Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur seduces by the plurality of its landscapes, from the seabed of the Mediterranean to the snowy summits of the Massif des Écrins, some of which exceed 4000 meters in altitude. But the region also owes much to its towns and villages. Large cities concentrate museums, monuments, shopping centers, tourist activities and entertainment, villages and hamlets welcome holidaymakers seeking authenticity, as well as enthusiasts of serenity and wide-open spaces.
Department by department, discover the towns and villages of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.
Between Provence and the mountains, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence is renowned for its unspoiled landscapes, its many characterful villages and its mountain activities. Several towns have come to structure and energize this essentially rural territory. Forcalquier, former capital of the Counts of Provence, still watches recklessly over Haute-Provence. About 40 kilometers to the northeast, Digne-les-Bains has become the administrative center of the department and a renowned tourist destination, at the heart of the Haute-Provence Geopark and close to the ski resorts. Manosque, in the Durance Valley, is the most populated town in the department.
This dynamic conurbation is also a gateway to the Verdon Natural Regional Park, partly located in Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. The ancient medieval city of Sisteron is still crowned by its powerful citadel overlooking the Durance, which once protected the Kingdom of France from the invaders. Further north, in the Ubaye Valley and the Mercantour National Park, Barcelonnette is home to many middle-class residences.
The high-alpine territory has managed to preserve its mountain landscapes, valleys and forests. Snow, which has long been a source of insulation, has become the white gold of the Hautes-Alpes and has ensured the success of the destination for several decades now. Board sports and winter sports enthusiasts can choose between family village resorts and wide skiing areas. In summer, the towns and villages of the department welcome nature and heritage enthusiasts, in search of wide-open spaces and authenticity. Briançon, fortified under the reign of Louis XIV by Vauban, is also one of the most tourist cities of Hautes-Alpes in all seasons. In winter, Serre Chevalier attracts skiers from all around the world, while its heritage and landscapes seduce holidaymakers in summer. Gap, the biggest city in the department, is easy to reach and is located close to popular destinations such as Champsaur Valley or Lac de Serre-Ponçon (Serre-Ponçon lake).
The French Riviera is the major tourist destination of Alpes-Maritimes, with its seaside resorts, beaches and islands. But you only have to go a few kilometers away from the coast to discover landscapes of breathtaking beauty, the mountains of the Mercantour National Park or the hills of the Préalpes d’Azur Regional Park. Nice, France’s fifth most populated city, is also a must-see tourist destination. Open to the sea, with its port and the beaches along the Promenade des Anglais, Nice is also home to numerous museums, picturesque neighborhoods and lively streets with shops and restaurants. Popularized by its famous Film Festival, Cannes is the other most famous city of Alpes-Maritimes. From the Palais des Festivals to the Promenade de la Croisette, tourists come to find a certain idea of chic and glamour. They also discover a real authenticity, in the old town or on the Lérins islands. Antibes and Cagnes-sur-Mer have developed strongly around their village heart until they became big cities with several tens of thousands of inhabitants each. Menton, a few kilometers from the Italian border, enjoys a particularly pleasant microclimate in all seasons. With its opulent houses and colored facades, its beaches and gardens, its major cultural events, the city attracts many holidaymakers. In the hinterland, set back from the sea, the town of Grasse is a real open-air garden. Its flowers and roses have attracted the greatest perfumers, who have made the city the capital of perfumery.
Bouches-du-Rhône is one of the most populated departments of France. Large cities coexist with unspoiled landscapes, such as the coastline protected by the Calanques National Park, the vast wilderness of the Camargue, the white rocks of Montagne Sainte-Victoire or the Alpilles… Marseille, the second-largest city of France, is an international tourist destination. Its museums, including the famous MuCEM, its districts such as the Old Port or Le Panier, its monuments such as Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde or the Palais Longchamp, seduce tourists. But Marseille is also a nature destination with its beaches, hills, islands of Friuli and creeks. Aix-en-Provence, a student and bourgeois town at the foot of the Sainte-Victoire mountain, is renowned for its cultural offer, its museums, its historic center which is home to many shops and restaurants. Arles, former Roman city, is a city with an exceptional historic heritage: arenas and the Roman Theater, the cryptoporticus, the thermal baths bear witness to this past opulence. Authenticity is present in each city: historic centers of Aubagne and Salon de Provence, for example, keep their Provençal village soul. Other cities also owe their tourist success in part to their openness to the sea such as La Ciotat or Cassis, famous for their beaches, or even Martigues, nicknamed Provençal Venice.
Var is renowned for its splendid coastline, its islands and its landscapes of breathtaking beauty and its good weather. Heavenly beaches, hills covered by pine forests, lakes and rivers form an idyllic setting where characterful villages and dynamic towns are invited. Inland, in green Provence, an authentic destination awaits you Toulon, the first military port on the Mediterranean Sea, welcomes many tourists thanks to its dynamic cultural life, its beaches and tourist attractions such as Mont Faron which offers a breathtaking view of the harbor.
Former fishing villages have become very popular seaside resorts during the 20th century. Saint-Tropez has thus established itself as one of the most popular destinations of the French Riviera, welcoming many celebrities and tourists from all over the world. Bandol is famous for its beaches, but also for its wines, and attracts many holidaymakers.
Vaucluse is a very famous tourist destination, between nature and culture. The landscapes of the Luberon and Mont Ventoux reflect the image of an ideal Provence, with authentic villages, hills covered with garrigues, pine forests, olive trees and lavender. The department also welcomes several dynamic and attractive cities. Ancient remains of Orange and Vaison-la-Romaine make you go back in time, to the distant past when Provence was the first Roman Province in Gaul. More than a thousand years later, Avignon takes you at the heart of the Middle-Ages.
The former papal city is renowned today for its exceptional historic heritage: the Palais des Papes, the Avignon city walls, the Saint-Bénezet bridge et the private mansions of the city center bear witness of the past prosperity.
Carpentras, at the foot of Mont Ventoux, was one of the most dynamic cities of the Comtat Venaissin, the territory that belonged to the Popes until 1791. Cavaillon and Apt are the two main towns of the Luberon, the territory of great beauty protected today by the Luberon Regional Nature Park.