Holidays in Provence: our top reasons to visit
With its scented lavender fields and ancient villages, chic seaside resorts and craggy peaks, Provence is one of the most diverse regions of France. Whatever your family enjoy doing, you’ll find the perfect holiday property here.
1. Choose your terrain
Provence stretches eastward from the Rhône delta through Marseilles and Toulon to the fashionable Mediterranean resorts of St-Tropez, Fréjus and St-Raphaël, but turn your back on the sea, and in the summer months, the hillsides are tinged lilac and purple with fields of lavender – stop off at craft and commercial distillers to see the flowers transformed into essential oils and cosmetics. Head north-east and the land rises towards the peaks of the Alpes-Maritimes, but first, there’s the Gorges de Verdon, France’s answer to the Grand Canyon, where you can enjoy a family excursion by canoe through a spectacular natural gorge.
2. Walk in Roman footsteps
The Romans really left their mark here as the empire expanded, building cities and monuments that still have the power to amaze us 2,000 years later. Provence is home to some of the most atmospheric sites in France – the twin communities at Vaison-la-Romaine; the towering wall of the theatre at Orange; and the vast arena at Arles. Ask about guided tours or audio guides which bring the Roman era zinging vividly to life, as well as the many concerts and festivals which take place amongst these ancient stones during the summer months.
3. Spend a day with a difference
Sur le Pont d’Avignon is one of the first songs that British school children learn in French. Walk on what’s left of it – the rest was swept away by floods – and visit Avignon’s amazing Palace of the Popes. The whole family can have fun browsing the antique dealers and bric-a-brac stalls at L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue – see who can bag the best bargain with their euros. Swim in the rocky inlets of the calanques near Marseilles to enjoy a unique stretch of coastline just a short drive from this vibrant port and cultural city. And enjoy a different kind of atmosphere amongst the bustle and colour of the huge outdoor market at Aix-en-Provence, one of the best in France and the perfect place to stock up on local produce to cook in your holiday kitchen.
4. Explore France’s largest wetland area
The Camargue lies in a triangle between Arles at the northern point and the two arms of the Rhône. Famous for its black bulls, white horses and pink flamingos, this unique wetland combines a variety of eco-systems from marshes and lagoons to dunes, beaches and even paddy fields. Rich in wildlife, it’s a great destination for families who love nature and the great outdoors. Go birdwatching with an expert guide; take a tour in a 4×4, or – the classic mode of transport – explore on horseback. Progress is gentle and the comfortable Western saddles make treks suitable for beginners as well as experienced riders. Don’t miss the colourful bull games where cowboys pluck rosettes from the horns and every animal lives to play another day.
5. Live the Luberon lifestyle
Tucked between two arcs of hills to the east of the Rhône Valley, the Luberon is famous for ancient perched villages like Gordes and Roussillon that rise out of the vineyards in a landscape that’s almost too pretty to be true. Rent cycles, follow quiet walking trails, and browse pretty local markets for fresh local produce to eat al fresco at your gîte or villa. Here children can enjoy the freedom of a traditional rural lifestyle where life evolves at its own gentle pace – a novelty for many youngsters brought up in today’s fast-moving world.
6. Family fun
However lovely the landscape, there are days when only some man-made fun will do and the four Aqualand parks along the Provençal coast deliver thrills and spills for all ages from tots to teens – not to mention their parents. Choose from St. Cyr-sur-Mer between La Ciotat and Bandol, Ste-Maxime and Fréjus.
For further ideas, visit: www.tourismepaca.fr
Here’s more information to make the most of your visit to Provence:
- Attractions in Provence:
- Canoeing in Provence
- Caves in Provence
- Markets in Provence
- Mountains & Walking
- Provence restaurants reviews
- Roman history in Provence
- Wines of Provence