This week we’re featuring the south of France, and we thought we’d start with everyone’s favorite: Provence! Everyone knows or has heard of the charms of the Provencal countryside: fields of lavender, perched rocky villages, acres of vineyards, and so much sunshine! But Provence features some really amazing cities as well, each worth exploring in its own right on our Provence cooking vacations.
So what are our favorites?
Marseille is one of the most vibrant and exciting cities in France (and is in fact the 2nd largest after Paris). Famous as a port city, it boasts numerous historical sites and museums to visit, including the stunning new MuCem (Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée) and Villa Méditerranée (a center for culture and arts) which opened in 2013. It is also known for its amazing climate and food, including that most excellent of fish stews, Bouillabaisse. Sit on a terrace by the Port Vieux (old port) and enjoy the fabulously savory Bouillabaisse broth with croûtes and rouille (a Marseille-style aioli) followed by a plate of the freshly stewed fish and seafood – a perfect experience on our Provence cooking vacations!
Another of our favorite cities for our Provence cooking vacations is Aix-en-Provence (not pronounced like “axe” in French, but more like “ehcks”). A famed University town, Aix is fully of young people, restaurants, shops, and culture. The most famous street in Aix is the Cours Mirabeau, a wide boulevard lined with plane trees and bordered by exquisite 17th- and 18th-century mansions. Not to miss: the city’s many fountains (some say there are 1000!), the medieval cathedral, and the home and studio of Paul Cézanne.
On y dance, on y danse You can dance on the famed Avignon Bridge (or at least visit it), as well as the stunning Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace) in the fifth largest city in Provence. These two sites alone make Avignon a worthwhile destination for our Provence cooking vacations, but add to that the amazing scenic beauty of Rhone River and the medieval city center, and you’ll never want to leave! It’s perhaps the perfect place to combine Provencal cooking classes and cultural excursions all in one compact area.
Nice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and we could not more enthusiastically recommend Nice as a place you should visit on a Provence culinary vacation. The light of this part of Provence is amazing, the buildings, the port, the boulevards shine with it. This is why Nice has inspired some of the most famous painters in the world. Not to miss: the flower market and the Opera.
How long do we at The International Kitchen recommend to visit Provence’s best cities on our Provence cooking vacations? You could stop in for a day and do a one-day cooking class. Or you could easily spend a week in each and just scratch the surface. Of course, if you spent a week in each, you’d be gone for a month! But what a month it would be…
Learn more about all of our culinary vacations, and contact us with questions!
By Peg Kern
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