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Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

Travel Guide Europe France Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur

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Introduction

Old Town Nice

Old Town Nice

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Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur (or PACA) is one of 27 regions in France. It includes the former French province of Provence, the Comté of Nice (acquired in 1860 from the Kingdom of Piedmont Sardinia), the former papal state of Comtat Venaissin, and the South-East part of the province of Dauphiné in the Alps. The region is a major tourist area in France. It is pretty crowded during the summer months on the coast.

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Geography

Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur consists of 6 departments:

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Cities

The region's largest cities are:

Other towns include Antibes, Arles, Aubagne, Brignoles, Draguignan, Fréjus, Grasse, Hyères, La Seyne-sur-Mer, Le Cannet, Mandelieu-la-Napoule, Menton, Mougins, Martigues, Villeneuve-Loubet, Saint Tropez, Manosque, Orange and, in the Alps, Gap, Sisteron, Digne, Briançon

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Events and Festivals

  • The Festival de Cannes, better known as the Film festival of Cannes, is one of the oldest and most prestigious film festivals anywhere in the world. The private festival is held annually (usually in May) at the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, in the resort town of Cannes, in the south of France. The first festival started in 1930 and in 2012, the 65th edition will be a fact. Every year, a lot of celebrities are getting to Cannes to attend the event, thus making it the place to be during that period.
  • The Chorégies d'Orange are an opera and classical music festival. It takes place every summer in the ancient theater of Orange.
  • The Festival d'Avignon is the largest event of theater and performing arts in France. The festival takes place every summer in July in the courtyard of the Palace of the Popes in Avignon and in multiple theaters and places of the historical center.
  • The Festival international d’art lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence is a festival of opera and classical music that takes place each summer in Aix-en-Provence. This is one of the great European opera festivals, with performances outdoors.
  • Nice Carnival (13 Feb 2015 - 01 Feb 2016) - February/March: After Rio in Brazil, the Nice Carnival is arguably the largest and most colourful in the world, with amazing floats and animations sweeping through the seaside city. It’s an intoxicating scene, drawing crowds of more than one million people who line the streets to catch a glimpse of the giant puppets who appear to dance in the sky overhead. Address: Nice, Phone: +33(0).892.707.407
  • La fête du citron de Menton (13 Feb 2016 - 02 Mar 2016) - La fête du Citron (Lemon festival) is happening every year during the last 2 weeks of February in Menton. Menton is well known for its local production of lemons. This event has been happening for decades. During the festival, visitors can discover giant structures made of citrus and attend the parade. It is also the opportunity to discover local crafts.

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Weather

The weather is usually pretty nice and convenient in the south of France. On the seaside, during winter, the temperature ranges from 10 to 20 °C and during summer, it can get up to 35 °C. Then the region extends up to the Alps where the temperatures are colder during the winter period. You can even get some snow there.

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Getting There

By Plane

Marseille and Nice are the main gateway, located in the west and east of the region respectively. Avignon is a good choice for some flights and has many budget airlines serving the region.

By Train

The region is very well linked to the rest of the country thanks to its extensive train network. The main stations are Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, Toulon, Cannes and Nice. The main interregional trains are the TGV (train a grande vitesse), train Teoz, Corail and Lunea (night trains). Please note that the TGV trains here do not run at their high speed because of inappropriate rails: the high speed TGV line only links Marseille to Aix-en-Provence TGV and then Avignon and Lyon further to the north. The TGV trains that do run between Marseille and Nice only present the advantage of not stopping at all the minor cities and towns, and are therefore slightly quicker.

People under 25 will be able to get a "12-25" price without a railcard. Various railcards are available, but you usually need to be a French resident to get one. For more information on prices, please go to the SNCF website.

By Car

It takes approximately 8 to 10 hours by car to reach the region from Paris through the A6 highway (known as the Sun Highway, "Autoroute du Soleil"). From Lyon, it is closer, 3 hours to reach Marseille and 5 hours to Nice.

By Bus

Eurolines operates a number of lines in the region. The main departing station is Toulon. Popular destinations include Barcelona, Amsterdam and various cities in Germany and Italy. All information about Eurolines' French connections and coaches can be found here

By Boat

Boats depart from Marseille and Toulon. Destinations include Corsica (companies: SNCM and Corsica Ferries) and various Italian and Spanish harbours.

For more information about departures from Marseille, please visit the official website of the harbour.

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Getting Around

By Train

There are several trains a day linking the smaller cities and towns like for example Cassis, Villefranche and Carnoule. Please note that the TGV trains here do not run at their high speed because of inappropriate rails: the high speed TGV line only links Marseille to Aix-en-Provence TGV and then Avignon and Lyon further to the north. The TGV trains that do run between Marseille and Nice only present the advantage of not stopping at all the minor cities and towns, and are therefore slightly quicker. If you are on a budget, the TER (train express regional) is the cheapest way to get around.

People under 25 will be able to get a "12-25" price without a railcard. Various railcards are available, but you usually need to be a French resident to get one. If you are planning to stay in the region for a longer period of time and are under 25, you can apply for a "Carte Jeunes Region PACA" that will give you 50% off all TER trains. This card cannot be used on other trains, especially TGV. But it is worth getting if you can: a train ticket between Toulon and Nice would cost you around €20 without the card, and €10 with the card.

For more information on prices, please go to the SNCF website. For all information about the regional trains within the PACA (Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur) region, please go to the SNCF regional website

By Car

From Marseille to Nice, the distance is approximately 200 kilometres and it takes a bit more than 2 hours by car via the A57 and A8 highways.

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Eat

The region is proudly offering a distinctive refined cuisine with a lot of typical recipes like the Bouillabaisse in Marseille or the Ratatouille in Nice.

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Drink

The region is most famous for her rosé wines (Bandol, Cassis, Coteaux de Provence), and for its Pastis. This aniseed-flavoured alcoholic drink is served with water - measurements vary, from very light ( usually teasingly called "the touristic measure" by the locals) to very strong ( locally called a "mummy" due to its colour). The two leading brands are Pastis 51 and Ricard. The pastis is so characteristic of the region that it is the object of several popular songs, including "51, je t'aime".

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Contributors

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This is version 34. Last edited at 18:04 on Jan 11, 16 by olielo. 23 articles link to this page.

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