Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is an administrative region in southeastern France. Its capital is Marseille, the second most populous commune in France.

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is made up of six departments from the former provinces of Provence, the County of Nice, the Comtat Venaissin and part of Dauphiné: Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône, Var and Vaucluse. It was named “Provence-Côte d’Azur-Corse” in 1960. It became Provence-Côte d’Azur following the constitution of the Corsica region in 1970 and was then renamed Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur in 1976.

Since 2018, the regional council has used the name “South Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region” (“South region” for short) on its communication documents, although the official name of the region remains unchanged.

The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region is bordered to the south by the Mediterranean Sea. It borders the Italian regions of Liguria and Piedmont and also Monaco to the east and is bordered to the north by the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region and to the west by the Occitania region, with the Rhône forming the regional boundary. Its territory covers a large part of the Southern Alps.

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur has 5 127 840 inhabitants as of 2021, making it the seventh most populous French region. Densely populated, it also has three of the largest metropolises in the country: Aix-Marseille, Nice and Toulon. In 2013, and taking into account the merger of the regions in 2016, it is the fifth region in France by GDP (152.13 billion euros) and the third by GDP per capita (€30,688). The economy and society of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur are marked by immigration from both other regions and other countries: 47% of the region’s inhabitants were not born on its territory, and the proportion of immigrants there is 10.2%.


Provençal culture, in addition to its traditional part linked to its language (Provençal pastoral) and its traditions (Christmas nativity scene, figurines, pétanque) covers all artistic fields. Literature stood out there with authors like Frédéric Mistral, Jean Giono, René Char and Francis Gag. The light of the Provençal sky has inspired many of the greatest painters – from Paul Cézanne to Auguste Renoir; from Vincent van Gogh to Pablo Picasso – and photographers – like Lucien Clergue, Bernard Faucon, Willy Ronis, Bernard Plossu and Hans Silvester. The first cinema was opened there, and it distinguished itself with directors like the Lumière brothers or Marcel Pagnol, actors like Raimu or Fernandel and found its peak each year during the Cannes Film Festival. In addition, the region has become the land of festivals: the Avignon Festival, the Aix-en-Provence International Lyric Art Festival, the Chorégies d’Orange and the Choralies de Vaison-la-Romaine and more. The Nice Carnival is internationally renowned and constitutes one of the major events of the winter season.


The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region produces 7% of French GDP, which places it third nationally and 16th in Europe.

The regional economy was affected by the 2008 economic crisis, but less than the rest of the country. However, strong demographic growth created a job deficit and a structurally higher unemployment rate.


Agriculture is diversified: viticulture (Côtes-du-Rhône, Côtes-de-Provence), market gardening (Vaucluse), vegetables (Var), perfume flowers (Côte d’Azur) and rice growing (Camargues). Livestock breeding remains extensive: cattle and horses (Camargue) or sheep (Alps). Lavender fields, a cliché widely circulated by tourist offices or tourist operators, actually represent only 0.51% of the region’s surface area; i.e., 160 km2.


For a long time, industrial activity was concentrated around ports (shipbuilding, food industries and soap factories) in the Rhône Valley (chemistry). After the Second World War, the port of Marseille expanded towards the Etang de Berre and the Gulf of Fos, leading to the creation of a major oil and industrial complex. Therefore, the petrochemical sector is particularly important (butadiene, chlorine gas, propylene, ethylene, rubber).

The aluminum industry, located in Gardanne, was born from the proximity of a coal basin and the bauxite mines of Var, and remains (even if the mines are now closed), as well as the perfume industry in Grasse and, more recently, activities linked to telecommunications (micro-electricity, multimedia, computing).

The agri-food industry is present, with the production of candied fruits, canned lentils, canned truffles, semolina, pasta, confectionery and ready meals.

As elsewhere in France, industrial employment is in decline in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, but less than in the rest of the country, because the sectors most affected by this decline (automobile, textiles) are less present in the region.

A very significant development of the chemical industries, in particular, took place in the Riaux district.

Tourism and main attractions by departments (108 objects in alphabetical order)


Château-Arnoux-Saint-Auban castle

Château de Rousset and its wineries

Citroën museum – Citromuseum

Digne-les-Bains – capital of Alpes-de-Haute-Provence

Forcalquier and its flea market

Manosque – the largest town and commune in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence

Monastery of Mandarom Shambhasalem

Simiane-la-Rotonde and its castle

Sisteron and its fort


Breil-sur-Roya known for its trout fishing

Carré fort in Antibes

Èze village – eagle’s nest

Fort du Barbonnet

Fort du Mont Alban

Grasse and its perfumery industry

Grimaldi castle and its Museum

Land park and Marineland in Antibes


Mougins – art village

Nice – capital of Alpes-Maritimes

Roquebrune-Cap-Martin and its castle

Saint-Elme citadel

Saint-Paul-de-Vence medieval village

Santa-Maria-in-Albis Church

Sospel – former episcopal seat

Tende and the Mercantour National Park

Transport ecomuseum

Valbonne Abbey

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Villa Rothschild & Gardens in Cannes


