Provence is a fascinating land, celebrated for its excellent climate, breathtaking scenery, fine beaches, suberb food and fashionable resorts. There really are few places in Europe that can compete with its romantic ambience and allure, with that special combination of glamorous places, beautiful people and rich cultural heritage.
Provence owes its charm in part to the sunshine, clear light and varied landscape – all of which were embraced first by British and Russian aristocracy as a winter playground, then by French Impressionist artists as a subject bursting with light and colour. Now Provence, the Alps and the Cote d'Azur are a year-round destination accessible to all, with good road and rail connections and budget airline routes to Nice and Marseille from most European countries.
A little north of Cannes is the old town of Grasse, whose mild climate makes it a popular winter resort. This is the centre of the perfume industry in France and famous for its fields of roses, jasmine and lavender, which are harvested and distilled to make scent and essences.
Also in winter, the combination of sun and exceptional snow cover makes for excellent skiing and there are many resorts to choose from. Pra-Loup and Foux d'Allos are linked together to form one of the largest ski areas in the southern Alpes. Chabanon, Grand-Puy, Soleilhas-Vauplane and others are more family orientated.
Nice carnival runs 13th February through to 1st March, a riot of colour and celebration for Mardi Gras that embraces a Main Carnival Parade, the Carnival Parade of Lights and the delightful Flower Parade. Later in Spring the wild flowers are in bloom on the hillsides, so it’s a great time for walking and cycling, browsing outdoor markets and visiting vineyards.
In summer the beaches come into their own, with long stretches of sand, the clear Mediterranean sea, boats and water sports . The thermals provide excellent conditions for hang-gliding, paragliding and ballooning and all this can be followed by dining out on sumptuous local food and wine under the stars.
All year round there are cities with Roman heritage, interesting museums, art galleries and artists’ homes to explore. Aix-en-Provence is seen as the intellectual heart of the region, with its thermal springs, great cultural festivals and association with the painter Paul Cezanne.