What is the allure of Provence?

Apr 1st, 2002, 04:48 PM
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What is the allure of Provence?

We have 2 weeks to spend in France and have decided to split it between Paris and the Cote d’Azur. It is easy to visualize the appeal of the French Riviera-- scenic beaches and coastline-- anytime you have water you can't go wrong, right? But I am seeing a lot more posts in favour of Provence, and I was wondering what is the appeal? I hear of "perched villages" and see pictures of Roman ruins. I keep visualizing Tuscan hilltowns. What is the difference between Provence and places in Italy for example? I am curious if we should divert some of our time to see that area of France. Thanks.
Apr 1st, 2002, 08:19 PM
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You should at least consider it. There are, indeed similarites. There are actually some bigger cities in Provence (excepting Florence) - - like Aix, Avignon and Arles - - and better Roman ruins - - in Arles, Orange, Nimes, Pont du Gard, etc. Naturally, there is simply "different" cuisine, wine, culture, and of course, language. Provence is a bit more colorful in its textiles and ceramics; Tuscany a bit more muted.

I don't think of either country has having such spectacular beaches. Nor interface of mountain cliffs to sea (though Amalfi and the Cinque Terre are superb - - but neither one is "Riviera", by most definitions). Remember, it's the Mediterranean. Generally no waves, much. It's not Florida, nor Hawaii, nor Big Sur. Not inferior. Just different.

This barely scratches the surface of an answer to your question. Provence and Tuscany are a little bit like what's the difference between Santa Fe and Crested Butte. Neither is better. Just different.

Best wishes,

Apr 2nd, 2002, 07:14 AM
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If you want to get a hint of what
Provence has to offer (so much!) just
go behind the Cote d'Azur up into the
hills around Vence - there are lots
of perched villages there.

Yes, there are similarities to Tuscany
but there's something about the colours
of Provence and the flowers and the food
and and the markets and the wines and
(especially) the friendliness of the
Provencals that give it a flavour all
its own. We love Tuscany and Umbria
but we adore the Vaucluse and Drome!
Apr 2nd, 2002, 08:24 AM
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Provencal highlights include the weather, the food and the Roman ruins. Anna, you don't say when you are going, but Provence in the spring is beautiful. If you speak Parisian French, you will notice that the people of Provence speak with a slightly Italian accent. And Provence is quite laid back, especially in the villages such as Roussillon and Gordes. You may also enjoy the Cistercian monasteries, such as the Abbaye de Senanque.
Apr 3rd, 2002, 12:18 AM
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Let me recommend Forcalquier. The heart of Provence, for all the reasons cited above, about Provence.
Apr 3rd, 2002, 01:10 AM
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Much of the Cote d'Azur is very busy in summer. There is a pollution problem. It's beauty and climate has been attracting residents since 1900.

Provence is quieter, more rural, and maybe closer to what Cote d'Azur was like originally.

I live close to Provence. My home page has info on this part of France -


Apr 3rd, 2002, 03:29 AM
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Anna - Provence is a pretty big area, and in my opinion is a magical place and far more rewarding than "just" the Riviera. (actually, the Cote d'Azur is part of the proovince of provence.) I suggest you check out my web page which describes our trip to Provence, including the Riviera. Don't get me wrong, we enjoyed the Riviera too, enough to go back and spend a weekend in Nice, but there's so much to do and see when you leave the coast to visit the real Provence. My page:
Apr 3rd, 2002, 06:21 AM
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Like a montgolfiere
Apr 3rd, 2002, 06:27 AM
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Pick up one of Peter Mayle's early books about living in Provence. He single-handedly attracted large numbers of tourists to Provence. Also go to a large book store where you will find large photography books of different regions - look at one for Provence and you'll get an idea of the terrain.
Apr 6th, 2002, 07:04 PM
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Thank you everyone for your insights and website/book references. Provence does indeed sound lovely. I will visit your links and read up some more on the area. So much to see, so little time! ~sigh~

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