Our base is the cultural heart of the Provence region, Avignon; a beautiful and fascinating city. Surrounded by massive ramparts the old town is dominated by the immense (48,000 square feet) and imposing Palais des Papes, headquarters of the Catholic Church from 1309 to 1377. The building’s heavy fortification reflects the violent nature of 14th Century religious life, whilst its luxurious trappings were either looted or destroyed during the Revolution of 1789. Nonetheless there is lots to see here including the Grand Tinel tapestries, Stag Room, Consistory Hall, Benedict XI’s Cloister and Grand Chapel. Elsewhere in the city, major sights include the famous incomplete Pont St Benezet bridge, partially destroyed by floods in 1668, that lends its name to the famous song “Sur le Pont d’Avignon”, Petit Palais, several churches including the Notre Dame Cathedral, two museums and the lively heart of the city, Place D’Horloge.
For more information on Avignon please visit: World Travel Guide to Avignon Website
The former capital of Provence, Aix is a lovely former spa town with a host of fountains, classical mansions and elegant boulevards. The city’s most famous son is Paul Cezanne, whose studio is preserved exactly as he left it when he died in 1906. Other sights include the Cathedral of St Sauveur, noted for Froment’s “Triptych of the Burning Bush” and several museums, particularly the Musée Granet of fine art and archaeology and Tapestry Museum. It is a wonderful place to linger, too, at an outdoor café, particularly one of many along the elegant tree-lined Cours Mirabeau.
A charming hilltop town, Uzes’ narrow streets are perfect for strolling, browsing or stopping at a leisurely cafe, especially on market day when our visit is planned. Sights include the ducal palace and 12th century Fenestrelle Tower.
Pont du Gard
The three tiered Roman Pont du Gard aqueduct dates from around 19 BC and spans the Gardon Valley. Amazingly-preserved, this hugely impressive 158-foot high structure served as aqueduct and general crossing, and is a remarkable symbol of the Romans’ engineering capabilities. Indeed, the Romans considered it the best testimony to the greatness of their Empire and, at 48 metres, was the highest bridge they ever built.
Orange contains two of the finest Roman monuments in Europe; the Theatre Antique d’Orange and the Arc de Triomphe, which was built to celebrate Caesar’s victory over the Gauls. The old town is also worth exploring with its 17th Century Hotel de Ville, Notre Dame Cathedral, and peaceful, shady squares overlooked by terrace cafes.
In the 14th century, the Popes of Avignon decided to build a new castle (Chateau neuf) and plant the vineyards that have since produced one of the finest Cotes-du-Rhone red wines, famous throughout the world. This attractive village is full of wine merchants offering tastings and sales.
The Luberon National Park
This regional nature park is one of the most appealing areas of Provence with limestone cliffs, river-hewn gorges, rugged peaks and rustic villages, such as the perched village of Gordes with its 16th Century Castle. This is the area that inspired Peter Mayle’s ‘A Year in Provence’.
Another town with a strong Roman history, with a well preserved Arena offering lovely views of the town from its top tier, Constantine Baths and Roman Theatre. Other sights in this beautiful Provencal town include the lovely 12th Century Church of St Trophime and its peaceful cloisters and Escape Van Gogh.
A protected area of outstanding natural beauty, the marshy 75,000 hectare expanse of the Camargue is a wilderness of enormous interest. It is a nature lovers paradise with wild horses, migrant flamingoes and a host of other birds often visible.
Les Baux-de-Provence & Les Alpilles
The ancient ruined citadel of Les Baux-de-Provence clings to one of the highest ridges of the spectacular Alpilles, an area of limestone crags south of the pretty village of St Remy. The village is divided into two: the bustling, inhabited lower village of elegant Renaissance houses and cobbled streets and the deserted "Ville Morte" above, its ruined buildings hardly distinguishable from the limestone crags.