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Important Travel Information for Provence Vacations

When to Go

Provence is appealing in different ways throughout the year. Obviously the first decision you have to make is choosing when to come. Many people - visitors and locals alike - believe that spring is when the region shines its brightest. Wildflowers and tree blossoms are in bloom, early vegetable harvests deluge the markets with fresh produce, colors are vibrant and the air holds the promise of warmer days to come.

The region kicks into high gear come late spring and early summer. Sunny, hot weather settles in and attention turns to play and recreation, especially along the beaches of the Côte d'Azur where the jet set frolics and inland where rafting on swift rivers and hiking in the gorges proliferate. Three of the country's most celebrated holidays occur during this time - the Féte de St-Jean (June 24), Bastille Day (July 14), and Assumption Day (August 15) - marked by feasting, fireworks and bonfires.

High summer is sun-soaked. Abundant fruit and vegetables pour from stalls at the local markets. The lavender harvest occurs in July when the very air seems laced with its sweet fragrance. Music lovers enjoy a dose of heaven. Three festivals in particular are noteworthy: Chorégies d'Orange stages opera in Orange's ancient, open-air Roman amphitheater; Jazz à Juan brings two weeks of jazz to Juan-les-Pins, and Festival du Jazz fills Toulon with a week of free concerts.

Autumn in Provence is all about harvest and cuisine. The vendange, or grape harvest, occurs in September when the vineyards become beehives of activity and the scent of their produce is caught on the wind. On the first Thursday of November, enormous hype surrounds the release of the year's Beaujolais nouveau. Olives also are picked around this time and pressed into huile d'olive, ambrosia to the gourmet palate. The markets are overflowing with freshly-picked chestnuts, truffles, walnuts, fresh fruit and vegetables.

Tipping

By law, all Provence restaurant bills will include a tip.

Electricity

France uses 220V/50H so make sure to bring an adapter if needed.

Language

French is the official language in Provence, but English is also widely spoken.

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