Lavender fields South of France

South of France itinerary 12 days in Provence and the French Riviera

Content:

Are you looking for wonderful authentic places with natural charm and a peaceful atmosphere? Do you like the untouched nature and the stunning views? Do you like both – the sea and the mountains? Do you love the delicious food and the good wine? If the answer of these questions is Yes then the region of Southern France – Provence and the French Riviera is definitely your destination. Let’s check my South of France itinerary for 12 days together.

Is going to the south of France worth it?

Southern France perfect combines the coziness of the French countryside and the charm of the Cote d’Azur. The amazing blue waters of the Mediterranean smoothly flow into the green hills of the mountainous regions of the Alps. The Riviera intertwines perfectly liveliness, luxury and lights with the charm of old beautiful buildings and pastel houses that harmonize with the narrow streets and stone houses with countless flowers of Provence.

The azure waters of the Mediterranean, the lively atmosphere along the coast and the small villages perched on top of a hill, many of which are included in the association Les Plus Beaux Villages de France, define the South of France as a preferred destination for both local and foreign tourists.

Provence and the French Riviera interweave culturally intriguing places, history, art with stunning views. The endless lavender fields and breathtaking landscapes, the beautiful turquoise beaches, the unique French markets, delicious food and wine are just a few reasons to visit this area.

What are the best months to organize your South of France itinerary?

If you don’t plan to spend your summer vacation on the Riviera, the best months to visit South of France are May, June and September. If you want to photograph the picturesque lavender fields, then plan your round trip in France between June and August, with the best time being the beginning of July.

 August is also a good month, because the summer is not too hot, but keep in mind the big temperature differences between the high mountain villages and the heat in the low ones and prepare suitable clothing. It is good to know that the French take their holidays usually in August and like to spend their holidays in Provence and the French Riviera. If you’re looking for silence and peace, this is definitely not your month. Places for overnight stays run out quickly and the prices are higher. Winters are cool in the north and wet in the Mediterranean region.

How to get to South of France?

IMPORTANT!

If you come from outside of the EU I would recommend you to buy E-sim before the trip.
With E-sim you can download and install a digital data pack for over 200 countries/regions and get connected with anywhere in the world as soon as you land.

Where to start your South of France itinerary?

I would recommend starting your journey from Nice, Marseille or Avignon.

How to get around in Southern France?

  • By Rent a car – No doubt the easiest and most convenient way to get around Provence and the French Riviera is by car. It gives you the freedom to change your plans on the go, discover new points of interest along the way that weren’t mapped out in your original itinerary, and visit places that weren’t intended.
  • By train
  • By bus
  • By bicycle. An option for the bravest and cycling lovers is to cycle through the picturesque South of France. The routes that Provence and the French Riviera offer are extremely scenic, but some of them are also quite difficult. It is no coincidence that part of the Tour de France route passes through here.

Where to plan your stay in South of France?

Recommendation

Before you start booking your accommodation, think about whether you want to spend the night in a different place each day, or if you’ll choose two or three base locations from which to organize your excursions.

South of France itinerary by public transport

If you have chosen to explore the region by public transport, the best option for you is to choose some of the larger cities as overnight bases and from there organize day trips to the most beautiful villages of Provence or the cities of the Cote d’Azur. You can use Nice, Avignon, Marseille, Aix-en-Provence as bases. Here are some suggestions for overnight stays in these places:

Accommodation in Nice

  • Chambre N3 l Gare l Tram l Quartier Chic – a top offer if you have decided to explore Southern France by train. The apartment is located in a building from 1920. Just a minute to walk to the station, but in a quiet location. The Russian Orthodox Cathedral is nearby and the Bay of Angels is 1.5 km away. The rating is Excellent 8.9, and the price for a night for two is 123 EUR.
  • Slo Nice – an apartment with an excellent location 0.5 km from Nice train station . Clean and comfortably furnished. The building has an elevator and 24-hour front desk. The rating is Exceptional 9.1, and the price for a night for two is 133 EUR.
  • Joli Studio – Nice – excellent location apartment with a fully equipped kitchen, less than 0.5 km from the train station and about 1.5 km from Castle Hill and Bay of Angels, and an 11 minute walk from Lido Beach. The rating is Exceptional 9.0, and the price for a night for two is 138 EUR.
  • Villa Otero by Happyculture – with an excellent location 5 minutes from the train station and 20 minutes from Vieux Nice and Cours Saleya, it has a 24-hour front desk. Also suitable for disabled guests. The rating is Very good 8.4, and the price for a night for two is 176 EUR.

Accommodation in Avignon

  • Artistic Loft Travel Experience – the apartment has an excellent location in the heart of Avignon – a short distance from Avignon Central Station and the Papal Palace at the same time. An extremely convenient offer if you are traveling with your family or friends. The apartment is modernly furnished with a fully equipped kitchen and a washing machine. The rating is Excellent 9.8 and the price per night for four is 483 EUR.
  • Chez Flo – the apartment is located 400 m from the train station and 1.2 km from the Papal Palace. The apartment is equipped with a kitchen and also offers free parking on site. The rating is Exceptional 9.7, and the price for a night for two is 221 EUR.
  • Charmant et Lumineux Studio Intramuros – the apartment is located in the central part of Avignon next to the bridge and the Papal Palace. The Central Station is 1.2 km away. The rating is Exceptional 9.0, and the price for a night for two is 200 EUR.

Accommodation in Marseille

  • Hôtel Carré Vieux Port – the hotel is located on the old port near the metro station and the central train station of Marseille. It has a 24-hour front desk, a terrace and a bar. The rating is Very good 8.0, and the price for a night for two is 130 EUR.
  • La Grande Bleue – Appartement confortable à deux pas du Panier – the apartment is located in the old part of Marseille, near a metro stop and the train station is 1.1 km away. It has an equipped kitchen and laundry facilities. The rating is Excellent 9.0, and the price for a night for two is 163 EUR.
  • Maison Juste – the aparthotel is located near the train station and metro station. It offers its guests fresh fruit every morning. The rating is Exceptional 9.0 , and the price for a night for two is 142 EUR.

Accommodation in Aix-en-Provence

  • Les Quatre Dauphins – the hotel is decorated in Tuscany style and is located in the heart of Aix-en-Provence, 350 m from the Cours Mirabeau and very close to the train station. The rating is Very good 8.1, and the price for a night for two is 175 EUR.
  • La Caravelle – 700 m from the train station and 8 minutes’ walk from Cours Mirabeau. 24-hour front desk, family rooms, facilities for disabled guests. The rating is Exceptional 8.7, and the price for a night for two is 135 EUR.
  • Sur les Toits d’Aix-en-Provence – located 500 m from the train station. The rating is Exceptional 8.6, and the price for a night for two is 105 EUR.

South of France itinerary by car

If you travel by car, you can afford to spend the nights in a different place every day. You can choose the places to stay based on the route you have prepared, and I have given suggestions for accommodation below in the post in the part that describes the places themselves.

How many days to plan for your South of France itinerary?

I highly recommend to spend minimum 14 days in Southern France but you can visit lot of places also for 12 days. Let’s check my South of France itinerary together.

South of France itinerary 12-days in Provence and the French Riviera

12 days, 27 places visited 

– Azure sea waters, turquoise lakes, violet sunsets and endless colorful landscapes, picturesque villages, towns, natural and architectural phenomena under hot sun up to +38°, heavy rain, flood, fog and sudden temperature change up to +14°.

The road trip combines some of the most picturesque and beautiful villages of the French Provence, amazing natural sights and selected places from the French Riviera. You can use this South of France itinerary when planning your own trip or use it as a base while adding or removing places as you wish.

Here is it:


Nice – Villefranche sur Mer – Eze – Monaco – Luceram – Coaraze – Saint Paul de Vence – Gourdon – Gorges du Verdon – Moustiers-Sainte-Marie – Saint Croix du Verdon – Greux les Bains – Roussillon – Sentier des Ocres – Gordes – Fontaine de Vaucluse – Avignon – Les Beaux de Provence – Arles – Pont du Gard – Lacoste – Lourmarin – Aix en Provence – Cassis – Calanques – Marseille – Saint Tropez – Antibes

South of France itinerary part 1 – Days 1-5

Nice

We start our journey with Nice – the pearl of the French Riviera. The plane flies over the Mediterranean Sea and it seems like it’s about to land on the sea waves. The feeling is indescribable.

Nice Bay of Angels from above, South of France itinerary
Nice Bay of angels

Also indescribable is Nice with its clean sea air, mild Mediterranean climate and untouched nature in the region, which attract over 4 million visitors to the city annually. Because of its historical importance as a winter resort town for European aristocracy and its mix of cultures, Nice has been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2021s.

