Provence’s old royal city, which has since 1409 been home for one of France’s finest universities. Aix-en-Provence is an elegant city with a rich cultural past. In the 17th an 18th century Aix was the capital of the Bouches-du-Rhône department, and a great many of the elegant buildings in the city date back to this period. Aix is an extremely pleasant city with a long broad boulevard, lined with plane trees. Here, there are numerous cafés and restaurants. Finally, Aix is Paul Cézanne’s city. Cézanne was born, worked and died in Aix. At the outskirts of the city one can find the mighty Montagne Sainte Victoire, which owes its fame to Cézanne.
An incredibly exciting town full of atmosphere and situated in the department of Bouches-du-Rhône. The old quarter lies in the heart of Arles and has numerous Roman remains. The greatest sight is Les Arènes, a Roman amphitheatre from the 1st century A.D. There is also a Roman theatre from the 1st century B.C., Théâtre Antique, which is often used as a centre for the town’s many cultural arrangements, and Roman baths from the 4th century and a cathedral from the 12th century with its cloister-garth.
The medieval city, Avignon, is the main city of the department of Vaucluse. The inner part of town is still encircled by its 5 km long fortification walls with its 39 towers and 7 gates. Avignon has a great many attractions. The greatest sight is without any doubt the majestic Palace of the Popes: www.palais-des-papes.com; www.mairie-avignon.fr/en/musees/palaisen.php, which overlooks the Rhône river. Because of unrest and anarchy the Popes preferred Avignon to Rome for almost one hundred years (1309-77). Another of Avignon’s famous sights is Pont St-Benezet, immortalized in the children’s’ song Sur le Pont d’Avignon.
Beaumes-de-Venise is situated at the foot hills of the mountain range Dentelles de Montmirail. Beaumes-de-Venise is first and foremost known for its outstanding wines, both the very famous Muscat wine and the red Côtes du Rhône wine. Beaumes-de-Venise has a pretty, old quarter with well-restored houses, old fountains and fortification walls. In the town one can also find the ruins of an old feudal castle from the 12th century, a chapel from the 11th and 12th century, prehistoric caves and an old olive mill.
One of the finest villages in Lubéron, Bonnieux, was in earlier times, when the region belonged to the Popes, residence for several bishops. The town still reflects this flourishing period with its fantastic villas from the 16th, 17th and 18th century. The town is dominated by a church from the 12th and 15th century. 86 stone steps lead up to the Eglise Haute, from where there is a magnificent view to the surrounding countryside. In the town there are relics from the ancient fortification walls from the 13th century and the fine Musée de la Boulangerie (bakery museum).
The capital of the Comtat Venaissin. A very exciting town, situated in the middle of the wine district Côtes-du-Ventoux. In the town one can find France’s oldest synagogue, a testimony from the Middle Ages and from the period when Carpentras was under the Papacy and the Jewish population enjoyed wide freedom to cultivate their religion. Carpentras is also well known for its truffles. It is here that one can find France’s biggest truffle market.
Cavaillon is France’s biggest vegetable garden, primarily well known for its good melons. The local market competes with the market in Apt for holding the position of the biggest market in Vaucluse. The old quarter in Cavaillon has winding streets, small squares full of flowers, well-restored houses, one of Europe’s most beautiful synagogues from the 18th century, a Jewish museum, a cathedral from the 12th century with its monastery and a Roman triumph arch from the 1st century A.D.
A modest little village which has given its name to the most well known wine district in Côtes-du-Rhône. In the town there are several restaurants and wine cellars, selling wine from the local wine producers who have the right to use the denomination appellation côntrolée. In the town one can find a museum, showing the history of the local wine production.
A 15 km mountain range, south of Nyons near Vaison-la-Romaine. The region offers lots of good hiking paths, picturesque villages, excellent Côtes-du-Rhône wine and well-tasting goat cheese.
Fontaine-de-Vaucluse is one of the most visited places in Vaucluse. The town’s greatest sight is the spring of the Sorgue River, one of nature’s greatest wonders in Provence. The water flows out of a 230 metres high cliff in the valley above the village. It is the most powerful spring in France and the fifth most powerful in the world. Every year 630 million cubic metres stream out from the underground. By the river, there is an old paper mill which has produced handmade paper since the 14th century.
Gordes is an extraordinary interesting medieval village, especially well known for its striking setting on top of a little rock. The town is dominated by the Château de Gordes from the 16th century and the church St-Firmin. From here, there are fantastic panoramic views of the valley and the Lubéron massif. Gordes is nominated “one of the most beautiful villages in France”. Southwest of the town, there is a Borie-village, whose well-retained stone huts for hundreds of years have been used by nomad-shepherds. These houses, made of piled, flat stones, originate from the Celtic and Ligurian period. Gordes also offers a very beautiful Cistercian abbey from 1148, Abbaye de Sénanque. Just like Provence’s two other Cistercian monasteries, Le Thoronet (Var) and Silvacane (Bouches-du-Rhône), Abbaye de Sénanque is one of the purest testimonies of the primitive Cistercian architecture.
Mini-variety of the Gorges du Verdon canyons. Fantastic scenery. There are a great many hiking routes, and it is often even possible to walk in the bottom of the canyon, as the river is often dried out.
