A bustling university town, Salon de Provence has 44,000 inhabitants and resembles a mini version of Aix-en-Provence. It’s actually a practical place to stay if you want to spend more time on this side of Provence (Bouches-du-Rhone). Aix, Arles, Les Baux, and Avignon are a hop-skip-and-jump away and it’s also only one hour and 15 minutes’ drive from Cotignac. It has everything you’d expect from a larger town with shopping convenience but it also has the unfortunate aspect of growth in the architectural sense of mixing cheaper simpler buildings with the older charming ones (example: ’80s style commercial and living quarters next to the impressive castle). Perhaps this was a result of economic necessity at the time but it still makes the town less attractive than its evidently more glorious past.
I sipped a terrific Monaco (cocktail of beer, 7up and grenadine syrup) at a bar just behind the castle and off the main shopping road and really enjoyed people watching there. There’s diversity in the population here which is refreshing to see. There were lots of young people, families, and business suits even in the afternoon on a Saturday. I really like the vibe here, it’s energising and worth a detour if you have extra time to spend in the area.
More information (and a great video) about Salon here: http://www.visitsalondeprovence.com/