Attempting to update the image of a popular destination can be a tricky proposition. After all, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. That said, it doesn't do to rest on your laurels, either, especially for regions looking to attract younger and/or repeat visitors.
In the case of Provence, whose tourism team marked Bastille Day in New York with a series of events promoting Marseille, Aix and Arles, the plan is to acknowledge what people know and love about this iconic part of France while also emphasizing what's new.
For some of us the known attractions -- lavender fields, ros wine, sunny weather and Unesco World Heritage sites -- are enough to make the destination a perennial favorite. In fact, the number of visitors by Americans to Provence has spiked by more than 20% in the last five years.
But in an effort to keep that momentum going, the various regions are touting recent and upcoming attractions that some of us may not know about.
Top of the list is the much-anticipated 2018 opening of the Frank Gehry-designed Luma Foundation, a cultural center in Arles that pays homage to the region's culture -- in this case the artwork of Van Gogh -- with a contemporary twist.
The center, located at the gates of Camargue near the city's Roman sites, will feature a nearly 185-foot tower and an exterior said to be inspired by Van Gogh's distinctive brushwork.
Van Gogh wasn't the only famous artist to pitch his easel in Provence. The Picasso-Mediterranee project, which showcases the works of Spanish artist, will mount a series of exhibits on Picasso in Arles, Aix and Marseille next year.
Meanwhile, history buffs can visit the recently reopened Toulon Landings Memorial, a former 19th century musketeers' fort that has seen more than its share of combat in the decades since. Originally inaugurated in 1964, the memorial now offers personal stories of the combatants and the overall history of the site.
For history of an entirely different kind, the medieval family home of the Marquis de Sade, for whom the word "sadism" was coined, is reopening to the public this year after a four-year renovation. The beautiful Chateau de Saumane near L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, whose foundations date back to the 14th century, was the childhood home of the notorious author and revolutionary, who died in prison for the inflammatory nature of his writing.
Wine lovers are not forgotten, thanks to the newly revamped Domaine Dubrule wine cellars, located in Cucuron-Luberon. Created by designer-architect Jean Michel Wilmotte, the venue now offers wine tastings in an eye-popping, artistic setting.
It's hard to overstate the importance of the return of the French Formula 1 Grand Prix to Provence on June 24. The Castellet Paul Ricard circuit, which last hosted the race a decade ago, is expected to draw more than 66,000 spectators, a third of whom are likely to be international.
Other highlights include events around Marseille's 2017 reign as European Capital of Sport, new cycling routes in Verdon and Luberon, snorkeling trails in Hyeres and a host of summer festivals, culinary experiences and outdoor markets around the region.
As to new ways to get there, Air Canada is promoting a seasonal, nonstop service from Montreal to Marseille, which will operate three times a week through Oct. 13 via an Air Canada Rouge Boeing 767-300ER plane.