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Provence or Tuscany

Provence Or Tuscany? Which Is The Right Destination For You?

Choosing between Provence and Tuscany might be one of the most challenging decisions we’ve ever made! These two regions might be in different countries, but they are remarkably similar. They both feature diverse, beautiful landscapes and incredible cultural and historical attractions. Each has world-famous wine, delicious food, beautiful beaches, and a glorious climate.

But there are some differences, of course. Provence, France is known for its endlessly photogenic fields of purple lavender, its signature rosé wine, and the French Riviera, home to glamourous St Tropez and breathtaking beaches. Whereas Italy’s Tuscany region is known for the extraordinary cultural wealth of its cities and the beauty of its vineyard-striped interior.

So, we’ll do our best to point out some key differences between these strikingly similar vacation destinations. And, hard as it might be, we’ll help you choose between Provence and Tuscany.

Provence Or Tuscany: Highlights

Cathedral in Provence, France
Photo by Envato Elements

It’s almost impossible to boil these two regions down to a handful of highlights, but we’ll try our best. 

In Provence, we’d recommend:

  • Seeing the famous lavender fields that turn the region purple for mile after mile.
  • Living the glamorous life on the gorgeous beaches of the French Riviera. 
  • The Roman Theatre of Orange and Roman ruins at Vaison-la-Romaine for history lovers. 
  • Visiting the cultural capital of the region, Aix-en-Provence.
  • Sampling a cool glass of Provençal rosé wine. 

In Tuscany, don’t miss:

  • Visiting Florence, birthplace of the renaissance and opera, and home to more artwork than you could see in a year. 
  • Medieval Siena, where the whole historic center is a UNESCO Heritage site
  • Exploring the beautiful often-overlooked beaches and islands. 
  • Road tripping through the verdant valleys and undulating hills of Val d’Orcia.
  • Drinking the world-famous Tuscan red wine alongside a perfectly cooked Florentine steak.

Conclusion: art, wine, nature, and history in both regions? There’s no wrong option here. 

Provence Or Tuscany: For Art Lovers

Artistic home in Tuscany
Photo by Envato Elements

Tuscany is awash with bucket list artistic treasures. Florence is an art lovers’ paradise, home to the Da Vinci Museum, and Uffizi Gallery, with works by all the great Renaissance masters. And of course, the Galleria dell’Accademia with Michelangelo’s iconic statue David. And it’s not the only artistic hot spot in this region, far from it. Incredible art and architecture can be found in every one of Tuscany’s cities, and the most unassuming building can hold a fresco by an ancient master. 

But Tuscany doesn’t have a monopoly on all things artistic. The quality of the light and the beauty of the landscapes have called artists to Provence for hundreds of years. Van Gogh loved Provence, and it inspired him to produce many of his most famous works. Art lovers can walk in his footsteps through Arles. Or visit Nice, where Matisse and Chagall lived, and Aix-en-Provence, the birthplace of post-impressionist Paul Cézanne and later the home of Pablo Picasso. 

Provence is also home to many museums and galleries showcasing art from all ages of history. Visit Petit Palais Museum to view hundreds of medieval and renaissance works.

Conclusion: this is a personal choice depending and your artistic preference. Renaissance lovers should visit Tuscany, while fans of Matisse, Picasso, and Van Gogh must follow their footsteps through Provence. 

Provence Or Tuscany: Natural Wonders

Tuscany hill views
Photo by Envato Elements

One of the reasons these areas are so popular is their stunning natural landscapes. Both span the whole range from mountains to rolling hills and farmland to vast stretches of sandy and craggy coastline. 

Depending on the season in Provence there might be fields of purple lavender or waving red poppy heads as far as the eye can see. Even if the flowers aren’t out, you’ll be charmed by the gently undulating landscape and the picturesque villages. 

Hikers, bikers, and road trippers can meander through the rocky foothills of the Provence Alps, climb the bald slopes of Mount Ventoux or visit the stunning Verdon Gorge in central Provence. Then head to ​​Calanques National Park to explore a rugged coastal area with fjords, sea caves, and secret beaches. And don’t leave without seeing the Camargue wetland area, famous for its beauty and wildlife including wild horses, and flamingos!

Not to be outdone, Tuscany boasts some of the world’s most beautiful landscapes. The verdant valleys of Chianti, and the rolling hills of Val d’Orcia, with their groves of cypress and olive trees, are famous across the globe. 

The Apennine Mountains welcome climbers and mountain bikers, while the clay hills of Crete Senesi are a favorite with hikers. Explore the beautiful river gorge​​ Stretti di Giaredo, or Antro del Corchia, Italy’s biggest cave system. And for anyone who overdoes the hiking, natural, thermal hot springs await to soak weary muscles. 

Conclusion: two stunning areas with natural beauty to spare. We can’t pick between them.

Provence Or Tuscany: Beaches

Beach in Tuscany
Photo by Envato Elements

The breathtaking beaches of Provence’s Cote d’Azur, or The French Riviera, are world-famous, and with good reason. Endless miles of golden sand broken up by rocky headlands all lapped by sparkling azure waters, it’s blissful. 

World-famous spots like Nice, St Tropez, and Cannes have long been known as the playground of the rich and famous, and conjure up images of beautiful people relaxing on superyachts or attending celebrity-studded parties. But, that’s not the whole story. 

Provence’s coastline goes far beyond those few famous spots. Marseille alone has 21 beaches to choose from, and if you hire a car and drive the endless coastline, you’ll find plenty of hidden coves and quiet stretches to stop at. 

Drive to the Italian border to find the region’s best-kept secret, Menton. Visit the island of Porquerolles for a little remote relaxation or follow in the footsteps of Picasso at the beautiful Plage Paloma in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.

