Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On the Rails in Central Var

The Tourist Train of Central Var plies along the 24 km (14 mile) rail line between Carnoules and Brignoles, rolling leafy landscapes snuggled in between Paul Cézanne's beloved Mont Sainte Victoire and the Gorges du Verdon. Click here to read more.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Aubagne: the Quintessential Town of Southern Provence.

Twenty minutes from Marseille, 30 minutes from Aix and 40 minutes from Toulon, Aubagne sums up the essence of Provence. With a historic hillside old town, it's the centre of ceramicists and santonniers (santon-makers), is the birthplace of Marcel Pagnol, and is set in a stunning, typically southern provençal landscape. It even has a pastis distillery. And did we mention the Foreign Legion? Click here to read more.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Touring Provence With The Queen Of The Road

Large, sparsely populated and cross-hatched with picturesque backroads where you can cruise for miles without seeing a car or village, France is a mecca for two-wheeled tourists, and a cycling holiday is an ideal way to explore Provence while enjoying superb food and drink.

Not only does the country boast the major event in the international cycling calender, the Tour de France, but you will everywhere see teams of keen local amateurs puffing along on their vélos (bikes) in neon-coloured lycra livery. But touring Provence by bicycle need not be a similarly sweaty ordeal. Cyclists are treated with respect and not for nothing is the French nickname for a bike la petite reine: the queen of the road. Click here to read more.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Haven of Calm off Marseille's Old Port

Near Saint Victor Abbey and a couple of blocks back from the Old Port, Les Chambres de L'Abbaye is on the rue du petit Chantier ("little building site"), a steep side-street that lives up to its name. It's yet another of those lovely Marseille B&Bs which conceal immaculate accommodation behind a scruffy façade. Click here to read more.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Le Café des Epices, Marseille: Fine Dining Amid Giant Flowerpots

The concept behind Le Café des Epices couldn't be simpler: high-quality, imaginative food at affordable prices right in the centre of town. And the Marseillais, who don't much like pretension, certainly appreciate it. Since opening in 2003, this tiny restaurant has been in the vanguard of the city's bistronomic revolution. Click here to read more.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Marseille's Best-Kept Secret: The Western Calanques

The western calanques are Marseille's best-kept secret. They may not be as dramatic or as well known as those to the south. But they are easily accessible by train via some of the loveliest scenery in France. They are not sterile national parks but are lived in by vibrant local communities. And they won't be over-run with foreign tourists. Click here to read more.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Back to the Future on Marseille's Old Port

The Hotel La Résidence du Vieux Port seems a mite pricey for a three-star hotel, but it's worth it for two reasons: a magnificent location in the expensive heart of Marseille and its very snazzy neo-1950s interior design. Click here to read more.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Marseille's Newest Museum: The Mémorial de la Marseillaise

These nice chaps in revolutionary caps were on Marseille's Old Port this weekend to ferry visitors up the hill towards the city's brand-new museum, the Mémorial de la Marseillaise, a patriotic celebration of France's national anthem. So we thought we'd hitch a ride in one of their cycle-taxis and see if the museum is of any interest at all to foreigners or royalists..... Click here to read more.