Menu

Top 10 Reasons to Visit Provence

Apr 22, 2014

We specialise in offering exceptional villas, country houses and chateaux exclusively in South West France, Provence and the Côte d’Azur because these regions offer the most reliably warm, sunny weather and a fantastic variety of things to see and do – besides simply relaxing by the pool! From the Gerard Depardieu TV adaptations of Jean de Florette to Peter Mayle’s ‘Year in Provence’ to the Russell Crowe film, ‘A Very Good Year’, we can’t get enough of Provence and here are our top 10 highlights: 

From the Gerard Depardieu TV adaptations of Jean de Florette to Peter Mayle’s ‘Year in Provence’ to the Russell Crowe film, ‘A Very Good Year’, we can’t get enough of Provence and here are our top 10 highlights: 

  1. Iconic scenery. Between the snow topped Alpes Maritime and the Mediterranean, the départements of Provence incorporate some of France’s most breathtaking landscapes including vivid swathes of sunflowers and lavender, the spectacular Gorges du Verdon, known as the Grand Canyon of Europe, and the eerily beautiful coastal wetlands of the Camargue, known for its wild white horses and fighting bulls, flamingos and many other exotic birds. Le Domaine de Tamasea is an elegant Provençal villa with the most amazing views from the dining terraces and infinity pool.
  2. Marseilles. France’s premier port and second largest city is a vibrant melting pot of cultures, described by Alexandre Dumas as ‘the meeting place of the entire world’. As the European Capital of Culture in 2013, Marseilles has undergone a major facelift and boasts world class cultural attractions, while Le Vieux Port is still the place to sip cool pastis in a quayside bar. Le Vieux Manoir is a fabulous Provençal house in the Luberon countryside and just over an hour from Marseilles.
  3. Aix-en-Provence. The old capital of Provence, Aix is a buzzing university town renowned for its café culture, tree lined boulevards, pretty gardens and ornate fountains at every turn. Art lovers can follow the Circuit de Cézanne and Aix hosts one of the greatest opera festivals in Europe. La Colline des Sources is just over half an hour’s drive from Aix and the views include Cezanne’s beloved Mont Ste Victoire in the distance. 
  4. Historic Avignon. For almost 70 years in the 14th century, successive popes made Avignon, not the Vatican, the powerful seat of Catholicism and the magnificent Palais des Papes dominates the city. Avignon is encircled by medieval ramparts and is famous for its historic bridge over the Rhône plus the city hosts a major arts festival in July. An hour’s drive from Avignon, Les Prés Blancs was included in The Telegraph Ultratravel’s selection of 12 Luxury Villas and Chateaux in France, June 2013
  5. Roman Provence. The region was a major centre for the Romans and their legacy can be seen throughout Provence in the impressive monuments, such as the triumphal arch and ‘Théâtre Antique’ in Orange, noted for its pitch perfect acoustics for music and drama productions. Perhaps most impressive of all is the awesome, 3-tiered Roman aqueduct of the Pont du Gard near Nîmes, built over 2000 years ago! Our lovely Longo Mai is reminiscent of a Roman villa and in the ancient Provençal language, means ’long and contented life’.
  6. Great Artists. Paul Cézanne was born in Aix-en-Provence and he immortalised the landscape in his unmistakable style in countless paintings and especially the views of Mont Ste Victoire. Van Gogh made Arles his home and many of his best loved masterpieces were painted here, including Sunflowers, Café Terrace at Night and Starry Night. Surrounded by the inspiring landscape of sunflowers, lavender fields and olive groves, Moulin de la Tour is just 8 kms from Arles.  
  7. Provençal markets. Market days in Provence are a colourful and lively celebration of local produce and products from cheerful fabrics and brightly painted pottery to olives and olive oils, wild flower honeys, fresh flowers and stalls piled high with fabulous fruit and vegetables.  On Sunday mornings, the streets of picturesque L’Ile-sur-la-Sorgue not only fill up with traditional stalls but also fabulous bric-à-brac that attract antique enthusiasts from far and wide. Le Clos de Gavarron is just a 5-minute drive from the medieval town of Lorgues with one of the best weekly markets in Provence.
  8. Les Calanques. The chic coastal resort of Cassis is the gateway to an extraordinary corner of the Provence coastline comprising fjord-like inlets of steep cliffs, secret marinas and pretty coves. Many of the Calanques are only accessible by boat from Cassis or following hiking trails over and around the cliffs which reward walkers with stunning views. Les Hauts Saints is a traditional Provençal farmhouse around 90 minutes drive from Les Calanques.
  9. Food & wine. The cuisine of Provence is among the healthiest in Europe based on fresh vegetables, olive oil, tomatoes, garlic and the famous ‘herbes de Provence’. Specialities include bouillabaise (rich fish soup), ratatouille (a blend of aubergines, courgettes, tomatoes and peppers), pissaladiere (a tart of onions and anchovies) and gigot d’agneau (a leg of lamb roasted with herbs and fennel).  The rosé wines are among the finest in France and the reds of the Côtes du Rhône are very quaffable. Our stunning villa, Le Baou has its own vineyard where the English owner and a reputed local wine-maker produce fine red, white and rosé wines with the label, Le Baou d’Enfer.
  10. Villages Perchés. The Luberon region of Provence is strewn with many beautiful sun bleached villages clinging to craggy hilltops, promising pretty cobbled streets and pavement cafes in sun dappled squares. Gordes is listed as the most beautiful 'Village Perché' in Provence while Les-Baux-de-Provence is said to be most visited in France and boasts the highly acclaimed Michelin star restaurant, L’Oustaù de Baumanière. Roussillon has the fascinating added attraction of a stroll through the vivid red and orange rocks of the ochre quarries that kept artists in paint for centuries. Our ‘town house’ La Ferrage is just a short stroll from the highly photogenic medieval town of Aups, which is arguably the truffle capital of France.