Nowhere else in this country of contrasts can you find a greater diversity of landscape than in Provence, in the virtual triangle of the Alps, Mediterranean and Rhone Valley; from the mountain slopes of Haute Provence to the fenland of the Camargue, its essence captured on canvas by Cezanne and Van Gogh. The Greeks introduced the ubiquitous vine, the Romans, fruit trees - and an advanced infrastructure of villa, forum, amphitheatre and aqueduct, as visitors to Nîmes, Arles and the Pont du Gard can vouch. In more recent times cities such as Avignon with its Pope’s palace and Aix en Provence with its fountains and leafy boulevards have become the great cultural centres of the area, whilst the bustling port city of Marseille is the commercial capital. They enjoy a hinterland of sunbaked mountain scenery, interspaced with vineyards and fields of lavender, notably in the much prized Lubéron, contrasting with the great marsh delta of the Camargue, at the mouth of the Rhone, with its dashing white horses and black fighting bulls.To the east are the départements of Var and Alpes d’Haute Provence, whose ‘arrière-pays’ is an escapist wilderness of rock and wooded hills. The Côte d’Azur offers an ideal holiday combination, of beautiful, empty hinterland and busy, sophisticated resorts, such as Nice, Antibes, Cannes, St. Raphaël and St. Tropez, with their boutiques, casinos, tree-lined promenades and colourful yacht harbours. A landscape full of excrescences with an eventful history and a light that fascinated artists of all centuries.
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