Stone pines, cicadas, the scent of scrubland, azure sea... From the Rhône to Italy, from Hautes-Alpes to the Mediterranean, the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region fascinates with its intoxicating fragrances, sublime landscapes and intense light. While film stars converge on Cannes for the festival, and the jet-set hits the mythical port of St-Tropez, more authentic sites can still be unearthed, such as St-Paul-de-Vence and the Gorges du Verdon. The whole region is imbued with charm. From the calanques of Cassis to the lemon trees of Menton, from the snow-capped mountains of the Queyras to the picturesque Valley of Wonders, from Avignon, "Cité des Papes", to the ceramic-making village of Moustiers-Ste-Marie, history and traditions come to life in a fabulous natural setting. To soak up the atmosphere, stroll about the fish market of Marseille's Old Port, taste a Rhône Valley wine on a café terrace and watch the boules players hotly dispute a game in the shade of the plane trees. And while the region wholeheartedly embraces the clichés, these merely serve to offset the cultural revival that is underway here, as embodied so superbly by the MuCEM in Marseille.
Built on the site of the ancient Greek Massalia, the Panier is a typically Mediterranean district with colour-washed facades. The historic refuge of seafarers and generations of immigrants, the Panier is a peaceful haven, still working-class.