Artists are also attracted to Nice. The picturesque landscapes and soft light were especially attractive to the famous artists Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, Niki de Saint Phalle and Armand. Many writers also find inspiration here. Friedrich Nietzsche spent six consecutive winters in the city and wrote Thus Spoke Zarathustra here, and the Russian writer Anton Chekhov completed his play Three Sisters while living in Nice.

Do you want beautiful nature, warm sun and sea ? Welcome to Nice. Let me show you how I saw it – alive, magical and colorful .

How to get to Nice?
  • If you have chosen Nice for your first stop from your South of France itinerary the fastest and most convenient way is by plane. For your round trip you can rent a car at the best price.
  • If you will be traveling by public transport, here is information on airport transfers .
  • By bus
  • By train

How to get around Nice?

Where to stay in Nice?
  • If you are people who prefer comfort, peace and quiet, I would highly recommend the house we chose during our stay in Nice. It is located high on a hill, away from the noise and lights of the city and offers incredible views. The host is an exceptional person, the breakfast is excellent, and among other things, the house has a small outdoor pool. It is called Castel Enchanté and the rating is Excellent 9.4. Prices vary according to the month of stay and the number of nights.
  • The renowned Hotel Le Negresco offers its guests dazzling luxury and makes its guests feel like they are in a palace. I’m not into luxury, but out of pure curiosity I wouldn’t refuse a night there. The rating is Excellent 9.2, and the prices again vary according to the month of stay and the number of nights.
  • Le Panoramic Boutique Hôtel offers superb views of the city. The rating is Very good 8.5, and the price for a night for two is 192 EUR.
  • Le capitole are independent apartments near the beach. The rating is Excellent 9.2 and prices vary by season.
  • Le Meridien Nice is located on the seafront and offers all amenities. The rating is Very good 8.1, and the price for a night for two is 520 EUR.
  • You will find more proposals here.

How long to stay in Nice?

At least I would recommend to stay in Nice three days.

There is a lot to see in the city itself, and if you love museums and galleries you’ve come to the right place.

Sights in Nice

Here are some of the main sights to visit. Information about them, ticket prices, opening hours and interesting facts are described in the article Nice – sights and useful information 2024.

Nice Course Saleya, South of France itinerary
Nice Course Saleya
  • Promenade des Anglais
  • Bay of Angels
  • The Old Port of Nice
  • The Lighthouse
  • Castle Hill (Colline du Château)
  • Old Nice (Vieux-Nice)
  • Sainte Reparate Cathedral
  • The Municipal Palace (Palais communal de Nice)
  • Garibaldi Square
  • Rossetti Square
  • Course Saleya
  • Place du Palais de Justice
  • Russian Orthodox Cathedral
  • The typical French restaurants
  • Galleries and museums

What to visit in the Nice area?

Villefranche-sur-Mer

Described by Jean Cocteau as “a source of myth and inspiration“, Villefranche-sur-Mer was once very popular with artists and writers, but thanks to its picturesque views, the town is now favored by artists.

The sandy beaches of Villefranche-sur-Mer are much nicer than the pebbly beaches of Nice, and the long central beach is one of the rarest on the coast between Nice and Italy where you will find coarse sand rather than pebbles.

Villefranche-sur-Mer, South of France itinerary
Villefranche-sur-Mer

How to get to Villefranche-sur-Mer?

The small resort town on the French Riviera is located 6 km east of Nice and 10 km southwest of Monaco. Here are the easiest ways to get to Villefranche-sur-Mer:

  • By rent-a-car
  • By taxi from Nice
  • By bus from Nice, leaving from the Square de Normandie stop
  • By train from Nice, departing from the Nice Ville stop
  • By e-bike from Nice.

Where to stay in Villefranche-sur-Mer?

Here are some recommendations:

  • Le Rooftop 180 is rated Exceptional 9.6 and offers the most unique view of Villefranche-sur-Mer and the coast. The price varies and depends on the number of nights.
  • La Résidence de La Réserve is rated Excellent 9.3 and offers luxury apartments.
  • Excellent location Sea views offers its guests unique views of the sea. The rating is Exceptional 9.6.
  • Sea view apartment  is an elegant apartment in French chic with a view of the sea and a score of Excellent 9.1.
  • Hotel La Regence is a budget option 10 minutes from the beach and has a rating of Very good 8.5 and the price for a night for two is 106 EUR.
  • More suggestions 

Sights in Villefranche-sur-Mer

You will find complete information about the sights in the article Villefranche-sur-Mer – the hidden gem of the French Riviera 2024.

Villefranche-sur-Mer-the-streets-South-of-France-itinerary
Villefranche-sur-Mer the streets
  • The old town
  • Saint-Michel Church
  • Rue Obscure
  • Saint Pierre Chapel
  • The promenade
  • Cafes and restaurants
  • Plage de l’Ange Gardien
  • Plage des Marinieres
  • La Darse Beach

Activities in Villefranche-sur-Mer

What to visit in the area of Villefranche-sur-Mer?

Eze

In southeastern Provence, high above the steep cliffs of the Mediterranean Sea, lies the medieval town of Eze, which skillfully combines the charm of Provence and the French Riviera. Easily accessible, the town is just 12 km from Nice on the way to Monaco.

Eze connects two settlements in one – the seaside town of Eze-sur-Mer and the hilltop medieval village of Eze-le-Village, which offers breathtaking panoramic views. Explore the beautiful views that attract writers and artists. Explore the charm and romance of the typical southern French villages which surrounded by the medieval walls make the town a popular tourist destination.

Eze, South of France itinerary
Eze

How to get to Eze?

Important information if you travel by car!

The parking lot under the medieval village is very small. A large car park is available to visitors a few kilometers outside Eze, where you can leave the car and take a shuttle to and from. The price of the shuttle includes a ticket to visit the Exotic Garden.

Where to stay in Eze?
  • Hôtel Eze Hermitage entre Nice et Monaco is a charming hotel with a delightful garden and outdoor pool, located very close to the old town of Eze. The rating is Exceptional 8.7 and the price is 140 EUR per night for two.
  • La Perle d’Eze – Aparthotel is located near the sea. The aparthotel offers its guests apartments with a fully equipped kitchen, terraces with sea views and an outdoor pool. The rating is Very good 8.4 and the price is 265 EUR per night for two.
  • Les Terrasses d’Eze – Hôtel & Spa offers panoramic sea views. It has a garden, a terrace and an outdoor pool. The rating is Very good 8.2 and the price for a night for two is 280 EUR.
  • Hotel Cap Estel is in the higher price range and offers its guests luxury and all kinds of comforts. With its excellent location on top of a promontory jutting out into the sea, the hotel offers exceptional views of the sea. It has a private beach, and on the cape itself is an open pool, under which is the sea. Stunning view! The rating is Excellent 9.4 and the price for a night for two is 1 425 EUR.
  • Villa de luxe à Eze is an extremely advantageous proposition for those of you traveling with a larger group of people than several families or friends. The villa is located near the sea, offers luxury and amenities, sea view, outdoor pool and garden. It is decorated in the typical style of the place and is very comfortable. Price for renting the whole villa – 600 EUR for 8 people.
  • Chateau Eza is located in the medieval part of Eze and offers a unique view of the sea. The château is furnished in Louis XIII style, offers luxury, amenities and incredible cuisine. The rating is Excellent 9.0 and the price for a night for two is 800 EUR.

What to visit in Eze?

Here are the sights to visit in Eze, and details and recommendations can be found in the articke Eze – Medieval Romance of the French Riviera.

Eze the medieval village South of France itinerary
Eze the medieval village
  • The medieval city
  • The Exotic Garden (Le Jardin Exotique)
  • Notre Dame Church
  • The galleries of Ez
  • The Nietzsche Path

What to visit in the Eze area?
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Monaco

After Eze we decided to skip to Monaco, but the contrast between the relaxed atmosphere and medieval charm of Provence with Monaco’s fast pace, luxury hotels and heaps of construction was just too much and I didn’t get to feel Monaco.

Reccommendation:

If you plan to include Monaco in your South of France itinerary, better to combine its visit with Cannes or another luxury destination on the Cote d’Azur.
The Monte Carlo Casino
The Monte Carlo Casino

How to get to Monaco?

Important!

If you’re an Europe citizen remember to turn off your mobile data when entering Monaco.

