Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Geography

  • Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is one of the most sought-after French area. Its name is often shortened as "PACA".
  • South-east of France, it accounts for 6 departments: Bouches du Rhône, Var and Alpes Maritimes are situated along the Mediterranean coast while Alpes de Haute Provence, Vaucluse and Hautes Alpes are further inland.
  • The region is characterized by an extrem diversity between sea and mountain with high alpine peaks.
PACA Geography and Key Data
Surface Area Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur stretches on 31,400 km², it is the 8th largest French region.
Departments The region consists of 6 departments: Alpes de Haute Provence, Alpes Maritimes, Bouches du Rhône, Hautes Alpes, Var, Vaucluse. Three of them are bordered with the Mediterranean Sea (Bouches du Rhône, Var and Alpes Maritimes), and neighbouring Italy shares common borders with Alpes de Haute Provence, Alpes Maritimes and Hautes Alpes, separated only by the Alps.
Communes Paca is composed by more than 960 communes.
Coast and Water in PACA
Mediterranean Paca's south border is lined with the Mediterranean Sea. The region offers 833km of coast and seashore.
Beaches The region includes no less than 410 beaches of different types and adapted to everyone. Here are some examples:
Beaches with services on offer: Plage de la Grande Mer in Cassis, Plage d'Argent in Porquerolles, Antibes Juan-les-Pins Plage
'Wild' beaches: Plage de la Baie des Singes in Marseille, Calanque du Fournas in Saint-Raphael, Crique de la Douane in Ramatuelle
Beaches Blue Flag (Eco-label symbol of environmental quality): Plage de l'Almanarre in Hyères-les-Palmiers, Plage de la Croisette in Sainte-Maxime, Plage du Ponteil in Antibes
Naturist beaches: Plages des Pissarelles in Cap d'Ail, Plage des Engraviers in Bandol
Rivers and Lakes The region is crossed by the Rhône River and encompasses many lakes.
• The artificial Serre-Ponçon Lake in Hautes Alpes is the 2nd biggest in Europe.
Sainte Croix Lake between Var and Alpes de Haute Provence is also artificial and with its turquoise waters attracts lots of visitors in summer.
• The impressive Gorges du Verdon form the vastest canyon in Europe, with five lakes laid out along the green watercourse. A must-see.
Mountain ranges in PACA
Mountains • The Mount Ventoux is part of the Baronnies Range in Vaucluse and culminates at 1,912m. It is listed by UNESCO as biosphere reserve and is nicknamed 'the Provence Giant'.
• The Authion Range gathers several peaks near the Nice Prealps, in Alpes Maritimes. It nestles many remains of fortifications and offers stunning views.
• Spreading on both Hautes Alpes and Isère in Rhône Alps, Massif des Ecrins is a huge mountainous range surrounded by other mountains. The highest peak, named 'barre des écrins' culminates at 4,102m.
Ski Resorts Paca boasts 12 nice ski resorts, adapted for both cross-country and downhill skiing.
Valberg has the 'Family Plus Mountain' label and is therefore particularly suitable for families.
Auron is the vastest ski area of Alpes Maritimes. It is a very traditional village-resort.
Isola 2000 is probably the trendiest resort of the region and offers no less than 120km of slopes.
Forests and Natural Parks in PACA
Forests Dentelles de Montmirail, Esterel, Maures, Menton, Mont-Ventoux, Sainte-Baume, Tanneron for the biggest ones.
Protected areas The region accounts for 11 privileged green spaces. The most famous ones: Verdon Regional Natural Park in Provence, Queyras Natural Park in the Alps and Camargue Regional Natural Park in the Mediterranean area.
Fauna and Flora Paca is the French region rounding up the richest fauna & flora. The most characteristic species are listed below.
• Flora: maquis, scrubland, pines, green oaks, lavender, olive trees, taïga, edelweiss...
• Fauna: wild horses, golden eagle, ocellus lizard, marmot, ibex, snow vole, chamois...

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