Explore the essential escapes of the Provençal hinterland. With their charming lifestyle and exceptional cultural and historical heritage, every Provence town offers unforgettable moments. And the unexpected.
So Much to Show You
Historical capital of Provence, Aix-en-Provence, nicknamed “Little Versailles” for its architectural wealth, has preserved all its magnificence. As you walk through the small streets, you will follow in the footsteps of the Romans, the good King René and Mirabeau. A profusion of fashion, interior design, luxury and gourmet boutiques have made Aix-en-Provence an essential shopping destination. The big names of fashion have moved into the Old Town while the big retailers are in the “Allées Provençales” district. On the cultural scene, get ready for some incredible discoveries. You must stop at the Musée Granet – classified among the most beautiful of France! – at the Hotel de Caumont, or at the Fondation Vasarely. Then head to the heights of Aix to visit Cézanne’s studio.
A Mesmerizing Spell
Get ready for an amazing journey. Enter through the ramparts of Avignon, a medieval city, and head towards the imposing Palais des Papes. An architectural masterpiece, it embodies the Church’s power in Christian Western Europe in the 14th century. In the summer, Avignon comes alive. Stroll the little streets and the city’s cultural locations, mobbed with artists during the extremely famous Avignon Festival. The city is also famous for its fabulous wines of the Rhône Valley, like Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Before you leave, reach for the heights at the Rocher des Doms. Admire the panorama over the Old Town and the landscapes of the Rhône plain, which extend to Mont-Ventoux. From its winding streets to its walls, Avignon will cast a spell on you.
Arles and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence
Stories of Yesterday and Today
Arles and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence have stories to share, stories of yesterday and today. The paved streets of Arles will lead you to the Arènes and the Théâtre Antique, magnificent testaments of the Roman era. In Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, you will witness the remains of the Glanum trading post. In Arles, like in Saint-Rémy, the memory and work of Vincent Van Gogh, who settled in the area in 1888, are never far away. The master’s seminal work, “The Starry Night in Saint-Rémy” alone reveals the beauty of the Alpilles landscapes and the, light and colours of Provence. With the Rencontres de la Photographie Festival and the Fondation Luma and Parc des Ateliers art spaces, Arles is an essential benchmark for culture.
Aubagne and the Pays de l’Étoile
A Rich Heritage
Although near Marseille, Aubagne and the villages of the Pays de l’Étoile have been spared the big city’s hectic pace. Here, the tempo is slower; you’ll find real village life and an unwavering attachment of the locals to their area. Summer is punctuated by village celebrations, from Saint-Éloi to religious festivities. Young people have taken over the reins from their elders and wear traditional costumes. Another essential meeting place is the market (le marché) the real heart of these villages. Aubagne and the Pays de l’Étoile have also developed an internationally recognised savoir-faire for working with clay, symbolised by the famous santons of Provence. Aubagne’s best ambassador remains, of course, Marcel Pagnol, the golden boy of the area. Treat yourself to an escape in the Provence countryside to experience for yourself for a few days what it might be like to be a native of the area.
Digne-les-Bains and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
A Land of Talents
In Digne-les-Bains, they celebrate the merging of contemporary art with raw nature at the Musée Gassendi, where Andy Goldsworthy’s Refuge d’Art starts. A sunny town, Digne is surrounded by magnificent mountains, the “Himalayas for Liliputians,” as the great orientalist Alexandra David-Neel affectionately called them when she stayed in the town in 1928. From the town centre, explore the “walking museum” of the geological reserve, where almost 140 species of butterflies flit about in the summer. Then, head south to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. This village in the Verdon is known for its ceramics, which you can see up close at ateliers that continue this traditional craft. One last thing : ask the locals to tell you the legend of the star suspended between two mountains above the village …
Built around Saint-Eutrope Hill, at a height of 105 m, Orange houses two remarkable remains from the Roman era: the Arc de Triomphe and the Théâtre Antique, both registered UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Arc de Triomphe symbolises Roman land and naval military victories. As for the Théâtre Antique d’Orange, it is the only one in the West to have retained its stage wall, 103 metres long and 37 metres high. This special feature gives it peerless acoustics, which you can enjoy during the famous Chorégies of Orange festival.
A Little Pompeii
When you arrive in this little Pompeii, the first monument you’ll see is the feudal castle that looks down upon the medieval city. Down below, on the opposite bank of the Ouvèze, lies the biggest Gallo-Roman site open to the public. It has huge patrician houses (from 2000 to 4000 m²), paved streets, baths and an ancient theatre. Enter into the intimate world of the Voconceae, the Celto-Ligurian people, who established their capital here, a city that was among the most prosperous of Narbonne Gaul. The archaeological museum is packed with objects from daily life. You can also admire frescoes and statues of emperors. Built 2,000 years ago, the Roman bridge that connects the ancient and medieval cities and crosses the Ouvèze is still in use.