Moustiers-Sainte-Marie – Image courtesy of Nepomuk/Creative Commons
Explore a charming region of rugged cliffs and gorges scattered with medieval hilltop villages nestling between fields of purple lavender and multi-coloured vineyards.
What to do and see in Provence
Wander the narrow cobbled streets of Les Baux and Gordes, just two of the more famous medieval hilltop villages for which Provence is renowned, or discover others less frequented.
Ponder the picturesque scenery and walk in the footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh, who captured this scenic region so vividly in many of his paintings.
Hike through the Gorges du Verdon, across the gentle hills of the Luberon or through the unspoiled alpine wilderness of the Parc National du Mercantour, looking out for chamois and golden eagles.
Must-see sightseeing attractions in Provence, include:
Wander the narrow lanes of the historic centre crowded with craft shops, wine bars and bistros. In this former Roman city, discover numerous sarcophagi and colourful mosaics in the popular-lined avenue of tombs in Les Alyscamps cemetery, stroll the dramatic Roman ampitheatre that dates from the 1st century BC and learn about the five centuries of Roman rule at the spacious Musée de l'Arles Antique.
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Tour the maze of narrow streets in this medieval city and wander along the low fortified wall (that once bordered a deep protective moat) that runs unbroken for nearly 5km.
Discover a world-class collection of Italian Renaissance paintings from Botticelli, Carpaccio and Crivelli inside the Petit Palais, a former archbishop's palace. Explore the austere Palais des Papes; admire paintings by Brueghel, Buffet, Daumier, Bonnard and Vuillard in the Musée Calvet, an elegant 18th century mansion; or discover works by Picasso, Degas, Derain, Modigliani, Van Gogh, Manet and Cezanne in the Musée Angladon.
Stroll across the 800-year-old Pont St-Bénézet (from the song Sur le Pont). Don’t miss the celebrated Festival d'Avignon, which is held annually for three weeks between July and August.
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Stroll the narrow cobblestone streets of 'Vieux Lyon', now a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, and explore the unique narrow alleyways that pass through buildings linking inner courtyards to nearby streets – once used by the Resistance during World War II.
Stroll past 17th and 18th century mansions and museums to the Basilique de Notre-Dame. Discover a magnificent collection of sculptures, paintings, antiquities and objets d'art spanning 5000 years of history inside the Musée des Beaux Arts, housed in the Palais Saint Pierre, a former 17th century royal Benedictine abbey on the city's grandest square, Place des Terreaux.
Wander through the remains of two ancient Roman theatres, one of which dates to 15 BC and is still used today for open-air performances in summer.
Don’t miss Les Halles de Lyon, the famous covered food market that is home to a mountain of delicious regional specialties, or the Institut Lumiere inside the Villa Lumiere, where the Lumiere brothers lived and invented the first moving picture.
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Stroll the majestic tree-lined cours Mirabeau into fountained squares, crowded with 16th century architecture and explore a labyrinth of tiny lanes lined with cafes, restaurants and shops.
Admire paintings by Rubens in the church of the Madeleine, examine Nicholas Froment's 1476 triptych in the Cathedral St-Sauveur, discover a superb collection of tapestries in the Musée des Tapisseries and visit Atelier Cezanne, where the painter Pual Cezanne lived and worked. In Aix you may also discover some of the best markets in Provence.
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Climb winding streets past ancient stone buildings to the summit of this beautiful mountain village for expansive views over the surrounding countryside. Explore the 11th century castle, which was partially rebuilt in Renaissance style in the 16th century, and the 12th century Romanesque Sénanque Abbey, still inhabited by Cistercian monks.
Gordes was an active Resistance village during World War II and was later awarded a medal, the Croix de Guerre 1939–1945.
Les Gorges du Verdon
Hike, cycle or drive along Europe’s largest gorge, with stunning views from the Balcons de la Mescla, a 250m-high vantage point overlooking the 21km-long canyon.
Drive along the Corniche and the Route des Crêtes, which offers breathtaking views and a hair-raising, sheer 800m drop into the River Verdon.
Explore the marshland of the Rhone delta by kayak, on horseback or on foot to discover the region’s famous wild white horses, magnificent bulls and wildlife that includes pink flamingos, waterfowl, wild boars, beavers, water snakes and turtles.