French cuisine has become famous throughout the world, and you can find French restaurants pretty much on every continent nowadays. However, nothing beats the diversity and originality of dishes in the country where it all started! Within France, there are many regions with different specialties and various local ingredients. In this article, we’ll highlight the culinary culture of Provence in Southern France, which has a very distinct gastronomy compared to the north and central France. Thanks to a mild climate and an unrivaled location that allows its inhabitants to enjoy fresh fish, meats, fruit and vegetables throughout the year – and let’s not forget the influence of other countries around the Mediterranean Sea – the culinary possibilities in Provence are endless. Read the entire story here…»
South of France Attractions
Do you want to enjoy some of the most authentic pleasures of the South of France and none of the hassles? Then pack quickly and waste no time heading for one of the most well-preserved and enchanting places on earth: Camargue. South of Arles and west of Marseille, this natural paradise will make you feel miles away from the relentless crowds and countless cultural events that characterize the more famous destinations in Provence and the French Riviera.
In Camargue, you will find experience a marshy plain, rice paddies, salt pans, wild white horses, black bulls and 400 different species of birds, including the pink flamingo, which is the honored symbol of the area. Officially declared a National Park over four decades ago, this proud region and its inhabitants fiercely defend the unique flora and fauna while still warmly welcoming adventurous visitors. Traditions are kept alive too as the annual Gypsy Pilgrimage, whose main ceremony will take place on May 24-25 this year, can attest. Read the entire story here…»
Every year the same challenge stubbornly comes up: Looking for a way to start the New Year that will be different from the previous year and a little more memorable too. Well, search no more because New York Habitat has just found the right combination of beauty and sunshine while getting back in shape in one fell swoop!
Few places are as picturesque as the Blue Coast between Marseille and Carry-Le-Rouet, and this little paradise will be all yours from December 29, 2011 to January 1, 2012 if you decide to sign up for the 4-day hike organized by the Arcanson company, which will take care of all the arrangements. Between sky and sea, you will enjoy the famous calanques, typical fishing villages, all-round unique landscapes, a guided tour of Martigues, also known as “the little green Venice”, a side escapade to the Frioul Islands and, for the brave souls, an opportunity for a no doubt refreshing dip in the Mediterranean!
Before and after this memorable adventure, you can explore the rest of this fabulous area. Whether you like exciting urban centers like Marseille, with its ancient past and modern vibes, or prefer to bond with nature further up or down the coast or in the surrounding countryside, you will not have a dull moment. The climate is mild, the food is tasty and the scenery unforgettable, so do not wait another moment to start planning. Read the entire story here…»
There are many reasons to visit Marseille, France’s second largest city after Paris, and its famous basilica Notre-Dame de la Garde never fails to appear on everybody’s top list of things to see. Considered a minor basilica by the Catholic Church, but a major landmark by pretty much everybody else, Marseille’s “bonne mère” (good mother) is as well-known for the famous hill on which it stands as for the breath-taking view you can enjoy from there.
Although the actual basilica was only built in 1853, the La Garde hill has played a significant role in the history of the area for many centuries in the various capacities of look-out post, military fortification and religious site. The first chapel was built there in 1214 and quickly became a popular place of worship. At the beginning of the 15th century, the building is expanded and a vault dedicated to St Gabriel is added. One century later, King Francis I of France decides to fortify the city of Marseille with two forts: the famous château d’If, on the nearby island of If, and the fortress on top of the La Garde hill, incorporating the chapel. Read the entire story here…»
Far from the crowded beaches of the Riviera or the sizzling heat of the Provence countryside, Camargue offers its vast expanse of marshy plain, rice paddies, salt pans, white horses, black bulls and 400 different species of birds to the weary vacationer. Don’t be surprised if a pink flamingo, Camargue’s proud symbol, flies by and personally greets you shortly after you’ve entered its protected territory! Just south of Arles and west of Marseille, it is a completely different world from the more glamorous spots of the South of France and will quickly prove to be a true paradise on earth for the curious traveler in search of a refreshingly authentic escape.
