Provence is a region in the south west of France. It is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea to the south and travels all the way eastwards towards the Italian border. Of all of the regions of France none has a more diverse landscape. There are the lowlands of the coast, the steep Southern Alps and the rolling hills of the Garrique landscape .
The main city of the region is Marseilles which has a population of 850,000 people making it the second largest city in the country. The city is famed for its port and it grew as a result of the business it did with other Mediterranean countries.
The city receives over 4 million visitors each year of which nearly a million arrive from the cruise ships that sail into the port. People are fascinated by the city’s history as it was first created in 600 BB and was the first city to be founded in France. It was at first a Greek colony and then a Roman port, and as centuries progressed more and more migrants settled in the city as a result of its port’s activities.
These factors have combined to give Marseilles its unique architecture and culture. There is a huge North African influence in the city and this is apparent in its music and cuisine. In 2013 it was given the status of the European Capital of Culture and in 2017 it was the European Capital of Sport. This has only increased its popularity as a tourist destination.
Province however is mainly dominated by its rural landscapes. One of the most visited areas is the Camargue Regional Nature Park. This is an area of 960 square kilometers of delta of the Rhone River which has produced a vast natural ecosystem. It is home to Camargue horses, Camargue Cattle, pink flamingos and over 400 different types of bird.
As well as its fauna being unique so is its flora, and visitors are able to view rare species on organized official tours of the park. There is a constant battle to preserve the delicate ecosystems of the salt marshes and also make available to be seen by the many tourists who wish to see it.
In the centre of Provence in the Luberon which is a massif at a height of around 1200 metres. It contains three main mountain ranges with many valleys, and the area has many picturesque villages. Many of these settlements are perched on hill tops overlooking lowland areas. The area is extremely popular with tourists attracted by the calm surroundings and the slow pace of life. The principal town is Apt which has a population of 11,000 and its old buildings reflects its rich history.
One of the most famous cities in Provence is Avignon with 12,000 people living in the centre enclosed by the medieval ramparts. It is situated on the banks of the Rhone River and during the 14th century it was a papal city with 7 successive popes residing here.
It only became a part of France in 1791 and today tourists arrive to view the Palais de Papes, the Cathedral and the Pont d’Avignon. The Pont di’Avignon is the bridge that spans the River Rhone and was built during the 12th century.
Provence is famed for its mountains especially when the Southern Alps reach as far south as the Mediterranean coastline. This produces spectacular scenery along the coast. These mountains provide the border between France and Italy and provide a number of ski resorts.
One of the most famous mountains in the region is Montagne Saint-Victoire which is an 18-kilometer mountain ridge that stretches from the River Rhone. It is famous because of the paintings that have been produced by Paul Cezanne. He was able to view the mountains from his home and he painted them frequently.