Where to stay in Monaco?
  • 2 pièces au center de Monaco – excellent location 4 minutes walk from the train station and 13 minutes walk from the Palace. The apartment is bright, with a balcony and a fully equipped kitchen. The rating is Excellent 9.7 and the price for a night for two is 275 EUR.
  • Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo – The 5-star hotel is located next to the casino and offers luxury and all the extras. Two restaurants, a piano bar, a spa, two swimming pools and private parking are available to guests. The amenities of the disabled have also been thought of. The rating is Excellent 9.5 and the price per night for two is 1484 EUR.
  • Monaco F1 Port de Fontvieille – the apartment has a balcony, jacuzzi and access to the garden and pool. The rating is Exceptional 9.9 and the price for a night for two is 360 EUR.
  • Port Palace – the hotel is located in the immediate vicinity of the marina and the Hairpin bend. It offers facilities for guests with disabilities. The rating is Excellent 8.8 and the price for a night for two is 431 EUR.
  • Other suggestions

Sights in Monaco

Proposal:

Explore the sights of Monaco on a hop-on hop-off bus. Take a look at the Map of the tour.
The Monte Carlo Casino
The Monte Carlo Casino
  • Monte Carlo Casino
  • The famous Formula 1 Fairmont Pinhair
  • The marina
  • Palace of the Prince of Monaco
  • The Grimaldi Forum
  • Princess Grace’s Rose Garden
  • The exotic garden of Monaco
  • The Oceanographic Museum
  • Jean Cocteau Museum
  • Monaco Cathedral
  • The Opera of Monaco
  • The rock in the sea

What to visit in the Monaco area?
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Saint Paul de Vence

If you are in the area of Nice you definitely have to include Saint Paul de Vence in your South of France itinerary. The charming small town is located only 19 km from Nice and is one of the favorite places to walk in the region. Over the years, it has been home to various artists and writers, which increases its popularity among artistic circles. The picturesque views that unfold, the proximity to the resorts of the Cote d’Azur, art workshops and galleries make Saint Paul de Vence a favorite place to visit for tourists, both local and foreign.

You won’t find peace and quiet here, and be prepared for crowds, especially in the summer season. Nevertheless, the beautiful town with houses from the 16th – 18th centuries is definitely worth a visit.

Gallery in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, South of France itinerary
Gallery in Saint Paul de Vence
How to get to Saint Paul de Vence?

Useful information

Near the entrance to the old town, there is a 7-floors underground paid parking lot where you can leave your car.

Where to stay in Saint Paul de Vence?
  • Etoile De Saint Paul – the villa is located in a quiet location, just 1.2 km from the historic center. It offers its guests comfortably furnished studios, outdoor pool, garden, sauna, free parking. The rating is Excellent 9.4, price per night for two 190 EUR.
  • Villa Saint Paul – the villa is located within walking distance of the old town. Each room has a terrace with a view of the garden, outdoor pool, free parking . Rating Exceptional 9.3, price per night for two 200 EUR.
  • Le Hameau – the hotel is located in an 18th century farmhouse with a view of the valley and the village. Extremely comfortably furnished, it offers its guests an outdoor pool, a garden with lemon and orange trees, a relaxation area, a jacuzzi and a sauna. Guests can enjoy superb cuisine in the restaurant. Parking is free. Rating Excellent 9.2, price per night for two – 235 EUR.
  • Other suggestions

What to visit in Saint Paul de Vence?

  • The medieval city
  • The galleries
  • The Big fountain
  • The fountains of Saint Paul de Vence
  • Eglise Square
  • Esperon Tower
  • Chapel of the White Penitents
  • The house of the poet Jacques Prevert
  • The perfumeries
  • The nougat shops
  • The famous hotel La Colombe D’Or – The Golden Dove

What to visit in the Saint Paul de Vence area
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Luceram

The beautiful medieval village of Luceram is one of the hidden gems in Southern France. It is located in the Alpes-Maritimes department and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region at 650 meters above sea level. Only 27 km from Nice in the Payonne Valley, this beautiful medieval village is perched on cliffs above the bend of the Payonne River, surrounded by an endless green landscape.

Despite its proximity to Nice, Luceram remains somewhat out of the way of the popular tourist spots. Whether it’s because it’s not located near the main roads or because it lacks the many tourist-friendly restaurants and souvenir shops, I don’t know. And maybe because the road to it is mountainous, steep, with many U-turns? Whatever the reason, the village is absolutely worth a visit and you have to include it in your South of France itinerary. It is intact and still preserves the coziness and medieval charm, in no way inferior to the more popular places in Provence.

Luceram was once a fortified post on the ancient salt road, and in the Middle Ages it was a domain belonging to a Count of Provence. At the top of the village stood a castle, of which only a few ruins remain.

If you like silence and don’t like crowds of tourists, then Luceram is just for you .

Lucerne, the most beautiful villages of Provence
Luceram

How to get to Luceram?
  • By rent-a-car from Nice
  • By bus 615 from Nice
  • By bicycle. The route from Nice to Luceram is a challenge for cyclists with its steep switchbacks.

Where to stay in Luceram?
  • La Ferme des Cailletiers chez Marc – the house has two bedrooms, a living room and a fully equipped kitchen. The rating is Excellent 9.0 and the price for a night for four is 95 EUR.
  • Tipi sous les étoiles avec petit déjeuner – break the standards and book a night in a tipi in nature. A terrace, garden and mountain views will be at your disposal, and the hosts will take care of you with a superb breakfast included in the price. The rating is Excellent 9.2 and the price for a night for two is 72 EUR.
  • Ma Petite Maison à Lucéram – Village des crèches – the holiday home offers its guests a bedroom, a living room and an equipped kitchen. The terrace and the garden have views of the village. The rating is Excellent 8.8 and the price for a night for two is 149 EUR.

What to see in Luceram?

  • The old narrow streets of Luceram
  • The center of Luceram
  • The non-standard Christmas decoration
  • The biblical scene
  • The old houses of Luceram
  • Saint Marguerite Church
  • Saint Jean Chapel
  • The fortress
  • The Museum of Old Instruments and Local History

What to visit in the area of ​​Luceram?

The municipality of Luceram is located in a mountainous area. If you love the mountains, you can familiarize yourself with the different routes that lead to the mountain peaks in the area – Pointe de Faulio (1212 m), Cime de Peira – Cava (1460 m) and Mont Escobet (1170 m). Here is also Peira-Cavathe first ski resort, established in 1909, but unfortunately the chairlift was dismantled a few years ago.

You can also visit:

  • “Maison de Pays” where you can buy local products.
  • Cimiez Monastery
  • The Redebraus Falls (Cascade de Redebraus). They are located a 16-minute drive from the village
  • The church of Notre-Dame de la Menour , which is reached by a footpath that sits on top of an aqueduct. The distance is about 50 minutes by car
  • You can combine your visit to Luceram with the village of Coaraze .
  • Peillon is another picturesque Provençal village that you can include in your South of France itinerary.


Coaraze

Classified is another hidden gem in Southern France and one of the most beautiful villages of France (Le Plus Beaux Villages de France), but carelessly managed in my opinion, the medieval village of Coaraze is located in the hills north of Nice, in the Alpes-Maritimes department in the south-east France.

Due to its excellent location and the large number of sunny days each year, the village is also called Village du Soleil or Village of the Sun.

Famous artists such as Jean Cocteau, Georges Duquin, Mona Christie, Gilbert Valentine, Ponce de Leon, Henri Goetz dedicated their works to him, including six sundials that decorate the facade of the town hall and the wall of the church square.

Coaraze, the most beautiful villages of Provence, France, South of France itinerary
The atmosphere in Corazе

How to get to Coarazе?
  • With rent-a-car from Nice
  • By bus 610 + 613 from Nice

Where to stay in Coаrazе?

What to see in Corazе?
  • The narrow stone streets with the stone houses
  • The church
  • The municipality
  • The sundials
  • Explore which is the symbol of Coaraze
  • The botanical garden

What to visit in the Coaraze area?

You can combine your visit with Luceram and Peillon .

Gourdon

Gourdonone of the most beautiful villages in France (Le Plus Beaux Villages de France), is located 12 km northeast of Grasse. It is located on top of a rocky promontory at an altitude of 760 meters, from where a stunning view of the valley of the Loup River is revealed and on a clear day the Mediterranean Sea is visible from Nice to Theul. Due to its location, Gurdon is also known as “Eagle’s Nest“. It is no coincidence that the main attraction of the village is its panoramic view of the gorge with the sea.

How to get to Gourdon?

Where to stay in Gourdon?
  • Le Cabanon de Gourdon – excellent location with mountain and sea views. It offers a terrace, breakfast and free parking. The rating is Excellent 9.7 and the price for a night for two is 150 EUR.
  • Chambre d’hôtes insolite Dreams Bubble – stay in a bubble and admire the billions of stars at night. In addition, you get a jacuzzi, breakfast and free parking. The rating is Very good 8.5 and the price for a night for two is 199 EUR.
  • Gite le mandarinier – offers views, garden with barbecue, free parking. The rating is Very good 8.5 and the price for a night for two is 136 EUR.
  • Other suggestions

What to see in Gourdon?

