Five Cities to Visit in Provence and the Côte d'Azur

05 | 04 | 2021
Five Cities to Visit in Provence and the Côte d'Azur

At Provence at Home, we travel this special part of France extensively, meeting traditional small-scale fabric producers and learning about the history, culture and landscape of this beautiful region.
Provence is known for its countryside, mountains and villages. But it is also home to some beautiful and important cities. Here is our list of cities you must visit when you come to this amazing land.

Nice

Nice is the beating heart of the French Riviera. The city opens onto a wide bay, with a bustling seven kilometres of promenade running along the pebble beaches. Nice has been a holiday destination for 150 years, and the promenade is graced by grand hotels. The Old City preserves the Italianate charm from when the Niçoise people spoke an Italian dialect and were ruled from Turin and Genoa. The newer part of the city dates from the 1860s onwards and is full of graceful Paris-style architecture. Nice is fun, lively, young and dynamic.

Aix-en-Provence

Arguably the most beautiful city in Provence, Aix was a Roman site chosen for its natural springs. Today the city is graced with numerous fountains, which help cool the air during those hot Provençal summers. It is a tree-lined city with many stately squares, often buzzing with open-air markets and elegant outdoor cafes. Aix is a wealthy town, with many people from all over France, and the world, joining the locals to enjoy that quintessentially Provençal lifestyle.

Avignon

Avignon is a perfect medieval city. Build as a fortress town when the popes were based here (14th Century), the architecture exudes power, both military and religious. The castle in the centre seems like a drawing in a fairy tale book, with its stone arches, turrets, courtyards, halls and staircases. Avignon also enjoys commanding views over the Rhône river, and is the centre of the unique Chateauneuf du Pape wine region, which began producing fine red wines for the popes over 700 years ago.

Arles

Arles is known as the Rome of France. The huge 2000 year old amphitheatre is almost completely intact, and is still used for performances to this day. Roman monuments, stones and ruins are everywhere in Arles. The city has also been a magnate for artists for many decades. Vincent Van Gogh painted some of his most famous works in and around Arles, and fans of his will recognise the parts of the city he painted - mostly unchanged since his time.

Marseille


Marseille is one of the Mediterranean's most important ports. It is fully a maritime city. The port is the centre of life here. Its most famous dish, bouillabaisse, is a fish soup making full use of the sea's bounty. Marseille is also a market town, blending artisanal French quality products with the richness of the Mediterranean world.