Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Departments
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Description
A Trendy Location
In the extreme south-east part of France, stretching from the southern Alps to the French Riviera and adjacent to Italy and Monaco to the east, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is a land of many contrasts. Second home owners along the coast include the fast car and yacht-loving ex-film stars, over-tanned wannabees and wealthy casino-addicted pensioners from all over Europe. Most of these visitors live in white modern villas with pools or apartment blocks clustered about resorts like St Tropez, Cannes, and St Raphäel. Further inland, the rugged Provençal scenery is also very appreciated. Don't go searching for a wreck around here as properties have all been renovated years ago, not long after the publication of that Peter Mayle book!
It is not difficult to see why so many people want to live in this region. The climate and quality of life are among the best in France. The landscape of inland Provence is alluring with stunning rock formations and rich coloured dazzling soils. (Don't visit the village of Roussillon in flip-flops, as the bright red soil will stain your feet and ankles for days!) Between the rugged hills and mountains, there are deep gorges, fertile valleys filled with carpets of lavender, almond groves and ancient olive trees and vines. You can everywhere smell the pleasant aromas of wild herbs such as lemon verbena, rosemary, thyme, or basil. This land smells so sweet that it is no wonder that perfume is a big local industry.
On the Cote d'Azur, February is a particularly lovely time when the mimosa vibrantly blossoms and in summer it is a real heaven to sit beneath the shade of an umbrella pine and watch the blue water sparkle. It is easy to understand why the dazzling light of this area attracted so many artists such as Matisse, Chagall, Picasso and Cocteau. If you want to get away from the 'playground of the rich and famous' you can visit the Camargue in the west; which is an important national park with lagoons, wild white ponies and pink flamingos.
A Touristy Area
As it is much sought-after, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is one of the most expensive French regions and property prices are very high. Parts of the area, especially near the coast, are highly populated. It is such a popular tourist destination (especially with northern Europeans), that in summer beaches are packed, however less crowded 'wild' beaches are to be found. The pretty fortified hill-top villages are full with visitors following the arrows of the sightseeing tours. These pretty villages are ideal to visit with shops selling all sorts of gifts, postcards, pottery and pot pourris gifts.
A Diversified and Thriving Economy
Average salaries are the second highest of France, just after Ile-de-France. With 7.6% of the country's population (including a substantial number of retired persons), the region contributes to 6.8% of France's GDP. Marseille, the region's capital hosts hundreds of companies operating in diverse sectors: logistics (mainly in Vitrolles), computing, business services (Aix-en-Provence), and industry (Aubagne). The cities of Nice and Cannes embody the Riviera culture while Avignon and Aix-en-Provence are cities of culture and academic excellence. Agriculturally, Provence produces three-quarters of France's rice, almost two-thirds of the country's olives, and half of its eating grapes. Apples, peaches, nectarines, cherries and pears are also widely cultivated, as well as cut flowers (43% of France's roses and 63% of its carnations are grown here).
Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Population
- Population: 4,506,151
- Pop.density (people per km2): 144