A Whistle Stop Guide to Provence

Provence is a delightful area to visit, it has absolutely everything to offer from rugged coastlines, mountain peaks, verdant green valleys and of course the magnificent Cote d’Azur. Sitting snugly in the south east corner of France, Provence has been the inspiration for films, books, and the attraction for many culinary documentaries featuring some of the world’s greatest chefs. Roaming around this romantic landscape there are plenty of chic hilltop villages where you can stop at a pavement cafe and spend some quality time watching the world go by.

The French Riviera

The French Riviera
The French Riviera

The French Riviera is commonly known as the Cote d’Azur and has been a tourist attraction for hundreds of years. Not only are there fantastic beaches but the area is steeped in history and full of culture. Make sure you visit Nice and its Old Town that is reminiscent of an old Italian town. If you go down to the Promenade des Anglais you will find a four-mile promenade that the great and good like to amble along when the sun goes down.

Nice is flanked by two more famous cousins that are a little more auspicious, namely Cannes and Monaco, which of course hosts the famous Grand Prix. You can even hire a scooter and drive around the exact same route as the famous racing drivers of the past and experience for yourself what it is like to be a F1 driver. If you want to get away from the city then there are oodles of choices offshore such as the Aegean Turkey or the Greek Islands.

Historical Provence

Historical Provence
Historical Provence

Perhaps the beach is not your thing, well don’t despair as Provence is full of historical and cultural quaint villages and towns. Avignon blends religious history with medieval architecture, situated in a natural bend on the river Rhone it is surrounded by protective mountains. To the east are the Alpine foothills and further north is the daunting Mount Ventoux at two thousand meters. It was Pope Clement V who changed the power base of the Roman Catholic Church by moving the seat of power to Avignon. Consequently, `the building of Avignon are outstanding full of religious history and traditions. The Gothic Palais de Papes is now the main draw in Avignon and not surprisingly so.

Eating in Provence

Provence is famous all over the world as one of the best gastronomical destinations in the whole of the world. Many famous celebrity chefs have written books about the cuisine of Provence and celebrated the diverse wealth of produce that is available in this food basket of the south of France. The cuisine is a mix of hearty peasant dishes together with strong Italian influences. The local stars are nuts and fruits, together with locally grown vegetables such as broad beans, asparagus, artichokes and peppers. If you have never been to this part of France then you have to sample the regional delicacy Bouillabaisse, this traditional fish soup is simply sublime and once eaten you could never eat another version of fish soup.