If you’re looking for a destination which has lots to offer come winter or summer, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is for you. One of the most popular regions in the South of France, it covers a vast area, from the sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean to the magnificent French Alps.
Just in case you were in any doubt, we at Big Domain have put together a list of ten reasons to visit all year round.
Go skiing in the winter
There are 12 ski resorts to choose from in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, with slopes and facilities to suit all abilities. Valberg is a particularly popular option for families, while Isola 2000 has earnt a reputation as the trendiest. Auron, a pleasant village resort, has the largest skiable area and is also very family friendly. The resorts are open from December through to March or April.
Go hiking in the summer
When the snow has gone in the mountains, it’s time to get out your walking boots and discover the beautiful landscape on foot. It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the hiking trails on offer, but a good place to start is the Lubéron, with its picturesque villages and inspiring views. The hiking trails in the Gorges du Verdon are also cited among the best in the region.
Discover the history
Come sun or rain, heatwave or hail, the incredible history and culture of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur always shine through. Highlights include the imposing Palais des Papes at Avignon, the many historical sights of Marseille, the Roman Arena in Arles, the old city and fortress at Briançon and numerous castles and cathedrals. The truth is, you’ll never be far from a cultural landmark in this region!
Delight in the Provençal cuisine
An element of Provençal culture which can be enjoyed all year round is its celebrated cuisine. Fresh seafood on the coast and delicious farm produce come together to produce wonderful French flavours which will stay in your memory long after you’ve cleared your plate. Enjoy truffles, foie gras, local olive oil and traditional dishes such as Bouillabaisse (fish stew) in Marseille, Daube (beef stew) and Tapenade (an olive dip of black olives, capers, anchovies, garlic and olive oil served on crudités).
Enjoy the beauty of the Mediterranean
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is famed for its attractive and fashionable coastal towns such as Cannes, St Tropez and Monaco which are frequented by high-flying celebrities. Summer days can be spent with a cocktail on the beach at Cannes or Nice, or cooling off on the water on a boat from Monaco harbour. Make sure Eze, Cap-Ferrat and Menton make it on to your itinerary, all boast scenery which is a feast for the eyes. The beaches of Antibes are also not to be missed, and the beautiful coast walk, Chemin des Douaniers, offers a view of the Med from a different perspective.
Marvel at nature
There are natural attractions aplenty in this region. The national parks of Ecrins, Mercantour and Queyras are stunning escapes from the hustle and bustle of the coastal tourist areas. Framed by magnificent mountains and offering views of ultramarine lakes and snow-capped peaks, there’s no better way to get back to nature than to take a walk in this extraordinary landscape.
You can also enjoy cycling in the Camargue, where you’re likely to see rice paddies, salt marshes and even pink flamingos. There are cycle trails for all abilities, from the dizzyingly steep slopes of Mont Ventoux to level paths along the network of dikes criss-crossing the countryside.
Year-round outdoor activities
Whatever your favourite outdoor pursuit, you’re sure to find it in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. Besides the obvious skiing in the winter, there are hundreds of other activities on offer all year round. The Gorges du Verdon offer awe-inspiring scenery to appreciate from a canoe or hurtling by on a white-water raft, and up in the mountains you can enjoy climbing, via ferrata and, of course, winter sports including luge, snowboarding, snowshoeing and snow kiting.
A colourful programme of events
There are numerous events throughout the year, so keep an ear out for what’s on during your stay. The Fête du Corso in Cavaillon has a themed procession and entertainment, the Festival d’Avignon dedicates three weeks to celebrating the performing arts and the Fête du Citron in Menton is a quirky event featuring floats made from lemons parading along the seafront! Other highlights include the Nice Carnival, the Cannes Film Festival and the Féstival d’Art Pyrotechnique (Firework festival) on La Croisette beach in Cannes.
Stunning places to stay
With such a lot to fit in to your holiday, you’ll want somewhere relaxing and luxurious to stay. The Big Domain offer a stunning selection of properties in France – big houses for big occasions. Elegant Mediterranean-style villas boast swimming pools and sports facilities, with plenty of space for celebrations of all kinds.