Contemporary art, Roman heritage, religious architecture, typical villages and Alpine fortifications, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur abounds with rich and varied cultural experiences. Dive into this historic universe and its fascinating aesthetics.
Top Sites to Visit
The essentials of the South
If you only have time to see a handful of cultural sites in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, these are the ones! On the Provence side, head to Marseille to see the architectural stunner, Mucem, Then, take a boat to Château d’If. Located on the Frioul archipelago, this prison is THE legendary location of Alexandre Dumas’ novel, “The Count de Monte-Cristo.” Pop over to Les Baux-de-Provence, to its chateau, then to the Carrières de Lumières, home of the most unique and awesome artistic projections. Next, visit the Palais des Papes in Avignon, the biggest Gothic palace in Western Europe. Finally, make your way to the Côte d’Azur, for a tour of the Fort Carré in Antibes and the presidential Fort in Brégançon.
A Contemporary Art’s Land
From Nice to Digne, some cutting edge works
From the Fondation Maeght in Saint-Paul-de-Vence to the Musée Picasso in Antibes and the Musée National Picasso in Vallauris, by way of the Mamac in Nice, the Riviera promises you an exhilarating artistic journey through 20th century art. In Provence, embark on an introductory voyage to the Fondation Carmignac, located on the île de Porquerolles. Next, take a tour at the Musée Cantini or at the MAC in Marseille, then continue on to Aix-en-Provence, to the not-to-miss Fondation Vasarely. Avignon and Arles also have many surprises in store for you. Finally, contemporary art merges with raw nature at the Parc Géologique de Haute-Provence. There, a 150-kilometre hike leads you to the astonishing “Refuge d’Art,” a creation by British artist Andy Goldsworthy.
The Roman Remains
A Priceless Heritage
Conquered by Rome in the 1st century BC, le Sud boasts a precious architectural heritage inherited from that time. You must visit the exceptionally well-preserved Théâtre Antiqueand the Arc de Triomphe in Orange and the Arènes d’Arles – all are classified UNESCO World Heritage sites. Other not-to-miss sites are the archaeological sites of Vaison-la-Romaine and the Musée des Docks and the Musée d’Histoire in Marseille, which trace the city’s port development during the Roman era. On the Côte d’Azur side, the imposing Trophée d’Auguste, perched above the heights of Monaco, symbolises the conquering power of the nascent empire. In Nice, the site in Cimiez will enlighten you about the daily life of the community during that time.
The Via Alta
An Inspiring Route
Welcome to a legendary road where history, heritage and gastronomy combine. An intense cultural experience, the Via Alta, which connects Turin to Avignon, leads through Alpine and Provençal heritage treasures: the fortifications in Briançon, the Citadel in Sisteron, the Palais des Papes in Avignon, the Roman remains in Arles. Jewels of Christian architecture, including the Cathédrale Notre-Dame-du-Réal in Embrun, the biggest religious building in the French Alps, punctuate its route. On the way, you can enjoy Alpine specialities in the friendly setting of a village bistrot and delight your senses by strolling through a Provençal market.
The sweetest Villages
Explore the soul of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur by idling in the little streets of its most charming villages, marked with the “Most Beautiful Villages in France” label. This escape will lead you to spots with typical Alpine charm – like La Grave and Saint-Véran – and colourful little squares in the hinterland of Nice: Sainte-Agnès, Coaraze, Gourdon. Then, head to Provence and its multitude of flower-filled villages with small squares, fountains and vaulted passages: Seillans, Tourtour, Venasque, Gordes, Lourmarin, to name but a few. And let’s not forget Les Baux-de-Provence, a marvel perched on a rocky outcrop.
Magnificent churches and abbeys
In search of spirituality? In Provence, don’t miss the “Three Provençal Sisters”, the Cistercian abbeys of Sénanque in Gordes, of Silvacane in La Roque d’Anthéron, and of Thoronet, whose spare architectural style reflects the lifestyle of the monks in medieval times. Marseille, Aix-en-Provence and Avignon, former seat of the Papacy, will also delight enthusiasts of religious architecture. In the Alps, along the Via Alta, you will discover treasures of medieval and modern times. Between its colourful chapels and churches, the Abbey de Lérins near Cannes and the Cathédrale Orthodoxe Russe Saint-Nicolas in Nice, the Côte d’Azur also has some very beautiful discoveries in store for you.