Occupied since Prehistory, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region has preserved many testimonies of its rich and diverse past. Southeastern France is home to numerous castles and impregnable fortresses, cathedrals, basilicas and monasteries, splendid properties, and other remarkable buildings. Discover a selection of tourist monuments that are a must to visit during your stay in southeastern France.
The Alpes-de-Haute-Provence department, a rural territory, has a remarkable historical heritage. Churches, monasteries, and chapels bear witness to the intense spiritual life of the inhabitants of these lands. The fortified castles are also a reminder of the turbulent past of these valleys, which were once strategic communication routes. The citadel of Sisteron, for example, locks the Durance valley and protected Provence from neighboring incursions for several centuries. The Fort de Tournoux, fortification built in the 19th century, guarded the border between France and Italy.
At the foot of mountains crowned by glaciers, the highest alpine valleys are wild and authentic places. If many visitors choose the Hautes-Alpes department for its ski resorts and nature activities, the historical heritage also contributes to the tourist success of the destination. Some monuments are impressive, such as the fortress of Mont-Dauphin or Fort Queyras, two impregnable fortresses built by Vauban. But heritage can also be much more discreet: the chalets of Saint-Véran, the chapels, the fountains, and the sundials painted on the walls also appeal to vacationers.
For thousands of years, men have made their home in a land with a generous climate. The engravings of the Valley of Wonders bear witness to this early occupation. The heritage of the Alpes-Maritimes department offers a great diversity. The Trophy of Augustus recalls the Roman occupation, while the Saorge Monastery bears witness to the religious fervor of the Middle Ages. Other monuments, such as the Villa Kérylos or the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, bear witness to the attractiveness of the French Riviera since the 19th century to wealthy tourists from all over the world.
A very popular tourist destination, the Bouches-du-Rhône department is home to many monuments, some of which date back several millennia. Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, have left vestiges of great evocative power: the Arles Amphiteater, the archaeological site of Glanum, the oppidum of Saint-Blaise and Entremont… Other monuments bear witness to the fervor of the Provencal people, such as the Silvacane abbey or the Notre Dame de la Garde basilica. The castles of Tarascon and Baux-de-Provence remind us of the medieval past of the Bouches-du-Rhône department.
The hilltop villages of Provence Verte are famous tourist attractions in the Var department. Tourtour, classified as one of the most beautiful villages in France, is an excellent example of this authentic and picturesque heritage, which contributes to the charm of the Var department. Numerous religious buildings bear witness to the fervor of the inhabitants, such as the Thoronet Abbey or the Chartreuse de la Verne. Forgotten castles remind us of a distant time when lords reigned over these lands. Take advantage of your stay in the Var department to discover an exceptional heritage.
The former Comtat Venaissin, a territory attached to the Papal States, benefited from the generosity of the sovereign pontiffs. The Palais des Papes (Popes’ palace), the Saint-Bénézet Bridge and the mansions of Avignon attract many tourists every year. But the prosperity of the region is older, as evidenced by the Roman remains of Orange, the Roman Theater, and the Triumphal Arch. The Luberon also conceals real treasures: near Gordes, for example, visits to the Bories village and the Sénanque Abbey are a must.