Provence is a region on the Cote d’Azur in the southern part of France, on the Mediterranean. It is bordered by the left bank of the Rhone River to the west, to the Italian regions of Piedmont and Liguria on the east, and the Mediterranean Sea on the south. The largest city and regional capital is Marseilles; other cities within Provence are Nice, Aix-en-Provence, Toulon, and Cannes.
There are several airports in Provence that are easily accessible to travellers. Marseilles and Nice both have direct flights from most European cities. To explore the region in depth, it is best to have your own transportation; buses link major cities and towns but not the remote hiking trails, vineyards, and many Roman ruins that litter the region.
Provence has been inhabited since prehistoric times. It has some of the oldest known sites in Europe, such as the Cosquer Cave and the dolmen near Draguignan. In the 10th century BCE, Ligurians came from modern-day Italy and in the 8th century BCE, Celts settled nearby. The two tribes easily conquered the local tribes. Over the course of later centuries, Etruscans, Greeks, and Romans conquered the region and the evidence of their inhabitation is still there. History buffs can explore the many ancient sites, from the city of Massalia (modern-day Marseilles) to the Roman amphitheatres and aqueducts that are scattered around Provence. As Roman power waned, Germanic and Frankish tribes moved in. In the Middle Ages, Provence was ruled by Visigoths, Merovingians, and Carolingians. Provence came under French rule under Louis XI in 1486.
Budget hostel accommodation in Provence can be found in Marseilles, Nice, Avignon, Cannes, and other larger towns. Look for “des Jeunes” or ask for a backpackers hostel. Traditional hostels are rare in many of the small, remote towns; consider a guesthouse or bed and breakfast if you plan on travelling overnight.
Provence is a wine-lovers paradise. There are vineyards with impressive, ancient wine cellars and rich, bold wines. The landscape, with its rolling hills and fertile soil, makes for an outdoor enthusiasts paradise as well. Once you have your hostel accommodation sorted, wander Provence’s mountain trails, prehistoric caves, and remote Alpine villages. Sun-seekers should head for the coast, where the Mediterranean sun bears down on the pristine beaches. The Cannes Film Festival takes place each year in May; interested travellers should make accommodations in advance. With such a rich, vibrant culture, Provence is a region not to be missed! Enjoy!
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Provence hostels. Welcome.