Bouches-du-Rhone is a department in the south of France (Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur region) named after the mouth of the Rhône River.
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The department is part of the current region of Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur.
It is surrounded by the departments of Gard on the west, Vaucluse on the north, and Var on the east, and by the Mediterranean Sea on the south.
It has a large range of landscapes from the creeks massif (Calanques) with turquoise water, mountains, plains (Camargue) and the sea with its sandy beaches. The countryside dazzles with colour from golden fields of rapeseed and sunflowers, intense lavender, and bright poppies.
The rivers crossing this department are: Rhone, Rhone delta (Camargue), Durance, Arc and Huveaune.
The important lakes are Etang de Berre and Etang de Vaccares.
Between the main cities are: Marseille, Salon de Provence, Aix-en-Provence, Arles, Cassis, Fos-sur-Mer and Istres.
Bouches-du-Rhone enjoys the beautiful climate of the Mediterranean coast with over 300 sunny days per year. It’s renowned for its mild climate and sunshine. Overall the summers are hot, the winters are sunny, and the mid-seasons are mild. The winters are colder away from the coast. There may be days of strong Mistral winds between October and April. However, the Mistral sweeps away clouds and haze to create clear, brilliant blue skies and beautiful starry nights.
Marseille is a city apart from the rest of Provence. Founded in 600 b.c. by the Greek sailors of Phocaea, this great city is the oldest in France and surely the most complex. Its port is the most important and opens the city to the world through the Mediterranean Sea. Today Marseilles remains a capitol of southern Europe, cosmopolitan and exuberant, with its picturesque old port, its Bouillabaisse (fish dish) and its folklore. To discover its unique character and beauty there are several places not to be missed as the old town “Panier” and port, the cliff road high above the sea, the wild inlets plunging into the deep blue water for 20 km. to Cassis- popular touristic destination. Each district (quartier) is a little Provencal village of its own with a church, a playing area for the game of Boules and the obligatory plane trees.
In Provence called “Pays de la lavende” (lavender country) there are several beautiful towns and villages :
In Arles the typical Feria or bull runs attracts visitors from both far and near. It is encircled by an environment of exceptional beauty: the banks of the Rhone river, the arid plains of Crau, the Alpilles and the untamed land of Camargue. The main sights to visit are The Roman theater, amphitheater, church of St. Trophime and the thermae of Constantine. There are also 3 museums including Musee du Riz (rice museum). Its beauty has attracted many artists. Vincent van Gogh spent much of his life in Arles, painting many scenes in the area.
Aix-en Provence sits in the heart of the Provence countryside near the river Arc. In the middle ages it was actually the capital of the region and became an artistic centre and a seat of learning. A tour of Aix en Provence is a chance to travel in time. Its architectural and cultural heritage is accessible to everyone, treasures that you will discover simply by walking around the town. The “must” to se are: 5 museums, St Sauver cathedral- church with a mixture of different architectural styles, Pavillon Vendome- 17th Century country residence with painting and old furniture, town tour and Atelier Cezanne.
Cassis is a popular tourist destination, famous for its high white cliffs. A walk through the old village streets will reveal some nice old buildings, some dating back to the 16th century, and some restored with the colourful pastels of Provence. However, the prettiest part of Cassis is the harbour dominated by the fine castle Chateaux de la Maison des Baux.
Each summer the International Festival of Lyric Arts and Music unites acclaimed prima donnas and maestros in a fabulous selection of singing and music. The Dance Festival is also world reputed. There are also International Opera Festival featuring celebrity opera and classical music during the last three weeks of July ,”Semaine des Spectacles”- show week, Antique Book Market, “Les nuits Pianistigues Festival” – 3 months of classical music concerts, “La Roque d’Antheron” –piano festival or for the gourmets Oil and Truffle Fair.
The Calanques- creeks 20 km. long and 4 km. wide, stretches from Marseille to Cassis forming extraordinary wild coastline of 4000h. Inlets of steep sided dramatic rocky cliffs some rising to an impressive 400 m. above sea level, the Calanques can be seen by boat or by walking along any of the160 km. of well marked paths.
Camargue a natural protected park of 85,000ha, situated on the left of the department just under Arles. It’s the meeting place of the Rhône and the Mediterranean. Camargue is composed of vast plains of wetlands, ponds and rice paddies. The Camargue is home to more than 400 species of birds including the greater pink flamingo. It is also famous for bulls which run in semi-liberty and the wild white horses. There are 10 000 hectares of salt flats as the culture of salt in the Camargue dates back to Roman times.
After visiting there is a large range of sport activities in this department: 11 golf courses (including 3 in Marseille), horse riding, swimming, yachting, hiking, canoeing-kayaking, mountain biking or for the youngest one there is a theme park Ok Corral.
Local produce are featured ingredients in the cuisine of the Bouches du Rhone region.
Between the products definitely to try in the department is the olive oil Les Baux, sea salt from the Camargue, soup based on local basil, melons and strawberries from Cavaillon market and calisson –sweet based on honey. While in Marseille is a “must” to try bouillabaisse and garlic fish soup.
Provencal rose prevails in regional wine production and is a perfect accompaniment to the cuisine and climate of the region. In addition, there are some high quality reds and good fruity whites. The Bouches du Rhône offers 4 AOC: Côtes de Provence, Côteaux d’Aix, Palette, and Cassis. Not forgetting the famous anis-flavored Pastis.
Tourism office in Bouches du Rhone
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.
Our team of sale advisers at Sextant Properties will be happy to help you to find a property in Bouches du Rhone. We have a large network of estate agents in Bouches du Rhone. All of them are registered French estate agents and speak both French and English. Whatever kind of property you are looking for: farmhouse, longere, barn, gite, B&B, country house, mill, castle or chateau, we will do our best to find a property in Bouches du Rhone matching your requirements.