Provence

Nowhere else in France, a country of contrasts, can one find a greater diversity than in Provence, in the virtual triangle of the Alps, Mediterranean and Rhone Valley; from the mountain slopes of Haute Provence to the fenland of the Camargue, and from the "Grand Canyon" of the Gorges du Verdon to the fertile plains of the Rhone. Cézanne and Van Gogh captured its essence on canvas, but the Greeks and Romans created much of their subject matter. The Greeks introduced the ubiquitous vine, the Romans fruit trees- and advanced infrastructure of villa, forum, amphitheater and aqueduct, much of it in working order, as visitors to Nîmes, Arles and the Pont du Gard can vouch. In more recent times, cities such as Avignon with it's Pope's palace and Aix en Provence with its fountains and leafy boulevards have become the great cultural centers of the area, whilst the bustling port city of Marseille is the commercial capital. They enjoy a hinterland of sun baked mountain scenery, interspaced with vineyards and fields of lavender, notably in the much prized Lubéron, contrasting with the great marsh delta of the Camargue, at the mouth of the Rhone, with its dashing white horses and black fighting bulls.