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Trip List by Martine E

Visiting la Province

Nov 23, 2007  inspired by the overwhelming nature of Paris
4.5 of 5 stars based on 6 votes

Parisians describe France as Paris and la Province, literally, everything else outside the capital. France is much more than Paris - here are 10 other places that don't have the Eiffel Tower.

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: Aix-en-Provence, Luberon, Arles, Les Baux de Provence, Marseille, Avignon, Cassis, Caen, Strasbourg, Lyon
  • Category: Recent trip
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Active/Outdoors, Never been before, Repeat visitors, Beachgoers
  • Appeals to: Business travelers, Couples/romantics, Honeymooners, Singles, Families with small children, Families with teenagers, Large groups, Seniors, Students, Budget travelers, Active/adventure, Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Aix-en-Provence
    Aix-en-Provence, Bouches-du-Rhone

    Thriving student town meant to be conquered on foot. Elegant architecture, excellent crepes, friendly people. Home of painter Paul Cezanne. Boasts over 300 days of sunshine a year. Excellent day trip/base in Provence. TGV station 20 minutes away, has shuttles to transport travelers into town.

  • 2. Luberon
    Luberon, Vaucluse

    Considered the "real" Provence. Tiny towns, bus loads of tourists, but still retain their adorable, breathtaking atmosphere. Towns include L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, home of the biggest outdoor market outside of Paris (on Sundays), Roussillon, famous for its red ocre cliffs (Le Sentier des Ocres), and Gordes, a sweet cream-colored town with a nearby monastery. Three towns can be conquered in one day's worth of time. NOT accessible by train - rent a car or use a tour instead.

  • 3. Arles
    Arles, Bouches-du-Rhone

    Doubles as French inspiration for Van Gogh and home to one of two still-standing Roman arenas in France (the other is in Nimes). Also has amphitheater. Four themed walking tours available. Gateway to the Camargue. Accessible by local trains.

  • 4. Les Baux
    Les Baux de Provence, Bouches-du-Rhone

    What did you do today? "I went to an audio-visual art show in a cathedral that used to by a quarry, then I climbed the tours of castle ruins even though a sign told me not to in six different languages." You'll be able to say that after visiting Les Baux de Provence.

  • 5. Marseille
    Marseille, Bouches-du-Rhone

    Second biggest city in France. Hustle and bustle of New York meets sunshine and sea of Southern France. Chateau d'If (prison featured in Dumas's Count of Monte Cristo) accessible by boat from the Vieux Port. City topped by Notre Dame de la Garde, a fine example of Romanesque/Byzantine architecture. Try the coucous. Accessible by train (Marseille St. Charles station).

  • 6. Avignon
    Avignon, Vaucluse

    Guilty of luring the papacy away from Rome with its pure beauty. Palais des Papes = bigger than you could ever imagine. Accessible by train with Avignon TGV station a few minutes outside of town. Shuttles available.

  • 7. Cassis
    Cassis, French Riviera - Cote d'Azur

    Nearest beach from Aix. Sorry folks, no sand here. Strictly pebbles. If possible, tour the calanques (French version of fjords). Accessible by train.

  • 8. Caen
    Caen, Calvados, Basse-Normandie

    First city on the list NOT in the South of France. A little piece of pleasant Normandy. Sites include castle of William the Conqueror and two abbeys. Accessible by local trains.

  • 9. Strasbourg
    Strasbourg, Bas-Rhin

    Germanese spoken here. Notre Dame de Strasbourg made famous by its giant...rather bizarre looking clock. Thanks to the new TGV Est line, distance between here and Paris: 2:20.

  • 10. Lyon
    Lyon, Rhone

    Third largest city in France. Accessible by train (Part Dieu or Perrache stations). Has tower that resembles a brown pencil. Not as dull as it sounds, really.