April, Festival of the Provence tambourine (Aix-en-Provence)
The month of April brings the festival of the Provence tambourine. It is organized by the Li Venturie association. Don't miss an opportunity to watch and experience a great regional gathering of "tambourinaires"- the tambourine players. The town gets eventful with drumming contests, concerts, a tambourine forum and public serenades.
21st June, Fete de la Musique (nationwide)
Day and night, free music will take over streets, cafes, music venues, historic sites, gardens, parks and churches all over France.
June, Musique dans la Rue (Aix-en-Provence)
The event of Musique dans la Rue is organized in June when the national 'Fete de la Musique' is celebrated throughout the region. The festival week offers plenty of classical, jazz and popular concerts that are organized at the different street venues and courtyards in all over the city.
14th July, Bastille Day (nationwide)
Also called the Fete Nationale. This public holiday commemorates the day that Parisian commoners and peasants stormed the fortress and prison of Bastille, provoking events that would end the monarchy and usher in the age of liberty, fraternity and equality. In Paris, there's a traditional military parade along the Champs Elysees and a festival atmosphere throughout the day, finishing with the city night-sky turned bright by magnificent and noisy fireworks shows. In smaller cities and villages throughout France, you'll find parades, street fairs, live music, fireworks, bals (dances) and much more.
July, Festival International d'Art Lyrique (Aix-en-Provence)
An annual international music festival which takes place each summer in Aix-en-Provence, principally in the month of July. Devoted mainly to opera, it also includes concerts of orchestral, chamber, vocal and solo instrumental music.
Festival of French Song (Aix-en-Provence)
This fantastic annual festival of French song offers a platform for a large number of upcoming singers. The festival has credited itself for the discovery of several singing stars. The shows of established French artists and upcoming talents are organized at numerous venues across the city.
December, New Oil and Truffle Fair (Aix-en-Provence)
This fair is organised in December of every year to make your Christmas more memorable. The seasonal fair in the Place Jeanne d'Arc offers quality virgin oil and Truffles. The flavour of truffle sold here is really second to none.
Santons Fair (Aix-en-Provence)
Santons fair is an annual event that offers the traditional clay nativity figurines of Aix-en-Provence. The Provence has become the centre for this craftsmanship where number of Santonniers can be found in and around the Aix town. These delicately carved and painted clay santon figurines appear in the churches throughout the Aix.
Places to see in and around Aix-en-Provence:
Aix-en-Provence, once the capital of Provence, is today a delightful blend of old and new. This beautiful provencal village is not only the birthplace of the astrologer Norstradamus but the site of the Roman village of Glanum, an important crossroads during the Roman occupation of Gaul from the 1st century BC to the 5th century AD. The celebrated Cours Mirabeau, flanked with intertwining plane trees, is the town's nerve center, a graceful, lively avenue with the feel of a toned-down Champs Elysées. South of Cours Mirabeau, the streets are straight and rationally planned, flanked with symmetrical mansions imbued with classical elegance. Sites to see include the sumptuous Hotel Boyer d'Eguilles, erected in 1675, best known now as the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle. Along the ancient rue Aude can be found the Hotel de Ville, with its 17th century iron gates and balcony, and 16th century belfry alongside. Finally, the Archbishop's Palace is home to the Musée des Tapisseries. Its highlight is a magnificent suite of 17 tapestries from the 17th and 18th centuries. Nine woven panels illustrate the adventures of Don Quixote.
St Remy de Provence
The Provencal village of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, 20 km south of Avignon, is most famous for its impressively preserved Roman ruins, but behind its ancient façade lies a lively town full of character. The magnificent Triumphant Arch of Glanum is the town's most dramatic attraction - the oldest Roman arch of the narbonensis region - and the ruins of its 14th century defensive walls still encircle the ancient Gallo-Roman center, with the original portes still used as gateways to the center. The Nostradamus fountain, in honor of its namesake who was born in the town, is another popular sight, as is the elegant 16th century Mairie (Town Hall). The town also possesses a more unusual claim to fame - the town's Monastery de Mausole housed Van Gogh during his period of psychiatric treatment prior to his untimely death and was where he painted his late masterpieces Starry Night and Self-Portrait. Travelers looking to escape the bustle of Aix-de-Provence, Avignon and Arles, will find Saint-Rémy-de-Provence a tranquil base for exploring the region and despite its diminutive size, the strategically located town has plenty to offer visitors. A cluster of hotels, restaurants and shops line the town center, which is easily traversed on foot, and the Wednesday markets transform the sleepy village into a hive of activity.
