Travelling to Provence? Here’s our pick of outstanding towns, villages and beauty spots you won’t want to miss. Note: This article is part of a bigger magazine feature called “The Rosy Road to Provence: A Wine Tour in the South of France”
Go out of season to avoid traffic queues and star-struck holidaymakers – May, June and September are ideal. A stroll along the harbour is a must but it is also fun to discover La Ponche, the picturesque old town. Musée de l’Annonciade has paintings by Georges Seurat, who lived there.
It is a sprawl on the outskirts but worth a visit out of season to see the characterful city centre – a cultural mélange dating back to Roman times. It has a vibrant harbour, an historic cathedral, some great markets and plenty of beaches, adored by the French in summer.
A very picturesque village clinging to the Maure hills above a spectacular coastline. Lots of quaint (and steep) little streets laced with shops selling local produce, especially Mimosa-based. It’s flower-filled in summer and in February hosts the annual Corso Fleuri flower parade.
There’s so much to see in this lovely historic town. Essentials are the Place Massillon, with its market, and the maze of hillside lanes to explore. A great view of the coast can be had from the lovely Parc Saint-Bernard. A new attraction is the Museum of Cultures & Landscapes.
On a peninsula just south of Hyères lies the pretty Provençale seaside village of Giens. An oasis of pine-shaded coves, bays and quaint harbours it is also the embarkation point for the magical car-free islands of Porquerolles, Port Cros and the naturist-only island of Levant.
A good base for exploring the northern section of the Côtes de Provence rosé wine territory. It is a colourful town – small village really – with pastel-coloured townhouses, a plane tree-lined central street and a maze of back streets. Nearby are Tourtour and Le Thoronet Abbey.
A village perché only 13km from Cannes, this is a picturesque place for a stroll. At the highest point near the restored church, you get a great view across towards Grasse and Tanneron. Visit in February to enjoy the spectacular Mimosa forests on the doorstep at their finest.
A very characterful village in ‘Provence Verte’. It is protected by rugged cliffs with troglodyte dwellings where residents took shelter in times of strife. The Cours Gambetta with its century-old plane trees is the place to relax, eat and take in the atmosphere of old Provence.
This beguiling medieval village is spectacularly situated between the Mediterranean Sea and the mountains. It may need little introduction but not everyone knows that there are vineyards here producing some excellent wines including reds and luscious rosés.
Maison Des Vins, Les Arcs
This is a fabulous place to get an overall picture of the different styles and types of Côtes de Provence rosé. They offer tastings, workshops and an enormous selection of wines available direct or online. It’s definitely worth a visit to check out the full scope of this region.
The Esterel is a volcanic mountain range that runs down to the coast. It is a nature lovers’ playground with wild forests, Mimosa trails and numerous hiking and cycling routes and other activities. At the coast, the red volcanic rocks tumble into aquamarine coves and bays. Breathtaking.
It is all about the beaches and the joy of the ocean as you drive the 12km of cliff-hugging road along the Corniche des Maures. The once-small fishing village of Le Lavandou is now a busy tourist and holiday spot in season but there is no denying the choice of fabulous beaches.
From France Today Magazine
Lead photo credit : St Tropez © WikiCommons
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