The land of scents and flavours, bordered by the Mediterranean, lulled by the songs of the cicadas, the south of France is a different world, between the wine regions of Provence and the Rhône Valley. On this sunshine route, everything starts with Avignon, the ancient papal city which is now known all over the world, then on to Aix-en-Provence, with a richness of baroque style which is the most important after Paris and Versailles. Just around the corner, dynamic Marseille will give you a warm welcome, before you reach Nice and its 7 km of beaches.
The grandiose monumental ensemble formed by the Palace of the Popes, the cathedral, the gardens and the ramparts is not lacking in charm. Dance or sing on the famous Bridge of Avignon. Stroll through the squares, wander down the lanes and discover the beautiful façades of mansion houses and museums... Take advantage of the international theatre festival, or even discover the gastronomy of Provence
What to see
- Palace of the Popes
A symbol of the influence of the Church on the 14th century Christian west, this grandiose palace overhangs the Rhône and the City of the Popes.
- The Avignon festival
In July, Avignon becomes a city-theatre, the international capital of contemporary performing arts.
- Roman Theatre and Museum of Orange
Discover the best conserved ancient theatre in Europe, as well as its Art and History Museum.
The son of the region, Paul Cézanne, remains the best guide to the town and to the Aix region. Fountains, private mansions, Provençal countryside... the essential things to see are close together and can be discovered on foot in the town centre, or by hiking or biking in the countryside. With its great cultural and gastronomic vitality, it is also a region where there are more places to go out than there are evenings. An extensive choice of trips, evening entertainment and events throughout the year also show the cultural vitality of contemporary Aix.
What to see
Paul Cézanne: the places where he lived and worked can be visited all year round. His family home, his workshop, his favourite places in the town centre and in the Aix region…
- Château des Baux de Provence
A medieval adventure at the heart of this fortress, which dominates one of the most beautiful Villages in France, in the Alpilles.
From the Notre-Dame de la Garde basilica to the Old Port, Marseille has a wealth of iconic places which have earned it its renown. A “City of Design” which numerous talents have made their home, it will also be the European Capital of Culture in 2013. In this city of singsong accents, soothed by the sea, don’t miss the chance to taste a bouillabaisse or enjoy an aperitif by one of the most beautiful harbours in the world.
What to see
- Château d’If
A few miles from the Old Port, the famous structure built on the order of François 1st owes its popularity to the novel The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas.
Marseille Design and European Capital of Culture in 2013
A programme organised in 4 seasons, with more than 400 events in all artistic and cultural disciplines, will be offered across the region.
- The Calanques
Stretching for more than 20 kilometres between Marseille and Cassis, there is a dream countryside set against the backdrop of the Mediterranean for those who love nature and sport.
Of course, don’t miss visiting the old town with its lanes and markets selling flowers and handicrafts... Scents and colours mix harmoniously with the smell of the sea. Stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais lined with palaces, hotels and casinos, and let your gaze be drawn by a magnificent azure sea. Stop at the Place Masséna – the starting point of the “Art in the City” tour – to see its fountain, its bronze statues and its sculptures.
What to see
- Old town and its markets
An old town which is full of charm, lined with colourful and picturesque little lanes, punctuated with the markets which are so characteristic of the south of France.
Architectural and museum heritage
Nice has about twenty municipal museums and galleries, which are free to visit, in addition to private galleries and artists’ workshops.
- Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa and Gardens
Built on the narrowest part of the Saint-Jean-Cap- Ferrat peninsula, visit one of the grandest palaces in the Renaissance style on the Côte d’Azur.
- Greek Villa Kérylos
This splendid villa built at the beginning of the 20th century, between Nice and Monaco, reminiscent of the villas of Ancient Greece, offers an exceptional view of the Mediterranean.
Zoom 1 :
Welcome to the Rhône Valley
Few wine regions have such a glorious past as this one: formerly the wines of popes, Côtes du Rhône wines enjoy international renown. Terroirs offering a warm welcome, great cuisine and festivals, the AOCs of the Rhône Valley give you the chance to discover their diversity on a gastronomic getaway. Choose the “after work” workshops, for example, which offer themed tasting sessions so that you can discover all of the nuances of the Côtes du Rhône wines.
One Tuesday a month / 6pm-8pm / Maison des Vins d’Avignon
Zoom 2 :
On the Provence wine route
Famous for rosés, Provence wines also include reds and whites with a sturdy character. To discover these, take a look around the remarkable sites which are found in the Provençal wine region and its various AOCs: Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, Coteaux Varois en Provence, Baux de Provence, Bandol, Cassis, Palette and Bellet. On the Provence wine route from Nice to the Camargue, 350 wine growers and cooperative wineries open their doors to you for a personalized and guided tasting session.
February: Nice Carnival
July: Avignon Festival
Aix-en-Provence International Festival of Lyric Art
Nice Jazz Festival
July/August: Chorégies d’Orange festival
Roque d’Anthéron Piano Festival
August: Luberon International String Quartet Festival
September: Marsatac festival in Marseille
Antibes Festival of Religious Art
2013: Marseille Provence, European Capital of Culture
Exceptional cultural sites
1 Palace of the Popes - Avignon
2 The Avignon Festival
3 Roman Theatre and Museum of Orange
4 Paul Cézanne sites
5 Château des Baux de Provence
6 Château d’If
7 Ephrussi de Rothschild Villa and Gardens
8 Greek Villa Kérylos
9 Place Masséna - Nice
10 Promenade des Anglais - Nice
11 Trophy of Augustus, La Turbie
12 Thoronet Abbey
13 The Old Port and Notre-Dame de la Garde - Marseille
14 Towers and ramparts of Aigues-Mortes
15 Glanum archaeological site
16 Carrières de Lumières
17 Fort Saint-André - Villeneuve lez Avignon
18 Bridge of Avignon
19 Montmajour Abbey
20 Arles, Roman and Romanesque monuments
21 Haut-Thorenc Manor