Southern France: History, Art, Culture

Lavender fields in Provence
Lavender fields in Provence

Southern France is often a place that is overlooked for travel. After all, it doesn’t have the glamour of Paris. But this area should not be missed in terms of Art, Food and Wine, History and Religion. This post will highlight five areas to consider for travel in Southern France.


Avignon Palace of the Popes Vaucluse France
Avignon Palace of the Popes Vaucluse France

In 1305, Pope Clement V moved the Papacy from Rome to southern France due to the political unrest in Rome. One of the largest structures in this region, it was built in just twenty years, partly under Pope Clement and the rest under Pope Benedict XII. 

The movement of the Papacy was criticised as being overly influenced by the French Monarchy. The Papacy only remained here under six Popes before returning to Rome in the late 1300’s.

As many as 650,000 people visit the palace year. It is open to the public and the admission price is 12 Euro’s per person. 

Another famous landmark in Avignon is the Pont Saint-Bénézet, or the Bridge of Avignon. Built about the same time as the Palace, it spans the Rhône River and is part of the main connection between France and Italy at that time. 


Arles, France

After he left Paris, Vincent Van Gogh moved to Arles in 1888 and it was here where he painted some of his best known paitings. Paul Gauguin, a well-known French Impressionist lived for a short time with Van Gogh here. 

Arles also has historical significance as a religious center in the late Roman Empire, and the center of Christianity if that region when it was known as Gaul.


Carcassone Fortress UNESCO Site
Carcassone Fortress UNESCO Site

The area of Carcassone shows that it has been inhabited since 3500 BCE. Its location in the southwestern area of France is also at the point where the land between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic Ocean is at its narrowest. From about the sixth century BCE until the sixth century AD, the area was under the control of the Romans. Given its location, this region was constantly under conflict as different groups tried to take control because of its strategic location. 


Nice France Beach Promenade
Nice France Beach Promenade

Nice is well known as a vacation spot on the French Riviera, and its famous Promenade des Anglais.

For sports enthusiasts, its close proximity to Monte Carlo also makes it a favorite spot to enjoy the Grand Prix of Monaco. 

From an artistic perspective, Nice is famous as the home of both Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall. 


Simiane-la-Rotonde, hilltop village in Provence with lavender fields, France.
Simiane-la-Rotonde, hilltop village in Provence with lavender fields, France.

Really more a region than a specific place, Provence is the entire southeastern corner of France. 

The largest city of this region is Marseille, which has been going through a major overhaul in recent years. The area is famous for its food, wine, its famous lavendar fields and as the home of French artist Paul Cezanne. 

Getting To Southern France

There are several ways to visit this region. From Paris, you can take high-speed trains to reach many of these areas. 

Many of these regions can also be reached on either a river cruise or a motor coach tour.

Ready to go?

Whether you want to visit this region on your own, on a river cruise, Mediterranean cruise, or on a tour, I am here to help. Just schedule a call and we can work out the best way for you to visit this region.



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