Provence is one of the loveliest and most popular regions of France. The very word conjures up a vision of fields of lavender, charming villages, cosy restaurants with checked table cloths, gorgeous sandy beaches, a laid back lifestyle and, of course, sampling the Provencal cuisine and wine.
Let us help you discover 5 lovely wine making regions in Provence, all of which are great for property buyers and easily accessible from the UK.
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Provence is justifiably proud of its heritage and reputation as being somewhat glamorous (Nice, Cannes, Antibes and St. Tropez all still hold a certain cachet). The climate here is Mediterranean and thus a huge draw for British people: very hot summers leading to pleasant warm autumns, fresh spring weather when the sun still shines and winters which, although colder, rarely get to below freezing. The sun not only seems but actually is more golden here, hence why the area has throughout history attracted painters and writers from all over the world.
Provence has been producing wine for over 2,500 years since the Greeks founded Marseille. It is nowadays principally known for its rose wine, although both red and white wines can be found too. The largest AOC is Cotes de Provence.
Although one of the most expensive regions of France, some parts of Provence are still affordable to buy property and the whole area has a huge amount to offer everyone, from nature lovers to fans of ancient history and lovers of good food and wine.
Although one of the most expensive regions of France, some parts of Provence are still affordable to buy property and the whole area has a huge amount to offer.
Ramatuelle is a charming village situated a little way along the coast from St. Tropez. There are some superb vineyards here selling organic wines with free wine tastings such as the Domaine des Trois Chenes (3 oaks) and the Domaine Croix Rousse.
Meandering around its narrow streets and timber and stone buildings, this is a lovely village in which to wander around with plenty of historical sites to visit such as the Church of Notre Dame. Just below the village is the rather famous Pampelonne beach, well known for the allied landings during the Second World War as well as for being the first to allow topless bathing in the Cote d’Azur!
If you’re a fan of arts and culture, Ramatuelle has musical festivals and an open air theatre. There are plenty of historic buildings and market squares to explore, as well as independent shops run by craftspeople and local artists.
Access from the UK is to Marseille or Nice airports.
Not far from Ramatuelle, Gassin is a gorgeous village perched on a somewhat rocky land above the Mediterranean. Also classified as “one of the most beautiful villages of France”, this has views over the hills and vines, as well as the coastline.
Interestingly, both Ramatuelle and Gassin were villages constructed originally to permit the locals to flee from the pirates in the Mediterranean sea. These days of course, there is much to discover including several wine domains in both villages.
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There are several beaches within reach of Gassin, including Gigaro, Debarquement, Pampelonne and Escalet. Gassin also has an 18 hole golf course and the surrounding area is perfect for walking and cycling.
Again, access from the UK is to Marseille or Nice airports.
Les Baux de Provence, Bouches du Rhone
This incredible village perches high up on a rocky outcrop in the Alpilles mountains. It is on the official list of “one of the most beautiful villages in France”. For lovers of history, the village has some beautiful medieval churches and ancient monuments. For lovers of wine and gastronomy, there are some privately owned wine caves offering free tastings and tours, as well as some lovely intimate little restaurants offering a “prix fixe” menu.
This village only has 400 permanent residents, so naturally, property prices are high.
Access from the UK is relatively straightforward. The nearest airport is Marseille. Access by train is great too with the TGV to Avignon, some 30 kms away direct from Paris.
Cassis, Bouches du Rhone
Cassis is a truly beautiful, fairly busy fishing port surrounded by neat vineyards. There are plenty of opportunities for wine tasting here and the town is mostly known for its dry and sweet white wines. This is a great area to explore by bike or hike with some incredible views across to the Mediterranean Sea. The very popular summer drink “Kir” originated here: white wine with the cassis liqueur – quite delicious!
A large open-air market is held every Wednesday and Saturday, all year round. You’ll also find a beautiful sandy beach by the town centre and a pretty port.
Again, access from the UK by air is to Marseille or Nice airports.
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L’Isle sur la Sorgue, Vauclus
This is a lively and very picturesque market town filled with antique and bric a brac shops, as well as a twice weekly market. Often known as “the Venice of Provence”, it is dominated by the river Sorgue. There are several pretty restaurants lining the riverside in which to sit back and watch the world go by. Travel just outside of the town to find several wine domains offering free wine tastings.
Access from the UK by air is to Marseille airport but you could go by train from Paris to Avignon and then take a local SNCF train to Gare de l’Isle.
Living and buying property in Provence
Provence’s wine regions are well known throughout the world. Although Occitanie, its neighbour, is the largest wine producing area in France and rivals many others in the world too, Provence has some wonderful wines, best enjoyed in the tranquil warm sunny summer months sitting near the coast!
The south of France generally is an area which continues to attract British visitors pretty much year round since it has so much to offer everyone. The climate is wonderful, the villages and towns quite beautiful and for lovers of gastronomy and good wine, it really is one of the best areas in the country. Property prices are high here but it is still possible to buy a small studio or one bed apartment for around €250,000.
Provence’s wine regions are beautiful and tranquil. As well as the larger wine domains, when you are there, a good tip is to look out for small local producers who often produce excellent wine at a lower cost and will be pleased to welcome you into their homes.