The Local Area & Surrounds

In The heart of France’s Provence-verte, La Toscane stands in an elevated position overlooking the valley of the River Argens. The nearby village of CORRENS has been officially sited as the first “Village Bio” in France and dates back to the XII Century and the days of the Knight Templars. A short car or Village of Cottignac in Provence, France.even bike ride away are the medieval market towns of COTIGNAC and CARCES, sheltered by the Massif du Bessillon and standing proudly by their vines and the “Cotes de Provence” wines they produce. These delightful villages capture the feeling of a bygone age, yet still assuring art, culture and entertainment for all.

However, while there is much to see in these three towns, we realize that there are other towns in Provence that you would be interested in viewing. Here is a list of some other towns that are popular tourism destinations.

Aix-en-Provence
One of Europe's loveliest towns. Sights include: St.-Sauveur Cathedral, Beauvals tapestries, the Musee Granet, Fountain of the Nine Cannons and Thermal Water, and the Paul Cézanne Museum which is unfortunately is not an adequate memorial to Cézanne. Although not right in town, there are also several gardens worth visiting in the area. Beware: parking in town can be difficult to find. For more information on the Aix-en-Provence, visit www.aixenprovencetourism.com/uk

Arles
Arles is one of THE great tourism centers of Provence. You'll find spectacular Roman and medieval buildings in addition to museum and fun events such as bullfights and costume festivals.

Avignon
You MUST plan a daytrip to Avignon- especially if you visit here during the second part of July when the city comes alive during the annual drama and dance festival! Avignon is an historic city with the old town center enclosed by two miles of medieval walls. The Palace of the Popes which was built in the 14th century. In 1309 Pope Clement V chose Avignon as his residence. For the next 68 years, the city was the seat of the Papacy and the home of seven Popes. Close on hand to the Palace of the Popes are the Petit Palais and Palais du Roure museums. The famous Le Pont Saint-Benézet is also close-by.

Museums include:

Bandol
Bandol - sandy beaches, and the best of Provencal red wines. If you are visiting in early December, you'll want to take part in the Bandol Wine Festival. When visiting Bandol, you may want to travel by boat to the small island of Bendor. It has a craft village, sailing and diving schools, and a museum that displays 8,000 bottles of alcohol.

Cassis
This is a fishing port with charm galore! It’s a small and picturesque typical Mediterranean fishing village that hasn’t yet been spoiled by its popularity with tourists and weekend visitors. The village was rebuilt on the old ruins in the 18th century. If you walk through the old village streets, you'll see some lovely old buildings. The old fountains are picturesque and it's always fun to visit the open-air artists market. The harbor area is really the prettiest part of Cassis. Cassis is also known for its excellent white wine. There are some lovely beaches just outside the town.

Digne-les-Bains
A center for holistic cure-seekers since Roman times, the town is famous for its thermal hot springs. Other attractions include: The Cathédral of Notre-Dame du Bourg, the Butterfly Garden, the Gassendi Museum, and the Alexandra David-Neel Museum.
www.ot-dignelesbains.fr

Gordes
Spectacular - it is considered one of the most beautiful towns of Provence! This medieval village is perched high on the north side of the Luberon. It's a favorite summer retreat of Parisians and the former, unofficial, summer residence of Francois Mitterand’s socailist government. Several luminaries of the 1980 still have holiday houses here. It's a bit out of the way but well worth the drive to see it, Rousillon and Lourmarin.

Gorges du Verdon
A magnificant river canyon in south-eastern France (Alpes-de-Haute-Provence). The Gorges du Verdon was formed by the erosion of the Verdon River which flows through the canyon. It's often called the Grand canyon du Verdon signifying how impressive it is. Read more about the Gorges du Verdon.

Grasse
An unpretentious town that's important for being the world capital fo the perfume industry since the 18th century. You can create your own individual perfume at Galimard Perfume Factory. You can also visit the Fragonard Perfume Factory. It was only when scented gloves came into fashion in the 16th century that Grasse started manufacturing perfume. Several plants that are unique to the Var region of Provence are used in these perfumes.

Lac de Sainte Croix
The lake was formed by the building of the Ste. Croix dam across the Verdon River in 1975. The lake shore is easy to access with plenty of beaches and picnic areas. Boat rentals are available in Bauduen at the southern tip of the lake, and Ste-Croix-de-Verdon on the northwestern shore. Other water activities include wind-surfing, sailing, catamaran, fishing, pedal boats, and kayaking. If you prefer to horseback ride about the lake, a centre équestre is located near the village of Ste-Croix-de-Verdon. Other riding stables are located at Moustiers-Ste-Marie and at the Château de Chanteraine near Les Salles-sur-Verdon on the eastern side of the lake.

