Port of St Chamas
The heart of Provence is the area bounded by Avignon
in the North,
in the South, Aix en Provence
in the East and Arles
in the West. You are never far from the sea and the sun shines most of the time. The atmosphere is quite different from that of the Côte d’Azur immediately
to the East; although there are plenty of tourists in the summer, they don’t swamp the locals, and in winter towns and villages are not deserted.
Visitors receive a genuinely warm welcome.
The towns are full of history, starting with the Greeks in Marseille, the Romans in Aix, Arles and Nîmes and the Popes in Avignon. They are also full of colour,
with frequent markets and festivals
The countryside varies from the plains and beaches of the Carmargue
, to the rocky cliffs of
to the East of Marseille; from the vineyards
of the lower Rhone valley to the hills of the Luberon
and the Mont Ventoux
from which there are superb views of the Southern Alps.
Painters have found the landscapes and the Provençal light irresistable, and so will you; Van Gogh
painted prolifically in Arles
and St Rémy
, Cezanne in Aix and Estaque and Picasso is buried in his chateau just to East of Aix.
Food is good, and most restaurants are open all the year round. Local ingredients include olive oil from the groves that are almost everywhere, fish and shellfish
from the Mediterranean, vegetables from the local farmer or the huge market at Cavaillon, fruit from just about everywhere: melons, figs, peaches, grapes....
The wine is good and generally cheap; of course if you want to go up market that is possible too, with
Chateauneuf du Pape
among the best in France.
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