Provence, France

The wild dunes and marshes of the Med coast are the domain of cowboys, white horses and neon-pink flamingos. Inland, Arles, and its laidback neighbour Nîmes in Languedoc-Rousillon, are a beguiling blend of Roman amphitheatres, Provençal cuisine, café culture and sun-dappled boulevards. From the dramatic clifftop village of Les Baux, set among the olive groves, vines and craggy uplands of the Alpilles, you can look out across a land of Van Gogh, sunflowers and starry, starry nights.

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Do Go/Don’t go

Spring and autumn are perfect: the weather is warm and there are fewer crowds. May is a riot of flowers, and September sees the grape harvest.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    Access the region from Nîmes | to the west in neighbouring Languedoc-Roussillon | or Marseille. From the UK | Ryanair flies to Nîmes from Liverpool and Luton (www.ryanair.com); or travel to Marseille from Gatwick with EasyJet (www.easyjet.com) or British Airways (www.ba.com). As of Summer 2011, CityJet (www.cityjet.com) will offer flights from London City airport to Avignon.
  • Trains

    From the UK, put your car on the Autotrain at Paris, catch a separate train and be reunited in Avignon (0844 848 4050). Or take the Eurostar – probably the most civilised option – and change at Paris for Avignon or Aix (www.eurostar.com). Trains from Paris Gare de Lyon to Avignon take around three hours (www.tgv.com).
  • Automobiles

    Avis (www.avis.com) and others do car hire from Avignon TGV station, as well as Nîmes and Grenoble airports. The A7 is the main artery from the north.
  • Taxis

    There are taxi ranks in the main towns, railway stations and airports. Prices are cheaper than on the Côte d’Azur, but there may be a charge for luggage. Your hotel should be able to arrange transfers by cab.