Les Gorges du Verdon
With its incredible gorges, canyons, rivers and emerald green lakes, this remarkable picturesque area is situated on the cross roads of the Var and the Alpes of the Hautes Provence. Just 90 minutes from Aix.
Housed within colossal defensive walls, Avignon is a warren of medieval alleyways and with the colossal Palais des Papes at its heart where seven exiled Popes stayed between 1309 and 1377 after felling Rome. Avignon's most famous landmark is the Pont St. Benezet, also known as the Pont d'Avignon in the children's nursery rhyme.
Pont du Gard
The Pont du Gard, a Unesco World Heritage site, is an exceptionally weel-preserved, three-tiered Roman aqueduct that was once part of a 50km-long system of canals built around 19 BC by Agrippa, Augustus' powerful deputy and son-in-law, to bring water from the Eure Springs in Uzès, 25km north-west, to Nîmes. The scale is huge: the 35 arches of the 275m-long upper tier, running 50m above the River Gard, contain a 1.2m by 1.75m watercourse that, for a century and a half, carried 35,000 cubic metres of water a day. The Romans took 15 years to build the aqueduct, which remained in use until the 3rd century. From giant car parks either side of the River Gard, you can walk along the road bridge, built in 1743 and running parallel with the aqueduct's lower tier. The best view of the Pont du Gard is from upstream, beside the river, where you can swim on hot days. The aqueduct is illuminated from 40 minutes or so after dusk until midnight nightly in July and August, and on Fridays and Saturdays in June and September.
Practical information for your provence villa holiday
GMT +1 hour
The official currency is the Euro (€). Coins are available in 1 cent, 2 cent, 5 cent, 10 cent, 20 cent, 50, cent , €1 & €2 denominations. Notes are available in €5, €10, €20, €50, €100, €200, €500 denominations.
Travellers cheques are widely accepted for exchange or purchase in major cities, but in more rural areas, visit a bank to exchange them for Euros. Major credit cards are widely accepted here (though a limited number of merchants have American Express accounts) and ATM access is widespread. Exchange currency only at authorized outlets such as banks and hotels, and exchange only what you think you will spend in-country. Coins cannot be reconverted on departure. Save all receipts from any currency exchange transaction. You may be asked to produce them when you exit the country, and they are required if you intend to reconvert local currency.
Tipping in provence
Tips in restaurants are usually added on at 10/15 % of the bill. However, it is often a subject of controversy whether this amount actually goes to the waiter or not, therefore it is your choice whether to tip more.
Arrival & Departure Formalities
Travel documents are your responsibility. In general you should have:
- A signed, valid passport that will remain valid for at least 6 months beyond the completion of your trip. Your passport must have enough blank pages (excluding amendment pages) available for entry and exit stamps issued when entering and exiting immigration points.
- Visas are required for certain nationalities and you are strongly advised to check your status allowing plenty of time for visa application.
Weather in provence
Provence is considered a dry temperate region with an average 300 warm and sunny days a year and rain falling on a maximum of about 90. Average rainfall in spring and autumn is low. December and January are the wettest months. With temperatures about 28°C during the summer months those long hot summer days can last late into the evening. The warm and sunny spring and autumn have an average temperature of 24°C. The average temperature of the dry sunny mild winter months are around 14°C with February the coldest month at 12°C. Temperatures are slightly lower near the coast due to the sea breezes. During the summer months, this makes the high temperatures more bearable.
It is advisable to contact your doctor before you travel if you have any specific health concerns and take out appropriate travel and medical insurance.
Electricity supply in provence
Electrical service in France is supplied at 220-240 volts/50 hertz.
Driving in france
- Traffic from the RIGHT has right of way, except at roundabouts or if the road has a white line across it.
- Passport or national ID as well as driver's license/insurance papers/ownership papers must be carried all the time.
- National speed limit is 50kmh (31mph) in towns, 90kmh (56mph) on secondary non-urban highways, 110kmh (68mph) on dual carriageways, 130kmh (80mph) on motorways (auto route).
- Speeding fines: 30 - 300 Euros.
- Minimum driving age is 18.
- For use of the highways (auto route) it is invariably necessary to pay a toll before access. Payment can be made by coins or by credit card.
- There are strict laws concerning drinking and driving. Blood alcohol levels must not exceed 0.05%. There are random breathalyser tests carried out regularly by the police.
- An international driving licence is not required for European citizens. Your locally issued driving licence, as long as it is accompanied by the passport, will suffice.