Regional Attractions & Highlights
Cote d'Azur (Nice is 1 ½ hours drive from St André)
The Cote d'Azur or French Riviera stretches along France 's Mediterranean coast to the Italian border. Nice is known as the capital of the Cote d'Azur with its fantastical turn of the century architecture, art museums and buzzing cultural scene. It also makes a good base to explore the rest of the Cote d'Azur as it has excellent rail links along the coast to places such as Monaco, Antibes, Cannes and St Tropez all with excellent shopping!
You could take a day trip down to Nice on the Chemin de Fer mountain railway www.trainprovence.com and, if you wanted to explore the region more fully, base yourself there for a few nights and stay in one of the plentiful hotels with accommodation to suit all price ranges.
Italy (Italian border is around 2 hours drive from St André)
As we are based in the far South Eastern corner of France, the Italian border is just a short drive away (around 2 hours drive from St André) and the coastline drive from Nice to Monaco then across into Italy is breathtaking.
Lavender is the one aroma associated with Provence and the lavender fields are a spectacular sight. The flower is harvested when in full bloom between 15th July and 15th August and the Fetes de Lavande (lavender festival) is celebrated with a five day Corso de la Lavande (lavender carnival) which starts the first weekend of August.
Lubéron (around 2 hours drive from St André)
The Lubéron valley (Peter Mayle country) with Manosque town acting as the perfect stepping stone between the Lubéron and Haute-Provence. The entire Lubéron region is criss crossed with fantastic walking trails and a 100km long marked cycle route across the Parc Naturel du Lubéron. Unlike Haute-Provence most of its lower lying land is farmed, forming a rich patchwork of vineyards, lavender fields, olive groves and fruit farms.
Les Mees (around 1 hours drive from St André)
Les Penitents des Mees are rows of columnar rocks 2kms long and over 200m high. Legend has it that that rocks represent the Monks of the Lure Mountain who fell in love with a beautiful Mauresque woman who had been taken captive by a lord after a crusade in the 6 th century. Their punishment was to be turned into rock by a hermit called Saint Donat.
Grasse (around 1 ½ hours drive from St André)
Grasse was founded by the Romans and has distinct re and orange tiled roofs with magnificent views across the Mediterranean towards Cannes. For centuries Grasse has been one of France 's leading centres of perfume production and there are 40 parfumeries in operation today. The Fragonard museum and perfumerie are well worth a visit, as are the Galimard and Molinard sites.
Reserve Geologique de Haute-Provence
The Haute-Provence Geological Reserve covers an area of 190,000 hectares around Digne les Bains an is the largest protected area of it's type in Europe. It's geological wonders include the fossils from the tropical forests of 300 million years ago many of which can be seen in museums in the area.
Gorges du Verdon (around 1 ½ hours drive from St André)
The gorgeous 25km of Gorges du Verdon, Europe's largest canyon, is one of the greatest tourist attractions in Provence . The villages of Castellane (at the eastern end) and Moustiers Ste-Marie (at the western end) are the main gateways into this fabulous canyon. This immense and magnificent canyon straddles the departments of Var and the Alpes de Haute Provence .
Since 1997 the Parc Naturel Régional du Verdon has protected the deep gorges carved by the waters of the River Verdon. It's the high fluorine content of the water that gives it the magnificent green colour. The bottoms of the gorges can be visited on foot or by raft while motorists can enjoy the views from two cliff-sided roads which link Moustiers Ste-Marie and Castellane.
Gorges du Cian / Dalius (around 1 hours drive from St André)
Just before Entrevaux, you can take a turning up to the spectacular Gorges du Cians and Gorges de Dalius, both of which are carved from burgundy coloured rock. The Gardienne des Gorges (a rock naturally shaped like a woman's head) guards the northern entrance to the Dalius gorges. Bungee jumping is possible here n the summer from an 80m high stone footbridge across the gorges.
Moustiers Ste-Marie (around 1 hours drive from St André)
This beautiful village sits astride a rushing mountain stream that divides it into two halves with a narrow rocky canyon. The view of this mini-gorge, with small waterfalls down inside and medieval houses above, is beautiful. The village has numerous stone bridges and narrow medieval streets with shops selling it's local decorative Provencal pottery.
The centre piece of the village is the 12th-century Notre-Dame church , beautifully restored in 1928. The "crown" of the village is a golden star suspended high across the valley by a 227m long forged-iron chain. The star hangs above the Notre-Dame de Beauvoir chapel, with the chain fastened into solid rock on each side of the gorge. The chain and star project was done as a promise by Sir Blacas, a knight who returned from a long captivity during the crusades.
Aix-en-Provence (around 2 hours drive from St André)
Aix is surrounded by countryside full of authentic Provencal houses many exhibiting the unmistakable influence of Italian baroque and traditional French style gardens. The tree-covered cours Mirabeau is considered to be one of Europe 's most beautiful streets. The name Aix comes from the source discovered when the city was founded in 123b.c. by the Romans and was the capital of Provence in the 15 th century. Aix was the inspiration to many of the greatest writers and painters: Guigou, Stendhal, Mistral, Zola, and Cézanne. There is even a special Cezanne tour which one can follow through the streets of Aix stopping at points marked with a C.