Welcome to Bouches-du-Rhône
The 'mouths-of-the-Rhône', where one of Europe's great rivers splits before spilling its Swiss-Alpine snowmelt into the Mediterranean, is Provence's most populous département. Its palpitating heart is Marseille, a gritty former Greek colony, France's second-largest city, and a place of real cultural energy. Centred on the bristling masts and bluff forts of the Vieux Port, it has a strong Maghrebian flavour – imported from nearby Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco – and the idiosyncratic pride of a long-established seafaring city, which runs counterpoint to the restless energy of its arts, dining and cultural scenes. Spreading out from Marseille's concrete margins are pine-swaddled coastal uplands cut by ravishingly beautiful calanques (coves), while inland is the still-thriving Roman spa town of Aix-en-Provence, reposing handsomely in the Pays d’Aix (Aix Country) so beloved of Cézanne.