Sights of Gourdon

  • The top attraction in Gourdon is the panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea
  • The ceramic shops
  • The perfumeries
  • The soap shops
  • The bronze sculpture of the hydra
  • Chapel of St. Vincent
  • The fountain
  • Gurdon’s fortress
What to visit in the Gourdon area?
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Gorges du Verdon

If you like the nature do not forget to include Gorges du Verdon in your South of France itinerary. Gorges du Verdon is the most beautiful and spectacular canyon in France and the largest in Europe. It is located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region in southeastern France. The gorge is about 25 km long and up to 700 m deep. The river canyon is formed by the Verdon River, which is named after its turquoise-green color. At the end of the canyon, the river flows into Lake Croix du Verdon .

The canyon was formed during the Quaternary era as a result of crustal movement during the growth of the Alps from the erosion of Jurassic limestone deposits near the Verdon River.

Gorges du Verdon, France
Gorge du Verdon and the Verdon River

How to get to the Gorges du Verdon?

Activities in the Gorges du Verdon

The canyon offers a variety of activities. Walking routes of varying difficulty start from it. The gorge offers conditions for adrenaline seekers and rock climbing enthusiasts. You can canoe or paddle board down the river.

Recommendation

If you’re pressed for time, stop at one of the many viewing platforms along the gorge and enjoy the view.

What to visit in the Gorges du Verdon area?

Gorges du Verdon is attractive in itself but if you’d like to spend more time in the area you can visit:

  • Lake Croix du Verdon
  • The village of Saint Croix du Verdon
  • Moustier-Sainte-Marie
  • Gourdon
  • Grass
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Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie – the hidden gem of Southern France is one of the most beautiful villages of Provence according to the Association Plus Beaux Villages de France. Amphitheatrically situated under two huge limestone cliffs, Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is nestled at the foot of the mountain on a rocky terrace 100 meters high. The medieval village is located at the beginning of the most spectacular section of the Verdon Gorge and is part of the Verdon Regional Nature Park and the Geopark of Provence – a nature reserve included in the UNESCO list .

Moustiers Sainte Marie, the most beautiful villages of Provence
View of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

How to get to Moustiers-Sainte-Marie?

Important information!

Access to cars is prohibited in the village. Two large parking lots are available just below the cliffs where the stairs to the chapel start. Stays are charged per hour, after 7 p.m. the stay is not charged.

Where to stay in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie?
  •  La maison de jules – the apartment in the center of the village was our choice. Simply furnished, in French chic, behind it was the waterfall. The rating is Exceptional 9.0 and the price for a night for two is 107 EUR.
  • La Ferme Rose-Hôtel de Charme – the hotel has a garden, an outdoor pool, free parking and facilities for disabled guests. The rating is Exceptional 9.0 and the price for a night for two is 162 EUR.
  • La Bouscatière – the hotel has a garden, an outdoor pool, a view of the river. The rating is Exceptional 9.2 and the price for a night for two is 206 EUR.
  • La Bastide du Paradou – the hotel has a restaurant, an exceptional garden, free parking and accepts pets. The rating is Exceptional 8.7 and the price for a night for two is 152 EUR.
  • Other suggestions

Sights in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Information about the sights and many interesting facts in the article Moustiers-Saint-Marie – one of the most beautiful villages of Provence.

  • The rocks
  • The golden star
  • The waterfall that passes through the village
  • The pretty streets and houses around the village
  • Ceramic shops
  • The Moustier Sainte Marie trail . Follow the signs.
  • The parish church
  • Chapel of Notre Dame de Beauvoir
  • The fortress walls
  • The bridge in the center of the village at sunset

What to visit in the Moustiers-Sainte-Marie area?
  • Lake Croix-du-Verdon
  • The village of Saint-Croix-du-Verdon
  • Gorges du Verdon


Saint-Croix-de-Verdon

After two days filling the soul and senses with views from the Gorges du Verdon and Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, we decided to take a day off and finish the first part of our South of France itinerary at the Lake Croix-du-Verdon for a swim in the turquoise waters .

Recommendation

Do not rush down to the village, but stop at the panoramic platform, from which there is a stunning view of the lake and magnificent landscapes of the area.

All kinds of water sports are practiced in the lake and the shores are dotted with dozens of beaches.

Lake Saint Croix du Verdon, Provence
View of Lake Croix-du-Verdon

The village of Saint-Croix-du-Verdon is located at 513 m above sea level on a hill on the shore of the lake and surrounded by a beautiful landscape. The village moved there in the 16th century after being flooded several times while on the plain. Its existence dates back to prehistory.

How to get to Saint-Croix-du-Verdon?

Where to stay in the Saint-Croix-du-Verdon area?
  • Auberge du castellas is in a perfect location. It offers family rooms, an outdoor pool, a restaurant, a terrace and free parking. The rating is Good 7.8, and the price for a night for two is 130 EUR.
  • Camping, mobile home – the campsite has a top location. It offers an outdoor pool, barbecue, terrace. Pets are welcome. The rating is Very good 8.0, and the price for a night for two is 166 EUR.
  • Auberge de Baudinard sur Verdon – the hotel is located in Verdon, 4 km from Saint-Croix-du-Verdon. It is housed in a building from the 17th century. The rating is Exceptional 8.6 and the price for a night for two is 96 EUR.

What to visit in the Saint-Croix-du-Verdon area?

South of France itinerary part 2 – Days 6-9

Roussillon

Our South of France itinerary continues with the villages in the Avignon region and starts with Roussillon – beautiful old village in Provence.

Perched proudly on top of a hill, Roussillon overlooks the first ochre quarries dug more than two centuries ago. The unique canyons located right next to the village, shining in all shades of ochrе, the red walls of the rocks and the red facades of the houses in the Provencal style, give a unique charm to the Provençal village .

In the Middle Ages, Roussillon was only a fortified village with a small castle and a church, but with the development of ochrе quarries and the installation of the factory, the village experienced its rise.

In the second half of the 20th century, Roussillon became the second most visited village in the Luberon after Gord. Thanks to the old quarries, converted into pedestrian zones, the picturesque atmosphere and greenery of the surrounding rural areas and wooded hills covered with vineyards, tourism is beginning to develop.

Roussillon, the most beautiful villages of Provence
The center of Roussillon

How to get to Roussillon?

Where to stay in Roussillon?
  • La Clé des Champs & Spa – the hotel is located in the middle of the lavender fields of the Luberon, 3 km from Roussillon. It offers an outdoor pool, a hammam and a hottube. A library, a fireplace and free parking are also available to guests. The rating is Excellent 9.1 and the price per night for two is 257 EUR.
  • Bastide des Demoiselles – is located in a historic building in Roussillon and features an outdoor pool and free parking. The rating is Excellent 9.6 and the price for a night for two is 247 EUR.
  • Omma – the decor is Provençal. The hotel offers a restaurant, free parking and facilities for guests with disabilities. The rating is Exceptional 8.9 and the price for a night for two is 185 EUR.
  • Other suggestions

What to see in Roussillon?
  • The cobbled streets
  • The houses in the different colors of ocher
  • Saint Michel Church
  • Clock tower du Pasquier
  • The building of the municipality
  • The distilleries
  • The galleries

What to visit in the Roussillon area?
  • The Ochre Trail (Sentier des Ocres )
  • Gord
  • Fontaine-de-Vaucluse


The Ochre Trail ( Sentier des Ocres )

No, they are not in Bryce Canyon.
They are located in the heart of the Luberon, Southern France. In one of the most beautiful villages of Provence, Roussillon, on the site of former quarries the Ochrе Trail winds its way, shining in all shades of yellow, orange and red.

Ocher is a natural pigment found in sandy soils. The iron oxide turns the sand into amazing colors ranging from yellow to purple. Sculpted by storms, these former ocher deposits today reveal to the visitor a fascinating landscape. The rocks, the pillars of earth, the ochre-colored sandhills, once dug with shovels and picks, continue to be shaped by the will of the winds and rain.

The Ocher Trail (Sentier des Ocres), South of France itinerary
The Ocher Trail (Sentier des Ocres),

Important!

The paths are of different lengths – long and short. Information about routes and ticket prices.

What to visit in the area?


Gordes

Gordes is a small picturesque village in Provence, 38 kilometers east of Avignon, perched on a cliff in the Vaucluse mountains.

The village, which has preserved its medieval buildings dating from the 13th century, is a member of the Association of the most beautiful villages of France .
The narrow cobbled streets that wind high through the village, the stone houses, the view of the mountains and the Luberon area have inspired many artists and photographers.

Gordes, the most beautiful villages of Provence, South of France itinerary
Gordes

How to get to Gordes?

