Shore Excursion: Travel Guide to Provence

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Provence itself refers to an entire geographical region in the south-east of France, packed with history, culture and many picturesque villages. It’s perfectly situated to the west of the Italian border and hovering above the Mediterranean Sea.

As such, it is nearly impossible to hand you a nice list of what to do in Provence for one day. You could spend your entire life here and still have things to do and look at. One thing’s for sure, whether it’s wine tasting or simply strolling around quaint villages, you’re find something or somewhere here you fall in love with.

Wander around in Arles

Arles, Provence. Flickr Creative Commons: decar66

The city of Arles in the Bouches-du-Rhône region, contains the Roman and Romanesque Monuments area which was designated UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1981. The area consists of a Roman amphitheatre, a church and 6 other listed buildings.

Arles has been responsible for inspiring some of the greatest music and paintings ever known. George Bizet, a French composer, wrote incidental music here for the play L’Arlésienne written by Alphonse Daudet, and the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh spent his time here in 1888-1889 and produced over 300 paintings. One of the most notable paintings from his stay in Arles is Cafe Terrace at Night, instantly recognisable even by non-art connoisseurs.

The town also boasts the Musée de l’Arles antique, an archaeological museum that houses the most impressive collection of Roman sarcophagi outside of Rome.

Explore Aix-en-Provence

Cours Mirabeau, Aix-en-Provence. Flickr Creative Commons: Andrea Schaffer

Aix-en-Provence, or simply called Aix, is a small yet quintessential town in Provence. It’s a town famous for its fountains, the largest and most famous of which can be found in the Cours Mirabeau, a wide thoroughfare lined with cute cafés.

There is plenty to do in Aix, the least of which is the city market. It runs multiple days a week, with the most colourful and bustling one taking place on Saturday.

Aix is also known for Paul Cézanne’s later works. The Manor of Jas de Bouffan houses many of his masterpieces.

Drive along the rim of the Verdon Gorge

Gorges du Verdon. Flickr Creative Commons: Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho

The Verdon Gorge (Gorges du Verdon) is located in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, and is an impressive river canyon that’s about 25 kilometres long and up to 700 metres deep. Often considered one of the most beautiful canyons in Europe, it’s one of the best day trips out of nearby towns such as Castellane.

Taking in the scenery while driving around the rim of the gorge is an unforgettable experience. The hairpin bends and narrow roads are not for the faintest of the heart, but it you take it slow and make several stops, you’ll be rewarded with the gorge’s most wonderful, breathtaking viewpoints.

Got more than one day?

Roussillon, Provence. Flickr Creative Commons: decar66

If you fall in love with the region and decide to stick around, Provence has much more to offer you. Visit any of the following villages and step into the picture-postcard views: Roussillon, Vaison la Romaine, Gordes, or Les Beaux de Provence. If you are travelling from June to August, you can hire a car to see the mighty lavender fields; quintessentially Provence!

Take a look at our guide to the best destinations for foodies in Europe – you guessed it, Provence made the list!

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Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: decar66, Andrea Schaffer, Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho

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Sandra Conreen

Sandra has worked in the travel industry for over 20 years and has gained an extensive knowledge of the cruise industry. Sandra regularly writes for the Cruise 1st blog on a wide range of topics from destination guides to cruise line news.

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