PROVENCE ALPES CÔTE d'AZUR
Are you like me dreaming of living in the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur region? If not, you may well be after reading more about it.
Where is the Provence Alpes Côte d Azur region?
In the far south-east corner of France, bordering Italy in the east, you come to one of France's most exclusive areas, the Provence Alpes Cote A Zur. Northwards lies the Rhône Alpes region and to the west Languedoc Roussillon. There are 6 departments: Alpes de Haute Provence (4), Alpes Maritimes (6), Bouches du Rhône (13), Hautes Alpes (5), Var (83) and Vaucluse (84).
The capital is Marseille, an ancient port (founded 600 BC) on the Mediterranean with a real cosmopolitan atmosphere. This fascinating city has numerous historic buildings and churches and many famous writers and painters have lived here. Zinédine Zidane's city of birth boasts good sports facilities as well as interesting museums and galleries.
Its location has meant that millions of immigrants have entered France through this port and many have remained here. In the last few decades it has seen a lot of economic development but unemployment is high. The fishing industry still plays an important role.
What is there in the Provence Alpes Cote A Zur region?
When you mention the Côte d'Azur, also known as the French Riviera, it conjures up images of luxury yachts and beautiful people but the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur region has so much more to offer than only great beaches and fashionable resorts such as St Tropez, Juan les Pins and Cannes with its world famous Cannes Film Festival . The varied and beautiful scenery from the rolling hills of the Provence to the Camargue with its wild horses and flamingos – just leave me here, please - the fields of lavender and endless vineyards, the mountains and rivers, the spectacular canyons and lakes. It is not surprising that this region with its national parks and nature reserves is favoured by many and we have not even touched on its markets, festivals, exhibitions, concerts etc.
Apart from Marseille there are other places worth mentioning such as Avignon, with its impressive Palais de Papes which was once the residence of the Popes, and let's not forget the famous 'pont d’Avignon'– go on sing it, I know you want to - beautiful Aix-en-Provence with its spa and so much more. Orange, Nice and its carnaval, Grasse so well known for its perfume industry and Arles, nowadays associated with the great and much misunderstood Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh, The landscape as well as the wonderful clear light has attracted painters to this region.
Needless to say both in summer and winter there is lots to do in the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur region. Obviously watersports – on the sea and also on rivers like the Verdon - but also paragliding, hang-gliding, fishing, walking, rock climbing and in winter the ski areas such as Pra-Loup, Foux d'Allos and Chabanon are in demand.
This region is not just a big playground though, it is said to be France's second most important economic region. Just under 5 million people live here but some departments are more densely populated than others.
Climate of the Provence Alpes Cote A Zur region:
The lovely warm climate plays a big part in this region's popularity. The sun shines often and the summers are long and warm/hot with very little rain. Just to show you that you can’t have it all, the Provence is prone to forest fires. It is estimated that on average some 15,000 hectares of forest are destroyed by roughly 3000 fires a year.
The winters are mild but watch out for the mistral, a strong cold wind that blows for 3 to 9 days at a time mostly in winter and spring.
Am I convincing anybody not to move to la Cote d Azur or Provence because of the mistral and forest fires, horrendous though they are? No, I didn’t think so.
Property in Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur:
You will have to dig deeper into your pockets than almost anywhere else in France to acquire a property in this region. Despite this, many foreigners are attracted to the area – there is one touching these keys!
Do keep an eye on our property pages where you may well spot a place that ticks most if not all of your boxes. And if you should decide to buy a property that you have found on Expatsradio you may qualify for a special 5% discount on agency fees! As you should know by now, we are here to help you in any way we can.
Food and wine in Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur:
This is the land of garlic, herbs, olives, lavender honey, truffles, goats’ cheese, mountain ham and fine wines, a land where local produce is used to create superb dishes. Why is it that my legs go in the direction of the fridge whenever I come to writing the food and wine sections? Have some control, woman!
There is a noticeable Italian influence, hardly surprising so close to Italy, or even a Mediterranean influence with the hot spices and fish features heavily on the menu, in soup – bouillabaisse - or grilled/baked with fresh herbs. You will taste the difference from e.g. the area around Nice to the Alpine cuisine. Amongst the many fine wines of the Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur are rosé wines.
Among the famous people associated with this region are :
the painter Cézanne who was born and died in Aix-en-Provence, a place where Émile Zola spent his childhood, Renoir and Van Gogh both painted in this region, Picasso lived and worked here for quite some time, as did Albert Camus, the singer Mireille Mathieu comes from Avignon and many famous people have a house in this region, especially on the Côte d'Azur. Sadly, your writer hasn’t, then again I’m not famous but who knows what the future holds…
Getting to the Provence Alpes Cote A Zur region:
The main airports in the Provence Alpes Cote A Zur region with direct/indirect flights to the UK are Marseille Airport, Nice Airport and Toulon-Hyères Airport. Avignon Airport can be used for indirect flights to the UK. The main airlines serving Provence Alpes Côte d'Azur are Flybe, easyJet, British Airways and Air France. As always, beware of the low cost airlines, we do not know how long the service will last.
Need a quick overview/search for flights?
There is a good road network but it will take roughly 10 hours from Calais to Marseille – the Autoroute du Soleil or Motorway of the sun starts in Paris – and it will probably take longer in the summer months when the roads to the south can be very busy.
The region is served by the TGV high speed trains so it will take only about 3 hours from Paris to Marseilles or you can go on to Toulon, Cannes or Nice. And the TGV to Avignon, which is also served by Eurostar, takes just 2hrs 40 min from Paris.