french cities of the south

top french cities to visit in the south of France

...forget about Paris and remember that Massalia was a thriving city port 500 years before Lutetia was created on the left bank of the Seine river...

  • Marseille
  • 1,350,000 people living together in and around Massalia founded by greeks 2600 years ago.
    The city has always been a crossroad for all kind of minorities. In the 18th century half of its population was not from Marseille but from Italy (Genoa and Piedmont), Spain (Catalogna) and Greece. Russians in 1917, Armenians in 1915 and 1923, Spanish in 1936, Algerians and Tunisians between the two wars, Pieds noirs in 1962 (french persons living in Algeria), Africans (Comorians 50,000 in 1999).
    Marseille is a vibrant city looking towards the sea, a rebel that became part of France only in the 15th century
    where the great architect Le Corbusier chose to do its experiment of communal living and where the 6th World Water Forum will take place in 2012.

  • Aix en Provence
  • 141,000 people 19 miles north of Marseille living in a city that was first a colony of Massilia , the capital of Provence during the Middles Ages it became a center of art and knowledge, built over springs it is the place of a thousand fountains and the hometown of Cezanne .
    There is something refined about the atmosphere in Aix compare to the raw power of its big sister, Marseille.
    The streets and their shops are made for strolling and always a wonderful Cafe to refresh yourself and watch others pass by...

  • Avignon
  • 89,000 people, on the left bank of the Rhone river, 52 miles north of Marseille. Founded by a gallic tribe it became an important colony from Massilia, property of the popes until the french revolution
    worth seeing for the powerful architecture of le Palais des Papes
    every summer since 1947 the city loses its severity when theater is in the streets during the Festival d'Avignon

  • Nimes
  • 134,000 residents, a roman colony founded by veterans of Cesar's legions and located on the Via Domitia connecting Italy to Spain.
    the roman presence is everywhere and also the spirit of Camargue and bullfighting, another one of the french cities great to visit.

  • Arles
  • 52,000 in a city that became a big roman post after its alliance with Cesar against Marseille. Closer to the sea than it is now, it was a major port on the Rhône river until the 19th century railway system stopped the trade.
    a city where Van Gogh develops his recognizable style and the cradle of the french couturier Christian Lacroix.
    Also the place of a major photography festival during the summer
    Les Rencontres d'Arles.

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