Where to stay in Gordes?
  • Le Clos de Gordes – extremely cozy, in the style of Provence, the property offers its guests a garden, a swimming pool and free parking. The rating is Exceptional 10.0, and the price for a night for two is 257 EUR.
  • la réveuse – offers its guests a garden, swimming pool and free parking. The rating is Exceptional 9.2 , and the price for a night for two is 160 EUR.
  • Domaine de l’Enclos – the cozy property in Provence offers its guests a garden, a swimming pool and free parking. The rating is Exceptional 9.5, and the price for a night for two is 418 EUR.
  • More suggestions

What to see in Gordes?
  • The old town
  • The Castle
  • Saint Firmin Church
  • Caves of Saint Firmin
  • The stunning view that is revealed from the fortress walls
  • Gordes Fountain
  • Stroll along the cobbled streets
  • Boutiques and souvenir shops

What to visit in the Gordes area?
  • The open-air archeological museum Village de Bories
  • The picturesque Abbey of Senanque (Abbey de Senanque), especially if you visit the area when the lavender is in bloom
  • Roussillon
  • Fontaine de Vaucluse
  • Avignon

Fontaine de Vaucluse

The attractive medieval village is surrounded dramatically by the high cliffs of Vaucluse. From there springs the emerald green river Sorgue, which defines Fontaine de Vaucluse as one of the most visited villages in Provence.

Naturally, you might assume that the name of the village comes from ‘fountain’ or ‘fountain’, but it actually comes from Vallis Clausa, ‘closed valley’.

Is Fontaine de Vaucluse worth visiting? Definitely. Nature, eco-trails, fresh air and historical sights will not leave you indifferent.

How to get to Fontaine de Vaucluse?

Where to stay in Fontaine de Vaucluse?
  • Hotel Restaurant du Parc en Bord de Rivière – the hotel is located on the river bank. It has a restaurant, hot tube and free parking. The rating is Very good 8.5, and the price for a night for two is 143 EUR.
  • La Figuiere Fontaine de Vaucluse – the old stone house offers its guests a cozy garden, views, a restaurant and free parking. The rating is Exceptional 8.7 and the price for a night for two is 98 EUR.
  • Hotel du Poète – the hotel is located on the banks of the Sorg River. It offers an outdoor pool, bar, restaurant, facilities for guests with disabilities. The rating is Exceptional 9.2, and the price for a night for two is 220 EUR.

What to see in Fontaine de Vaucluse?
  • Sorgue River
  • The source of the Sorgue River
  • The old mill
  • Chemin de la Fontaine eco-trail
  • The fortress
  • Bishop’s Castle
  • The Paper Factory – Vallis Clausa
  • The historical center
  • Petrarch’s house-museum

What to visit in the Fontaine de Vaucluse area?

Avignon

Capital of Vaucluse and Côte du Rhôneseat of the Popes and city of art and culture, theatre, cinema and museums, Avignon is full of history and life.
Claiming to be one of the most beautiful cities in Provence, with a beautiful and majestic old quarter, Avignon is the ideal starting point for exploring the traditional Provençal villages of the Luberon Natural Park, many of which are members of the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages of France. I have already introduced you to some of them.

Avignon, the bustle in front of the Papal Palace in Avignon, France
The revival in front of the Papal Palace in Avignon

How to get to Avignon?

Where to stay in Avignon?
  • La Demoiselle – the apartment is spacious and stylishly furnished. It has an enclosed internal garden. It is an 8-minute walk from the Papal Palace and 15 minutes from Avignon Train Station. The rating is Exceptional 9.5, and the price for a night for two is 203 EUR, including a superb breakfast .
  • La Maison Grivolas Appartements et Maison d’hôtes – the building is located in a quiet place near the Papal Palace. It offers family rooms that are comfortably furnished. It has a garden and an outdoor pool. Paid parking is available on site. The rating is Excellent 9.6, and the price for a night for two is 200 EUR.
  • L’Avant Scène – Loft de Luxe – Atelier d’artiste – the artistically furnished studio has a bedroom, living room, kitchen, garden, hot tube and free parking. The rating is Exceptional 9.8, and the price for a night for two is 206 EUR.
  • Palais des Papes – Havre de Paix III – apartment is located a 13-minute walk from the Papal Palace. It is comfortably furnished in the spirit of a bygone era. It has a fully equipped kitchen and a bath. 4 people can be accommodated and the price per night is 307 EUR. The rating is Exceptional 9.1 .
  • Artistic Loft Travel Experience – a spacious, bright apartment located just a 6 minute walk from the Papal Palace. It has two bedrooms, a living room and a fully equipped kitchen. Pets are accepted. The rating is Excellent 9.8, and the price for a night for two is 315 EUR. 

Sights in Avignon

  • Explore Avignon with a local guide
  • The Papal Palace
  • Notre Dame de Doms Cathedral
  • The statue of the Virgin Mary
  • Square in front of the Papal Palace
  • The Old Mint
  • The old town
  • The town hall
  • The theater
  • Saint Didier Church
  • Pont St. Bénézet
  • Musée du Petit-Palais
  • The Garden of Rocher des Doms ( Jardin du Rocher des Doms )
  • Eglise Saint-Pierre
  • Saint-André Abbey and Gardens ( St-André Abbey & Gardens )
  • The Lambert Collection (Collection Lambert)
  • Musée Calvet
  • Discover the hidden places of Avignon

What to visit in the Avignon area?

Numerous routes depart from Avignon to the charming villages of Provence. Here are some of them:

Les Baux-de-Provence


Les Baux-de-Provence is one of the most remarkable villages in the department of Bouches-du-Rhone in Provence in the south of France, near Arles and Avignon and is included in the Association of the most beautiful villages in France (Plus Beaux Villages de France).


The name Les Baux comes from the Provençal “Baou” – ” high rock “, which is associated with the defensive fortress, the main attraction in the village. Located in the center of the Alpilles (Less Alpes) mountain range, on a rocky edge at 245 m above sea level, from the top of the village there is a stunning panoramic view of Arles, the Camargue nature reserve, the Lesser Alps.

More than 4,000 people once lived here. Now there are no more than 400, but this does not prevent Les Baux-de-Provence from being one of the most visited places in Provence.

Les Beaux-de-Provence, the most beautiful villages of Provence
Le Beau de Provence
How to get to Les Baux-de-Provence?
Where to stay in Les Baux-de-Provence?
  • Domaine De Manville – the luxury hotel in the heart of Les Baux-de-Provence has a spa, two swimming pools, a restaurant and a golf course. Offers facilities for guests with disabilities. The rating is Excellent 9.3, and the price for a night for two is 464 EUR.
  • Domaine du Mas Foucray – the hotel gives you the opportunity to touch all the treasures that Provence hides. Each apartment has a fully equipped kitchen. The hotel offers its guests a garden, outdoor pool, free parking. You can also bring your pet. The rating is Excellent 8.9, and the price for a night for two is 146 EUR.
  • Mas de l’Oulivié – and here you will feel the soul of Provence among the aromas of lavender and rosemary. The rooms in the mansion are furnished in a Provençal style, there is a restaurant and a bar at your disposal, and in the middle of the olive grove you will enjoy a pool and a beach. The hotel is handicap accessible and offers free parking. The rating is Excellent 8.8 , and the price for a night for two is 343 EUR.
  • Les Maisons de l’Hôtel Particulier – the hotel is unique. Even if you don’t plan to visit it, it’s worth looking at the pictures it’s presented with. The interior design, the garden, the outdoor pool so beautifully harmonize and complement each other. In addition, you get a bar and free parking. The hotel is located in Maussane-les-Alpilles in the square between Les Baux-de-Provence, Arles and Avignon. The rating is Excellent 9.4, and the price for a night for two is 428 EUR.
  • Auberge De Saint-Rémy – Hôtel de Charme – Restaurant Gastronomique – for culinary tourists or lovers of good French cuisine. The hotel has two restaurants, one of which offers home cooking and the other has a Michelin star. Located in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, free public parking is available nearby. The rating is Excellent 9.0, and the price for a night for two is 270 EUR.
Things to do in Les Baux-de-Provence
Le Beau de Provence, the most beautiful villages in Provence
The Rocks and the Quarry de Lumiere
  • Chateau de Baux
  • Chapel of the White Penitents (Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs)
  • The fortress walls
  • The Renaissance window
  • Jeanne Mathieu’s home
  • The narrow streets of Les Baux
  • An unique experience in the heart of Provence. Carrières de Lumières pays tribute to the greatest artists in the history of art through digital, immersive and contemporary exhibitions.
What to visit in the region of Les Baux-de-Provence?

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Arles

Arles is one of the most interesting cities in Provence, located in Southern France south of Avignon. Arles is also the gateway to the Camargue nature reserve, famous for its rich fauna and the stunning beauty of the white Camargue horses.
Many artists lived and worked in and around Arles, including Pablo Picasso and Paul Gauguin . The famous impressionist painter Vincent van Gogh lived in Arles from 1888 to 1889. He was fascinated by the Provençal landscapes and created over 300 paintings and drawings from the time he spent there. Many of his most famous paintings were completed there, including The Night Café, The Yellow House, Starry Night over the Rhone and The Arlesians. Lovers of the artist’s work can walk the tourist trail in the footsteps of Van Gogh, getting to know both his works and his life in Arles.