In comparison, Tuscany is not a place people generally think of for beaches – the region’s many other highlights tend to steal the spotlight. But, Tuscany has  230 km of stunning coastline that is often much quieter than other – more well-known beach regions of Italy.

From vast resort strips to rocky little coves, you’ll find a beach for all tastes here. And if the mainland doesn’t suit you, head for the islands instead! 

Tuscany is home to an archipelago of seven islands, each one home to pretty towns, gorgeous beaches, and crystal clear waters. The largest, Elba, is famously where Napoleon spent his days in exile. While Campese Beach on the second largest island, Giglio, is known for its glorious sunsets. 

Conclusion: beautiful beaches abound in either region, but if you crave the glamour of the Riviera, you’d best head for Provence. 

Provence Or Tuscany: Cities and Towns

Town in Provence
Photo by Envato Elements

As tempting as it is to spend your whole vacation immersed in the beauty of the countryside or lounging on the beaches, it would be a crime to do so. These regions are home to some incredible cities, beautiful hilltop towns, and picturesque villages. 

In Provence, try to visit:

  • Aix-en-Provence, home to incredible art, architecture, and labyrinthine streets. 
  • Avignon is a beautifully preserved city of churches, cathedrals, and gothic architectural wonders. And the Pont Du Gard a 2000-year-old three-story aqueduct. 
  • Marseilles, whose gritty demeanor masks a surprisingly cultured city. 
  • Grasse, the perfume capital of the world since the 16th century. 
  • The original seaside resort, Nice where influences from France, Italy, and England combine to create something wholly original. 

And in Tuscany, try to explore:

  • Terracotta-hued Florence with its incredible array of artworks, historical sights, and stunning architecture.
  • Pisa, where you’ll find more than just a leaning tower!
  • Medieval Siena, with its gothic monuments, famous square, and historical horse races. 
  • The many beautiful hilltop towns like Collodi, where Pinocchio was created. Or renaissance era Montepulciano, where the views are almost as good as the wine. 
  • Livorno, the often overlooked port city that’s home to picturesque canals, rugged beaches, and the best seafood in the region.

Conclusion: a draw, there are just too many beautiful historic cities and towns to mention or choose between. 

Provence Or Tuscany: Food

Italian pasta
Photo by Envato Elements

Food is a major highlight of any vacation and, again, something you can’t go wrong with in either of these regions. Tuscany is known chiefly for its hearty, rustic cuisine influenced by its agricultural prowess. Meals often include red meat, roasted game, rich sauces, beans, and freshly made bread. 

Don’t leave without trying the official dish of Florence, Bistecca Alla Florentine, a thickly cut, flame-grilled T-bone steak big enough to share. We also love the Tagliatelle al Tartufo, pasta made with the truffles found in the local area. You’ll find their unique flavor infusing everything from olive oil to pecorino, the local specialty sheep’s cheese. 

You’ll find many similarities between Tuscan and Provencal cuisine. The ethos of simple meals, made with excellent, seasonal, local ingredients runs through both. Although in Provence, you’ll find a few more seafood flavors on the menu. 

One of those is bouillabaisse, the traditional dish of Marseille. This seafood stew contains no less than three different fish and plenty of saffron. It’s a must-try, as is Ratatouille, another regional specialty. 

Food lovers should also explore Provence’s famous markets. Shop for all your fresh produce – locally grown, of course – plus local specialties like lavender honey, or Provençal tapenade. Pick up a jar or two to take home.

Conclusion: we refuse to choose, the food is excellent in both. 

Provence Or Tuscany: Wine

Bottles of red wine
Photo by Envato Elements

Both of these regions are world-famous for their wine. But despite having similar landscapes and climates and their geographical closeness, they specialize in very different wines.

Tuscany is the most famous wine region in Italy. It’s well known for its full-bodied reds, which age wonderfully and pair perfectly with red meat. And, of course, the famous Chianti. Provence is no stranger to a crisp dry white or hearty red either – this is the land of Chateauneuf du Pape, after all. But 90% of the region’s output is palest pink rosé. Light, fruity, and often drier than you might expect, a chilled glass of Provençal rosé is the perfect summer tipple. 

Whichever region you choose to visit, the good news is that you’ll never be far from an excellent vineyard. The struggle might be limiting yourself to one or two because trying to see all of the vineyards in Tuscany or Provence could lead to a very drunken holiday!

The best option is to pick a small area – like Montalcino, home of Tuscany’s most exquisite red, or the area surrounding St Tropez. Then hire a bike for a cycle tour of those wineries, it’s a wonderful day out. 

Conclusion: wine lovers will be in their element in either region, but rosé drinkers should definitely head to Provence.

Provence Or Tuscany: Conclusion

You’ve probably noticed we didn’t really make any decisions there. We’re not trying to be unhelpful, honest! It’s just that these regions are so beautiful, the attractions so abundant, and the similarities so many that the only way to pick between them is through personal preference. 

For example, the wine and food are wonderful in both regions, but if you prefer red wine and red meat to rosé and seafood, you should lean towards Tuscany. Likewise, art lovers for whom the renaissance is most important should visit Tuscany while those with a preference for the work of Van Gogh and Picasso should consider Provence. And people who want to visit locations they’ve seen on the silver screen, such as the glamorous St Tropez or stunning Val d’Orcia, have an easy answer. 

But for everyone else, you truly can’t go wrong in these two regions with their abundant beauty, culture, and laid-back Mediterranean lifestyles. 

So whichever one you choose, Provence or Tuscany, happy travels!


Founder of the Travel Snippet blog, travel and nature lover. I share with you all my best tips and tricks to help you plan your next adventure.

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