Provence – Overview
From elegant town to country village, Provence is rooted deeply in the past. History wraps itself around you with the stories of Roman civilisations in its ancient ruins, 18th-century power games in its great houses and art and culture that have spanned centuries. It’s also breathtakingly beautiful – a place of earthy pleasures, brim-full of good food, fine wines and miles of walking and cycling trails threading through its rolling hills.
In Provence, there’s truly no time like the present – whether you spend it in the boutiques, chic cafés or flower markets of elegant Aix-en-Provence or wandering the cobbled streets of Gordes, a beautiful hilltop village with a thriving arts scene, iconic lavender fields and views across the Luberon mountains.
Inevitably, the easeful elegance of Provence’s ‘here and now’ rubs shoulders with the past. There’s no escaping the heritage of Tarascon’s Medieval, Romanesque and Gothic influences – or the impact of ancient Rome, still visible in the impressive amphitheatres and shady stone squares of Arles, Nîmes and Orange. In Aix-en-Provence, splendid mansions line one side of the Cours Mirabeau – the legacy of nobility and church in competition to build the most opulent. And everyone loves fashionable Avignon, once the seat of papal power and now a buzzing student town full of history.
Green and rolling, the famous Provençal landscape has inspired the likes of Van Gogh and Cézanne. However, the Camargue, known as France’s wild west, is a different world altogether, with red salt lagoons, pink flamingos and herds of white horses. There’s also a sandy beach, Espiguette, one of the longest in France.
It’s a landscape that reminds you, for all its cosmopolitan style and flair, that Provence is also a place of simple pleasures. With self-styled cuisine. Don’t leave without sampling fresh fish bouillabaisse and maybe a truffle or two.