Amazingly enough, Camargue has been inhabited for millennia without losing its wildness, and the French government was certainly sensitive to that incredible feat when it turned the largest delta in Western Europe into a highly treasured national park four decades ago. Consequently, local flora and fauna have never ceased to happily thrive in their natural habitat. Read the entire story here…»
The coastal road between Cannes and Antibes on the French Riviera may be world-famous for its timeless beauty, but all French history buffs are also familiar with it because this is here, in the small seaside community of Golfe Juan, that on March 1, 1815 Napoléon Bonaparte, fresh from escaping exile on the island of Elba, set off to win back his title in Paris with a group of loyal supporters. Later on, the segment of the road they took from the coast to Grenoble became the mythical Route Napoléon and has remained a well-traveled thoroughfare until this day.
Even if he chose this particular itinerary in order to avoid any potential resistance in royalist towns as opposed to the quality of the scenery, it is hard to imagine that he did not pause and marvel at it from time to time.
In those days Cannes was not hosting its star-studded film festival and Antibes was not welcoming summer visitors to the groovy sounds of its prestigious jazz festival yet, but there is little doubt that the area was already well worth slowing down for, even if one was eager to go ahead and take over the French government… again. Read the entire story here…»
As you enter the Provence region of France, every possible sensation will be suddenly duplicated: the sun will be harsher, the colors brighter and the smells stronger. A true festival for all the senses, this enchanting land owes its lasting popularity to its rich and varied history, its pretty villages nestled on rugged mountains or scattered on a radiant patchwork of fields, where the intensely blue lavender prettily competes with the exuberantly yellow sunflowers. And let’s not forget, of course, the epicurean dimension of its culinary tradition.
Here too, wine is king and there are many “Routes des Vins” to choose from. The Côte de Provence wines are sunny and fruity, the perfect reflection of their terroir’s blessed climate. But one of them is truly special. Well-known for its lightness and delicacy, Provence’s rosé is absolutely unique to the region and much appreciated all over the world by connoisseurs and amateurs alike. Read the entire story here…»
Exploring the South of France can be an overwhelming endeavor without a goal to channel your momentum. If you’re a traveler interested in mixing refine and earthy pleasures, you may want to consider following one of the region’s famous Routes des Vins (loosely translated as Wine Routes). Not only will you get a chance to indulge in some serious sight-seeing, but you’ll also get to enjoy world-famous wines such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape as well as other lesser known but just as delectable brands.
From Vienna to Avignon, this is Côte du Rhône paradise, and one of the best spots to get started on an in-depth visit of the region, including eye-popping scenery, Roman history and local gastronomy, is the lovely town of Uzès. Ideally located in the Eure Valley and surrounded by the attractive triumvirate of Alès, Avignon and Nîmes, the first duchy of France is renowned for the Renaissance facades of the buildings, its medieval streets, its three feudal castles, its cathedral and, most particularly, its Fenestrelle tower, the small roman Campanile inspired by the Tower of Pisa. Read the entire story here…»
Did you know that one of France’s top five tourist attractions is located in the South of France? It’s called the Pont du Gard, and it’s been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. Both the Pont du Gard and the surrounding countryside are absolutely stunning – and New York Habitat highly recommends putting the area on your “must see” list for your next vacation in the South of France.
If you’ve never heard of it before, the Pont du Gard is the masterpiece of the ancient Roman aqueducts that wound its way through the region. A recent redevelopment project has made the Pont du Gard site easily accessible from the highway while appearing to be a hidden oasis now that it has been closed to vehicle traffic. Spend the day touring the museum and the Pont itself, either on your own or with a guide; pack a picnic and dine on the banks or the Gard river; or, bring your swim trunks and cool off with an afternoon dip! Read the entire story here…»
Watching grass grow has never been as breathtaking as in the South of France in late summer. From mid July through August, for as far as the eye can see, fields of lavender are in full bloom. It’s a feast for the senses, and New York Habitat can put you in a South of France villa right in the middle of it all.
Mentioned in the ancient Song of Solomon as nard, lavender got its current name from the Romans, who used it in the bath and thus called it after a form of the verb lavare, to wash. Today we are still familiar with bath products, potpourri and essential oils infused with the heavenly scent of lavender; European homeopaths are no stranger to its healing properties as well, particularly for burns and inflammation.
But leave it to the French to create a wide range of uses for the hardy flower, mostly culinary in nature. Here’s a tip about Provence: don’t be surprised if you find lavender popping up in tea, sugar, honey, candy, pastries, cheese and even chocolate! Read the entire story here…»