Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

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Notable Towns and Sights in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region

Marseille (Bouches-du-Rhône) was originally a Greek settlement and is the oldest and second largest city in France with over 800,000 inhabitants. It became known as the "Gateway to the West" for Oriental trade and the city grew up around the Vieux-Port which has been a main point of entry for many immigrants. The city is divided into 16 municipal arrondissements (districts) which are then divided into quartiers and most attractions are located in the 1st, 2nd, 6th, and 7th districts. Marseille has an abundance of exellent museums, theatres, and its famous Opéra. The Musée des Beaux-Arts, an architectural masterpiece, resides in the 19th-century Palais Longchamp and has French, Italian and Flemish schools of painting on two floors. The collection includes works by Perugino, Rubens, David, and Courbet, interspersed with sculptures by Puget and Daumier. The Vieille Charité was built in 1640 to house the poor and now houses the Musée d'Archéologie Egyptienne. The Cathédrale de la Major (photo) is the largest 19th-century church in France and was founded in the 4th-century then rebuilt in the 19th-century in Romano-Byzantine style. Overlooking the city is Notre-Dame-de-la Garde which was built in the 1850's and has a 151 foot (46 m) gilded statue of the Virgin on its belfry. One mile off of the coast of Marseille is the the imposing fortress Château d'If from 1529 (photo) made famous as a prison in Alexandres Dumas' fictional "Count of Monte Cristo". Gare Saint-Charles is a main terminal stations for the TGV in the south of France and trains take only three hours to make the huge distance to Paris and just over 1-1/2 hours to get to Lyon from here. Ville de Marseille France Provence Marseille

France Provence Marseille
Massif des Maures (Var) lies between Hyères and Frés and covers roughly 66 miles (40 km) of wilderness with dense pine, oak, and chestnut forests covering the Maures mountains. It is accessible north of Cogolin and the nearby town of La Garde-Freinet is known for its bottle cork production. France Provence Maures Massif
Ménerbes (Vaucluse) is one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France and is located in the beautiful Luberon valley. It has been popularized by British author Peter Mayle who once lived here and the Ridley Scott movie "A Good Year" was filmed nearby. There are hiking trails, one from the south side and one from the west of the village which will take visitors to the base of the Luberon mountains between Robion and Oppéde to the west (about 2.5 miles or 4 km) and Bonnieux to the east (about 4 miles or 6.5 km). France Provence Menerbes Church
Menton (Alpes-Maritimes) is probably the most beautiful town on the French Riviera and has the nickname "La perle de France". This sleepy town which is near the Italian border along the Mediterranean Sea wakes up once a year to have the Fête du Citron (lemon) in February (since 1934) and is the second largest annual event on the Riviera. Because the town has mountains surrounding it and is open to the sea, fruit grows well here and indeed, there are up to 135 varieties of citrus harvested. Above the town are terraced hills full of lemon and orange groves with spectacular views of the sea and across to Italy accessible by car. Sights here include world-renowned gardens including the Serre de la Madone, the Le Val Rahmeh, the Fontana Rosa, and the Maria Serena gardens. Photo France Provence Menton
Mont Ventoux (Vaucluse) or Windy Mountain is the most most prominent geographical feature in Provence standing at 6,263 feet (1909 m). Though part of the French Alps geographically, it stands somewhat alone with its extreme altitude with only smaller mountains nearby. There is not much on the bare limestone peak except small varieties of eagles, spiders, and butterflies as well as some moss and radar antennae. It is often included in the annual Tour-de-France bicycle race due to its gradual, yet continuous slope. The road over the mountain is closed when the Mistral winds reach high speeds, possibly 193 mph (310kph). France Provence
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence) lies at the western entrance to the Gorges du Verdon and clings to the side of a limestone cliff. A spring flows out of the cliff, creating a waterfall directly in the center of town. Moustiers has been a center of the pottery and faïence trade for centuries. Above the village there is a star suspended high above the Notre-Dame de Beauvoir chapel by a forged-iron chain fastened to solid rock on each side of the gorge. According to legend, a knight of Blacas who was held prisoner by the Saracens during the crusades vowed to hang a star over the village upon his return. La Bastide de Moustiers France Provence Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
Nice (Alpes-Maritimes) is the largest resort on the Mediterranean coast and was founded by the Greeks and colonized by the Romans. It was Italian until 1860 and the Old Town pastel façades and balconies reflect that style. Nice has several squares or Places for gathering, performances, and public displays including the main square Place Masséna. Place Garibaldi is a crossroads between Vieux Nice (old town) and the town centre. Place Rossetti is enclosed and in the old town. Cours Saleya has a daily flower market and has entertainment. Place du Palais has the Palais de Justice or law courts. Worthwhile museums include the Musée Matisse, Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain, and the Palais Lascaris with its 17th-century woodwork, Flemish tapestries. Also here is the Nice Observatory on the summit of Mont Gros from 1888. Nice Tourisme    Nice Carnaval France Provence Nice
Orange (Vaucluse) is in the lower Rhöne Valley and has one of the best preserved Roman theatres in Europe, the Théâtre Antique d'Orange. Also notable is the Arc de Triomphe d'Orange (photo) which was also built during the reign of Augustus (27 b.c. to 14 a.d.). From June to August Les Nuits du Théâtre Antique has all-night concerts , cinema, and musical events. In July there is Les Chorégies d'Orange which is a series of operas, classical-music concerts, and choral performances. The town has a nice network of squares and attractive fountains to stroll. France Provence Orange
Roussillon (Vaucluse) lies between the Vaucluse plateau and the Lubéron range and is famous for its spectacular red cliffs and ochre quarries. The whole village is built of this reddish stone which contrasts pleasantly with the barren yellow-white land, green pine trees, and blue skies. It is one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. Luberon-Roussillon France Provence Roussillon
Saignon (Vaucluse) is a peaceful village perched at the top of a hill behind a large rock which dominates the Apt valley. The town has narrow streets with ancient fountains, picturesque squares, and beautiful old houses with intricate doorways. There is easy access to the rock of Saignon and a climb to the top provides a panoramic view of the Apt valley below and the Luberon mountain range as well as Mont Ventoux, the Lure mountain, the Alpes de Haute Provence, and Avignon. Sights include the Roman church Notre Dame de Pitié. France Provence Saignon
Saint-Paul-de-Vence (Alpes-Maritimes) is a popular restored hill village that overlooks the coast and has retained its original winding cobblestone streets, medieval houses and 16th-century fortifications (photo). Famous artists such as Braque, Chagall, Dufy, Modigliani, and Picasso all dined at the local La Colombe d'Or (Golden Dove) which has many of their paintings which they bartered for housing and food. The principal sight here is the Fondation Maeght modern art museum built in 1964 which was formerly a home to a wealthy art dealer. It is considered the finest museum in the region and has an outdoor sculpture garden (Miró Labyrinth) with reflecting pools and mosaics as well. Saint-Paul Web France Provence Saint Paul de Vence
Saint-Rémy-de-Provence (Bouches-du-Rhône) has the 1st-century Glanum Roman ruins which were unearthed in 1921. There are remains of a Triumphal Arch (photo) with elements of walls, foundations, and a large mausoleum with Roman scenes depicted. The town is also famous for having been the home to Vincent Van Gogh for a year (1889-1890) when he produced around 150 works. It is also the birthplace of the prophecy Nostradamus in 1503. France Provence St-Remy-de-Provence
Saint Tropez (Var) is tucked away at the end of a peninsula at the eastern end of the Maures mountains and looks across the Golfe de Saint Tropez. In the 1950's the actress Brigitte Bardot (known as "BB") moved here and changed the town from a sleepy fishing village into a playground for the rich and famous. She also popularized the bikini here in her early films (1952), but since retirement in 1974 has devoted her time to her animal sanctuary. Painters and writers from the 1920's captured the previously unspoilt state of the village and their works are displayed in the Musée de l'Annonciade. It features artists Bonnard, Braque, Derain, Maillol, Matisse, Seurat, Signac, Utrillo and Van Dongen. The museum is located near the old port in the tranquil 16th-century Annonciade Chapel. France Provence Saint Tropez

