The French Riviera and its Blue Coast are renowned as a European center of seaside style, and the Riviera is home to the famed Cannes Film Festival. However, it is also a solid location for water sports. Windsurfing and kite-surfing are popular beach-side activities, while sea kayakers and water skiers ply the coastal waters. Further out to sea, sailing, saltwater sport fishing and scuba diving are all possible out of Provencal harbors.
Arles and Avignon
The remote town of Arles is home to some of the best Roman ruins in southern France. The most famous is the Roman Amphitheater, but there is also another ancient theater, the Cryptoporticus, and many of the older buildings in Arles' city center incorporate columns and other features of Greek or Roman origin. The town was also the site of Vincent Van Gogh's most productive period. A street-walking tour enables visitors a chance to take in all the major sights of Arles in a single day, making it a short but worthy and thoroughly necessary stop in Provence.
Another great stop for old stuff is Avignon. This is a sizable city and, therefore, not as quaint as Arles. However, it was the seat of the papacy during the 14th century. The Papal Palace is a magnificent example of high Middle Ages architecture, and there are a handful of other medieval sights in the area.
Upper Provence is a land of very small and very old rural farming villages. This is the kind of place where one rents a little cottage (preferably made out of stone) and from there gets out on foot or by bicycle to explore the countryside everyday. A highlight of this kind of tourism is making expeditions to every village that can be reached on market day and trying out the local craft cheeses, sausages and preserves. Many of these small villages are connected by foot paths that have been in use since the Middle Ages, creating ready-made hiking trails. There are also opportunities in Provence for trading a half-day's work on the farm for free room and board, making for an even more authentic rural Provencal experience. Good example villages are Roquebrune-sur-Argens and Puyloubier, both of which have lovely scenery.
Provence is the kind of place where villages can be strung together for an inn-to-inn trek. This means a trekker can make a serious, cross-country journey without having to haul a tent and other camping equipment. This is the best way to take in the lovely countryside, gastronomic delights, small villages and old castles of the Provencal countryside. This can be done either as part of a trekking tour group or independently with the aid of a guidebook, GPS receiver or compass and a good map.
Situated between the Alps and the Mediterranean, Provence has a reputation for being quite rocky. There are plenty of cliffs, ranging in difficulty from beginner to advanced. One cliff face, Ceuse, is thought by some to be the best climbing cliff in the world and is easily the best in France.