Amphitheater in Arles, Provence, France
The amphitheater
How to get to Arles?
Where to stay in Arles?
  • Mas de la Chapelle – the hotel is located in an old mansion on the outskirts of Arles. It has a huge park, garden, outdoor pool, hot tube and hammam. The rooms are comfortably furnished in an old style. The hotel also has free parking. The rating is Very good 8.5, and the price for a night for two is 156 EUR.
  • Hôtel de l’Amphithéâtre – is located 200 m from the Amphitheater in a building from the 17th century. The rooms are decorated in a contemporary style. The hotel offers an outdoor garden. There is a public paid parking lot nearby, and the train station is 800 m away. The rating is Exceptional 8.8, and the price for a night for two is 233 EUR.
  • Hôtel & Spa Jules César Arles – MGallery Hotel Collection – the hotel is located in the heart of the historic part of Arles. It offers its guests an outdoor pool, a restaurant, a spa center, facilities for disabled people. There is paid parking nearby and the train station is 1 km away. The rating is Very good 8.5, and the price for a night for two is 190 EUR.
  • Hôtel Le Relais de Poste Arles Center Historique – is located in the historic center in a building from the 18th century. The rooms are furnished in a Provençal style. The train station is located 1.1 km away. The rating is Very good 8.5, and the price for a night for two is 183 EUR.
  • Pop’Arles – budget option 0.5 km from the Amphitheatre. The small apartment is comfortably furnished in pop style. The train station is 1 km away. The rating is Excellent 9.4, and the price for a night for two is 135 EUR.
Things to do in Arles
Van Gogh's Cafe in Arles, Provence, France
Van Gogh’s Cafe
  • Visit Amédée Pichot fountain
  • Van Gogh’s Cafe
  • Square with the plane trees
  • Forum Square
  • The building of the municipality
  • Saint Trophime Church
  • Republic Square
  • The 15-meter Egyptian obelisk
  • The Amphitheater (Amphitheater – Les Arènes d’Arles)
  • Roman Theater
  • The streets of the old town
  • Follow the signs on the Van Gogh trail
  • Visit the place where Van Gogh lived
  • The riverside alley
  • The Crypt (Cryptoporticoes)
  • The Roman Necropolis (The Alyscamps)
What to visit in the Arles area?
  • Camargue Nature Reserve

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Pont du Gard

The Pont du Gard bridge is an absolute triumph in the construction of aqueducts. The Roman architects and hydraulic engineers who designed it created a technical and artistic masterpieceThe tallest of all surviving Roman aqueducts and one of the most impressive bridges and ancient monuments in France, the Pont du Gard is named after the river that crosses the Garde, now renamed the Gardon, and is located on the outskirts of the city .

Information on opening hours, ticket prices and parking

Pont du Gard, Provence, France
Pont du Gard
How to get to Pont du Gard?
What to do in the Pont du Gard area?

Don’t limit yourself to just walking around the bridge, but walk around the area.

Recommendation:

Grab a bottle of wine and have a picnic while you wait for the sunset. And then enjoy the Sound and Light show as the bridge comes alive.


*the show starts at 10:30 p.m. and the duration is 20 minutes. It takes place in the period 29/06 – 01/09.
Pont du Gard, Provence, France
The area around the Pont du Gard
What to visit in the Pont du Gard area?

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Lacoste

Lacoste is a picturesque village and one of the hidden gems in the Petit Luberon region of Provence, located between Ménerbes and Bonnieux. Although it is not officially included in the Plus Beaux Villages de France (the most beautiful villages in France), the village definitely deserves it. The picturesque stone streets, the old houses, the flowers and the wonderful view of the surroundings create an idyllic picture.

Best known for the castle of the Marquis de Sade, which crowns the top of the village, Lacoste is definitely worth a visit, but not only for the ruins of the castle and you can plan in your South of France itinerary.

Lacoste, Provence, Luberon
Lacoste
How to get to Lacoste?
  • With rent-a-car
  • By bus from Marseille
  • By bus from Avignon
  • By bus from Aix-en-Provence
Where to stay in Lacoste?
  • La Bastide de Marie, Maisons et Hôtels Sibuet – the hotel is located 7 km from Lacoste, in Menerbes, but I can’t resist showing it to you. In the 18th century mansion, surrounded by vineyards, you will find coziness, colors, scents and everything you associate with Provence. In addition, the hotel has an outdoor pool that winds around the stone walls, a spa and wellness center, a restaurant and free parking. The rating is Excellent 9.3, and the price for a night for two is 658 EUR.
  • Le Mas Les Eydins – the estate is located among lavender and vineyards between Lacoste, Roussillon and Bonnieux. It offers panoramic views, an outdoor pool and free parking. The rating is Excellent 9.7, and the price for a night for two is 522 EUR.
  • Capelongue, a Beaumier hotel & Spa – offers its guests various activities. It has two outdoor pools, a spa, and a Roman bath. The rating is Very good 8.4, and the price for a night for two is 569 EUR.
  • You will find more suggestions here .
What to see in Lacoste?
Castle of the Marquis de Sade, Lacoste, Provence, Luberon
Castle of the Marquis de Sade
  • The stone gate La Porte de la Garde
  • The main narrow street
  • The bell tower
  • Castle of the Marquis de Sade
  • Castle prison
  • The modern sculptures in front of the castle
  • The goat gate to the center of Lacoste (Portail des Chèvres)
  • Saint Trophime Church
  • Place Elysee 
  • Retro bazaar
What to visit in the Lacoste area?


Lourmarin


Lourmarin is not the typical Provençal village perched on top of a hill, but that does not prevent it from being one of the most beautiful villages in all of France. Nestled under the southern hills of the Luberon among vineyards, olive groves and almond trees, this hidden gem is situated on two small hills. On one is the village itself and on the other is the 15th century Renaissance castle Villa Medici de Provence .

Lourmarin, the most beautiful villages of Provence
Lurmarin
How to get to Lourmarin?
Where to stay in Lourmarin?
  • Le Mas de la Lombarde – located 3.5 km from Lourmarin and offers its guests a garden, an outdoor pool and an equipped summer kitchen. Free parking is available on site. The rating is Exceptional 9.3, and the price for a night for two is 162 EUR.
  • Le Galinier – the authentic, cosily furnished house is located in a 19th century mansion, 2 minutes’ walk from the center of Lourmarin. It offers its guests an outdoor pool, a terrace, an equipped kitchen and free on-site parking. The rating is Excellent 8.9, and the price for a night for two is 421 EUR.
  • Hotel Bastide & SPA – Villa de Lourmarin – the hotel is located 200 m from the center. It has a restaurant, outdoor pool, wellness and spa center, free parking. It is suitable for guests with disabilities. The rating is Very good 8.3, and the price for a night for two is 246 EUR.
  • You will find more suggestions here .
What to see in Lourmarin?

About the sights in Lourmarin

Lourmarin, the most beautiful villages of Provence
Lurmarin’s Charm
  • The Renaissance castle of the 15th century Villa Medicis de Provence (Villa Medicis de Provence)
  • The cream buildings with clay tiles
  • The old houses
  • The galleries
  • The boutiques
  • The Fountain of the Three Masks (Fontaine aux Trois Masques)
  • The church
  • The taps and fountains
  • The cozy cafes or restaurants
What to visit in the Lourmarin area?

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South of France itinerary part 3 – Days 9-12


Aix-en-Provence

Known as the “City of Counts” and the “City of a Thousand Fountains“, Aix-en-Provence has an elegance that reflects its noble heritage. The relaxed lifestyle and sultry Provençal charm attract many visitors.

Former capital of Provence, 30 km from Marseille, Aix-en-Provence is a lively university center. Bathed in sunlight, the city of the famous impressionist Paul Cézanne fascinates with its historic center, with its beautiful buildings, bright squares, numerous cafes and restaurants, wide avenues and centuries-old plane trees.

