The Formula 1 Grand Prix: a great reason to visit Provence

From 26 to 28 June 2020, Castellet will host the French Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard Circuit.
More than 160,000 spectators will attend the popular major sporting event at what will be its first visit in ten years, making this Grand Prix one of the most hotly anticipated in Europe. The pursuit of excellence, the constant innovation, and the ever-present quest for performance are this Grand Prix’s core values, and part of what makes Formula 1 the sport it is today.
And for ardent motorsport fans, the Grand Prix provides the perfect pretext for a trip to Provence.


9.30am: A trip to the Mucem
You can’t visit Provence and pass on Marseille with its amazing attractions. Indeed, the Phoenician city is home to no fewer than 11 “Musées de France” attractions, and it organises 20 exhibitions that draw more than one million visitors every year. And with good reason: the collections on show in the city's remarkable venues cover the entire history of art, from antiquity to the modern day. The Mucem is just one of them. It connects Saint-Jean Fort to Rudy Riccioti’s modern building via a spectacular footbridge. It is also home to a Mediterranean garden that is a true marvel.

11am: Tread in the footsteps of the Lumière brothers
La Ciotat is where two great leisure activities of our time – pétanque and cinema – were born. This town, with a population of 35,000, is famous for being home of the family of Louis Lumière, the inventor of cinema. The cinematograph was presented to the public for the very first time on 21 September 1895, anointing La Ciotat as the first cradle of cinema. Next, after catching some rays on La Ciotat’s non-smoking beach, it’s time to explore the creeks by sea kayak or pleasure cruise, admiring one of the most beautiful bays in the known world.

1.30pm: Lunch in Cassis
On the edge of the Calanques National Park, Cassis forms an amphitheatre overlooking the sea. In the fishing port you will find as many things to do as there are delicious restaurants, where you will be welcomed with genuine smiles from the locals. The Brasserie La Canaille, Le Loup Bar and Calanque M restaurants offer regional speciality seafood and meat dishes, and also treat you to enchanting views whether it’s a family lunch, romantic dinner, or table for one.

3pm: A real gem
Sheer cliffs for avid climbers, and caves suspended above the sea with views of the white slabs where you can rest your weary limbs and even lose that restricting bathing suit, should you so desire, because in the Cassis calanques, you can. Formed 120 million years ago, since 2012 they have been protected as part of France’s 10th national park. The park itself is part suburban, rural, and maritime, covering some 8300 hectares and more than 12 miles of coastline. Go for a stroll and take the time to admire the natural beauty of your surroundings.

5pm: Visit the Venice of Provence
With the Mediterranean on one side and the Etang de Berre on the other, Martigues is criss-crossed with canals, earning it the nickname “the Venice of Provence”. And its nickname is well-deserved as the Quai Brescon, known locally as the “mirror of birds”, was a favoured spot for painters like Delacroix, Corot, Loubon, Ziem, and even Dufy.
You can gen up on the matter at the Félix Ziem Museum, which hosts temporary exhibitions and a permanent collection from this painter.

7pm: Drinks in Aix
A city of art and a thousand fountains, Aix en Provence is brimming with charming lanes and welcoming squares. Comfortably settled at Le Grillon café on the Cours Mirabeau, you can sip on a glass of rosé in the low-key, trendy atmosphere that the locals hold so dear. Afterwards, wander over to the old town where you’ll find plenty of lively and welcoming restaurants whose simple menus are packed with produce of the highest quality.


10am: Climb Sainte Victoire
A popular spot for hikers, you can explore the mountain along its footpaths dotted with dry-stone walls. You can structure your hike around the religious heritage found there: Sainte-Victoire Priory, built in the 17th century, the Saint-Ser Hermitage, an amazing Provençal landscape surrounds this little chapel built into a cave in memory of a 5th century hermit who found refuge here, and the Croix de Provence, which stands atop the mountain’s westernmost point. Atop the Pic des Mouches, the highest point on the mountain, spellbinding panoramic views await, extending to the horizons of Provence and the rolling valleys of the Pays d’Aix. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the sea, Mont Ventoux, and the Alps.

3pm: A detour to Arles
Touched by every gust of modernity in the winds of time, Arles is an amazing place that is simultaneously unique, intimate, and fragile. Hotels, exhibitions, restaurants, and galleries can be found on every street corner.

6pm: A trip to the Maison de la Truffe et du Vin
In Ménerbes, the Astier de Montfaucon Hotel welcomes lovers of truffles and wines. Stocking every producer from the Luberon, Ventoux and Pierrevert AOCs, and selling their wines at wholesale prices, you can sample a glass or book a table in the restaurant.

The weekend’s looking good. And in addition to the Formula 1 Grand Prix and the supporting races and, there’s a whole host of new events and activities to enjoy this weekend. Excited?