The borders of Provence and the Cote d'Azur are defined by nature - to the North, where the olive trees end, to the South by the Mediterranean, to the West by the Rhone river and to the East by the Alps and the border with Italy. From its herb-scented hills (don't miss the lavender harvest mid-end July) to its yacht-filled harbours, its plummeting gorges and Camargue saltflats, its vivid landscape and luminous light have inspired artists and writers from Van Gogh to Picasso, Scott Fitzgerald to Pagnol.
Inland you will find a paradise for walkers and nature lovers,whereas on the South Eastern coastal region you will find a sun worshipper's paradise. Summer entertainment includes jazz festivals, car races, casinos and bull fights.
Provence is also a region with a strong wine making tradition - explore the vineyards of Chateauneuf-du-Pape between Orange and Avignon, the Bouches-du-Rhone region stretching North West from Marseille, the region South of Aix en Provence and the 'Cotes de Provence' producers surrounding Saint Tropez and Toulon.
Things to do and places to visit
At Saint-Saturnin-Les-Avignon (on the D28 heading East out of Avignon towards Pernes-les-Fontaines) - Discover the secrets of hive, honey and beekeeping in Provence by watching the "abeillorama" (the observation-glass hive). You can buy natural bee products (honeys, pollen, royal jelly, mead) in the shop. Free entrance from Monday to Saturday (from 9.00 a.m. to 12.00 a.m/ from 2.00 p.m to 6.00p.m)
The sun and the cosmos Park - 3 Kms from Avignon, going towards Nimes on the N100 at Les Angles - a discovery park on the themes of space and time. Open to all from 9 to 99 years old.
Thouzon Caves at Le Thor (off the N100 heading East from Avignon towards Isle-sur-la-Sorgue) - this underground cave network is famous for its thin stalactites and the path system can easily be negotiated by the elderly and children. There is also a picnic area for you to enjoy.
Gordes - One of the most beautiful French villages. - Mecca of culture with its Renaissance Castle and the Pol Mara Museum, the Senaque Cistercian abbey, the stained-glass window Museum and the "Bouillons" mill, the Bories Village and around 50 exhibitions a year. It is also a favourite spot with nature-lovers with many possibilities for walking or riding.
Visit the candied fruit factory in Apt (East of Avignon via the N100)where you can discover the secrets of the candied fruit - tastings possible!
The children will enjoy "La Barben" zoological Park (East of Salon-de-Provence off the A7) with more than 40 hectares containing more than 600 animals (giraffes, elephants, lions, tigers, ostriches, reptiles, snakes, crocodiles, birds). There is also a 9 km walk in an unforgettable site. Picnic area, watering places, shades, waterfalls. Open every day, all year.
The Chateau de Baux de Provence At the top of the famous village, this chateau contains many relics of its glorious past and offers an exceptional panorama of The Alpilles, the Camargue and the whole region. There is also a permanent exhibition of life-size medieval war apparatus. Open every day, all the year long. Guided tours available
The Pont Saint-Benezet in Avignon is the famous 'Pont d'Avignon'. Built during the 12th century this is the oldest building ever set up over the Rhône between Lyon and the sea, destroyed in 1226, and reconstructed during the 13th century. There is a self-guided visit of the chapels and of the four remaining arches . Open all year.
Another place to visit in Avignon is the Palais des Papes, the most important 14th century gothic palace in Europe. More than 20 rooms are open to the public which include the Pope's private apartments and the marvellous frescos, work of the Italian Artist Matteo Giovannetti. Visits by night in June, August and September.
Besides the wonderful old port, you should also not miss the small harbour of L'Estaque, one of the most picturesque parts of Marseille frequented in the past by many famous artists. Visit their websitefor further details
There is a long tradition of soap-making in the city of Marseille - find out more about the product at this website for further information about the product.
To get the most out of your stay in Marseille, buy a tourist city-pass (Carte Privilège) and enjoy unlimited access to 14 museums and special prices or free access to sight-seeing train rides, guided visits and a mini cruise to the Chateau d'If. Guided two-hour tours are also available through the tourist office in the town
A personal selection of stays on vineyard estates and in the wine-producing areas of France
A fine selection of spa breaks in France, perfect for a pampering stay with your girlfriends