Everyone from ancient Romans to Post-Impressionist artists to movie stars have been lured to the enchanting South of France. Its abundance of lavender-laced valleys, glittering seashores, medieval hill towns, and lively cities, all bathed in translucent light, are downright seductive.
Journey with freelance travel writer Barbara Noe Kennedy to discover Provence and the Côte d’Azur, including the region’s most intriguing sights, historical aspects, food and wine, and art in a virtual exploration using maps, photos, videos, and other visuals.
Kennedy, a freelance travel writer and editor, is a former senior editor at National Geographic Travel Publishing. She served as an expert on National Geographic Expedition tours to Italy and France and wrote the National Geographic Traveler: Provence and the Côte d’Azur guidebook.
Please Note: Individual sessions are available for purchase.
March 2 Marseille and Aix-en-Provence
Starting off in Marseille, the oldest city in France and its second most populous, explore how this famously gritty port city has undergone a recent renaissance. Hop to Aix-en-Provence, a genteel Provençal town often referred to as the city of a thousand fountains. Perfect for culture lovers, Aix boasts an exquisite historic quarter, quaint cafes, and—perhaps most famously—the birthplace of Cézanne. Go beyond the hustle and bustle of the cities to discover the gorgeous Calanques, with their turquoise waters and steep-sided limestone cliffs, plus two fishing towns beloved by the Post-Impressionists: Cassis and La Ciotat.
March 30 Avignon and La Vraie Provence
Even into the 21st century, Avignon retains its regal splendor left behind by the 14th-century popes who ruled from here for more than half a century. Discover Gothic palaces, as well the famous bridge of Avignon and several other culturally rich sites. Explore Luberon, the heart of Provence, noted for its perched medieval villages. Then swing south to St.-Rémy, Lees Baux, and Arles, enjoying Roman ruins, van Gogh history, and stories about the frightful Lords of Baux, one of medieval Provence’s most powerful families.
May 4 Côte d’Azur
Côte d’Azur is a star in the South of France, boasting the glamourous French Riviera, home to legendary towns such as Cannes and Nice, plus fairy-tale Monaco. From St.-Tropez to Menton, Vence, and St.-Paul-de-Vence, explore the celebrity playgrounds of the 20th and 21st centuries. Artists of the canvas—including Picasso, Matisse, and Chagall—found inspiration here as well.
June 1 Off the Beaten Path
Discover some of the South of France’s lesser-known charms, including Mercantour National Park, home to chamois and wolves, and the Gorges du Verdon, known as Europe’s Grand Canyon. Follow Napoleon’s route through the backcountry as he headed to Paris to reclaim his power; learn about faïence in Moustiers-Ste.-Marie; travel lavender routes in the plateau de Valensole; and explore more Roman ruins in Vaison-la-Romain, Orange, and the Pont-du-Gard. The tour ends with the surprising Camargue, where bulls, white horses, and flamingoes roam free.