Southern France has been a top holiday destination for over two millenia. The Romans built their luxurious villas on the sun-drenched hillsides of Provence, among olive groves and vineyards. Some of their grandest edifices outside of Rome are found here: the colisseum at Orange, the Pont du Gard, and the arena at Arles remained unrivalled in grandeur until the 14th century, when the breakaway French Popes built their Palais at Avignon.
The sublime lavender-scented landscapes of the Luberon and the Vaucluse, dominated by iconic vistas of Mont Ste-Victoire, Mont Ventoux and the Dentelles de Montmirail, are the setting for hidden gems: the picturesque hilltop villages of Ménerbes, Roussillon, Gordes, and Bonnieux.
Artists have flocked to Provence over the years in pursuit of its magical light: Cézanne was a native of Aix-en-Provence and produced a lifetime of studies of the local landscapes. Van Gogh, Picasso, de Staël and other great masters also lived and created in Provence.
The French Côte d’Azur has been the byword for holiday chic since the middle of the 19th century. The glamourous resorts of St-Tropez, Ste-Maxime, Fréjus, and St-Raphäel welcome the glitterati, and those who come to gawp at them, from all over the world. The beautiful coastal town of Nice, and inland, the perfume capital Grasse and walled Vence still retain their old world charm. The enchantingly blue Mediterranean, the exciting nightlife, a host of fabulous museums, and the year-round succession of world-renowned festivals of music and film make the Côte an irresistible holiday destination.