France

Provence & Côte d'Azur

Shutterstock/46140991/robert paul van beets

Provence and the Côte d’Azur conjure up a volley of sun-kissed images. From lavender fields (the Lubéron), Picasso paintings (the Cap d’Antibes) and French Connection chase scenes (Marseille) to panoramas of pétanque players, hilltop villages and pavement cafés (all three just about anywhere in the region), this is France at its most beautiful. 

And for every celebrated shot, there’s another cover-shoot portrait waiting to be discovered. Try Provence’s sub-tropical islands (Port-Cros and Ste-Marguerite), the Haute Provence mountain express (Train des Pignes) or the rollercoaster route D41 (Massif des Maures) and you’ll see what we mean. Waves of invaders have claimed a piece of the above for over two millennia, and who can blame them? They may have soaked up more than their share of Provence’s sun and drunk vats of its wine, but in return they left one of the most vibrant cultural legacies in Europe. From the Rhône to the snow-capped Alps and the Italian border, there are more castles, museums, forts, amphitheatres and rococo mansions than most countries possess in their entirety. And with a public transport system that’s second to none, a fair share of these can be seen in a single week. Visit once and you’ll discover that a year in Provence is a very tempting proposal indeed.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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