Calanque de Morgiou, French Riviera, France

Provence Guide: What to Know When Traveling to Provence

August 29, 2023

Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur is a famous region of France, bordered by Monaco and the Mediterranean Sea to the south, Italy to the east and French regions to the north and west. It is also one of the country’s most important tourist regions. Its main cities are Marseille, Nice, Toulon and Aix-en-Provence. The population of the region is around 5 million.

There are few regions in Europe as diverse as Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur. In the north, the Alps offer magnificent alpine landscapes, ski resorts in winter and hiking destinations in summer. In the centre of the region are the famous lavender fields of Provence, which cover huge areas with flowers in summer. In the east, the Verdon Gorge attracts tourists with its breathtaking scenery. In the west, there are flatter landscapes with fewer attractions, but very good infrastructure and connections to the rest of France. In the south of France, there is the main attraction, the world-famous French Riviera, also known as the Cote d’Azur. The French Riviera is a true Mediterranean-style landscape with wonderful towns from Marseille to Menton.

The Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region is therefore the place where, within a short trip, you can see Alpine rocky peaks, walk through lavender fields, go boating along brightly colored mountain gorges and admire the colorful towns and fascinating culture of the Riviera, not forgetting that the Riviera also stretches along several magical mountain groups.

All while enjoying the excellent French infrastructure and tasting world-famous French gastronomic delights. Because France not only offers beautiful landscapes, it also has a huge cultural, historical and gastronomic heritage.

So let’s see what to know about the fantastic Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region, which will be referred to as Provence for short.

How to get to Provence

It depends where you are traveling from. If you are traveling from abroad and far away, the best option is to travel by plane. If you are traveling from a few hundred kilometres away, we recommend a car or train.

Within France there are plenty of domestic flights, even this is an option. Public transport is mainly recommended in the big cities, but in the countryside you will have to find other ways to get around.

France has a very good highway network, one of the best in the EU. The tolls are a bit expensive which have to be paid at the gates, but the road quality is the best. You can also benefit from a car if you want to travel to the countryside. And if you are in Provence, it would be a shame to miss out on the sights of the countryside.

When to travel to Provence

Provence is beautiful all year round, but the absolute peak season is June and July because of the lavender blossom. And since it would be a shame to miss the lavender fields, we recommend the peak season as an exception. Otherwise, we would recommend traveling outside the season, but the Provence lavender fields are a must.

We think the absolute best time to visit the area is the end of June. In short, the weather is good, but not too hot, the landscapes are beautifully colorful, the sea water is good and the lavender is in bloom. The best time to travel.

Of course, if you are not interested in the flower fields, you can always travel at another time. In the south, around Marseille, the weather is quite pleasant at other times. For example, spring or autumn is a good time to visit the city.

How much time to plan for Provence

To visit Provence, you will need 4-7 days. If you want to enjoy the Riviera, hike in the mountains or just relax, you will need even more time. The ideal duration would be a minimum of 4-5 days.

Services and costs

Altogether, France is a rather expensive country. It is expensive to use the highways, the fuel, the restaurants and the shops. But even though you can see that these areas are expensive, the final sum is not really more than elsewhere in Western Europe.

Although the hotels and restaurants are at the average Western European price level, but because the programs don’t require too much spending, it is not what we would call expensive. The most expensive is obviously Marseille, the largest city and the centre of Provence. The countryside offers much cheaper options.

Other information about Provence

A major drawback of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region is public safety. Unfortunately, it is one of the places in Western Europe where the highest rates of theft, very high rates of pickpocketing and car crime occur. Especially in coastal areas, you need to be aware of your belongings.

The other thing to mention is the language. The French are proud of their language and this also means that English is not spoken everywhere. So sometimes you may need a little knowledge of French or a good translation app.

After a general introduction and information about Provence, here are the best places to visit when in Provence.

Things to do in and around Marseille

Palais Longchamp

Located in the centre of Marseille, the Palais Longchamp is a stunning green space and an architectural gem that is a popular destination for tourists. The palace is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, a monument built in the 19th century.

The centrepiece of the Palais Longchamp is the fountain, flanked by waterfalls and surrounded by two imposing rows of arcades.

Bypassing the fountain, two flights of stairs lead up to the museums, with the Museum of Fine Arts on the left and the Natural History Museum on the right.

The palace is set in eight hectares of green space, a green oasis in the centre of the city. The park has benches and children’s playgrounds, which the locals enjoy using for recreation.

The outdoor areas are free of charge, while the monuments are accessible with a ticket.

Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde

The basilica stands at the highest point of the city, crowned by Lequesne’s golden statue of the Virgin Mary. The most popular attraction in Marseille. The view of the city from there is spectacular, especially at sunset.

Old Port of Marseille

The Old Port of Marseille is also worth a visit if you are in Marseille. From the north side of the port you have a stunning view of the harbor and the hill behind it, topped by the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde.


The Calanques National Park is our personal favorite in the Marseille area. We think it is a real must-see place.

