Getting around the Provence area is relatively easy by car. Choose a B&B or a short-term villa and use it as a base and do day trips from there. See the fun tip at the end of this page for a freat and fun way to explore the Provence countryside by visiting the locations where the Russel Crowe Movie, "A Good Year" was filmed.
Tastes of Provence
Beef Stew marinated fo 12 hrs in local vegatables, olive oil and wine,and slow cooked for 6 hrs.
One of the prettiest large towns in France, has been called the "city of a thousand fountains". A mix of well treed avenues, public squares, moss-covered fountains, churches and 15th-17th-century townhouses. Rich in Roman origins with a contemporary bustling atmosphere.
The studio of famous painter Paul Cezanne (9 avenue Paul Cezanne) is interesting as it is laid out much as he left it when he died in 1906. Musee Granet (Place Saint Jean de Malte; open Tue-Sun) has an excellent collection of paintings.
Located close to the region is the Roquefavour Aqueduct. In 1830, following a very dry summer, Marseille suffered an epidemic of cholera because of a lack of clean water supply. In 1835 a decision was made to divert the water of the Durance, a major river in south-eastern France. A young 28-year-old architect, Franz Mayor de Montricher, was selected to build it. Inspired by Roman history and building techniques, he built this aqueduct as part of a 50 mile long canal system. Until 1970, the aqueduct made completely of stones, was almost the sole source of water to Marseille. Today it still supplies 2/3 of water of the city.
A walking tour is available providing amazing views on the Sainte Victoire mountain and Aix en Provence countryside.
For those who want to stay near Aix's historical center, take the tourist trolley (everyone should do it at least once) through downtown up to Cezanne's atelier. Wear good shoes; the cobblestones can be hard on your feet.
Deep fried Chick peas cakes. Chick peas thrives in Marseille, and to compensate for limited wheat crops, ground dried chick peas have become a staple ingredient in this street food
Arles, a World Heriatge site, sits on a low hill where the Rhone river forks in two parts, each leading to the sea. The town dates back to the 7th century BC, has many impressive Roman monuments, with the earliest being the arena, the Roman theatre and the cryptoporticus (subterranean galleries) dating back to the 1st century B.C. During the 4th century Arles experienced a second golden age, as attested by the baths of Constantine and the necropolis of Alyscamps. In the 11th and 12th centuries, Arles once again became one of the most attractive cities in the Mediterranean. Within the city walls, Saint-Trophime, with its cloister, is one of Provence's major Romanesque monuments.
Arles was made famous through its association with van Gogh. Many consider Van Gogh's Arles period to be the most creative of his career. Indeed, many of Van Gogh's best known works were produced during his time in this provencal town. The visitor's center in Arles provides a walking tour map of ten reproductions on easels depicting actual places throughout Arles.
Also worth the visit is the Church of St Trophime decorated with medieval carvings, and the art collection, which include drawings donated by Picasso, who loved this town. Picasso spent a good part of his life in political exile in France. He would often travel to Arles to see the Bullfights in the Roman Arena, the subject of several of his paintings. He loved the works of Van Gogh, whose influences can be seen in several of his work.
Cite des Papes (City of Popes)
Avignon is ancient, full of history, life, youth, art, music and activity. Just to "see" the town itself, you could wander the narrow streets inside the fortified walls for days without tiring of them.
The picturesque bridge spanning half the river, began as the Pont Saint-Benezet around 1180 to connect Avignon with the town of Villeneuve-les-Avignon on the west side of the Rhone (Royal lands at the time). The Pont Saint-Benezet was destroyed about 40 years later, when King Louix VIII was laying seige to Avignon. The remaining part of the bridge is a four-arch span that has survived since the 14th century. The small Chapel Saint Nicholas on the bridge's second pier was built in the 12th century.
The current Pont d'Avignon along with Avignon's Palais des Papes and the Cathedrale Notre-Dame des Doms, are listed as a World Heritage Site.
A picturesque Medieval village at a fortified rocky site between Arles and St Remy-de-Provence. This compact, ancient village features narrow cobblestone streets between grey-stone Medieval buildings. Consider breaking your visit into half day in the old village and another half day for the chateau-fortress, the extensive fortified-chateau area, the magnificent setting and views, and the museums.
Pont Du Gard
Located in Nimes, the Pont du Gard (Roman Aqueduct) is one of the oldest and most remarkable Roman hydraulic works. The bridge is 48.77m high, has three levels and was built in ~20 BC (newer excavations, however, suggest the construction may have taken place between 40 and 60 AD). It crosses the river Gardon near Nimes.
The aqueduct originally carried water from a source at the Fontaine d'Eure near Ucetia (Uzes) to a delivery tank or castellum divisorum in Nemausus (Nimes), from where it was distributed to fountains, baths and private homes around the city. Although the straight-line distance between the two is only about 20 km, the aqueduct takes a winding route measuring around 50 km to avoid the Garrigue hills above Nimes.
Tastes of Marseille
Traditional Provencal fish stew originating from the port city of Marseille
A lovely, compact and relaxed Provencal town, but the most interesting sights are just on the outskirts, in the foothills of the Alpilles.
The monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole is a peaceful retreat built around another wonderful Romanesque cloister, and hasn't changed much since Van Gogh was hospitalised here for the last year of his life. You can see a reconstruction of his room, and a walk takes in the sites of some of his paintings. The Roman site of Glanum (avenue Van Gogh; open Tue-Sun), immediately adjacent, is one of the most atmospheric in France.
Built on the Vaucluse plateau, overlooking Cavaillon plain, the village is arranged in tiers around an imposing Renaissance castle and church. A village of artists with narrow cobbled streets, its worth seeing if exploring Provence's cultural trail.
The 2006 film "A Good Year" with Russel Crowe, was filmed in Gordes and its surrounding areas. Finding and visiting these location is a good and fun way to explore and discover the Provence countryside. Many of the locations can be found by plugging names in Google Maps... to name a few:
Chateau la Canorgue, Bonnieux, Vaucluse, France
Cucuron, Vaucluse, France (The pond square)
Chateau les Eydins, Bonnieux, Vaucluse, France (Duflot's farmhouse)
Hotel le Renaissance, Gordes, Vaucluse, France (Fanny Chenal's bistro)