The region of southern France known as Provence has enjoyed a varied history, occupied by Ligurian and Celtic tribes, followed by Greek settlers, and finally by absorption into the Roman Empire. The succeeding centuries brought invasions, then rule by the Counts of Toulouse, before the region became, by inheritance, part of France. The local language, the langue d'oc, reflects something of this history, as do surviving popular customs. The Roman period is represented by surviving buildings, the Middle Ages by the Romanesque and Gothic.
Music for the tour consists of string quartets by Claude Debussy and by Maurice Ravel, thirteen years his junior. Debussy's String Quartet, Op. 10, dates from 1893, while Ravel's single string quartet was written in 1902. Both works are highly characteristic of their relative composers.