For more information on Marseille, please visit our Marseille Travel Guide
This charming city was once the capital of Provence and is about 30 minutes away from Marseille by car. Aix brims with culture, art and class. When there, you can visit the local artisan markets, the museums, stroll down the Cours Mirabeau or sit at one of the many renowned cafés of the Cours. One of the most notable is "Les Deux Garçons" in "Vieux Aix" or old Aix and boasted Cezanne as one its many patrons in the past. Other attractions in the city are Atelier Cézanne, Cathédral St-Sauveur, its many varied fountains, nightlife, exquisite boutiques and the odd star strolling down the Avenues going about their daily lives. Aix is also home to one of the best markets in Provence. The market is held on every other day and it does get crowded on market day so get there early.
Avignon is an ancient Papal city on the Rhone river, surrounded by fortifications. The city rose to prominence in the XIIth century because of its famous bridge, le Pont d'Avignon or more officially, le Pont St-Benezet. Later on, the papacy was installed in the XIVth century when Clement Vth came to Avignon. It is still to this day a cultural and economic power in Southern France and boasts great attractions.
Palais des Papes
- Located within the city's ancient fortifications, the Palace is one of the most important Gothic buildings in the world. Construction of Palais des Papes began in 1335 and was completed 20 years later. 9 Popes were instated here. The Palace is still in excellent order due to renovations and you can visit most of the Palace for an entry fee. You can find more information on the Palais des Papes at - www.Palais-des-Papes.com
- The famous bridge was once the only bridge across the Rhone River and contributed greatly to the growth of Avignon. The bridge was begun in 1177 and ended in 1185. It should be noted that you cannot cross it anymore, it no longer stretches the span of the river.
Arles is famous for its ancient Roman arena and was the capital of Gaul in Roman times. It is also located on the Rhone River. Sites to visit are the Roman Arena, the Archaelogical museum, the antique theatre, place de la Republique and the Cathedrale St Trophime. The city is also well known for having hosted Vincent van Gogh and Gauguin as residents. With all these sites of interest and a rich history contribute to Arles getting quite busy during the tourist season which runs from July to August. There aren't loads of people, but there are enough.
Of particular interest in Arles is the "Feria" which is held over Easter period each year and includes bullfights in the Roman Arena.
The Côte d'Azur
Famous around the world the Côte d'Azur lies on the southern end of Provence and it's Coast. The azur blue of the Mediterranean sea and the hot dry weather has drawn tourists for centuries seeking to relax, enjoy the sun and play. You can experience the chic of St Raphael, the glam of Nice and Cannes, the wilderness of the Camargue, the ruggedness of the Calanques in Marseille and the bustle of Les Lecques. Enjoy and soak up some sun.
Lac de Ste Croix and the Gorges du Verdon
The Lac de Ste-Croix is a man-made lake located about 20 minutes from Aups. The lake was formed by the damming of the Verdon river in the mid 1970s. The water is a beautiful clear turquoise and offers joy seekers the opportunity to windsurf, canoe, kayak, pedalo, fish and swim. Beaches and picnic areas line the lake and can accomodate plenty of visitors.
The Gorges du Verdon are a small version of the Grand Canyon where the river Verdon itself flows down from the mountain peaks above. There are roads lining the gorges which you can drive or cycle on but be wary, they are quite twisty. Along the way, you may want to stop and gaze from the vantage points at the river below. You can also stop at the Galetas bridge to have a look at the starting point of the lake.
Above the lake, visit Aiguines, a quaint vilage at an altitude of 800 metres filled with shops, cafes and wonderful views of the lake and its surroundings.
Montfort sur Argens
Montfort is small village in the heart of provence where traditional values and village life still thrive. Of particular interest in the village are the old castle at the top of the hill and the wine Cooperative "Les Caves du Commandeur". Les Caves du Commandeur produces some excellent wines including Rose, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a white Rolle. The grapes are sourced from the local producers.
Sillan la Cascade
Sillan is a quaint little village between Cotignac and Aups in the heart of Provence. The main reason people come to Sillan is for the 10 minute walk to the river for a good viewing point of Sillan's Waterfall. The water falls over 100 metres to ground level to join the rest of the aquamarine river below.
Cotignac is small quaint village just past Montfort. The village has experienced rapid growth in the last few years and has developed into a bit of a tourist hub. Particular points of interest are the market on Tuesdays and Notre Dame church overlooking the village and the valley below offering wonderful views.
Abbaye du Thoronet
The Abbey of Le Thoronet is just outside the village of Le Thoronet in Central Var. The Abbey goes back to 1160 when Cistercian monks began construction which lasted until 1190. The Abbaye consists of a Church, Armarium, Chapter House, Parlour, Dormitory, Cloister, Lavabo, Cellar and the quarters for the lay brothers. The Abbey has been kept in wonderful shape and is definetely worth a visit.
You can find out more about the Abbey at www.monum.fr
To the west of Marseille is the Camargue, a wild stretch of coastline where the Camargue Nature Park lies. In the park you may encounter the Camargais, cowboys specific to the region, and their livestock of horses and bulls. Ste Marie de la Mer is the coastal village in the Camargue and has sights, restaurants and activities to please all.