Prior to the Roman conquest of Gaul, the south of France was occupied by Celtic-Ligurian tribes and Phocaeans who were Greeks from what is now modern Turkey. The Phocaeans settled in Massalia (modern Marseille) around 600 BC and tended to stay in and around the city.
The Romans spread north from Italy and between 125 and 122 BC, as was their wont, they conquered the south of France. In 27 BC Emperor Augustus named it Narbonensis, although they often referred to it as Provincia Nostra or ‘our Province’. It remained in Roman control, enjoying the Pax Romana for the most part, until the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD.
After the Fall of Rome
After the Romans left, Provence was invaded by Visigoths, Burgundians and Ostrogoths until finally in 536 AD it came under the control of the Franks.
From the 7th – 9th centuries the folks of Provence found themselves between a rock and a hard place – they were ruled by the Carolingian Franks who fought among themselves for control and they were invaded from the sea by Saracens who carried them off into slavery.