Provence became very popular when Peter Mayle wrote a series of Books about the Provence area nr the French Mediterranean coast - the most popular being a "Year in Provence". The idyllic location and his passion for gastronomy, supping wine in village locations and his love of the countryside captured a growing audience. House prices soared, and tourism increased dramatically.
Much is written about the extent of the Provence, and the region Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur(PACA) is often shortened to Provence.
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How to Get to Provence
One of the attractions of Provence is the ease of access. By Car: There is an autoroute from Paris or the Channel port at Calais right into the heart of Provence. By Air: Airports at Marseille, Nice and Toulon - including flights to Nice with Easyjet.
By Train: France's super fast rail service called the TGV runs from the North and Paris to Avignon, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Toulon, and Nice. London to Marseille now takes 6 and a half hours.
When to visit?
During July and August the weather can be very hot and sunny. The French, en masse, go on holiday during this period and the #1 location is Provence Alpes Cote d'Azur. The autoroutes at the beginning of July and end of August are especially busy. If you want to visit during this period make sure you book well in advance as accommodation will be full! So we recommend visiting during Autumn and Spring when the weather is cooler, and there are less visitors (see our note about the Mistral during winter).
The weather is characterized by hot, dry sunny summers, mild winters, little snow, and plenty of sunshine. The Mistral (as featured in Peter Mayles's books) is a cold, dry wind which, blows down the Rhone Valley to the Bouches-du-Rhône and the Var Departments especially in the winter often reaching gusts of one hundred kilometres an hour. There are old wives's tales of the Mistral driving people mad.
Places to Visit
There are many historic sites - many of Roman origins - plus many natural wonders to admire. To the west is the Camargue: A major wetland famous for its white horses, water birds including pink flamingoes, and for bulls that are bred there. To the east the chic resorts of the Cote d'Azur. Visit charming Aix en Provence with its quaint narrow streets and water fountains on every corner and square, the Palace of the Popes in Avignon. Gordes one of the prettiest villages in France. Orange with its famous Roman remains, and the Pont du Gard's dramatic Roman aqueduct. Dont't forget the Luberon and Peter Mayle's famous Menerbes!
Real Provence Countryside
The Real Provence
There is much debate and argument about the boundaries of the real Provence. Peter Mayle ( the author) has coming down on the side of Professor Farigoule's version namely: the departments of Bouches-du-Rhone, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence and the Vaucluse.