Discover Provence

The palette of Provence - orange blossoms, ochre-rich earth, fields of poppies and sunflowers, plane-shaded squares, cobalt skies deepening to midnight-blue, pink flamingos, snowy peaks, and deep-purple lavender - has been vividly rendered by painters such as Van Gogh, Gauguin and Cézanne.

Provence is a region of south-eastern France and is delimited on the east by Italy, on the south by the Mediterranean Sea, west to the river Rhone and north to Mont Ventoux. It is a division of the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur. This area of southern France was the first Roman province outside Italian territory. The Romans who conquered it in the 2nd Century B.C., called it Provincia Nostra ("our province") and the name in French thus became Provence.

Most of Provence has a Mediterranean climate, characterised by hot, dry summers, mild winters, little snow, and abundant sunshine. Within Provence there are micro-climates and local variations, ranging from the Alpine climate inland from Nice to the continental climate in the northern Vaucluse. The winds of Provence are an important feature of the climate, particularly the Mistral, a cold, dry wind which, especially in the winter, blows down the Rhone Valley to the Bouches-du-Rhône and the Var Departments, and often reaches over one hundred kilometers an hour.

The countryside is a charming landscape of low, rolling limestone hills covered in dry scrub and characteristic sun baked earth. The sun fills the air, bouncing off the sea and the land, creating a relentless light that still captivates artists around the world. This incessant sun is combined with the cooling wind from the north, the Mistral, to create a dramatic climate. Tough, shrubby plants such as Lavender and Olive trees thrive here, as do grape vines. The best vineyards of Provence are tucked into hillsides, facing south so avoiding the full force of le mistral, and produce some distinctive and delicious wines.

The cuisine of Provence is the result of the warm, dry Mediterranean climate; the rugged landscape, good for grazing sheep and goats but, outside of the Rhone Valley, with poor soil for large-scale agriculture; and the abundant seafood on the coast. The basic ingredients are olives and olive oil, garlic, chickpeas, almonds, local fruits such as grapes, peaches, apricots, figs, strawberries, cherries, almonds and the famous melons of Cavaillon.