Friday, May 31, 2013

A Skyborne Opera in Aix en Provence

Aix en Provence has been a little quiet on the Capital of Culture front lately, but that all changes this weekend. On  the evening of 1 June, trapeze artists, giant singers (is there any other kind?), drummers and rock groups and an aerial chariot procession will perform a "celestial opera" in the central area around the Cours Mirabeau and La Rotonde. Click here to read more

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Behind the Garden Gate

Each year gardens all across France - many of them private and normally closed to the public - open their gates for the Jardins en France weekend, including 130 gardens and parks in Provence. Click here to read more.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Walk Across The Mediterranean For Fresh Views of Marseille

From this week you can walk across the Mediterranean and view Marseille from a fresh and surprising perspective on the Digue du Large, a seven kilometre / 4.5 mile long breakwater, now open to the public for the first time in years. As a bonus, the Franco-Algerian sculptor Kader Attia has created an installation, Les Terrasses (The Terraces), all along the breakwater: a series of bright white cubes and geometric shapes which you can climb on for yet more viewing points. Click here to read more

Friday, May 24, 2013

The Magnificent Flying Machines of the Patrouille de France

What promises to be a truly amazing air show will mark 60 years of the Patrouille de France - the crack French Air Acrobatic Patrol - on 26 May at the air base of Salon de Provence. Planes will duck and dive in fantastic formations virtually all day long, from 10am to midday and again from 2pm to 6pm with a succession of displays from international patrols as well as French ones. Click here to read more

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Pop-Up Campsite Opens Just Outside Marseille

So they finally made it: a group of young artists, architects and people simply in search of a cheap place to stay have created Marseille's first campsite, which receives its first visitors today. Financed mainly through the crowdfunding site Kiss Kiss Bank Bank and built by volunteers, the site, called Yes We Camp, offers a colourful mix of sleeping options, including tents, yurts, caravans, modular units and cabanons (the Marseille version of "cabins") on stilts as well as spaces for artists-in-residence. Click here to read more

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Mighty Mont Sainte Victoire

The magnificent Mont Sainte Victoire is a real icon of Southern Provence. Paul Cézanne was obsessed with it and painted it dozens of times, but it's also a magnet for hikers, wine-lovers (one of the best appellations of the region is produced here) and anyone in quest of superb, and surprisingly varied scenery. Last weekend we drove right the way round the mighty mountain to see what we could see...  Click here to read more

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Mermen and Rare Mediterranean Plants

We've just had a truly filthy week of weather here in Provence, efficiently scuppering many of the open-air activities that folk round here like to do in the late spring, when the climate is normally at its most delightful. So it's fingers crossed for the Journées des Plantes next weekend, a festival of rare Mediterranean plants at the beautiful Jardins d'Albertas, one of Aix's best-kept secrets. Click here to read more

Thursday, May 16, 2013

A Surrealist By Night

The superb show at the Musee Cantini, Marseille, dedicated to Chilean surrealist Roberto Matta ends this Sunday. And what better opportunity to catch it than the European Night of the Museums the evening before, when many museums, including the Cantini, are open late with special events and reduced-price admission? Click here to read more

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Stunning Route des Crêtes Between Cassis and La Ciotat

Last week we went on a drive through some of the most beautiful scenery in Southern Provence - an area which, as anyone who has been here knows, is not exactly short of stunning views. But the route des Crêtes between Cassis and La Ciotat is one of the choice excursions. If you're around now, hurry, hurry: it's one of the area's worst-kept secrets and gets invaded in summer. But at this time of year, the driving, or (if you like steep hills) cycling is perfect. Click here to read more

Sunday, May 12, 2013

The Best Places to Eat in Aix en Provence

With its wealthy locals, hoards of tourists and international students, Aix en Provence ought to be teeming with brilliant restaurants. Yet finding great - and, more to the point, great-value - restaurants that do justice to the city is surprisingly difficult. I've yet to uncover the 100% perfect venue, which has everything: fine food, lovely location, super atmosphere and the right price. But I've managed to find some spots which come pretty close. Click here to read more

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Driving South to Provence: How to Make the Most of Your Trip

This is not Provence. It's a pit-stop (Apremont sur Allier, one of the "most beautiful villages in France") on our favourite driving itinerary down from Northern Europe through some of the country's top gastronomic and tourist attractions. If you're not in a hurry to get to Provence, a great time is guaranteed en route. Click here to read more

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Let Two Thousand Flowers Bloom...

... at Alterarosa, in the cloisters and Court of Honour of the Palais des Papes, Avignon, a festival dedicated to the queen - or perhaps that should be the papesse - of flowers. It's inaugurated tonight with a dance performance and son et lumière show on the façade of the Palais. Click here to read more

Monday, May 6, 2013

Dancing with... Back-Hoes

Last weekend's fire-and-water spectacular on the Old Port of Marseille was truly a blast. We were invited to a private party on the roof terrace of the Hotel Hermes, with a panoramic view of the whole event :-) Don't worry if you missed it, though: this Friday and Saturday: Provence's month-long street arts festival, La Folle Histoire des Arts de la Rue (The Amazing History of Street Arts), continues this weekend with a bizarre ballet on the Prado beach, Marseille, in which dancers are partnered by farm and industrial machinery. Click here to read more

Sunday, May 5, 2013

A Festival of Guided Walks, Hikes and Rambles Around Aubagne

Surrounded by the Sainte Baume and Garlaban mountains, Aubagne is the starting point for many lovely walks, hikes and rambles offering breathtaking views across its starkly beautiful landscapes peppered with olive trees and Mediterranean oak and perfumed with rosemary, thyme and other wild herbs.

And, each year in early May, the Tourist Office organises a Festival des Randonnées, a (very) long weekend featuring some 30 guided walks through this lovely countryside. including rambles on horseback, night hikes, walks suitable for families and tours with a gastronomic theme. This year the festival  runs from 7-12 May. Click here to read more

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Fire and Water on the Old Port of Marseille

It's a big weekend for Marseille on 3-4 May, when the Old Port will be illuminated by 12,000 candles and visitors can walk over the water on floating pontoons during a thrilling (and, best of all, free) spectacle. Click here to read more