Discover the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

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The region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is made up of six départements in south-eastern France. Casually known as “PACA”, the region is bordered by Italy to the East and the Mediterranean Sea to the South. We have published a number of articles on Provence that will help you explore this fantastic sunny destination.


A brief description of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur

Map of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur © TUBS - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0 de] from Wikimedia Commons

Map of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur © TUBS – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0 de] from Wikimedia Commons

For foreign visitors, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is probably one of the most renowned regions of France (along with Paris, the Loire and Périgord). This sun drenched land stretches from the foothills of the Alps to the mouth of the Rhône and the Mediterranean to the South.

The region is a tourist hotspot. With 10.1 million over-night stays recorded in 2017, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is the first touristic region in France after Paris.

This is made easier thanks to an excellent transport infrastructure (the Provence region has a total of 2,500 km of motorway).

The A8 Motorway near Menton - Stock Photos from Michael R Evans - Shutterstock

The A8 Motorway near Menton – Stock Photos from Michael R Evans – Shutterstock

The TGV (French high-speed train) links Paris to Marseille in 3hrs only.

The administrative region is made up of 6 départements :

  • Alpes-de-Haute-Provence [07] – head city: Digne-les-Bains
  • Hautes-Alpes [05] – head city: Gap
  • Alpes-Maritimes [06] – head city: Nice
  • Bouches-du-Rhône [13] – head city: Marseille
  • Var [83] – head city: Toulon
  • Vaucluse [84] – head city: Avignon

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is one of France’s most populated region (pop. 5 007 977 in 2015).


The Provençal heritage

What comes to mind when we think about Provence? The typical lavender fields, olive groves and orchards, the colourful façades of picturesque villages, great town markets…

The abbey of Sénanque near Gordes © French Moments

The abbey of Sénanque near Gordes © French Moments

A rich heritage ranges from Roman in Arles, Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Vaison-la-Romaine to Romanesque in the Abbeys of Sénanque and Silvacane.

However, some of France’s most thriving cities can be found in Provence: Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Avignon or Nîmes (now in Occitania), without forgetting the always surprising Marseille, now the third biggest city of France.

The Provençal gastronomy

Provencal gastronomy has become world famous and popular with a wide array of delicious dishes and desserts:

  • bouillabaisse (a fish stew)
Bouillabaisse - Stock Photos from Michael R Evans - Shutterstock

Bouillabaisse – Stock Photos from Michael R Evans – Shutterstock

Pissaladière - Stock Photos from AS Food studio - Shutterstock

Pissaladière – Stock Photos from AS Food studio – Shutterstock

  • wine
Fancy a glass of Provençal rosé ? - Stock Photos from barmalini - Shutterstock

Fancy a glass of Provençal rosé ? – Stock Photos from barmalini – Shutterstock

  • herbs
Provençal herbs - Stock Photos from Maria Medvedeva - Shutterstock

Provençal herbs – Stock Photos from Maria Medvedeva – Shutterstock

  • olives
Olives in Provence - Stock Photos from Sylvie Lebchek - Shutterstock

Olives in Provence – Stock Photos from Sylvie Lebchek – Shutterstock

  • calissons from Aix-en-Provence
Calissons from Aix-en-Provence © French Moments

Calissons from Aix-en-Provence © French Moments

  • candied fruits from Apt
Glazed and candied fruits from Apt - Stock Photos from Maria Medvedeva - Shutterstock

Glazed and candied fruits from Apt – Stock Photos from Maria Medvedeva – Shutterstock

Lemon tart - Stock Photos from margouillat photo - Shutterstock

Lemon tart – Stock Photos from margouillat photo – Shutterstock

  • nougat from Montélimar
French Nougat - Stock Photos from Hayati Kayhan - Shutterstock

French Nougat – Stock Photos from Hayati Kayhan – Shutterstock

Beautiful landscapes of Provence

The Provence countryside is stunning. Some of my favourite destinations are:

Roussillon Luberon Provence

The ochre cliffs at Roussillon © French Moments

Eygalières and the Alpilles © French Moments

Eygalières and the Alpilles © French Moments

  • the Camargue
The wild horses of Camargue - Stock Photos from GUDKOV ANDREY - Shutterstock

The wild horses of Camargue – Stock Photos from GUDKOV ANDREY – Shutterstock

Cassis 09 © Olivier Risnes

Calanque of Port-Miou © Olivier Risnes

Montagne Sainte-Victoire © Olivier Risnes

Montagne Sainte-Victoire © Olivier Risnes

Not convinced yet about the riches of Provence? Check out this video 🙂


A brief description of Côte d’Azur

Menton © Vinbaron - licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

Menton © Vinbaron – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

The Côte d’Azur, also known as the “French Riviera”, has such wonderful scenery that it has attracted millions of visitors over the years.

Between Toulon and Menton, the Mediterranean coast is home to some of the most prestigious spa and resort towns in Europe: Saint-Tropez, Cannes, Nice, Monaco, Menton

Peillon - licence [CC BY-SA 3

Peillon – licence [CC BY-SA 3.0] from Wikimedia Commons

This part of Provence is definitely influenced by its neighbour Italy. Lavender fields, chestnut and olive trees, sun-bathed vineyards and nestled villages constantly remind the visitor that he is still in Provence.

Nice is often considered as the “Queen of the Riviera”. The former city of the House of Savoy became French in 1860 with most of the territory that is now called the Maritime Alps département.

The Seafront in Nice - Stock Photos from Sergii Zinko - Shutterstock

The Seafront in Nice – Stock Photos from Sergii Zinko – Shutterstock

With more than 500,000 inhabitants, Nice stretches along the shores of the dazzling Baie des Anges and boats a picture-perfect old town with Italian influence.

Nice is a perfect starting point for further visits towards Cannes, the Esterel mountains, MonacoMenton and the perched villages of Nice’s hinterland: Peille, Peillon, Èze, Sainte-Agnès, Lucéram…

Alongside Marseille and Toulon, it is one of the main French harbours from where boats sail across the Mediterranean Sea. In fact, Nice is France’s second largest port for intercontinental cruises. 

Eze by Jimi Magic (Public Domain)

Eze by Jimi Magic (Public Domain)


  • Our pages on PROVENCE-ALPES-CÔTE-D\’AZUR

    Gastronomy Aioli © French Moments
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    Aioli is a sauce based on garlic, egg yolk and olive oil is widespread from Catalonia…


  • Visit the Official Website of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Tourist Board for more practical info.


     

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    About Author

    Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management.

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