Attractions in Provence
Major sites of Provence
The Wine Route of Provence passes either directly through, or just next to 3 of the 5 sites listed as the Grands Sites de France Provence Alpes Côtes d'Azur, (from west to east): Cézanne’s Montagne Sainte-Victoire, the Gorges du Verdon and the garden, Domaine du Rayol. With their beauty, interesting heritage and warm welcome, these as well as other natural sites deserve your attention.
With vineyards planted at the foot of this majestic chalk-white peak, inspiring views abound (particularly if you come from Palette or Puyloubier). But from its peak, the views are more breathtaking, especially if you are lucky enough to visit on a clear winter day and see from the peaks of the Alps and the Mercantour to the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. You’ll quickly understand why artist Paul Cézanne took it as his model when he revolutionized painting. Sainte-Victoire is a magical and enchanting site.
The Gorges du Verdon
Head north and be dazzled by the wild and rugged beauty of the Gorges du Verdon. This mini ‘Grand Canyon of France’ straddles the departments of the Alpes de Haute Provence and Haut Var. Everywhere you turn you’ll find vertiginous cliffs and emerald green waters (with bathing spots), hiking trails (of varying difficulty), as well as charming hidden villages. Do not forget to keep an eye out for the flight of majestic vultures, which, once threatened with extinction, were repopulated in 1999.
Domaine du Rayol
Between Le Lavandou and Saint-Tropez, we strongly recommend a natural break in the shady and fragrant gardens of Domaine du Rayol. At the foot of the Massif des Maures and facing the Iles d'Hyères islands, the garden’s 20 hectares are protected and owned by the Conservatoire du Littoral; it’s a botanical treasure of Mediterranean colours. Concocted by the famous landscape architect Gilles Clément, pathways descending to the sea invite you to travel through green landscapes inspired by parts of the world with a Mediterranean climate: the Mediterranean basin, (of course), the Canary Islands, California, Australia and South Africa.
And don’t forget…
There are many other exceptional natural sites to discover. In the Bouches-du-Rhône do not miss the Camargue marshes, the Alpilles (the ‘small Alpes’) and the spectacular ‘calanques’ (fjords) of Marseille. In the Var Department visit the famous Hyères Islands and the Iles d'Or (‘gold islands’), Toulon harbour, the Gulf of Saint-Tropez, the Corniche de l’Esterel and the Massif de la Sainte-Baume.