Each region of France has its own charms, and one of our favorites is the south. You could spend one of your best vacations here, or if you only have a few days, it also has many great options.
We will tell you about the best getaways in the south of France in this post.
Here are some ideas for city breaks to the south of France and some trips along the Mediterranean coast, ideal for the summer.
Enjoy a Cruise on the French Riviera
There are many companies offering cruises on the French Riviera. For example, this one that departs from Nice and takes 2.30 hours and goes to Monaco.
You can contemplate the Baie des Anges, Citadelle, and many villages perched in the mountains. In addition, while strolling along the Mediterranean, you will hear the history of these ancient villages.
Another option is a cruise from Nice to Monaco. It crosses on the ferry and then you have free time to stroll around Monaco at your own pace. Departure at 9:30am and return at 6pm to Nice.
The major cruise companies, such as MSS and Royal Caribbean, also have offers for this region.
Visit Lavender Fields in Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
In the Provence region, there are several areas where you can see lavender fields, one of the most beautiful images that give the south of France and one of the most photogenic postcards that you can add to your Instagram.
And if you find the view incredible, the fragrance you will breathe in will accompany you for the rest of your getaway in the South of France.
The excursion includes a visit to a viewpoint from which you can see the village of Gordes, one of the most beautiful villages in France.
Another alternative is to see the lavender fields of Sault. This village is about an hour and a half from Avignon, and in addition to touring the violet fields, you can browse the stores in the village that specialize in all kinds of products made with lavender, such as soaps and honey.
To enjoy this amazing landscape, you have to go during the months of June and July.
Follow in the Footsteps of Vincent Van Gogh
If you like art, you can tour the places that inspired some of Van Gogh’s most prolific works and periods.
Coffee Terrace in the evening at the Place du Forum
The cafe that inspired Van Gogh to paint “Café Terrace at Night” is located in the Place du Forum in Arles.
The café was called “Café Terrace” at the time but is now called “Café Van Gogh,” obviously in honor of the artist who made it famous.
The terrace of the café still exists and it is possible to visit it to see the view that inspired Van Gogh.
Between 1889 and 1890, Van Gogh voluntarily interned for a year at the Saint-Paul de Mausole mental hospital in Saint-Remy.
It was here that his swirling stroke style was born, and he painted more than 100 works, many inspired by the landscapes surrounding the hospital, thanks to the fact that he was the only patient who was allowed to leave the institution.
Inspiration from this period can be seen in Lilies, Starry Night, Wheat Field with Crows, and numerous paintings that include olive and cypress trees.
The Rhone River inspired “Starry Night on the Rhone,” which is not the same painting as “Starry Night.” The one based on the Rhone landscape is currently seen at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
The Trinquetaille Bridge and the Langlois Bridge
The Trinquetaille Bridge is a bridge that rightly crosses the Rhone River. During his stay in Arles, Van Gogh painted different bridges at sunset to capture the light at that special time.
Langlois Bridge is another of the bridges he painted while in Arles. He was portrayed in 4 paintings and 4 drawings.
Les Alyscamps is a park in Arles that the painter used as inspiration to create a whole series.
Take a Road Trip from Nice to Marseille
There are different ways to get from Nice to Marseille, but no matter your choice, you will find it a beautiful journey.
If you take the A8 route, the trip takes a little more than 2.5 hours. Not to mention that you’ll want to stop every so often to see the most interesting towns along the way, which include Aix-en-Provence, Cannes, and Antibes.
While if you take the coastal route, you can include Saint-Tropez in the tour. A drive along this road offers breathtaking panoramic views. You will be able to see the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean and the beautiful beaches of the French coast.
During the stops you make, take the opportunity to eat some of the typical dishes of the south of France, such as bouillabaisse and ratatouille.
Explore UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the South of France
France is one of the countries with the most World Heritage Sites, and you can see many of these sites on your getaways in the South of France.
Pont du Gard
The Pont du Gard is an impressive three-level Roman aqueduct located in southern France, which crosses the Gardon River near the village of Vers-Pont-du-Gard.
It is considered one of the most important Roman monuments preserved in Europe.
It was built in the 1st century A.D. as part of the aqueduct that supplied water to the city of Nimes, at a distance of more than 50 km.
As part of the attraction of the bridge, there is also the natural environment that surrounds it, with hills, forests and several trails.
- Related: France’s most famous bridges
In the 14th century, the city became the seat of the popes, and the Palace of the Popes was built, an impressive Gothic fortress that today is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the south of France.
