Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur , commonly called PACA, is located in south-eastern France. It is bounded to the east by the Italian border, to the south by the Mediterranean Sea, to the north by Rhone-Alpes , and to the west by Languedoc-Roussillon , with the Rhône river marking its westernmost border.
The PACA region consists of 6 départements: the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (département 04), the Alpes-Maritimes (département 06), the Bouches-du-Rhône (département 13), the Hautes-Alpes (département 05), the Var (département 83) and the Vaucluse (département 84).
With its population of 4.66 million and surface area of 31,400 km², the PACA region is France’s third largest region.
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The Mediterranean coast, the countryside of Provence, towns filled with art and history, the Southern Alps and the large areas of natural beauty, all go to make up the many sides of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region. It is an area of outstanding cultural interest, with its sites of historic and religious interest, its museums, parks, gardens, its fortified towns and castles. It is also loved for its fantastic art of living, its gastronomy and restaurants, its vineyards and its traditions which are still very much alive.
Turquoise or deep blue waters, breathtakingly steep cliffs or sandy beaches, small picturesque ports or seaside resorts, you just need to come and take in the sunshine and sea air to understand why the French Riviera is so famous throughout the world.
Dominated by a 16th century fort, this small picturesque fishing port, loved by painters, suddenly became one of the most fashionable resorts thanks to Brigitte Bardot.
As summer approaches, the white of luxury yachts contrasts with the ochre of the house fronts and the deep blue of the sea to give a picture which vacationers can enjoy from the terraces of its many cafés. Outside the port area, the narrow streets flanked by old houses have kept their quiet charm of old.
Their conservation area is a unique monument of nature. This limestone massif bordering the sea extends over 20 km with a width of 4 km and is shared by the districts of Marseille and Cassis. Its cliffs, sometimes 400 m high, fall steeply into the blue-green waters of the Mediterranean.
It is cut by about twenty creeks beloved to amateur yachtsmen: Goudes, Callelongue, Sourmiou (the widest), Morgiou, Sugiton, Devension (with the highest cliffs), Oule, En-Vau (the wildest), Port-Pin and Port-Miou (the furthest inland).
The flora and fauna of the Calanques massif are remarkable and well protected. The Bonelli eagle and the pilgrim falcon nest there.
Determined walkers can discover them by taking the 25 km long path which follows the coast. Those with weaker legs and a more contemplative soul can opt for a boat ride to admire the harsh mineral beauty or this massif.
The Golden Islands
It was in the 16th century that the islands of Porquerolles and Port-Cros were named ” Golden Islands” (Les Iles d’Or) by Henri II. François I built fortresses on them. They do offer a foretaste of paradise. Because of their great diversity of fauna and flora, the Porquerolles, Port-Cros and Levant islands are a favourite hunting ground for botanists and nature lovers. A dream archipelago, 31 km long, with steep cliffs, fine sand beaches and pine and eucalyptus forests, it is a lovely example of a protected universe.
Charming, sunbathed countryside rich in tradition and history… Turn off a road and discover fields of lavender or olive groves, vineyards or orchards, bucolic or awe-inspiring landscapes. In the picturesque villages, you will certainly appreciate the shade of the plane trees and the song of the cicadas…
The “Gorges du Verdon”
Due to the upheaval of the Alps, the gorges can reach a depth of 700 m. “The sublime cornice” overlooks the left bank of the Verdon and offers superb views of the river. You will find Panoramic and remarkable viewpoints from the foot of the Rougon village, the Escalès ridge and cliffs, the Saint-Croix Lake, the Galetas and the Samson corridor. Starting from La Palud village, the Crêtes road loops both banks of the canyon. The trip takes from 2 to 3 hours by car.
Martel, founder of modern speleology, explored the Verdon Grand Canyon ( 21 km long) for the first time in 1905. For him it was “the greatest marvel in Europe”. A walking path going down to the foot of the gorges has been named after him. The Verdon sites have become a paradise for hikers, climbers and lovers of water sports.
Les “Baux de Provence”
Listed as one of the “Most beautiful villages in France” and as a historical monument, one of the most popular places in France, this site reveals the principal vestiges of the village’s past: old castle, dungeon, Sarrazine and Paravelle towers, castle chapel. It is simply an exceptional panorama of the entire region.
The Southern Alps and upper Provence
From Giono country to the highest peaks of Les Ecrins, these mountain regions are packed with magnificent natural sites. They have retained their authenticity and living traditions. Discover a host of nature activities in summer, a delightful Alpine landscape, or snow and sunshine in winter in resorts for every taste.
Moustiers Sainte Marie
Exceptional site looking down onto the emerald green lake of Sainte-Croix. Narrow streets and old houses are built by the side of the mountain from which the Rioul stream gushes out. Made famous for its pottery in the 17th century, the town has perpetuated its vocation for craftsmanship. Ex-voto of the knight Blacas on his return from cruisades, a star suspended by a 226 m chain between two enormous rocks hangs above a superb monastry founded by monks from the Iles de Lérins in the 5th century. This village attracts many tourists and is listed as one of the “Most beautiful villages in France” and a “Village of character”.
A combination of commitment and a perfect location has helped Vars really come to terms with the new breed of snow sports: starting in 1986 with the creation of huge skiable area known as the Forêt Blanche (shared between Vars and Risoul and the 2nd largest in the Southern Alps), the resort has embraced speed skiing and all of today’s burgeoning new snow sports.
But Vars has not forgotten its history or its roots. Many people here still farm the land and the mountains are home to many herds of sheep even today.
Vars is also an “archipelago” of tiny hamlets, like Sainte-Marie and Sainte-Catherine, but the heart of the “modern” resort is still Les Claux.
The “ Forêt Blanche” (literally “ White Forest”) area offers 180 km of slopes between 1650 and 2750 m, served by 55 ski lifts. Some 160 hectares are covered by snow canons. There are three slalom stadiums, Airspace snowboarding and a varied off-piste area: 4 slopes have ski lifts and offer descents.
The Forêt Blanche is well-named, with trees extending right up to 2200 m.
If you are into Cross-country and Nordic skiing, The 25 km of “France Ski de Fond” cross-country slopes take skiers through the larch forests that line the Lac du Refuge Napoleon and towards the pass. There is a learner’s loop and 20 km of Nordic routes.
At about fifty kilometers to the South of Briançon, lies the beautiful Serre-Ponçon lake overlooked by high peaks rising to more than 2000 m. Its area is equal to that of the lake of Annecy (3000 hectares). Its dam is impressive.
From its creation in 1960, its boating equipment has opened this area of the Upper Alps to summer tourism. This is an important center of summer activities where water sports are practised. It is one of the rare mountain lakes to have the official title of “Station Voile” (sailing resort).
Tourism office in Provence Alpes Cote d’azur:
Travel from the UK
By air: British Airways flies to Montpellier and Nice
Ryanair flies to Marseille, Toulon and Nice
Easyjet flies to Marseille and Nice
By rail: TGVs from Paris to Marseille and Aix-en-Provence.www.sncf.com
Our team of sale advisers at Sextant Properties will be happy to help you to find a property in Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur. We have a large network of partners in Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur. All of them are registered French real estate agents and speak both French and English. Whatever kind of property you are looking for: villa, appartment, country house, mill, castle or chateau, we will do our best to find a property in Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur matching your requirements.