It's that time of year again! The world's leading travel experts - Lonely Planet, National Geographic and Voyageurs du Monde to name but a few – are about to reveal their podium of top destinations to visit in 2018. We might be a bit biased, but frankly, the Bouches-du-Rhône just has to be one of them! Of course, you have your classics: admiring the fjords of the Calanques National Park by boat, heading off on a road trip to Camargue, meeting with olive oil producers in Les Baux-de-Provence, or sipping coffee on a terrace on Aix-en-Provence's Cours Mirabeau… But My Provence especially wants to make the most of the new year to unveil why 2018 is THE year for your holiday in Provence!
Because more than ever, it's France's sunniest area!
A new sunshine record was clocked up in 2017 at the weather station located between Marseille and Marignane: 3,110 hours and 48 minutes of sunshine – it's a French record! So get your shades and suntan lotion ready!
And while you're waiting for the hols to arrive, get your dose of rays with bloggers Anais and Pedro's ode to sunshine.
Because you loved Marseille-Provence 2013…
You're bound to adore MP2018 Quel Amour!
The Grand Baiser (Big Kiss) on February 14th in Marseille will be kicking off 6 exceptional months, chock-a-block with a staggering 400 cultural events throughout the area, including an exhibition by artist JR at the port's MJ1 hangar - now a buzzing cultural hub - and Mille et Une Nuits (Thousand & One Nights), a series of poetic walks under the stars. Meanwhile, contemporary art lovers will be rushing to see the shows by Anish Kapoor, Chinese artist Aï Weiwei at the Mucem and Claude Levêque at the FRAC in Marseille.
Because in Provence, we have 4 – not 1 - cultural capitals
Thanks to this label introduced by the Bouches-du-Rhône Area Council, there'll be art, art everywhere from late March to December! On the programme: tours by the Marseille Opera, Marseille Jazz festival, Festival d’Aix Young Opera Voices, Roque d’Anthéron Piano Festival, performing arts with Karwan, Massalia young theatre troupe and Christmas Carols to wind up the year!
Because Picasso will be top of the bill 6 times this year!
**The Picasso en Méditerranée event **continues in 2018 with no less than 6 shows: at Hôtel de Caumont and Musée Granet in Aix-en-Provence, at the Vieille Charité and Mucem in Marseille, at the Van Gogh Foundation in Arles and Carrières de Lumières multimedia exhibition centre in Les Baux-de-Provence
To celebrate the anniversaries of our festivals
Aix-en-Provence's Festival International d’Art Lyrique Opera Festival is celebrating its 70th anniversary in 2018!
Marseille's Marsatac festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary in good company, with home-bred star rap band IAM topping the bill alongside other big names.
Because The New York Times said so…
Arles is one of the 52 Places to Go in 2018 according to The New York Times. With the opening of its Fondation Luma cultural complex, the newspaper describes the town as "Provence's new cultural cradle". Led by local-born Maja Hoffman, the Luma has transformed the local landscape. This monumental metal tower, soaring to 36 metres, designed by genius architect Franck Gehry and inspired by the Alpilles mountain range, will be opening its doors officially at the end of the year, but is already hosting an exciting events programme, including the architectural exhibition 'Jean Prouvé: Architecte des jours meilleurs' running until May 1st.
Lather it up!
In 2018, our famous Savon de Marseille soap will be in more of a lather than ever! And rightly so: because it's now got its own museum, the MuSaMa, located in France's oldest street a stone's throw from Marseille's Vieux-Port (Old Port). Opening scheduled in March! If you read our Savon de Marseille article in the Inspirations series, you'll already know all about it. But the MuSaMa goes a step further, with a bubbling, interactive and innovative experience allowing visitors to slip (and slide) into the skin of a soap maker... Frothy!
Because it isn't just Paris that welcomes international chefs…
Harry, Laura and Julia have conquered the French capital and Europe alike with their 'Paris Pop-Up' restaurant concept. The sparkling trio is now heading South, with their pop-up eatery 'Chardon' at the Hôtel Nord Pinus in Arles this summer. After hesitating between London and Paris, the dream team finally picked Marseille as the venue for their first permanent restaurant, 'La Mercerie' - for many years the site of the legendary Mercerie Cat haberdashery - on Cours Saint Louis. Seating around 40 guests and welcoming chefs from the world over, the gourmet gurus promise a treat for the tastebuds.
To experience a Wild & Free holiday...
In 2018, you'll be able to opt for a Wild & Free enter link description herevacation in Aubagne. The new owners of the Camping du Garlaban campsite have plenty of surprises in store for their opening on March 31st, including a pool and wooden cabins - the ideal venue for a Canadian trapper-style break at the foot of the Garlaban hills.
And if you're more of a wide-open spaces and endless beaches person, watch out for the opening of the Les Bois Flottés campsite in Salin-de-Giraud. On the programme: 182 pitches, together with a locavore restaurant, bar and snack bar – a genuine home from home amid the breathtaking landscapes of Camargue.
Where to stay during the Formula 1 Grand Prix®?
The Formula 1 Grand Prix is back in town after a 10-year absence! Taking place at the famous Paul-Ricard racetrack in Le Castellet in the neighbouring Var area on June 24th, it's time to book your stay if you don't want to miss it. And luckily for you, Cuges-les-Pins, home to a resolutely-affordable.
Time to eat outside
Picnics are a great way to escape from routine and spend some quality time with friends, family or your partner. Whether you opt for the seaside, a park or vineyard, they are an ode to simple pleasures and sharing.
Time to row
Fancy grabbing your paddle and swishing off to the translucent waters of En-Vau fjord? Test your biceps with a kayak tour of the myriad of fjords dotted along the coast between Cassis and Marseille.