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Most people would recognise Paris as a city of romance. But the GoBear team thinks there’s somewhere else in France that exudes a similar vibe but has its own class.

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Vibrant night scene of Marseille

If strutting down Champs-Élysées in your Louboutins or stretching out that selfie stick in front of the Eiffel tower is not your thing, travel Southeast of France to Provence. The scent of lavender, against the backdrop of sun-filled landscape is a breath of fresh air and the breezy, sunny Provencal weather in June is just perfect. 

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View from the top of Notre-Dame de la Grade in Marseille

1. Saint-Paul-de-Vence

Visit medieval towns on the French Riveria. Saint-Paul-de-Vence is a good place to start, with great modern and contemporary art venues all around. Head straight to the nearby Fondation Maeght, a museum of modern art on the Colline des Gardettes, a hill overlooking Saint-Paul de Vence.

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When you are done mesmerising over the prized works of Marc Chagall and Joan Miro at Fondation Maeght, return to Saint-Paul-de-Vence and get a table at the historic La Colombe d’Or Home, where fine dining meets Picasso art collection. 

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Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations

2. Marseille

Some say this is the vice city of France, and you might reckon too especially if you've seen the latest Netflix original drama Marseille. Well, we think that’s part of the charm. Fear not, last time our content manager Christopher took a trip there in 2014, he managed to come back in one piece.

Climb to the top of Notre-Dame de la Grade and witness the beauty and grandiose of Marseille’s sea view. If you prefer something touristy, take a stroll through the Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilisations. Before leaving, you should have a nice lunch at La Cuisine – a casual dining outfit opened by Michelin Star chef Gérald Passédat of Le Petit Nice – where French people queue like kiasu Singaporeans for this high-class buffet. After a full meal, walk to nearby Le Panier for some bohemian, edgy street art.

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View of Vallon des Auffes harbour

In the evening, visit Michelin starred L’Epuisette restaurant near the Vallon des Auffes harbour. If you’re lucky, you’ll get to sit by the window and soak in the oil painting-like sunset view. The point of coming here is to drink the famous Bouillabaisse – fish soup made with bony rockfish – you can’t say you’ve been to Marseille if you didn’t even have a sip of Bouillabaisse.  

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Walk down the streest of Arles and feel the music in the air

3. Arles

The newly built Fondation Vincent van Gogh in Arles houses rare pieces by the late impressionist master. Vincent van Gogh’s creations in Arles were inspired by the particularly strong sunlight here. He became acquainted with Paul Gauguin, who collaborated with van Gogh and experimented with each other’s palette. But the partnership ended bitterly, leading to the dramatic demise of van Gogh at Saint-Remy psychiatric clinic.

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Left: The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night, 1888
Right: The café terrace today is now Le Café La Nuit

You can visit the café featured in his famous 1888 oil painting The Café Terrace on the Place du Forum, Arles, at Night. The café terrace is now Le Café La Nuit and you can easily spot it from the yellow exterior. Funnily, the original café exterior wasn’t yellow but because of van Gogh’s use of yellow in the painting to depict the illumination on the wall, everyone assumed the café’s exterior to be yellow. The owner decided to just paint the walls yellow, so people would stop asking him about the location when they are actually standing right in the café. 

Travelling to France

While travelling to Europe, be sure to get adequate travel insurance coveer. Check that the policy covers ambulances or an emergency flight home. Find out if your insurance plan will make payments directly to providers or reimburse you later for overseas health expenditures. Paying for your airline ticket with a credit card often provides limited travel accident insurance, be sure to enquire what the policy covers and doesn’t cover. Before you hop onto the jet plane, check out the travel insurance quotes we have on GoBear!