Provence, France Photo Gallery

 
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Gordes is a handsome old village, often called 'one of the most beautiful in France.' Set on the edge of a plateau, stone houses rise up in a rock spiral. Tiny streets climb up between tall houses where lovely old doorways, arcades, and walls have been restored throughout the years. The view from the village reveals a panorama of the Luberon region's valleys, vineyards, and mountains.  
Credit: Nancy Belcher 
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Tourists are lured to Provence's Avignon, the 'City of the Popes,' for its world-renowned Theater Festival. There's an official festival, called 'In,' and an alternative festival known as 'Off,' which is a more boisterous bazaar with jam-packed streets and participants in zany costumes. The city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, contains a plethora of monuments and museums, and holds the utmost Provencal monument: the great Papal Palace.  
Credit: Nancy Belcher 
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More than 350 unique species of birds inhabit the Camargue Regional Nature Park, among them greater flamingos, egrets, and ibises. It is one of the few European habitats for flamingos, whose numbers can reach 40,000. The 360-square-mile park in southeastern France consists of wetlands, dunes, pastures, and salt flats. Western Europe's largest river delta, it's where two branches of the Rhône River meet the sea.  
Credit: Nancy Belcher 
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The Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque is known as one of the best places in Provence to see the famed lavender fields (still grown and tended by the Cistercian monks). The somewhat isolated medieval Romanesque abbey was founded in 1148. Hidden in a lush green valley, it is less than three miles from the village of Gordes.  
Credit: Nancy Belcher 
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The small medieval village of Aigues-Mortes (population less than 6,000) is a fortified town with well-preserved walls completely surrounding its interior. This small outdoor café is near the charming town square, the Place St. Louis, named for France's King Louis IX, who developed the village as a Mediterranean port in 1240. This sort of scene is typical in Provence's small towns and villages.  
Credit: Nancy Belcher 
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These legendary horses come from the Camargue region of Provence, a wetland area at the mouth of the Rhône River. They are a distinct breed, one of the oldest in the world, closely related to prehistoric horses. They mostly run wild, but gardians ('cowboys') in the area also use them to round up Camargue bulls.  
Credit: Nancy Belcher 
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The marketplace at Apt takes over the entire center of town each Saturday morning, with city-center roadways closed to traffic. The open squares and narrow pedestrian streets are filled with stands and little truck stores. It is estimated that more than 200 sellers travel to town for the Saturday market during peak season.  
Credit: Nancy Belcher 
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In mid-July Saintes-Maries de la Mer (Saint Marys of the Sea) hosts its annual Festival of the Horse, with horseshows, competitions, rodeos, and the annual running of the bulls by local gardians riding their distinctive white horses (pictured here). Once a fishing village, this island town (in the heart of the Camargue) is now primarily a seaside resort and tourist destination.  
Credit: Nancy Belcher 
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Bread is an icon of French life, and found nearly everywhere in Provence. Known as a baguette, which means a stick, the long, thin crusty loaf is the country's most popular bread. It weighs about half a pound and comes in three slightly different forms—the ordinary baguette, the baguette moulée, and the baguette farinée—all with crisp, brown crusts.  
Credit: Nancy Belcher 
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During the summer months a display of extravagant sunflowers greets tourists as they drive south on the road towards Gordes after visiting the famous Giants' Causeway (Ochre Park) in Roussillon. It's a photographer's dream; onlookers by the dozens line the side of the field to attempt their perfect shot. And at times, trespass.  
Credit: Nancy Belcher 
 
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