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see + do

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Provence see + do

Sure, there is the Roman architecture, the châteaux, and the famous lavender fields. But the region is at its best where no-name architects and peasants built villages in the sweeping valleys and atop rocky precipices, especially in the area between Aix and Avignon. You don't have to follow the Van Gogh trail to Arles to appreciate towns like St. Rémy-de-Provence, where prize-winning olive oil and chocolate shops are set in a ringed medieval city. For wine aficionados, there's the world-famous town of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, the appellations of Gigondas and Vacqueyras, and the Bandol region down on the coast. Then there's nature's bounty, from the massive Gorges du Verdon and the lonely salt marshes of the Camargue to the rock spurs and lush valleys of the Lubéron, which in fall turn as multichromatic as New England's forests. In high season, expect lines and tourist buses at world-famous sites like Les Baux de Provence and Pont du Gard, but rest assured that the Year in Provence crowds have long moved on to more dramatic climes (think The Da Vinci Code).

Cooking-school vacations are increasingly popular in the region, which is only natural given the renowned culinary traditions and top-quality local ingredients. Such classes are often given by top Provençal and Parisian chefs through tour companies like The International Kitchen (, as well as by food writers like the American Patricia Wells (, and are often all-inclusive, bed-and-board arrangements with settings as inspirational to the eye as to the palate.

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Aigues-Mortes, Aigues-Mortes

Perfectly preserved medieval walls and turrets surround France's oldest port, at the southern end of the Camargue marsh. The town dates to Roman times, but its...more

Editors' Pick
Arles, Arles

This is Vincent's town, as you can see when you look at the live copy of his Café du Soir standing in the Place du Forum or visit l'Espace van Gogh, the...more

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Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Châteauneuf-du-Pape

Wine pilgrims have been heading here ever since Avignon-based Pope John XXII, an early oenophile, encouraged the locals to produce a wine that would compete...more

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Gordes, Gordes

Dreams of owning property in the region are often born in this template of a Provence village: The dramatic limestone cliff is covered in red-roofed buildings...more

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Gorges du Verdon, Moustiers-Ste-Marie

The Gorges du Verdon, at 12 miles long and up to 2,300 feet deep at points, is wild France at its most awe-inspiring. The turquoise-green Verdon River sits at...more

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Les Baux de Provence

Driving up to Les Baux is an exercise in pure Mediterranean escapism: Switchback roads lead past endless olive groves, plane trees, and vineyards, giving...more

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Les Calanques, Massif des Calanques

The coastal, creek-lined mastiff gorges known as "Les Calanques" dot the 12-mile jagged shore between Marseille and the attractive fishing port of Cassis....more

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Nîmes, Nîmes

Les Arènes, perhaps the world's best-preserved Roman amphitheatre, and the Maison Carrée, ditto in temples (33-4-66-21-82-56;...more

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Pont du Gard, Vers-Pont-du-Gard

A UNESCO World Heritage site, this is one tourist attraction that's well worth the drive and crowds. The spectacular Roman-built bridge is worthy of a Romantic...more

Editors' Pick
St. Rémy-de-Provence, St. Rémy-de-Provence

This is that small French town you always dreamed of, a mix of pristine Beaux-Arts and medieval buildings set among plane trees with peeling bark. Arriving from...more

Editors' Pick
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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.



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