The setting of numerous books and films, the south of France has much to offer world travelers. Here are my top 5 reasons to visit this magnificent region.
The Landscape: From rolling hills, to verdant planes, to fields covered in lavender, to stunning maritime views, the south of France has it all. If you get bored looking at one type of landscape, a change of scenery is only a short drive or bike ride away.
The Vineyards: The main production region for rosé wine in the country, Provence is known for its expansive vineyards. Take a vineyard tour or settle in for a tasting of real French rosés (and no, it’s not the same as white zinfandel!).
The Chateau Neuf du Pape, Gargas and Le Pontet vineyards/estates make for an excellent visit and tasting experience.
The Outdoor Markets: The south of France is home to some of the biggest and best outdoor markets in the entire country. Aix-en-Provence, in particular, has a very impressive market, featuring a wide variety of artisanal products like bread, cheeses, pastries, soaps, and linens. Even the smaller villages in the region have good-sized daily or bi-weekly markets.
The Lifestyle: Provençal life tends to be more relaxed than in other parts of the country. In the smaller towns and villages, many shops close for several hours either around lunchtime or later in the afternoon for a “sieste.” Many people buy their food fresh each day at an outdoor market. As in the rest of France, meals are leisurely, consisting of various courses and lasting several hours between the first aperitif until the last sip of coffee or tea.
The Picturesque Villages: History buffs will enjoy the medieval villages scattered throughout the countryside. Many of them have been very well preserved and there are even a few UNESCO World Heritage Sites among them. A leisurely stroll through Carcassonne or the Luberon Villages is like traveling back in time.
CC Flickr photo credit: Michael Gwyther-Jones