Les Baux-de-Provence
Les Baux is a stunningly beautiful fortified village with a royal history. It's a bit away from La Toscane but the impressive stone fortress is considered one of the "must-sees" for visitors to Provence. It features panoramic views over Arles, the Camargue and the olive groves of the Alpilles. The village has been painstakingly restored and several buildings in the village are classified as "Historic Monuments." Like most tourist attractions in Provence, it can be very busy in July and August. You may have trouble navigating their website if you use another browser than Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Lourmarin
Lourmarin has the honour of having been officially designated as one of the the Most Beautiful Villages of France. It is a striking medieval village. The renaissance Château now houses a cultural foundation and conference center. In the past, Lourmarin was home to several great writers and painters. It's now known as a center of fine dining with its thirteen restaurants.

Marseille
Marseille is France's second largest city and a change from the other cities noted on this page. It's not my favourite town but it may be your's. In Marseille, you'll find a mixture of races - Arab, African, Algerians, Latin. As a result, there are interesting markets that are worthwhile seeing. Then there is the rocky island of Chateau d'if. Museums include La Vieille Charité, Maison Diamantée, Musée de la Faïence, Musée Grobet-Labadié, and the Musée d'Art Contemporain.

La Vieille Charité
17th Century building designed to offer a living place to homeless and orphans. After the Second World War, Le Corbusier called attention to its abandoned state and the building became a National Heritage building in 1951 with restoration work on the Vieille Charité beginning in 1968.
2 rue de la Charité - 13002 Marseille
Tel: 04 91 14 58 80

Maison Diamantée
This museum has a relief model of Old Marseilles from 1848, sections of 18th-century Provençal furniture and objects, and a section of 19th-century paintings and costumes - and more.
Rue de la Prison [Old Port]
In the 16th-century Maison Diamantée, behind the old Hôtel de Ville.
Tel: 04 91 55 28 68

Musée de la Faïence
The Musée de la Faïence is home to one of the largest collections of porcelain in France. The collection is housed in the 19th century Château Pastré.
Château Pastré, 157 av. de Montredon
Marseille
Tel: 04 91 72 43 47

Musée Grobet-Labadié
Musée Grobet-Labadié hosts an impressive collection of medieval Provencal and Burgundian sculptures, as well as exquisitve furniture from Louis XV and XVI.
140 bd. Longchamp
Marseille
Tel: 04 91 62 21 82

Musée d'Art Contemporain
Art from the 1960's New Realism to the present.
(Arrond. 08) 69, avenue de Haïfa
Tel: 04 91 21 07

Moustiers-Ste-Marie
Moustiers-Ste-Marie is a lovely "tourist" village, in a gorgeous setting. The village sits on top of a rushing mountain stream that divides the town into two halves, stone bridges spanning the narrow gorge. The canyon with its small waterfalls below and medieval houses above, is truly picturesque. In the town, you'll enjoy visiting the 12th-century Notre-Dame church which was beautifully restored in 1928. Also of note is the golden star that hangs above the Notre-Dame de Beauvoir chapel. It was completed as a result of a promise made by Sir Blacas, a knight who returned from a long captivity during the crusades. If you are into shopping, you will be able to purchase as many "faïence" ceramics as you want since the village is packed full of Faïenceries shops. One fun touch is the small "train" that provides guided tours of the village and surrounding points of interest.

While you are there, visit one of the most spectacular natural phenomena in France - the 13-mile long Gorges du Verdon, also known as France's Grand Canyon. The cliffs rise 2,300 ft above the river below. Be warned, however, that the roads are very windy and difficult - not what you would expect for such a popular natural attraction. At the same time, they do have quite a few lay-bys where you can take in the view. Also note that the traffic on these roads in July and August can be bumper to bumper. If you visit, take the southern road - it's in better condition and has better views.
www.ville-moustiers-sainte-marie.fr

Rousillon
Another of the most beautiful towns and villages in Provence. You've probably seen photos of this ocre-red village on the southern edge of the Plateau de Vaucluse. It's picturesque with its famous red rocks, red stone buildings and red tile roofs. The red is because the town is sitting on of the biggest ochre deposits in the world. As a result, the village is composed of reds, oranges and yellows making it a lovely sight. One thing you'll want to know is that all roads in, around and near the village have pay parking only. Instead of having machines, they have people guarding every spot. As there are no signs indicating the "official" cost of parking, you'll have to trust to the honesty of the parking person to tell you the "fair" price of parking.

Tourtour
Another picturesque medieval village perched on top of hills with a magnificant view out across the surrounding countryside. Nicknamed "the village in the sky," on a clear day you can see forever - at least as far as the Maures, the Luberon, Ste. Baume and the Ste. Victoire near Aix-en-Provence. There are some properties of note: a 17th-century "Moulin à huile" (oil mill) in the village; a "lavoir" on the rue de le Lavoir on the road out of the village to the north; and a 16th-century chateau within the village.
www.tourisme-tourtour.com

Villecroze
Villecroze is a picturesque provençal Var village. It has storybook appeal with its mediaeval arcade streets, ancient caves, many fountains, and waterfall next to a rose garden. Thursday morning is a good time to visit as that's market day. You'll also want to see the Commanderie des Templiers - house of the Templar knights. It was founded in 1150 and influenced much of Provence. If you visit in the summer, you may want to attend a concert in the St. Victor Chapel. You'll get a chance to hear exceptional musicians from all over the world.