When the Good Lord begins to doubt the world, he remembers that he created Provence.Frédéric Mistral, Provence native, writer and lexicographer
Provence has long been hailed as the epicentre of Southern France’s art, culture and creative spirit. Immortalised by the greats, the memories of Vincent Van Gogh, Paul Cezanne, Henri Matisse, Frédéric Mistral, Alphonse Daudet, Joseph Roumanille and Marie Mauron live on within the sun-kissed meadows, sweeping hills, red poppy fields and jasmine-scented cobbled streets.
One of the oldest known sites of human habitation in Europe, Provence has a rich and compelling history, which can be traced and dated up to 1 million years BCE. Renowned for its unforgiving terrain and rocky soil, Provence has been home to Prehistoric and Paleolithic societies, the famed Ligures and Celts, Greek traders and the Roman Empire, as well as numerous invasions by Germanic tribes and the arrival of Christianity.
Today, Provence is renowned for its unique landscape and coastline, picturesque towns and plentiful agricultural communities, boasting one of the most celebrated wine making regions in the world. A cultural hub for Europe’s artistic communities, Provence has played host to some of history’s greatest minds. A favoured destination by culture seekers and famed creatives, the Luberon valley in central Provence is home to historical villages with hidden green valleys sheltered by the rocky cliffs of the Luberon mountains. The village of Les-Baux-de-Provence stands atop a rocky outcrop of the Alpilles mountains, crowned by ancient castle ruins, nestled among the foothills of the mountains in the Parc Naturel Regional des Alpilles.
From the harsh mountain ranges, through the rolling valleys to the rugged coastline, Provence has an abundance of life and culture to offer any traveller. No matter your walk of life or creative discipline, Provence will lead you to the most inspiring and unexpected of places; whether it’s the ruined castle, the plentiful vineyard, the Roman ruin, the hilltop village or the lavender field, Provence will always have something to offer.
Situated on the left bank of the Rhône, Avignon is well known for its iconic bridges, Pont d’Avignon, gothic cathedral, papal palace and tumultuous religious history. With its abundance of art, boutique galleries, Collection Lambert, historic Musee de Petit Palais collection, and Fondation Angladon-Dubrujeaud, Avignon has rightfully been nicknamed the cultural capital of Provence.
The famous Avignon Festival of theatrical arts takes over the city every summer is the garden of the Palais de Papes and features around 950 shows every year. A city which is committed to championing emerging and established artists of all disciplines, the streets of Avignon are filled with lively cafes and bars, historic public art and sculptures, as well as an emerging street art scene.
Along the banks of the Rhône lies the historic city of Arles. One of the oldest towns in Provence, Arles is also credited as being one of the most culturally rich cities in France with Roman and Romanesque monuments, an ancient aqueduct and amphitheatre. Fascinated by the Provencal landscape, Vincent Van Gogh resided in Arles for some years, paintings over 300 works in the town and its surrounds, including Cafe Terrace at Night, 1888.
Many of Van Gogh’s masterpieces can be found in the Foundation Van Gogh which is dedicated to his work and life in Provence. Home to the well known Rencontres d’Arles photography festival and the National School of Photography, Arles is at the forefront of Provence’s cutting edge contemporary art scene, with an abundance of artist run spaces and student galleries. Favoured for its unique and picturesque Camargue Nature Park, Arles is quickly becoming one of Provence’s fastest growing metropolitan cities.
A pretty wood of pines, sparkling with light, tumbles before me to the bottom of the hill. On the horizon, the Alpilles cut their fine crests … No noise … Barely, from time to time, a sound of fifre, a curlew in lavender, a bell of mules on the road … All this beautiful landscape of Provence does not live than by light.Alphonse Daudet, French novelist