It doesn’t matter if you’ve visited before or this is your first time, the South of France is always a sure bet when it comes to picking where to vacation. Beautiful beaches, delectable cuisine, and a plethora of charming French villages to visit only add to the allure of this sunny region of France.So that’s settled! This summer, you must travel to the South of France. Now that we’ve established that, the next question is where to go. It’s not as if you can just go to “The South of France” — that’s like trying to buy plane tickets to another country.
Avignon is a city steeped in religious history and boasts the gorgeous architecture that one would expect from such a location. This lovely city was once the centre of western Christendom during the Middle Ages.
Six papal conclaves were held in the stunning (UNESCO World Heritage) Palace of the Popes in the 14th century, and the palace still preserves remarkable remains from that time, such as the priceless gothic murals on the walls of the papal apartments.
Essentially, if you want a city vacation full of incredible attractions to visit and aren’t too concerned with catching some rays on the beach, Avignon is the place to go!
Carcassonne’s centre, above the right bank of the Aude, is a sight to behold: walls have hugged this portion of the river since the 4th century, but they were rebuilt in the 13th century to serve as an even more formidable barrier against the Crown of Aragon to the south. (Don’t you think it sounds like something out of Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones?)
The barriers were no longer needed after the 17th century and were left to rot until a 19th-century architect with a sense of purpose (and a lot of time) came along and refurbished them.
Why is history being taught? To demonstrate how remarkable (and fairly old) this town is, and (in addition to)
People come Aix less for its wealth of great sights than for its more laid-back character, the and the picturesque Cours Mirabeau, as they do Carcassonne and Avignon.
Oh, and don’t forget to pay a visit to the area’s famous lavender fields.
When people think of the South of France, they almost always think of Nice. It’s a big metropolis with long esplanades and spacious squares – it’s also France’s fifth largest city, so you won’t be bored for long. You come to Nice for the beach, the beautiful mediaeval old town, and some delectable French cuisine!
Even if you don’t recognise his name, I’m ready to bet you know one of Albi’s most famous sons! Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec painted the renowned Moulin Rouge dancers and produced the art nouveau posters that are intimately tied to the Belle Époque. To honour him, the Albi Episcopal Palace has a museum devoted to him, which exhibits over a thousand of his works.
However, why should you go to Albi? Well, primarily because of this near-perfect Frenchness! It’s a stunning town, with the Episcopal city being designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, not to mention the region (previously Languedoc-Roussillon, now part of Occitanie) being noted for its excellent wine!
The lovely orchards (to spend many an afternoon getting lost in), towering mountains (almost as if they’re guarding the settlement itself), and vineyards as far as the eye can see characterise this small village located to the south of the Luberon Massif.
Lourmarin is considered by many to be one of France’s “most picturesque” villages, and it certainly lives up to the hype!
It’s a bustling small area, with more than a dozen cafes and eateries taking advantage of the limited outdoor space available on its maze of streets.
Biarritz used to be just another French beach town, but it has now evolved into one of France’s most opulent vacation destinations.
The Hôtel du Palais, which was built as a summer retreat for Eugénie de Montijo, Empress of the French and wife of Napoleon III, in the mid-nineteenth century and still serves as a grand hotel open to the public (though expect to pay top dollar to stay here – it’s an amazing place with an equally ‘amazing’ price point), is an example of this transformation.
Families go to the regal Grand Plage, a vast golden sandy beach located in the heart of the city, which was erected around the turn of the century.
Marseille, a turbulent, multicultural, and edgy city, defies all preconceived notions of Provence and the French Riviera. It’s lovely and bustling, but it’s a long way from the laid-back charms of Nice or Avignon (it is, after all, France’s second largest city).
Marseille is well worth a visit if you’re looking for some city excitement, even if it’s only for a day or two. Marseille’s massive Old Port, constructed by the Phocaeans some 2,600 years ago, is still the greatest site to see the city live and breathe if you just have a short period of time here and want to be in the heart of it.
Pézenas was the home of the Governors of Languedoc until the late 18th century, which has left this town with many grand Renaissance and Baroque structures – over 100 have been designated as “historic” – which is astonishing for a town of only 8,000 people.
It’s not the most apparent spot to visit in the South of France, but it’s one that you absolutely must – if if only to get a more authentic, less touristy sense of life in the region.
Arles is a lovely French town that is a UNESCO World Heritage site because of its plethora of Roman and Romanesque architecture (a Roman theatre, amphitheatre, baths, necropolis, and aqueduct, to name a few).
Every turn you make is almost always a picture-perfect opportunity. This helps to explain why Vincent van Gogh called this place home for so long.
The Ligurians (yep, the same ones as at Cinque Terre) were among the first to arrive in this area about 800BC, followed by the Celts, Phoenicians (from the Lebanese region), and finally the Romans. As a result of its rich and strong tradition, this city is a fantastic site to visit.