- Countryside Scenes from Cézanne
- Country life Pétanque and pastis
The south-west area of Provence is a land of light and colour, where the languid river Rhône winds its way through fruit orchards and fields of lavender before melting into the watery maze of the Camargue.
The wild dunes and marshes of the Med coast are the domain of cowboys, white horses and neon-pink flamingos. Inland, Arles, and its laidback neighbour Nîmes in Languedoc-Rousillon, are a beguiling blend of Roman amphitheatres, Provençal cuisine, café culture and sun-dappled boulevards. From the dramatic clifftop village of Les Baux, set among the olive groves, vines and craggy uplands of the Alpilles, you can look out across a land of Van Gogh, sunflowers and starry, starry nights.
Do go/Don’t go
Spring and autumn are perfect: the weather is warm and there are fewer crowds. May is a riot of flowers, and September sees the grape harvest.
- Planes Access the region from Nîmes | to the west in neighbouring Languedoc-Roussillon | or Marseille. From the UK | Ryanair flies to Nîmes from Liverpool and Luton (www.ryanair.com); or travel to Marseille from Gatwick with EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) or British Airways (www.ba.com). As of Summer 2011, CityJet (www.cityjet.com) will offer flights from London City airport to Avignon.
- Trains From the UK, put your car on the Autotrain at Paris, catch a separate train and be reunited in Avignon (0844 848 4050). Or take the Eurostar – probably the most civilised option – and change at Paris for Avignon or Aix (www.eurostar.com). Trains from Paris Gare de Lyon to Avignon take around three hours (www.tgv.com).
- Automobiles Avis (www.avis.com) and others do car hire from Avignon TGV station, as well as Nîmes and Grenoble airports. The A7 is the main artery from the north.
- Taxis There are taxi ranks in the main towns, railway stations and airports. Prices are cheaper than on the Côte d’Azur, but there may be a charge for luggage. Your hotel should be able to arrange transfers by cab.