Traditional festivals, classical music, charming markets, stunning landscapes and a lot more await you in Provence this Easter. So we thought we'd give you a few reasons to visit the area in the spring.
Provence celebrates Easter in style with several big events taking place over the first weekend of April and on into the rest of the month. The French school holidays don't start until the 8th April this year and are staggered over several weeks throughout the month, so you should find that the roads and hotels are not too busy.
Aix hosts a classical music festival, the Festival de Paques, from 26th March to 8th April. This year, the city welcomes the London Symphony Orchestra, the Wiener Staatsoper, Daniel Barenboim and Martha Argerich, to name but a few. The festival supports young performers, provides masterclasses and hosts free open-air concerts in addition to ticketed events (from 10€).
Easter Sunday sees the start of the Festival du Tambourin (an instrument local to Aix) which features performances from groups of musicians in concert halls and on the streets. The festival runs all week until the 7th April and this Saturday will see the big final parade.
Hot on the heels of these festivals is the Rencontres du 9e Art - a creative arts festival with its history in comics and animations. In recent years, the festival has diversified to include free exhibitions relating to innovative graphic experiments, workshops and a treasure hunt. The festival runs from 7th April to 27th May.
Read our Guide to Aix-en-Provence to find out more about where to stay, the sights and attractions and other things to do. If you are quick, you'll catch the special Cezanne exhibition at the Granet Museum, it runs until the 1st April.
To the west of Aix lies the ancient Roman city of Arles. This fabulous town hosts the Feria de Paques over the Easter weekend which is also the traditional start of the 'bullfighting' season. From 30th March to 2nd April, Arles becomes a party town, with concerts and street entertainments in addition to bull running and bullfights (where the bull is unharmed). You can find out more about the 'bullfights' in our review.
Read more about the city of Arles in our guide, to find out information on hotels, sights and attractions and things to do. Whilst you are in the area, you may want to explore the nearby Camargue with its marshland, birdlife, wild horses and bulls, or head to St Remy de Provence, famous for its Van Gogh connections and the Roman ruins at Glanum.
L'Isle sur la Sorgue
One of France's biggest international antiques and art fairs is held over the Easter weekend in L'Isle sur la Sorgue. From 30th March to 2nd April, the Foire Antiques & You sets up stalls throughout the streets of the town, selling everything from bric-a-brac to the best quality antiques, curios & books, garden decor, Provencal pottery & woodwork. Many artisans present their own work at the fair and bespoke items can be ordered. There are also children's entertainments and evening events.
Read our guide to L'Isle sur la Sorgue to find out about hotels and places to stay, as well as other things to do in the area. The pretty hilltop villages of the Luberon are very close by, as is the majestic city of Avignon. In particular, we would recommend a visit to Bonnieux on the 1st or 2nd April, as the village hosts a charming open-air pottery fair on these dates.
Avignon remains one of the most popular places to visit in Provence thanks to its central position and easy access from Paris via the TGV train. In April, it hosts two big fairs. The first is the Festo Pitcho which is a theatre-based festival with dance, music and parades with a particular emphasis on providing entertainments for children. It runs from the 7th until the 22nd of April. From 13th April to 16th April, Avignon holds it's Spring Fair. This is an exposition featuring interior and exterior design, local produce and leisure related exhibits. Entry costs 3€.
Find out more in our Guide to Avignon to make the most of your stay. Other things to look out for include the Flea Market held on Sundays, or head to nearby Chateauneuf du Pape on the 7th-8th April for a weekend of wine tasting.