All you need to know about holidaying in Provence – from its eponymous lavender fields and historic market towns, to the cultural delights of Aix-En-Provence (where Cezanne came from) and Marseille, the Western regions of Provence offer a calming retreat from the glitz and glamour of the French Riviera in the South.
Climate Provence usually enjoys hot Mediterranean summers lasting from May until August, with temperatures averaging 21°C in July and 6°C in winter. The warmest weather occurs on the coast (Marseille hits 29°C in July) and swimming in the sea can often be enjoyed as late as October. However, it becomes particularly cold in Arles, Avignon, Orange and Marseille when a strong, icy wind called Le Mistral blows down from the Alps and through the Rhône valley. This usually happens during winter and spring, resulting in strong gusts of wind and a noticeable drop in temperatures for a period of 3-9 days. Autumn sometimes sees flash floods created by sudden storms, while the high mountains usually have snow from November to March.
Currency The official currency in France is the euro (€). One euro equals 100 centime coins. At the current exchange rate: £1 = € 1.16 $1 = € 0.81
Voltage Guide: 220V, 50Hz. Standard European two pin plugs.
Country Dialling Code: +33
Regional Dialling Code: 04
Visa Requirements EU citizens require a valid passport for a stay of up to three months. Non-EU citizens require a visa, except USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand citizens. Tourists intending to stay in France longer than 90 days need to apply for a residence permit (carte de séjour) at a local town hall (mairie) or departmental préfecture.
Vaccinations None required.
Tipping By law a service charge of 10-15% is included in all restaurant bills. In addition to this it is customary to leave a tip of 10% if you are pleased with the service. Taxi drivers expect a tip of around 10% while hotel porters, doormen, hairdressers and tour guides usually receive €1 – €2 for their service. Public Holidays 1 January: New Year’s Day 6 January: Epiphany Good Friday (varies) Easter Monday (varies) Ascension Day (40 days after Easter) 1 May: Labour Day 8 May: Victory Day 12 May: Whit Monday 14 July:
Bastille Day 15 August: Assumption Day 1 November: All Saint’s Day 11 November: Armistice Day 25 December: Christmas Day
Alexandra Szydlowska is a freelance travel journalist and editor based in London, UK. She writes for a range of online and print publications, with a special emphasis on Eastern European travel. See also: Fast Facts for the Cote d’Azur.