Aix-en-Provence known as the 21st suburb of Paris

Arles and its Roman heritage

Fos-sur-Mer and its castle

Marseille – second largest city in France

Saint-Michel de Frigolet Abbey

Saint-Pierre de Montmajour Abbey

Saint Victoret Aviation Museum

Salon-de-Provence and its castle


Entrecasteaux and its castle

Grimaud and its castle

Fayence is one of the hill villages

Military port of Toulon

Saint Michel du Var Orthodox monastery


Apt and its cathedral

Avignon and its UNESCO heritage

Carpentras and its aqueduct

Gigondas – the gateway to the Dentelles de Montmirail

Le Barroux and its castle

Notre-Dame de Bon Secours abbey

Notre-Dame-de-l’Annonciation abbey

Orange and its Roman heritage

Sainte-Madeleine du Barroux Abbey


Sénanque Abbey

Vaison-la-Romaine and its Roman heritage

The Most beautiful villages of France (list) by departments

Alpes-de-Haute-Provence (2 villages)

Hautes-Alpes (2 villages)

  • La Grave
  • Saint-Véran

Alpes-Maritimes (4 villages)

Bouches-du-Rhône (1 village)

Var (6 villages)

Vaucluse (7 villages)

Natural objects (rivers, lakes, mountains)

Bléone river

Buëch river

Camargue natural park

Castillon lake and its dam

Durance river

EDF Durance canal

Estéron river and the gorges Saint-Auban

Le Petit-Rhône

Les Pénitents cliffs

Méouge river

Ouvèze river

Sainte-Croix lake

Rhône river

Roya river

Toulourenc river

Var river

Verdon river

Sea resorts (French Riviera)

The most famous resorts on the Côte d’Azur, following the coast from south-west to north-east to the Italian border, include:













Monaco (including Monte-Carlo)


Shortest distances to Marseille from the main cities of France (capitals of regions)

From Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (Lyon): 3 hr 9 min (314 km) via A7

Bourgogne-Franche-Comté (Dijon): 4 hr 50 min (504 km) via A6 and A7

Bretagne (Rennes): 9 hr 28 min (1,046 km) via A7

Centre-Val de Loire (Orléans): 6 hr 59 min (758 km) via A71 and A7

Grand Est (Strasbourg): 7 hr 26 min (803 km) via A36 and A7

Hauts-de-France (Lille): 9 hr 12 min (1,001 km) via A26 and A7

Île-de-France (Paris): 7 hr 24 min (775 km) via A6 and A7

Normandie (Rouen): 8 hr 28 min (902 km) via A6 and A7

Nouvelle-Aquitaine (Bordeaux): 6 hr 2 min (646 km) via A62

Pays de la Loire (Nantes): 8 hr 56 min (986 km) via A62

From Toulouse (Occitania): 3 hr 55 min (404 km) via A61 and A9



The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region is served by the airports of Nice-Côte d’Azur, Marseille Provence and Toulon-Hyères.

Nice Airport has long been the third busiest airport in France, after the two Parisian airports Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris-Orly.

Marseille Airport was, in 2022, the fourth French airport behind Nice, but ahead of Lyon-Saint-Exupéry.

Toulon Airport is a medium-sized French airport, placing itself, in 2022, in 27th position, between the airports of Cayenne and Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées.

There are also two smaller airports: Avignon-Provence Airport, with 9,911 passengers in 2022, and Cannes-Mandelieu Airport, with 9,984 passengers in 2022. Note that Cannes-Mandelieu Airport is the second French airport exclusively reserved for business aviation after Paris-Le Bourget Airport.

Rail transport

The Mediterranean high-speed train line connects Paris to Marseille Saint-Charles in three hours and serves Avignon TGV and Aix-en-Provence TGV stations. The TGV extends into Toulon, Saint-Raphaël, Cannes and Nice (but on standard tracks).

The Nouvelle Provence Côte d’Azur Line project to Nice is currently being implemented with phases one and two and aims to build an underground station in Marseille-Saint-Charles, allowing TGVs heading to Nice to avoid the dead end in Marseille, the creation of an RER in Toulon and some developments on the French Riviera. Ultimately, the project should make it possible to connect Paris to Nice in around four hours (compared to around six hours currently).

The TER Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur has a network of 1,008 km, 145 stations and approximately 64,300 travelers per day.

The TER lines from Marseille to Toulon and from Cannes to Nice are among the busiest lines in France. There is talk of creating an RER around Marseille, another around Toulon and another around Nice and Cannes.

The line from Nice to Digne is operated by the Chemins de fer de Provence. The regional rail network is supplemented by bus lines.

The main regional stations are Marseille-Saint-Charles, fifth provincial station, and Nice-Ville, ninth provincial station. Outside Île-de-France, these are the most important stations in France in terms of number of travelers alongside the stations of Lyon-Part-Dieu (first provincial station), Bordeaux-Saint-Jean, Strasbourg-Ville, Lille- Flanders, Nantes, Toulouse-Matabiau, Rennes and Nancy-Ville.

Road transport

The main highways in the region are the A7 (Lyon to Marseille via Avignon), the A8 (A7 to Nice and Italy), the A50 (Marseille to Toulon), the A51 (Marseille to Gap), the A52 (Aubagne to Aix), the A54 (Salon de Provence to Saint-Martin-de-Crau, Arles and Nîmes), the A55 (Marseille to Martigues) and the A57 (Toulon to the A8).

Main facts

GPS coordinates: 44°00′N 6°00′E

Districts: 18

Cantons: 126

Municipalities: 946

Area: 31 400 km2

Population: 5 127 840

Language: French, Occitan, Ligurian

Currency: euro

Visa: Schengen

Time zone: UTC+01:00 (CET)

ISO 3166 code: FR-PAC

NUTS Region: FR8

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