Provence conjures images of dazzling azure skies, ordered olive groves bathed in sunshine and stone cottages with painted shutters. Inland, it’s a place that promises to realise dreams of a relaxed lifestyle, while the glamorous coast draws the stylish and well-heeled in their dozens. The beaches of the Côte d’Azur are nothing short of legendary, their sweeping sands sloping gently into the cool Mediterranean, where tanned figures sip Champagne on yachts.
But the coast deserves to be recognised for more than its fashionable resorts; orange roofed buildings cluster along the shoreline, rocky outcrops break up the sands and its cities hold historic appeal. Marseille is an ancient charm, founded by the Greeks and now a vibrant, cosmopolitan location, while Roman Fréjus is famous for receiving Marc Antony’s defeated fleet. Inland, it’s an entirely different story. Stone buildings crouch among lavender fields that extend to the horizon, vineyards adorn the gently rolling hills and in the northeast the land rises higher to become the domain of mouflon and chamois. There’s an altogether more leisurely pace, where the sleepy villages seem caught in time.
Walking and cycling through Provence provides a remarkable and rewarding experience thanks to the region’s varied terrain and cultural diversity.