many Roman landmarks around the area. The vast history of the region is largely built on the fact that in the 14th century, it was the one-time seat of the pope. In recent years the region has thrived and is very popular with tourists, both international and French, because of its mild climate and proximity to the French Riviera. The architecture and history of the region is of great interest to many and Aix-en-Provence, Arles and Avignon are regularly visited for this reason alone. With an average of 300 days of sunshine each year, you are almost guaranteed sunshine during your stay in Provence.
The region’s has three historic towns, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and Arles, are perfect bases for sightseeing areas in Provence and offer amazing architecture, ancient burial grounds, pretty rural scenery, and many options for excursions and tours to out-of-the-way places.
France is renowned for its delicious food and broad choice of cuisine from around the world, but the regional cuisine in the Provence region is distinctive and mouth-watering to say the least. Restaurants, bistros, cafes and bars are located on almost every street, serving fresh food at often reasonable prices. If you are interested in trying local food then sample the fresh fish, Provencal basil soup and puree, black olives and anchovies. If the restaurant looks classy it will likely be expensive, but look around for other options and especially for fixed-price lunch specials which offer three courses and wine at reasonable prices. If you are on a tight budget then be sure to read menus carefully first.
Getting there and accommodation
The region’s local airport (Avignon Airport) handles both domestic and European flights. The closest international airport is around a three hour drive away at Lyon, Marseilles and Nice, where large airports offer transfers to Avignon. If you have the extra time then why not considers travelling by train or car. Rail travel is a delightful way to see the countryside, and it’s just a three-hour trip from Paris to Avignon or instead travel by ferry. We found that Ferryonline offered a price comparison for all ferries to France. Take your own car and then you choose how you get to Provence whether driving on the main toll roads or slowing the pace and exploring the quaint villages and towns on the way.
If you do decide to fly when visiting Provence you may find it a good idea to rent a car and visit the historic towns for overnight accommodations rather than stay in one place. There are several accommodation options to choose from including holiday homes, hotels, self-catering villas and bed and breakfasts.
Attractions and shopping
Beaches on the French Riviera are almost empty, except in the month of August when the French are “en vacances”. The lavender fields are so characteristic of Provence. You will find lavender everywhere – in the markets, in gardens and in fields. The food in Provence is wide ranging – from fresh fish on the southern coast – to the mountain cookery as you reach the borders with Switzerland and Italy.
Provence is well known for its quality fabrics, tablecloths and various household items. All the little towns in the area offer a unique experience to shopping and supply a range of goods. Marseille is the closest city for great shopping where may people venture to.