Provence Alpes-Cote dAzur
You know it... ever since Peter Mayle's novel 'A Year in Provence' made it into the international best-sellers list, Provence has held a special fascination for people from all over the world.
But to suggest that Peter Mayle somehow discovered Provence and put it on the map, would be a serious mistake and could cost you dearly if you were to mention this to a 'local'. The book and TV series that followed portrayed, in a reflective fashion, the life of a French village that, to be fair, could have been located in any region of France.
For me Provence has always been very firmly on the map and I have spent several holidays relaxing there in the almost permanent sunshine.
In historical terms, Provence is actually older than France itself, it was the centre of culture, learning and commerce long before Paris acquired the importance it has today.
The Provence Alpes-Cotes d'Azur region consists of 6 departments:
Var (83), Vaucluse (84), Hautes-Alpes (05), Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (04), Alpes-Maritime (06) and Bouches-du-Rhone (13).
Provence is about as far away as you can get from the UK so driving is a two day ordeal, perhaps a stop of in Dijon? but with the wide choice of options for travelling to France from the UK and Ireland, we have to look at the particularly convenient and low costs of air travel.
Garlic, olives, seafood and a host of spices are the order of the day, especially the typical Herbes-de-Provence that complement every Mediterranean dish and fish dish. The Provence-Alpes / Cote d'Azur cuisine ranges from fine sauces like Pistou or the more popular, in the UK at least, Tapenade to the authentic recipes of Bouillabaisse, Ratatouille and Cod-Brandade. Most demanding gourmets will not be left wanting in the fantastic local restaurants that fill the towns and villages.
There are many outdoor activities throughout Provence and on the French riviera, walks in the many and vaired parks, horseback riding, guided tours of the cities and historcal sites, boat rentals on the rivers and the coastline resorts, electric bike and cycle rentals, canyoning in the Verdon; this list is endless.
Properties are many and varied in this glorious region and famously the area is known for lavender and wine production so there is an abundance of large farmhouse style property as well as old workers cottages and landed gentry style mansions and chateaux.
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