A charming village, situated on the plain of the Comtat Venaissin. L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue is first of all well known for its many second-hand and antique shops. In this little town one can find no less than 300 antique shops. Twice a year, at Easter and over the 15th of August holiday, more than 500 antique and second-hand dealers arrive to expose their finds. This event attracts a huge amount of visitors from all over the world. The town is intersected by several canals which are all ramifications of the River Sorgue. L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue also offers several interesting buildings such as the church, La Collégiale ND des Anges, with its exceptional baroque interior and la pharmacie de l’Hôpital, which houses a rare collection of faiences from Moustiers.
La Camarque lies just south of Arles, in the department of Bouches-du-Rhône and still; you have the impression of being in another world. La Camarque differs completely from all the other regions in Provence. It is one of Europe’s biggest wetlands, covering a surface of 140.000 hectares, and one of the biggest bird sanctuaries in France. La Camargue is an exciting “world” with real cowboys, half-wild horses, black bulls, flamingos and big salt and rice fields.
Beautifully situated in the heart of les Alpilles, on a rocky plateau at an altitude of 245 metres. Les Baux-de-Provence, which is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in France, is one of the most popular attractions in the region with more than 1.5 million visitors a year. The town is best known for its cultural heritage with 22 classified historic monuments. Les Baux-de-Provence also offers magnificent panoramic views of Arles, la Camarque and les Alpilles.
Lourmarin is one of the principal towns in the Lubéron massif. The town is considered one of the prettiest villages in France. Lourmarin is a typically Provencal medieval village with narrow streets, old stone houses with well-restored facades and small, shady squares. In Lourmarin one can, among other things, find a château from the 15th and 16th century, definitely worth a visit, a castle tower, an old Roman church and a listed temple.
Marseille is France’s third largest and oldest city and today the country’s most important port. Despite what many people think, Marseille is a most fascinating town. The old port, Vieux port, is an exciting sight with lots of life and numerous restaurants. Here you can eat Marseille’s world famous fish soup, la Bouillabaisse, which is served with all its fish and variety of prawns.
An exciting medieval village, built on top of a little hill in the magnificent surrounding countryside of Petit Lubéron. Ménerbes is considered one of the finest villages in France. The town has managed to preserve several relics from its historic past. At the times of the religious wars, Ménerbes was a protestant stronghold. In the village you can admire the impressive fortifications, built between the 12th and the 17th century, magnificent well-restored houses and an ancient dolmen, Le Dolmen de la Pichouno, unique to Vaucluse.
Is by name well known of most bicycle enthusiasts and has several times been included in the Tour de France. Mont Ventoux is with its 1912 metres the highest mountain in Provence. Due to its always white top – in the winter of snow and in the summer of white limestone – the mountain is also denominated the bald-headed mountain. It is always windy at the top of Mont Ventoux, and one must be aware that the average temperature is 11 degrees lower than in the valley below.
The Lubéron Mountains consist of two massifs, Grand et Petit Lubéron, separated by a narrow canyon Combe de Lourmarin. The whole area was laid out as National Park in 1977. It covers 120.000 hectares and stretches from Cavaillon in the west to Manosque in the east and from Gordes in the north to Pertuis in the south. It is a fantastic region with unspoiled nature, perfect for hiking or bicycle tours.
An extremely interesting town with numerous historic testimonies. Nîmes was the first French city to be colonised by the Romans and the town holds several impressive monuments from that period. The most imposing monument from Roman Times is Les Arènes, an amphitheatre, built around 50B.C. and the best-preserved of its kind after the Colosseum in Rome. In the town one can also find Maison Carrées, considered one of the best-preserved Roman temples and one of the most beautiful monuments, left in France by the Romans, Porte d’Auguste, remains from the ancient city wall, as well as the old cathedral from the 11th century.
A charming little medieval village beautifully set on a little hilltop. Oppède-le-Vieux is a historic village with many attractions: a 12th century collegiate church which dominates the town’s skyline, the ruins of an ancient feudal castle, pretty, skilfully restored medieval and renaissance houses, ancient washing places and the remains of historic workshops and boutiques.
One of the most interesting towns in the region. The town’s two greatest sights are among Europe’s finest monuments from the Roman period: Arc de Triomphe, erected in 25 B.C., and one of the most well preserved Roman triumph arches and the ancient Roman theatre, Théâtre antique, which still functions. The old city is interesting with its narrow, twisting streets, nicely restored facades and ancient shady squares.
A unique monument and one of the finest remains from Roman Times in France. Pont du Gard which has three levels and is 40 metres high, crosses the river Gard and was built by the Romans to transport water to Nîmes.
Reillanne lies beautifully on a hillside at 550 metres altitude between Lubéron and Forcalquier in the department of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. It is a typical, medieval Provencal village with narrow streets, covered passages, atmosphere filled houses, small shady squares and beautiful gates. In the town one can, among other things, find a church from the 11th century, an ancient abbey, a tower from the 11th century and the remains from the ancient fortification walls.
The village of Robion is beautifully situated at the foot of the Luberon Mountains. It is a peaceful little village - typical of Provence with narrow streets and small, shady squares. The town offers a Roman church, traces from the ancient fortification walls and a very fine open-air theatre. Every year in July and August there is a festival de théâtre et de musique in the town.
Roussillon is one of the most charming villages in the region and one of those most beautifully situated. Roussillon lies on red cliffs, surrounded by pine forest. The Roussillon region is especially famous for its ochre deposits and the houses have magnificent ochre facades. You will find the interesting ancient ochre quarries east of the town. Roussillon also offers fantastic panoramas to the surrounding countryside.