Aix-en-Provence, Provence and the French Riviera
Aix en Provence
How to get to Aix-en-Provence? 
Where to stay in Aix-en-Provence?
  • Appart Aix sauna jacuzzi balneo spa – this apartment is located in the center of Aix-en-Provence and offers a sauna, jacuzzi and outdoor pool. Cozy furnished, the apartment also has a terrace and a garden. The rating is Excellent 9.2, and the price for a night for two is 153 EUR.
  • Appartement exceptionnel avec parking Centre-ville Aix-en-Provence – the cozy apartment in the center of Aix-en-Provence has a fully equipped kitchen and offers its guests free parking. The rating is Excellent 9.1 and the price per night for two is 307 EUR.
  • Hotel Cardinal – the hotel is located about 800 m from the Cours Mirabo and the cathedral. Extremely comfortably furnished, each room is decorated in a different style. The rating is Very good 8.6, and the price for a night for two is 112 EUR.
  • Hôtel des Augustins – the hotel is located in the historic part of Aix-en-Provence behind the walls of a 12th century monastery. Furnished in a traditional style, the hotel combines the charm of the past with modern comforts. Paid parking is also available to guests. The rating is Very good 8.1, and the price for a night for two is 144 EUR.
  • Hôtel Particulier le 28 – the hotel is centrally located 200 m from Cours Mirabeau. It has an indoor pool, a garden, two terraces, a restaurant and paid parking. Offers the “Babysitting” service. The rating is Exceptional 8.6, and the price for a night for two is 330 EUR.
  • Château de la Gaude  The 5-star hotel is set in a château and offers a garden, an outdoor pool, a spa, 4 restaurants and free parking. The rating is Excellent 9.0 and the price per night for two is 813 EUR.
  • Les Chambres Romantiques – JACUZZI Privatif, Domaine Aixois d’exception – the hotel offers its guests an outdoor pool, garden, spa, free parking. The rating is Excellent 9.8, and the price for a night for two is 456 EUR.
Sights in Aix-en-Provence?

Information about the sights of Aix-en-Provence.

Aix-en-Provence, Provence and the French Riviera
The clock tower
  • Course Mirabeau
  • The old town Vieil Aix
  • The Fountain of the Nine Cannons (Fontaine des Neuf-Canons)
  • The Rotonda Fountain (Fontaine de la Rotonde)
  • Place de la Rotonde
  • Fountain of King Rene (Fontaine du Roi Rene)
  • Place des Augustins in Vieil Aix
  • The town hall building
  • The Clock Tower (Tour de l’Horloge)
  • The Augustine Fountain (Fontaine Des Augustins)
  • Place d’Albertas
  • Follow the signs In the footsteps of Cézanne and see where they take you
  • The fountain on Rue de la Couronne (Fontaine – Rue de la Couronne)
  • Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur
  • Place des Prêcheurs
  • Church of the Madeleine (Église de la Madeleine)
  • Fontaine des Prêcheurs
  • Musée Granet
  • Museum of Tapestry (Musée des Tapisseries)
  • Vasarely Foundation
  • Cézanne’s studio
What to visit in the Aix-en-Provence area ?

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Cassis

Called in the not-too-distant past the St. Tropez of the poor, the fishing village of Cassis quickly gained popularity and became a favorite vacation spot for the French. Nestled between the picturesque limestone cliffs of the Calanque National Park and the mighty Cap Canaille, the highest sea cliff in Europe, Cassis is located only 20 km from Marseille.

Cassis, Provence and the French Riviera
The port of Cassis
How to get to Cassis?

Important if you get to Cassis with a car!

If you are planning a visit to Cassis during the summer months, especially August, be prepared for kilometers of traffic jams entering and exiting the town. Finding a free parking space is also a challenge, so arm yourself with patience. Despite these inconveniences, a visit to Cassis is definitely worth it.
Where to stay in Cassis?

Recommendation:

If you plan to stay in Cassis in August, I advise you to book your nights at least a month in advance. The French love to spend their holiday in Cassis and when we visited there was not a single bed available in the town.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Royal Cottage – the hotel is located in the middle of a tropical garden only 300 m from the beach and close to the port. It has a terrace and an outdoor pool, and undoubtedly the biggest convenience is the free on-site parking . The rating is Very good 8.3, and the price for a night for two is 195 EUR.
  • Côté vignes cassis – Features a terrace, garden and outdoor pool. Free parking is available on site. The rating is Exceptional 9.9, and the price for a night for two is 662 EUR.
  • Rêves de vie, appartement vue mer – the apartment has a sea view, a bedroom and an equipped kitchen, a bathroom with a jacuzzi. It offers a terrace, a spa center and an outdoor pool. Pets are welcome. Free parking is available on site. The rating is Exceptional 9.5, and the price for a night for two is 282 EUR.
  • You will find more suggestions here .
Sights in Cassis

Detailed information about attractions in Cassis can be found in the article Cassis – a hidden jewel of the French Riviera

Cassis, Provence and the French Riviera
View of the castle
  • The old town
  • The Promenade
  • The picturesque port
  • The Castle of Cassis (Château de Cassis). Please note it is not open for visits.
  • Corton Beach ( Plage du Corton )
  • Arena Beach (La plage de l’Arène)
  • Central Grande Mer Beach (Plage de la Grande Mer)
  • Bestouan Beach (Plage du Bestouan)
  • Cap Canaille ( Cap Canaille )
  • Wine tourism
What to visit in the Cassis area?
  • Calanque National Park – how to get there and what activities it offers in the next part of the post
  • Marseille
  • Aix-en-Provence

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Calanques National Park

The fjords of Provence Calanques amaze with incredible beauty and magnificent nature. Limestone cliffs and rocky headlands plunging into the Mediterranean sea cut the French coast along 20 kilometers from Marseille to Cassis and La Ciotat.

The Calanques National Park extends over an area of ​​about 26,000 hectares from the southern border of Marseille to the border with the department of Var. The landscapes are fantastically beautiful, and among the steep cliffs hide small beaches where you can swim or dive in the turquoise waters.

Calanques National Park, Marseille, French Riviera
Kalankite National Park
How to get to Calanques?

The Calanque National Park can be reached by tourist boat from Marseille or Cassis. There are hiking routes from both places that give you the opportunity to enjoy the stunning views from above. You could also visit the Calanques by kayak or paddleboard and explore the hidden caves in the rocks.

Important information!

Before planning your visit to the National Park, inform yourself in advance about the rules of the visit and the risks of fire, especially if you will be visiting the Calanques on foot. Days marked in red are off limits.
Activities in the Calanques National Park

The Calanques National Park offers different types of activities – from visiting with a tourist ferry to climbing the vertical steep cliffs. What you choose is entirely up to you. Here are some suggestions:

Calanques National Park, Marseille, French Riviera
Kayaking the mudflats

Marseille

In my childhood, when I was voraciously devouring the novels of Dumas, the name Marseilles was shrouded in an aura of mystery. I shuddered every time, transported centuries back in time to a place, a scene of historical events, romance , mysticism and violent passions.

Founded by the Phocaeans around 600 BC, France’s oldest city is now noisy, dirty and overcrowded. I discovered the charm of Marseille for myself through the streets of the Old Town , the old port and the cathedrals of Notre-Dame de la Garde and Santa Maria Major (Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure). 

Marseille, French Riviera
View of Marseille

How to get to Marseille?

Where to stay in Marseille?

  • InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu, an IHG Hotel  5-star hotel with restaurant, terrace, spa and indoor pool. It is located in an 18th century building in the historic part of Marseille. It has facilities for guests with disabilities . Pets are also allowed. It offers paid parking on site. The rating is Very good 8.5, and the price for a night for two is 293 EUR.
  • Le Pytheas Vieux Port Marseille – self-contained, fully equipped apartment located on the old port and overlooking the sea. There is a public transport stop nearby, as well as numerous shops, restaurants and cafes. The rating is Excellent 9.4 , and the price for a night for two is 235 EUR.
  • Appart hôtel Maison Montgrand-Vieux Port – the apart hotel has a fully equipped kitchen, restaurant, bar and garden. The rating is Very good 8.5, and the price for a night for two is 141 EUR.
  • Les Appartements du Vieux Port – the apartment is located near the old port. It has a fully equipped kitchen and a balcony. Accepts pets . The rating is Excellent 9.4 , and the price for a night for two is 115 EUR.
  • Les Appartements de Babel République – the apartment is spacious, bright, with an excellent location near the metro stop. The rating is Excellent 9.1 and the price for a night for two is 104 EUR.
  • Villa 6 pers 5 min Marseille – the detached house has three bedrooms and is suitable if you are traveling as a family or with friends. It is located near Marseille. It has a garden, outdoor pool, barbecue, free parking. Accepts pets. The rating is Excellent 9.0 and the price per night for the whole house for 9 people is 365 EUR.
  • Nuit insolite à bord d’un Yacht  spend the night on board a yacht . The rooms are well-equipped, and some of them also have a kitchen. The yacht offers its guests a bar as well as parking. The rating is Very good 8.0 , and the price for a night for two is 196 EUR.

Sights in Marseille

Recommendation:

Take advantage of the benefits of the Marseille City Pass . The 24-hour card gives you unlimited access to all types of public transport, use of the tourist train to the hill of Notre Dame de la Garde, a visit to the island of Friul and the castle of If, and much more.

The incredibly beautiful Notre-Dame de la Garde left me speechless. I stared in awe at the exquisite murals and for a long time I could not take my eyes off them.

