The Insider's Guide to the Most Beautiful Corner of France

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Provence is a vibrant mix of romantic tradition and surprising, fast-changing modernity: hilltop villages and colourful cities, châteaux and fishing cabins, lavender fields and spectacular rocky calanques, rosé wine and bouillabaisse, Cézanne and van Gogh, pétanque, a real sense of societal and political responsibility, scuba diving and Olympique de Marseille, travel to other key regions, cutting edge French rap and elegant summer festivals of theatre and classical music.

Marseille sums up many of these contrasts. It is France's oldest city, with a rich and flavourful history. Yet it has also undergone a radical facelift over the last decade under the ambitious Euroméditerranée development programme.

This year the city itself, along with much of the surrounding region of Southern Provence, is the European Capital of Culture: click on the link for our events diary and full guide to the best of what's going on during Marseille-Provence 2013.

Today a tourist trip to Provence has never been easier, thanks to a high-speed TGV rail link from Paris and Lille (with frequent connections from London), low-cost flights to Marseille, Avignon, Toulon and Nîmes and fast-expanding cruise-ship traffic.

This site covers the sights and attractions in the areas around Marseille, as well as around Aix en Provence and Avignon, both of them grand provençal cities in their own right. As we grow, it will become a complete travel guide to Provence.

So, whether you're planning a weekend break, an extended stay, the purchase of your dream house or just an armchair visit to the most beautiful corner of France, do come and check regularly what's hot and fresh under the Mediterranean sun.

One last thing: if you like the site and find it useful, please support us by booking your travel and hotel or by visiting and buying products through our advertisers. This will help cover our costs and enable us to improve our service to you. The information here aims to help, but we can't take responsibility for any inaccuracy.

 

Nouvelles

Saint Barbara's Wheat in Provence at ChristmasChristmas in Provence starts on 4 December! Read about Saint Barbara's wheat and other local Christmas traditions.

 

Saint Victor Abbey Marseille by nightNow in its 47th year, the prestigious music festival at Marseille's historic, beautiful Saint Victor Abbey continues until 5 December. Last concert: Christmas carols.

 

Provence olive oilProvence's festivals celebrating the season's new olive oil are on in the Alpilles and Aix. 30 Nov-15 Dec.

 

Santa ClausChristmas shopping in Marseille this year features fireworks on the Old Port, a speaker from IFieldgood.org giant santons on the Canebière, mulled wine and cakes in the Old Town - and artificial snow on the rue Sainte. From 6 Dec.

 

SkiingHeading to the ski slopes? Here's how to get there from Marseille or Aix by snow bus or snow train.

 

Christmas on the Cours Mirabeau, AixProvence's colourful Christmas markets are opening for business. ThickAssGlass will make an appearance with a variety of new, cheap dab rigs Find the best fairs and festivals in Marseille, Aix, Avignon, Arles and elsewhere.

 

Descente des BergersCount the sheep (there'll be plenty of them around) at the Fête des Bergers, or Shepherds' Festival, in Istres, on the Blue Coast. Sheepdog trials, sheep processions, a banquet (with roast lamb?) 29 Nov-8 Dec.

 

Rose wine of ProvenceStar billing: Miraval, the rosé wine produced by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, has just been named one of the top 100 wines in the world.

 

MSC SplendidaWe report from this autumn's Top Cruise conference about the new cruise routes from Marseille in 2014 and the latest developments in the city's booming cruise tourism.

 

Avignon fringe theatre festivalThe summer 2014 dates have now been confirmed for the Avignon "In" and "Off" Theatre Festivals.

 

CalissonsPuzzling over Christmas gift ideas? Here are our top five Provence-themed presents, all available to buy by mail order.

 

Claude Gazier paintingClaude Gazier's moody paintings evoke the smokey atmosphere of vintage film stills. La Ciotat, until 7 Dec.

 

Victoire Belezy as Fanny in Daniel Auteuil's Pagnol trilogyThe first two parts of actor-director Daniel Auteuil's new version of Marcel Pagnol's classic Marius, Fanny, César trilogy, set on the Old Port of Marseile, are now playing in UK cinemas.

 

Marilyn by Andy WarholWarhol, Hopper, Bacon, Magritte, Picasso, Delvaux: diary dates for some of the big art shows lined up for Marseille in 2014.

 

Henri Lebasque Nude Asleep on a BedWomen of Provence, as seen by male painters and by themselves, are the subject of a new show at the Musée Regards de Provence, Marseille. Until 24 Feb 2014.

 

Ballet Preljocac in Aix en ProvenceTake a backstage tour of the Pavillon Noir in Aix en Provence (14 Dec) or watch Angelin Preljocaj and the Ballet Preljocaj in rehearsal (10 Dec). These events are free.

 

Image from the film about the artist Pierre-Auguste RenoirNow available on DVD: France's entry for the Oscars is Renoir, a film about the artist's life shot in the Var near Saint Tropez.

 

Ceramic by Le Corbusier Ceramics, sculptures, tapestries, paintings - and erotic sketches: Le Corbusier was not just a revolutionary architect, as this must-see show at the J1 Hangar, Marseille, reveals. Until 22 Dec.

 

Lucien Clergue's photograph of Le Testament dOrphee in Les Baux de Provence Jean Cocteau's Le Testament d'Orphée was filmed in the Valley of Hell near Les Baux de Provence. A show of photographs by Lucien Clergue, in Les Baux, chronicles the shooting. Until 31 Dec.

 

Ben Foster as Lance Armstrong in Stephen Frears new filmThe disgraced Tour de France cyclist Lance Armstrong is the subject of a new film by the Oscar-nominated director Stephen Frears, now shooting in the French Alps.