Tarascon (Bouches-du-Rhône) is located north of Arles and gets its name from the mythological creature (Tarasque) that was half-fish and half-animal. The focal point of the town which lies along the Rhône river (photo) is the perfectly-preserved and large 15th-century Gothic castle (photo) which was built by Louis II of Anjou starting in 1401 and completed by his two sons. Visitors may walk through and at the top are rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding area including the neighboring town Beaucaire (photo) directly across the river. Other sites include Église collégiale Sainte Marthe where, according to local tradition, the biblical figure Martha is buried. View from across the Rhône river France Provence Tarascon Chateau
Toulon (Var) is an important center for naval construction, fishing, winemaking, and other manufacturing. It is located on the southern tip of Provence and has some worthwhile museums including the Musée National de la Marine for history and the Musée d'Art de Toulon which hosts works of Realism, Fauvism, and Minimalism. Also here is the Musée du vieux Toulon et de sa région (Old Toulon and its Region) with a collection of maps, paintings, drawings, models and other artifacts showing the history of the city. The Hôtel des Arts which opened in 1998 presents five exhibits a year with works by well-known contemporary artists including Sean Scully, Jannis Kounellis, Claude Viallat, Per Kirkeby, and Vik Muniz. The Mémorial du débarquement de Provence (Landings in Provence) is located on the summit of Mount Faron and this small museum which opened in 1964 by President Charles DeGaulle, commemorates the Allied landing in Provence in August 1944 with photos, weapons, and models. Also notable is the Cathédrale Notre Dame-de-la-Sède. (photo)   Tourisme France Provence Toulon Port

France Provence Toulon
Vaison-la-Romaine (Vaucluse) was a Roman city for five centuries and has extensive Roman ruins. (photo)  It has a Haute (upper) ville with the ruins of a 12th-century castle, cobbelstone streets, and restored houses. Across the Ouvèze river over the ancient Pont Romain is the old Roman city with two major archaelogical excavation sites: the Fouilles de Puymin with a theatre from 20 A.D. that could accommodate 6000 people and the Fouilles de la Villasse. There is also the Musée Archéologique that displays many of the found artifacts. France Provence Vaison-la-Romaine
Villefranche-sur-Mer (Alpes-Maritimes) lies at the foothills overlooking a deep harbor 4 miles (2.4 km) east of Nice. It is built on terraced hills overlooking the Mediterranean sea and is sometimes used by the US Navy. In the Old Town, sights include the Baroque-Italian-style Saint Michael Church dating from the first part of the 14th Century. The Saint Peter Chapel also dates from the 14th Century and was used as a storeroom for local fishermen's nets and equipment, in 1957 Jean Cocteau took on the restoration of the chapel adding his now-famous murals. On the hills surrounding the town, the Fort of Mont Alban offers incomparable views of Cap Ferrat and the Eastern coastline as far away as Italy. (photo) France Provence Villefranche-sur-Mer

Les Plus Beaux Villages in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region

Natural Parks in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region Region

Additional Resources for the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region

Average Monthly Temperatures in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region

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