  • Cathedral of Santa Maria Major (Sainte-Marie-Majeure)
  • The Old Town (Le Panier)
  • Street art in the Old Town
  • The Old Port (Vieux Port)
  • The mirror awning of the old port
  • Saint-Ferreol les Augustins Roman Catholic Church
  • The building of the Chamber of Commerce
  • The town hall
  • The prefecture
  • The savings bank
  • Courthouse
  • The fountains of Marseille
  • The building of the Hotel Intercontinental , which for 800 years was the city hospital of Marseille
  • The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations The MuCEM
  • Fort Saint-Jean (Fort Saint-Jean)
  • Fort Saint Nicholas
  • The picturesque port of Vallon des Auffes
  • Kennedy Bay (Corniche JF Kennedy)
  • The Palais Longchamp (The Palais Longchamp)
  • The Alcazar library
  • The stadium Stade Velodrome (Stade Velodrome)

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What to visit in the Marseille area?

The Marseille area offers endless possibilities, so give yourself more time. In addition to the Riviera, visit the nearby villages of Provence.

  • Undoubtedly the most visited place in the Marseille region is the Calanque National Park . You can visit it by boat , the 4-hour duration includes snorkeling and a visit to hidden caves.
  • Explore the Calanques from above , visit hidden caves and dive into the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea
  • Kayak around the Calanques
  • Visit the island of Friul and the Calanques by sailing on a yacht
  • Diving on the island of Friuli
  • Visit the fishing port of The Goudes district on your way to the Calanques
  • Visit the charming town of Cassis
  • Visit picturesque Aix-en-Provence

Saint Tropez

Every summer, pictures of movie stars, oligarchs and models enjoying champagne on yachts and dancing in nightclubs grace the pages of celebrity magazines, with the caption “spotted in St. Tropez“. Once a small fishing village, today Saint Tropez attracts the rich with its beautiful beaches, luxury yachts, boutiques, cafes and bars, offering a vacation with a touch of chic.

But in Saint Tropez you will not only see luxurious beaches. The city skillfully combines the charm of Provence and the French Riviera with its narrow streets, elegant restaurants, beautiful harbor with wooden masts and white sand beaches.

Saint Tropez, Provence and the French Riviera
Saint Tropez
How to get to Saint Tropez?
Where to stay in Saint Tropez?
  • RARE! Appartement – ​​the apartment with a size of 100 sq.m. is located in a prime location on the harbor in Saint Tropez. Cozy furnished, with attention to detail, the apartment has a bedroom, a living room and a fully equipped kitchen. The view is to the harbor and the sea. If you are driving,there is a paid parking lot nearby. The rating is Exceptional 9.7, and the price for a night for two is 1263 EUR.
  • Saint Tropez Spacieux Appartement La Florida – a large and comfortably furnished apartment that offers its guests free on-site parking . It has a terrace and is located about 1.2 km from the sea. The rating is Excellent 9.1 and the price per night for two is 1307 EUR.
  • New Cozy Flat Saint Tropez – located 13 minutes’ walk from La Ponche Beach. It has two bedrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, a balcony and free on-site parking . The rating is Excellent 9.1 and the price for four is 1348 EUR.
  • Hôtel La Tartane Saint-Tropez – a 5-star hotel located between the center of Saint-Tropez and the beaches. It offers Mediterranean and Asian cuisine . It has an outdoor pool. Free parking on site and free shuttle to the beaches, especially if you have small children . It is also suitable for people with difficulty moving. The rating is Excellent 9.1 and the price of a family room is 1282 EUR.
  • Airelles Pan Dei Palais – is a luxury hotel in the heart of Saint Tropez. It is located next to the port. It has a spa, garden, outdoor pool, private beach. Suitable for people with mobility difficulties . The rating is Excellent 9.1 and the price for a family room is 2883 EUR.
  • Hôtel la Figuière – the hotel is located 3 km from Saint-Tropez and 650 m from the beach. It has a garden, outdoor pool and free parking . The rating is Incredible 8.6, and the price for a night for two is 326 EUR.
  • Maison d’Orange La Pinede – located 10-15 minutes walking distance from the city center. It has an outdoor pool, garden , sea view, free parking . The rating is Very good 8.3 , and the price for a night for two is 341 EUR.
Sights in Saint Tropez 

Recommendation:

If you are with children or people with limited mobility, take a tour of Saint Tropez by train.
Saint Tropez, Provence and the French Riviera
The Art Museum
  • Promenade of Saint Tropez
  • The port of Saint Tropez
  • The anchors of Saint Tropez
  • La Ponche Beach
  • the old Town
  • Château de la Moutte
  • The galleries in the old town
  • The arches in the old town
  • The Church of the Assumption (Notre Dame de l’Assomption)
  • The chic boutiques in the old town
  • The Cat (Le Chat) – the bronze statue of Felipe Geluk
  • Paul Signac ‘s house
  • Museum of Art (Musee de l’Annonciade)
  • The National Gendarmerie of Saint-Tropez, made famous by the films of Louis de Fines
  • Place des Lices
  • Aqualand Sainte-Maxime , especially if you are with children (Aqualand Sainte-Maxime). Opens in June.
  • Wine tasting

What to do and visit in the Saint Tropez area?

  • Kayaking, snorkeling and jumping from three-meter cliffs
  • Visit Cap Taillat
  • Visit the infamous Pampelonne beach
  • Kon Tiki, the so-called The Republic of Kon Tiki, which stretches along the Riviera around Pamplona Beach
  • Wine tourism combined with mountain biking in the region

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Antibes

Antibes is our last stop on the tour of Provence and the French Riviera .

In Gentle is the Night, Francis Scott Fitzgerald describes the view from the Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc in Antibes: “ Early in the morning the distant outlines of Cannes, the rose-cream walls of old fortresses, and the lilac Alps bordering the Italian coast, reflected in the water , trembled on the ripples of seaweed on the surface of the transparent shallow water. ” Romantic, right? Charming Antibes has become one of my favorite places in the South of France.

The second largest resort town after Nice, located on the Cote d’Azur in the Provence region, was founded by Greek sailors in the 6th century BC. The city derives its name from the ancient name Antipolis , meaning ” the city opposite “. Opposite is Nice /then Nicaea/.

Antibes was originally just a colony of today’s Marseille. But because it was the only fortified point from Marseilles to Italy, and thanks to its location on the important route from Rome to Gaul, Antibes became important and was for a long time the largest city in the region.

Antibes, Provence and the French Riviera
Antibes
How to get to Antibes?
Where to stay in Antibes?
  • Mas Djoliba is a comfortably furnished hotel, which is located in the middle of greenery in a park and offers its guests an outdoor pool and a terrace. Grimaldi Cathedral and Castle are about a kilometer away and the beach is 6 minutes away. Antibes train station is a 10-minute walk away, making the hotel an extremely convenient location if you travel by train. The rating is Excellent 9.3, and the price for a night for two is 200 EUR.
  • BNB RENTING 2 bedrooms near the beach 300 meters is a self-contained apartment with two bedrooms and a kitchen, which is located 300 meters from the beach and offers its guests free on-site parking . The rating is Excellent 9.1 and the price for four people for the whole apartment is 2436 EUR per night.
  • Hotel Le Ponteil combines the comfort of Provence and the French Riviera. It is located in a quiet and peaceful location 150 m from the beach and 10 minutes’ walk from the Picasso Museum. There is also a parking lot nearby. The rating is Exceptional 8.7, and the price for a night for two is 457 EUR.
  • Hôtel La Villa Port d’Antibes & Spa is cosily furnished and located in the center of Antibes. It offers its guests family rooms, a spa, an outdoor pool and a bar. It is suitable for people with movement disorders. The rating is Exceptional 8.9, and the price for a night for two is 352 EUR.
  • Backpackers is a budget proposition in Antibes, suitable for backpackers and public transport. It is located 150 meters from the beach, very close to the Picasso Museum, and the train station is 700 meters away . The rating is Very good 8.0, and the price per night per person is 61 EUR.

Sights in Antibes

Recommendation:

If you are with small children or people with difficulty moving , explore the sights of Antibes with a hop-on hop-off bus or train.
Antibes, Provence and the French Riviera
The galleries in Antibes
  • The Old Town (Vieil Antibes)
  • The Picasso Museum
  • The sculptures of Miró, Paige, Armand and Rissier in front of the Picasso Museum
  • Follow the signs for the Picasso Trail
  • The art installation under the museum
  • The coastal promenade , from which a magnificent view of the Mediterranean and the Alps is revealed.
  • Cape Antibes (Cap d’Antibes)
  • The picturesque port of Port Vauban (Port Vauban)
  • The Nomad sculpture
  • Fort Carre
  • Antibes Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame-de-la-Platea)
  • The old bell tower
  • The fountains in front of the Grand Hotel before nightfall
  • The galleries in the old town
  • Musée Peynet
  • Visit a local restaurant and bar with live music
  • The marine park Marineland , if you are with children
What to visit in the Antibes area?
  • Kan
  • More places and activities:

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