This magnificent region is shaped like a giant wedge of quiche. From its sunburned crust, fanning out along the Mediterranean coast from the Camargue to Marseille, it stretches north along the Rhône Valley to Orange. The Romans were here in force and left many ruins — some of the best anywhere. Seven popes, artists such as Vincent van Gogh and Paul Cézanne, and author Peter Mayle all enjoyed their years in Provence. This destination features a splendid recipe of arid climate, oceans of vineyards, dramatic scenery, lively cities, and adorable hill-capping villages.
At a Glance
▲▲▲ Near Avignon: Pont du Gard, Nîmes, and Uzès Three worthy destinations, including the stunning Pont du Gard aqueduct; thriving Nîmes with world-class Roman monuments; and pedestrian-friendly Uzès, a refreshing break from power monuments and busy cities.
▲▲▲ Orange and the Côtes du Rhône Starring Orange's remarkably intact Roman theater, plus the sunny Côtes du Rhône wine road, cozy villages, and fields of lavender, anchored by charming Vaison-la-Romaine.
▲▲ Arles Once-important Roman outpost, now a bustling town famous for its market days, ancient amphitheater, and as a site that inspired Vincent van Gogh.
▲▲ Near Arles: Les Baux, St-Rémy, and the Camargue Several compelling sights: the cliff-topping castle ruins at Les Baux; St-Rémy with Roman ruins and a mental hospital that treated Van Gogh; and the Camargue — a nature lover's refuge, with flamingos, bulls, and white horses.
▲▲ Hill Towns of the Luberon Boasting crumbled castles, ocher canyons, and meditative abbeys; the sturdy market town of Isle-sur-la-Sorgue; and delightful rock-top villages like Roussillon, Lacoste, and Ménerbes.
▲▲ Marseille, Cassis, and Aix-en-Provence Photogenic port of Marseille with gritty charm; the coastal town of Cassis, home of the calanques (Mediterranean fjords); and inland, genteel Aix-en-Provence.
▲ Avignon Fourteenth-century residence of the popes, today a youthful city with atmospheric cafés, lively squares and pedestrian areas, and a famous broken bridge.