Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur

February 16, 2016 Regional guides

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  • Capital: Nice
  • Population: 4,534,000 (7,7% of French population)
  • Specialities: Ratatouille, bouillabaisse, farcis nicois, anchoïde, soupe au pistou, Pastis, Nougat, olive oil, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Tavel, Côtes de Provence, Bandol…

Background on Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur

The Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur lies between the mountains and the sea, stretching from the Mercantour National Park to the Rhone river delta and from the Barre des Ecrins to the Marseille calanques. Made up of six departments, the region has a spectacular coastline, beautiful sunshine, azure-blue sea, rich historical heritage and many “chic” and trendy towns.

The coastline stretches from the Côte d’Azur in the Var to the Camargue with 40km of fine sandy and pebbled beaches. Famous ports include Saint Tropez, Marseille, and Toulon, with smaller coastal villages such as Bandol, Cassis, La Ciotat dotted in-between. The superb islands and 33 sailing ports allow thousands of boats to moor all year long. The Côte d’Azur is also a major port-of-call for many Mediterranean cruises and all water-sports can be enjoyed here. The French Riviera has 19 beautiful golf courses designed by famous international designers that are open all year round. Those who enjoy fishing will find 1,200 km of classified top class rivers and streams, you may however prefer the many ponds and lakes scattered around the region.

The Alpine area includes wide-open protected spaces such as the Ecrins National Park and the Queyras Regional Park. It is full of small hamlets and villages where traditions thrive, as do rich and varied species of flora and fauna. Ski resorts of the Azzure Alps are just an hour away from the beaches, with the Southern Alps climbing up to 4,000 meters altitude above Marseille. The Azzure balcony has more than 465 peaks over 2,000 meters. The foothills of the Alps have an original combination of Mediterranean scents and Alpine flora, with a mixture of pastures, scrubland and pine forests.

The true heart of Provence lies in the rolling hills that link the sea to the Alps. The unique Verdon river canyons are one of the natural jewels of Provence. In the back country you will discover the fields and colourful landscapes which fascinated and inspired Van Gogh, Petrarch, Picasso, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Renoir, Matisse, and Cocteau. Enjoy the pleasure of meeting artists and craftsmen in Biot, Vallauris and Grasse, who have revived old techniques and have given life to past arts such as the creation of precious ceramics, stained glass, carved wood figures, glass blowing and perfume making.

The Phocean City of Marseille was founded by the Ancient Greeks around 600BC. Then came the Romans, creating “La Provincia Romana”, leaving arenas, amphitheatres, archaeological sites, triumphal arches, aqueducts and bridges. The Roman cities of Arles, Orange, Nimes and Frejus still bear witness to their long and rich past, featuring vestiges that are now protected by UNESCO.

Discover the sumptuous traditional dishes and put a little sunshine on your plate: ratatouille, farcis nicois, pissaladière, anchoïde, soupe au pistou, beignets de fleurs de courge, artichauts barigoule, omelette de poutine, stockfisch, aïoli daube à la nicoise, barba-juan, “brissaudo”, bouillabaisse.

Provence is of course renowned for its rosés and table wines. The vineyards start from the southern part of the Rhone Valley and include the famous Châteauneuf-du-Pape, and Provence, where French vineyards started over 25 centuries ago. Côtes du Rhône, Côtes du Rhône Village, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Côtes du Luberon, Côtes du Ventoux, Gigondas, Tavel, Côtes de Provence, Bandol, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence are just a few of the most popular red and rosé wines from the region.

This highly varied region is less than 3 hours from Paris by TGV train and 6,5 hours from London Waterloo. It has very good connections to other French regions and motorway network to nearby Italy and Switzerland. Most major and budget airlines have frequent flights from many UK and European cities to Nice and Marseille, especially in the peak season.

Warm friendships and festivities, lively cultural life, a wide choice of accommodation to suit all budgets, in Provence Alpes Côte d’Azur, there is place in the sun for everyone.

Facts and figures

  • Capital: Nice
  • Population: 4,534,000 (7,7% of French population)
  • Density: 145,1 per sq. km (France = 108,2 per sq. km)
  • Area: 31,804sq. km (12,279 sq. miles) representing 5,8% of France
  • Economy: Services (77,6%), industry (20,2%), agriculture (2,3%)
  • Specialities: Ratatouille, bouillabaisse, farcis nicois, anchoïde, soupe au pistou, Pastis, Nougat, olive oil, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Tavel, Côtes de Provence, Bandol…


  • 2,500 hours of sun on average per year, 3,000 hours along the coast.
  • 120 km of coastline and 33 sailing ports
  • 1,200 km of rivers and streams
  • 15 ski-stations, 563 km of ski slopes, 148 ski-lifts, 200 snow canons, 250 ski-instructors
  • Azzure balcony has more than 465 peaks over 2,000 meters
  • New downhill snow sports, trekking and snow shoeing
  • Natural Parks : Mercantour natural parks, Ecrins National Park, Queyras Regional Park, Mont Ventoux, Luberon Regional Park, Camargue Regional Park, Verdon Natural Regional Park, Geological Reserve Of Haute Provence And Porquerolles And Port Cros National Park.
  • Over 100 museums and monuments
  • Huge range of festivals and events, the most famous being the Cannes Film Festival
  • 19 Golf courses – see them at
  • No. 1 region for French tourists, with 12.5 % of the market and 2nd region for foreign tourists, after Paris – Ile de France.

Important Links

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