The beaches of the Riviera are world-famous for their beauty, glamour, warm climate and of course the bright blue of the Mediterranean Sea.
With 900km of coast, the choice of beaches is staggering, from chic Cannes and flamboyant Nice to pretty Menton and Antibes and glamorous St-Tropez.
Hugely popular, particularly during school holidays so be prepared for busy roads and crowds at the area’s hotspot.
Provence is an important wine production area – some 140 million bottles a year. With its limestone/sandy soil and mild Mediterranean climate, its 500 or so vineyards produce a wide variety of wines. Much loved are Provence’s fruity rose wines, a delightful accompaniment to its local cuisine.
Taste them throughout the region including the beautiful setting of Les Baux de Provence. Visit Chateau Romanin with its visitor centre, tasting bar and shop, or Mas Saint Berthe which also has a short, signposted trail. Visit Les Baux in November for the annual wine festival with tastings, visits and delicious local dishes.
Provencal markets are a delight to see, smell and taste. Expect to find locally grown fruit and vegetables, olive oil, wines and honey as well as lavender products, stunning flowers and local textiles.
There are markets throughout Provence – check with the property owner or local tourist office for precise information, though one of the best is the Thursday market at St Remy de Provence.
And throughout the winter, there are truffle markets, such as that at Carpentras on Friday mornings.
Mont Sainte-Victoire is an iconic symbol of Aix-en-Provence due to its numerous – over 50 – depictions by Cezanne. It is a very popular walking location, one of the most popular routes being the GR9, the Chemin des Veuvenargues, which can take you to the summit in approximately 2 hours – depending, of course, on how fast you walk!
Enjoy the panoramic views from the Cross of Provence. There is good car parking or, alternatively, catch a bus from Aix. The many walks available range from easy to strenuous and you need to be well prepared if walking in hot weather.
Best described as a tilted pyramid, Mont Sainte-Victoire has striking white limestone rock faces. Like Cezanne, you can enjoy the wonderful light and ever-changing colours of this mountain, especially at sunset.
If you prefer to drive, then follow the 60km Route Cezanne to the south of Mont Sainte Victoire and take in the beautiful scenery from the comfort of your car.
For a very different visit, head to Tortoise Village in Gonfaron. This conservation project was initiated in 1988 to protect the indigenous Hermann’s tortoise which now only survives in the Maures Mountains and in Corsica. Since 1988, the sanctuary has released more than 8,000 Hermann’s tortoises back into the wild.
At any one time, Tortoise Village has around 2,500 tortoises on site, including those being treated for injuries. Not only can you delight in seeing these fascinating creatures but you can also enjoy a special display that takes you through the history of the tortoise right from 300 million years ago.
The Annual Festival takes place between 11 – 22 May 2011. The main focus of the Festival is the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) award, one of the most sought-after prizes in the film industry. Alongside the Festival itself runs the Directors Fortnight which screens films by little-known film-makers.
The Festival attracts huge numbers of visitors to Cannes – as many as 200,000 – principally stars, film-makers and fans. Although much of the event is only open to the film industry, some Directors Fortnight tickets are made available to the public and there are screenings at the Cinema de la Plage.
But many visitors go just to soak up the atmosphere and to star-spot – you may be lucky enough to see your favourite star around town or along La Croisette. If you decide to star-spot at the red carpet entrance, do get there early to ‘bag’ your place!