The Provence region of France is not only France’s most popular tourist destination but it’s also one of Europe’s most desirable and beautiful regions to visit! The Provence region covers a large and very diverse area from the Mediterranean coast up to the French Alps. The constant sunshine, quaint and colourful towns, excellent food and drink, pretty holiday cottages and gorgeous landscape make it a perfect place for a French holiday. Base yourself in the city of Avignon and spend your days exploring the smaller towns and villages to really get an idea of the spirit of the area, or head to the coast and enjoy the crazy nightlife of Marseille, Nice’s bustling harbour, or enjoy a week in the lap of luxury at the French Riviera.
- Vincent Van Gogh spent a significant amount of time living and painting the countryside in Provence!
- More tourists visit France every year than any other country in the world!
- Provence was the first Roman province outside of Italy!
Where to stay
Whether you are looking for a traditional Provencal cottage, or a villa overlooking the coast, Provence can provide it! The area is heavily dependent on tourism and this is reflected in the wide range of holiday homes available. First off decide where you want to stay - are you looking for a city holiday, or would you rather take a family holiday to the countryside? Do you want the independence of self-catering or would you prefer the certainty that someone else is cooking, and so book a bed and breakfast pension? Use the Wimdu search facility to track down exactly what you need - you can search for a place with a swimming pool, or with extra bedrooms, en-suite bathrooms and children’s facilities if you are travelling with kids. Whatever you want, Wimdu can definitely provide it!
What to see and do in ProvenceFor a glimpse of the real Provence, step away from the many, and marvellous, cities, and get out into the magnificent countryside! The Gorges du Verdon, located inland west of Nice, is regarded as Europe’s most beautiful canyon. It’s also the largest canyon on the continent and you really have to see this place to get an idea how impressive it is. Climbing, hiking, white water rafting and canoeing are all popular outdoor activities that you can enjoy in the canyon, but it’s also the perfect place just to drive through and admire the scenery. Driving through the canyon can take anything from one to two hours, depending on how many you stops you make.
If you’d like the chance to step back in time and learn what life was like on the French Riviera during its decadent phase, the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is a classic early 20th century villa set in some of Provence’s loveliest gardens. The building of the mansion took seven years and the owner, Baroness Beatrice Rothschild, furnished her home with an amazing art collection she collected whilst travelling around Europe. Entrance to the villa is 12 euro and it’s recommended that you allow three hours to fully take everything in.
Provence’s coastline really does have something for everyone, with wonderful beaches, dramatic craggy cliffs and rocky coves. Perhaps the best beach is Cap Taillat, located at Ramatuelle. The landscape is stunning and the giant beach stretches into the distance! There’s no sign of the extravagance and hype of the Cote D’Azur on the Cap. It’s the definition of unspoilt beauty so make sure you bring food and drink with you – there’s not much in the way of facilities, so if you’ve chosen to go self-catering make sure you stock up for this trip! Calanques is another fantastic and beautiful seaside destination worth locating. It’s in the Cassis region and is accessible via a beautiful coastal road. You can hire kayaks at this beach - although check with your Wimdu host, as some cottages come with sporting equipment - and explore the rocky coastline to your heart’s content!
If you venture into Marseille we recommend you visit the Basilique de Notre Dame de la Garde. This cathedral is intricately designed and you are able to climb to the top to enjoy the magnificent views across the city. The cathedral is something of a symbol of Marseille and it’s visited by many tourists every year.
The countryside is amazing in the Provence region and the mountains especially are worth appreciating. Perhaps the best mountain for hiking is the Montagne Sainte Victoire. The views are spectacular and the mountain is the icon of the Pays d’Aix region. The various walking routes around the mountain aren’t too challenging but strong footwear and weather specific clothing is recommended.
Provence has good rail connections with the north of France and there are plenty of trains from Lyon and Paris. Paris to Avignon takes three hours with a TGV train and in the summer a weekly Saturday train runs all the way from London to Avignon! Marseille Airport is the region’s biggest airport and you can fly there from all over Europe.
Getting around Provence is fairly straightforward, particularly if you hire a car. The roads are good and it’s the perfect way to explore the region’s beautiful valleys and village. Cycling in Provence is popular and you’ll find many cycle hire businesses throughout the towns and villages in the region. Your holiday accommodation might even come with bikes - check with your host. Monaco is a popular day trip destination for people holidaying in Provence and the sovereign state is certainly worth seeing.