Here, nature is most amazingly beautiful. Everything is spectacular, the dome of the sky is a remarkable blue, the rays of the sun are pale sulfur ..."

--Vincent van Gogh




"Aioli intoxicates gently, fills the body with warmth, and the soul with enthusiasm. In its essence it concentrates the strength, the gaiety of Provence: sunshine."

~ Frédéric Mistral





“Watch a French housewife as she makes her way slowly along the loaded stalls… searching for the peak of ripeness and flavor… What you are seeing is a true artist at work, patiently assembling all the materials of her craft, just as the painter squeezes oil colors onto his palette ready to create a masterpiece.”

~ Keith Floyd



"Oh delightful fragrances! Oh light! Oh gentle nature's peace; what longings of paradise you place in my child's soul..." ~Frédérick Mistral




“Wine is bottled poetry.”

~Robert Louis Stevenson




"The air in Provence is impregnated with the aroma of garlic, which makes it very healthful to breathe ... "

~Alexander Dumas




"It was in France that I first learned about food ..."

~Robert Carrier




Wine is sure proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.

~Benjamin Franklin




I will not die an unlived life.... I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit.

~Dawna Markova



"I go to the country every day, the motifs are beautiful and so my day is spent more plesantly here than anywhere else..."

~(Letter from Paul Cezanne to his son. Aix en Provence, 22 September 1906) ...


No star is ever lost we once have seen,
We always may be what we might have been.

~Adelaide A. Procter, Legend of Provence





"Provence grants us a gleam of the Beautiful"

~Frédéric Mistral





"There will be treasures to take away from this land..."

- Paul Cezanne
(letter to V. Choquet,
18 May 1886).


About Provence



From it's herb-scented hills to its yacht-filled harbors, no other region of France fires the imagination as strongly as Provence. Provence is a region of varied natural beauty, with a wealth of history and art in its towns and picturesque villages.


It is one of the most rewarding -- and most visited -- parts of France. The vivid landscape and luminous light have inspired artists and writers from Van Gogh to Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald to Pagnol.



The borders of Provence are defined by nature: to the west, the Rhône; south, the Mediterranean; and north, where the olive trees end. To the east are the Alps and a border which has shifted over the centuries between France and Italy.




Within is a contrasting terrain of plummeting gorges, Camargue saltflats, lavender fields and sun-drenched beaches. In the 19th century, rich Europeans sought winter warmth on the Riviera; by the 1920's high society was in residence all year, and their elegant villas remain.





Past visitors have left their mark. In Orange and Arles, the buildings of Roman Provincia are still in use. Fortified villages like Eze were built to withstand the Saracen pirates who plagued the coast in the 6th century.




The warm sunlight nurtures intense flavors and colors. Peppers, garlic and olives transform a netful of Mediterranean fish into that vibrant epitome of Provençal cuisine, bouillabaisse.





The image of Provence bathed in sunshine is marred only when the bitter Mistral wind scours the land. It has shaped a people as hardy as the olive tree, yet quick to embrace life to the fullest the moment the sun returns.





Text and map from Eyewitness France and excerpts from Baedecker's France

Photos copyright of