But Avignon is not only the Palace of the Popes. When you visit you will see that the city has much more to offer visitors.
You can walk through its cobblestone streets and admire the medieval architecture, visit the impressive Notre Dame des Doms cathedral and stroll across the Saint-Bénézet bridge, also known as the Avignon Bridge.
The cathedral is a Romanesque church built in the 12th century. It is located on top of a hill and offers a panoramic view of the city and its surroundings.
The famous Avignon Bridge, built in the 12th century, is considered one of the most emblematic monuments of the city.
In addition, there are several museums, such as the Musée Calvet and there is the Les Halles market, where you can sample local products, enjoy a coffee on a terrace and watch the people go by.
The most important museum in the city is the Petit Palais Museum, an art museum housed in an early 14th-century building that used to be a papal palace.
The museum has an impressive collection of Italian and Provençal art from the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Carcassonne is a medieval city famous for its impressive fortified citadel, which has been carefully restored.
You will feel transported back in time as you walk through its narrow cobblestone streets and admire its walls and towers.
One of the highlights of Carcassonne is the Basilica of Saint-Nazaire, a Gothic church built in the 13th century that is considered one of the most impressive in the region.
You can also visit the Château Comtal, a castle built in the 12th century that offers sublime views of the citadel and the Aude river valley.
Other points of interest within the walls of Carcassonne are the Condal Castle and the Museum of Torture.
Of course, you can’t miss the Canal du Midi, built in the 17th century to connect the Garonne River in Toulouse with the Mediterranean.
Alongside the lateral canal of the Garonne, the Canal du Midi links the Mediterranean Sea to the Atlantic Ocean via waterways.
This is one of the oldest and most beautiful European canals, and it is possible to take a boat or bicycle ride along its banks.
Experience the Festivals of the South of France
If you are lucky and your trip to the south of France coincides with any of these festivals, take the opportunity because they are all worth it.
The carnival of Nice is celebrated for 15 days in the days before Mardi Gras. It is the most famous carnival of the French Riviera and one of the most beautiful in Europe.
This coastal city becomes a party with parades of floats, decorations, and street events.
You will find thousands of people dancing and singing in every corner of the city, so it is a great destination for those who want to celebrate and live a few days of celebration.
National Holiday or Bastille Day
On July 14, France celebrates the national holiday dedicated to Bastille Day, one of the most important days in the French calendar.
One of the biggest and best-known celebrations in the south of France is in Nice. The city offers various activities throughout the day, such as parades and fireworks displays on the famous Promenade des Anglais.
You will also be able to see concerts and find stands and activities at Place Masséna.
In Marseille, the celebration includes a parade in the city center, followed by a fireworks display in the old port.
You can also enjoy live music and food at nearby restaurants and bars.
Montpellier and Carcassonne also usually have big celebrations.
Nice Jazz Festival
The Nice Jazz Festival is one of the most important in France because of the quality of the artists and the appeal it has to the music-loving public.
In 2023, it will take place between July 17 and 21. On their website, you can find all the information and buy tickets.
Enjoy the beaches of the South of France
If you are planning a getaway to the south of France and you like the beach, you will have several options that you will love.
The Paloma beach in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is one of the jewels of the south of France. This beach is ideal for those looking for an uncrowded and quieter beach.
It is located in a small bay, surrounded by high cliffs and hidden from the crowd. It is a true beauty and the perfect place to disconnect.
The beach of Plage des Marinières in Villefranche-sur-Mer is also one of our favorites. Its crystalline waters stand out for being very calm thanks to its location at the innermost point of a natural harbor.
In addition, there are plenty of restaurants and stores nearby to enjoy the local food and culture. And you can also relax in the shade of the banana trees behind the beach.
The beach of La Salis in Antibes is one of the most beautiful in the south of France. It is a small beach of fine sand and turquoise water, which in addition to the natural beauty, has an impressive view of the ancient fortified city.
Finally, we cannot forget the famous beaches of Cannes. With its golden sand and glamorous ambiance, it is a perfect beach for those looking for a more exclusive experience.
There are many restaurants and bars along the beach; of course, the prices align with the city’s glamour.
EXTRA TIP: plan what you will wear in advance so you take everything you need and do not have to make extra expenses at the destination. You can download the PDF here; the price is up to you!
How Long is Paris to the South of France?
Let’s see how long it takes from Paris to the main cities of the French Riviera.
