Provence – a dream of light and lavender
Charming! This characteristic comes to mind wherever you go in Provence. The south of France is famous for many things – its purple fields of scented lavender or lusciously yellow sunflowers, typically French towns, graceful nature and idyllic coastal stretches. From physical activities in the inspiring outdoors to spectacular sightseeing and leisurely strolls among witnesses of times gone by, the region has much to offer. Don’t miss out on it!
Depending on your interests, you can select between three NephroCare clinics for your holiday dialysis. NephroCare Aix-en-Provence is your choice if you are more interested in discovering the city and a bit of urban bustle. The two other clinics lead you to more tranquil regions where the joy and peacefulness of nature and the charms of the lavender fields are balms for your soul. The light and lightness that are so typically Provençal will be your companions wherever you decide to go.
Activities and must sees
Loved for its past glory and present-day charm
Did you know that Aix-en-Provence is called the “City of the Thousand Fountains”? The number has been generously rounded up but you come across them at every roundabout or intersection. They are an integral part of the special mediterranean attitude to life that is so intensely tangible in Aix. Its special flair makes it one of the most liveable, loveable and, alas, expensive cities in France.
Start your exploration with a leisurely stroll along Cours Mirabeau, for example. The picturesque boulevard is lined with shady trees, well-attended cafés and restaurants and, of course, a large fountain in the middle of the roundabout! The road is also the southern border of the old town centre that contains all Aix’s charm and soulfulness. St. Sauveur cathedral counts among the important national monuments in France and ends the centre to the north. In between are scattered ancient buildings and alluring places with many more fountains. Most popular among these, the Place d’Albertas exerts a fascination of its own. The historic fountain in the middle turns the surrounding building into a movie set, one could think. After having spent a couple of days in this amiable city you will understand why it ranges among the most popular in France.
Would you like to see the Mediterranean Sea?
South of Aix and ideal for day trips, the attractions of Marseille await. Coming second in size after Paris, the city is a melting pot of ethnicities and attracts with amazing cultural offerings. Marseille displays the pulse of a vibrant city with a Provençal flair and a colourfully mixed population. The old port and fish market is the ideal starting point for the exploration of the city. The imposing cathedral, Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde, overlooks the city from above the port and offers magnificent views. If you have ever read Dumas’ legendary novel The Count of Monte Cristo, you might be interested in Chateau d’If, the rocky island southwest of the port where the betrayed protagonist spent long years in undeserved prison.
Do you like to experience contrasts? Then go to the Calanques afterwards, an area of incredibly beautiful narrow creeks southeast of Marseille. A rocky limestone coastline plunges to the sea from great heights, turning the water a glowing turquoise against the white limestone. Hiking tours lead you to heart-stopping vantage points. They can be quite tough, though. As the view from the water is even better, let yourself enchant by the sights from one of the tour boats that leave Marseille regularly.
Lavender fields forever
The lovely little town of Salon-de-Provence has managed to escape from the usual tourist bustle. Here is where Nostradamus, the famous prophet and astrologer of the 16th century, spent the last 19 years of his life. It is also home to the Savonnerie Marius Fabre. Since 1900, the famous soap from Marseille is produced here from recipes coming from the time of Louis XIV. Pertuis has long been a hidden gem. The small town on the southern border of the Lubéron Regional Natural Park creates a wow-effect for many visitors.
Both Pertuis and Salon, where our Nephrocare clinics are ensconced, are an ideal gateway for leisurely itineraries or more demanding hikes through the Lubéron. The impressive landscape with the high mountain ridge, craggy rocks and wild canyons was named UNESCO Biosphere Reserve and will take your breath away, very likely. Every summer between the middle of June and the middle of August, the purple sea of lavender fields invites people to sit among the flowers, breathe in the stimulating fragrance and listen to the bees that busy themselves in the amazing plenitude to gather the famous lavender honey. This delight that can only come from a place where there is such an abundance of lavender as in Provence.
If you decide to stay in this area, the village of Gordes is a must. Set on a hilltop high above a broad valley, it offers spectacular views from the castle over broad sweeps of Provence. The village even harbours a lavender museum! The nearby Sénanque Abbey looks like a sleeping beauty amidst the lavender fields. It is one out of three most significant Romanesque Cistercian monasteries in Provence and just too stunning to pass by.
It is just impossible to describe all that beauty in a couple of short paragraphs. Go see for yourself and enjoy it all first-hand!
In Aix-en-Provence, you will find any type of accommodation from luxurious hotel suites to simple boarding-house rooms, of course. Surely easier on the purse are quarters out of town. The so-called chambres d’hôtes, widely spread all over France, represent a charming possibility for spending the night. Don’t be surprised, though – these rooms can also be found in a small castle or on a farm. Equally typical are small rental cottages or apartments, the “gîtes de France”.
Culinary & Culture
Something for the heart and soul – and tummy
Provence animated famous artists. Picasso, Cezanne and Monet lived and painted her. It is easy to follow in the footsteps of these great artists as their art will cross your path wherever you go. Many museums show their amazing work and the landscapes reflected in it are right at your door, like Mont Saint-Victoire south of Aix that inspired so many of Cézanne’s paintings.
Truffles are considered the black gold of Provence, as gourmets are willing to pay steep prices. Found from November to March, they make people travel for miles to benefit from the truffles found at local markets, in southern Provence in Apt, Aups and Carpentras.
Do you fancy flowers? In your meal? Beignets de fleurs de courgettes translate as courgette flower fritters. You only get the flowers in the markets in summer. This dish says summer in Provence like few others and it is available only then.
The proximity to the sea explains the Bouillabaisse. At least a dozen fish are used in this well-seasoned soup. Once a dish of the poor, it’s become a plate for the rich due to the rarity of the fish needed for its creation. Scrumptious!
11 boulevard de la grande Thumine