The Calanques, near Marseille, are a truly unique sight, with their magnificent white rocky bays and varied landscapes. The Calanques coastline stretches for about 20 km between Marseille and Cassis. The landscape is dotted with magnificent limestone cliffs, pine trees, small islands and peninsulas. The rocky coves have been here for over 200 million years. The bays often hide small beaches with crystal clear water. The coastline is so spectacular that even if the weather is not suitable for swimming, it is still worth a trip.

The Calanque de Sormiou is the biggest calanque of the Calanques National Park. Located in the 9th arrondissement of Marseille, it is famous for its climbing areas, hiking trails and breathtaking views. In summer, access by car is limited due to the risk of forest fires.

Calanque de Sugiton is perhaps the best known of all the Calanques around Marseille, simply because it is easily accessible to hikers. There is also a small beach at the end of the calanque.

The nearby Calanque de Morgiou is also easily accessible by car, with a small beach at the end. And between the two Calanques, it is important to mention a viewpoint offering a magical panorama, the Belvedere de Sugiton viewpoint, which can be reached by a short hike from Redon.

The Calanque de Port-Miou is one of the three great calanques. It is very long and narrow, making it an excellent place to build a harbor.

The Passage des croisettes is a hidden little seaside viewpoint in the Calanques National Park. You can get here from Marseille on small winding roads. You have to park your car a few hundred meters before the lookout point, then you can reach the lookout point on foot. From here you have a fantastic view of the sea and the island of Ile Maire.

Things to see in the Provence countryside

Provence lavender fields

The lavender fields of Provence cover a large area and several municipalities. Most of them are in the villages of Valensole and Sault. If you only have time to visit one, we recommend Valensole.

There are several articles on the internet about lavender fields in Provence, with maps showing where the fields are located. It is worth looking at one or two of these maps and preparing in advance. Although we have seen an increase in the number of lavender fields recently, so it is not difficult to find them. The local economy is heavily based on lavender and its products.

We have been several times to the lavender fields in and around Valensole. One year the lavender was not yet in bloom at the beginning of June, another year it was already dried out and half of it had been harvested at the end of July. So the best time to visit the lavender fields in Provence is the end of June or early July. That’s when we will go next time.

Be prepared for the crowds, there are plenty of fields and things to see and do, but the tourists are all around. This can be a bit distracting when taking photos. If you want to take photos, it’s a good idea to go out to the fields in the morning, when there may be fewer tourists.

Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque

The Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque is a quite hidden place in the western part of Provence, near Avignon. The park of the 12th century Cistercian monastery is covered with lavender fields in summer, which gives it its real fame. Guided tours of the monastery and its surroundings are available on request. An ideal Provence photo spot for photographers during the summer lavender bloom. The village where the monastery is located, Gordes, is also worth a visit.

Palais des Papes

The Palais des Papes is a historic palace in Avignon, in the west of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur. It is one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. Once a fortress and palace, the papal residence was one of the seats of Western Christianity in the 14th century. Since 1995, the Papal Palace has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the historic centre of Avignon, for its outstanding architectural and historical importance. If you are in Provence, the city of Avignon and its palace are well worth a visit.

Lac de Serre-Poncon

In the northern part of the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region you will find a picturesque lake with magical blue waters called Lac de Serre-Poncon. The lake is home to a number of campsites and a variety of traditional and extreme water sports. We like it best for the panoramic views, it is a stunning area and a wonderful photo spot. If you have extra time in Provence or love water sports, this lake is a good choice.

Verdon Gorge

The Verdon Gorge is one of the most beautiful gorges in Provence and France. It is about a two-hour drive from Marseille.

The Verdon Gorge, famous for its turquoise green or azure blue waters, is a gorge formed by the Verdon River in the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur region of south-eastern France. It is often referred to as the Grand Canyon of Europe or the most beautiful gorge in Europe.

Through winding roads in the mountains, you can reach the gorge and the artificial lake of Sainte-Croix, created from the water of the river.

On the shores of the artificial Lake of Sainte-Croix, near the Pont du Galetas bridge, you can hire a water-bike or a boat to explore the gorge. There are several campsites and beaches along the lake, but the real attraction is the Verdon Gorge itself.

Cascade de Sillans

The Cascade de Sillans is a waterfall in Sillans-la-Cascade, Var, Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur. It is 1.5 hours by car from Marseille. The Bresque River, located southeast of the town centre, falls from a depth of over 44 metres and creates a picturesque waterfall. It is mentioned as one of the most beautiful waterfalls in France.


These were the most important things to see and do in Provence. We hope our article has helped you organise your trip to Provence. If you are interested in other places to visit from France or Provence, such as Barcelona, Milan or Paris, read our other articles about them. And we hope you will be as impressed by France on your trip as millions of tourists are every year.

Photo Gallery

Want to see more photos?

Check out our photo gallery, where you can find all our photos categorized by country. In the photo gallery you can see photos from 6 years of travel and more than 20 countries. Discover the most beautiful places in the world!

Follow us on Instagram