If you travel by train, we recommend buying your tickets several days (or weeks) in advance, as they sell out quickly, especially during the high season. It should also be noted that on weekends it is usually more expensive to travel.
Paris – Marseille
By car it takes 8 hours. While by train it can take between 3 and 4 hours. Ticket prices vary greatly, the cheapest being 25€, but can cost up to 170 in first class.
Paris – Nice
The drive from Paris to Nice takes about 9 hours. And if you take the fast train, the shortest trip takes 6 hours, and the longest takes 8 hours. The cost of these trains starts between 50 and 70 euros.
Paris – Avignon
By car, you can make the trip in just over 7 hours.
The train ride takes between 2:45 hours and four and a half hours. Tickets start at 19€.
How Long does it Take to Get to the South of France from Barcelona?
Are you planning your getaway to the South of France from Barcelona? Then keep these times in mind.
Trains depart from Barcelona Sants station and are operated by TGV InOui.
You have to take into account that there are no direct trains, you have to make a transfer to Nimes Centre, so depending on the waiting time you have to make the connection, sometimes the trip is quite long.
Another option is to arrive in Nîmes by train and then rent a car or arrive directly by plane to Marseille.
Barcelona – Marseille
By car, it can take a little more than 5 hours (depending on the stops you make along the way).
By train, making the right combinations, you can be in Marseille in 7 hours, although there are ways to do it in 6 as well. The cost is approximately 90 euros.
Barcelona – Nice
The connection between these two cities takes 7 hours by car.
By train, it takes between 7 and 9 hours.
Barcelona – Avignon
The trip by car takes almost 5 hours.
From Nimes Centre, where you transfer, you have 40 minutes to Avignon Center station. In total, the trip to this station takes 5 hours. Tickets start at 90 euros.
Barcelona – Carcassonne
Among the main towns of the French Provence, Carcassonne is the closest city to Barcelona.
By car, you will be there in just over 3 hours and by train, it could take between 5 and a half and a little over 5 hours, depending on the combinations you find.
How to Get Around the South of France
The cities of the Côte d’Azur are not very big, so if you plan to make a getaway in the South of France and stay in only one city, it is best to arrive by train and then move on foot.
In several of the cities, you can also rent bicycles, ideal not only for moving around the city, but also to do some rides that are further away from the centers and that are not so popular.
The TER lines connect the cities of Provence in France if you decide to visit them by train. The most important cities are also interconnected by bus.
But if you plan to tour the Côte d’Azur and visit several cities, the most convenient way to get around is by car. If you start your trip from far away, you may be able to travel by train and rent a car once you arrive at one of your destinations.
That way you will be free to move as you wish and at the end of your vacation, you return the vehicle and return by train without worrying about driving long distances.
At least, that’s what we recommend, so you can visit Nice, Marseille, Avignon and all the lesser-known towns along the coast, which also have their attractions.
Another option, which we love, is to take a trip through the south of France by motorhome. Here is the itinerary of our road trip through the south of France (from Madrid to Monaco in 10 days)
Best Time to Visit the South of France
If your getaway is aimed at looking for beaches, the best time is from June to September.
The days are long and sunny, the beaches are at their best, and there are a lot of festivals and outdoor events during this season.
However, remember that it is high season, so beaches and tourist sites may be more crowded and prices may be higher.
If you prefer to avoid crowds and enjoy a more temperate climate, then spring and autumn are a good time to visit the south of France.
The months of April, May, October, and November are ideal for visiting the cities and towns of southern France, as crowds are smaller and prices are lower.
In addition, the weather is usually pleasant during these seasons, with cooler temperatures and less rain.
What is the Hottest Month in the South of France?
The hottest month in the south of France is usually August. During this month, temperatures can easily reach 30°C or higher on the Mediterranean coast and in the region’s interior.
And although sometimes the thermometer reaches 35°, the average maximum temperature is in the 25s.
- Here you can read about the seasons in France by region.
If you plan a getaway to the south of France, we envy you. It is one of our favorite regions, we have made several trips, and we always come back delighted.
The Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region has a great combination of landscapes, excellent gastronomy, beautiful villages, and incredible beaches. So don’t hesitate to make your trip as soon as you can and enjoy it to the fullest.
Very important: Don’t forget the TRAVEL INSURANCE, you know, just in case!
Plan Your Trip to the South of France
- The Seasons in France
- When is the lavender season in Provence
- How to drive in the south of France
- The most beautiful villages of Provence
- The most important cities of Provence
- Sleeping in a castle in Provence
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