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The Ultimate 7 to 10 Days in the South of France Itinerary

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south france travel itinerary

Planning a south of France itinerary is one of the highlights of visiting this incredible country. France is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Europe and, although many visitors will stay in Paris, plenty head down to spend 7 to 10 days in the south of France to soak up the sun on the pristine beaches, visit the stunning mountain ranges or learn about French culture on a city break.

A south of France itinerary can be extremely diverse, taking you to all of the above, or allowing you to pick and mix as you please. Whichever stops you end up choosing, you’re sure to have a fantastic holiday surrounded by lush natural areas, historic locations or beautiful city centres.

Table of Contents

How Many Days in the South of France?

To explore the whole of the south of France, from the Atlantic coast of Bayonne to the Mediterranean principality of Monaco , you would need at least two weeks to freely explore each wonderful town and city en route without rushing. However, to enjoy the Mediterranean coastline and its neighbouring cities, towns and quaint villages, 10 days in the south of France is ideal.

Although, if you want to concentrate your stops in one area, such as Languedoc-Roussillon or Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, you can spend a very pleasant 7 days in the south of France, without spending too much time on the road. 

Part of the fun of a south of France road trip is seeing the sights from a car window and stopping when your interest is piqued by a looming château or spectacular view. So it can be a great idea to plan a few days of activities but leave yourselves a day or at least an afternoon here and there for travelling and taking in the scenery.

Equally, if you prefer not to drive and would rather take trains or buses, you can pack picnics for your journeys and enjoy the views; you may still be on the move rather than on your feet or a sun lounger, but it’s a great way to make the most of every moment of your holiday.

The itinerary for the south of France outlined below covers a range of highlights to be found in the area. However, if you’re keen to dig deeper into various regions, make sure to check out our Provence itinerary or our French Riviera itinerary if you’ve already decided where you want to go.

Marseille in the South of France

Getting To & Around the South of France

Driving tends to be the best mode of transport to get around the south of France, as you’re then free to move around according to your own schedule, and there are many free (or at least cheap) places to park to be found in most cities and towns across the country.

All of the airports and city centres will have rental car companies where you can find various vehicles for reasonable prices, although it’s advisable to book in advance to guarantee you get the car of your choice.

The French have an expression that roughly translates to “there may not be work, but there are always roadworks”, so if you’re planning a south of France road trip itinerary outside of the summer months, it’s useful to have Google Maps open to have live traffic information for your journey so you can take alternative routes where necessary.

However, from June to September, as both French and foreign tourists travel around the country, there tend to be very few problems on the road, and you can almost guarantee excellent road surfaces to make your car journeys significantly more comfortable.

What’s more, the south of France has an excellent reputation for hitchhiking, so if you’re feeling adventurous and have a loose schedule for your trip to the south of France, this can be a great way of travelling around and getting some insider information about the hidden gems. Just make sure to follow safety precautions.

Getting to the south of France in the first place is also very simple as there are many airports located all along the south.

There are major airports in Toulouse, Montpellier, Marseille and Nice, so you can start your journey easily from any of these cities, although you can also arrive from the UK and other neighbouring European countries in the smaller cities of Carcassonne, Nîmes, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and Toulon. You can book airport pickups here.

Each of these cities also has excellent public transportation, so you can visit much of the south of France by train. However, if you’d like to spend time in more rural villages and historic sites, there may not be trains and only a few buses each day, so having your own car is definitely advisable.

Most of the stops on our southern France itinerary will be well-known towns and cities that can easily be accessed by train or bus, but there are a couple of more out-of-the-way destinations that will be harder to reach without a car. So try to choose the best stops for your own south of France itinerary accordingly. You can view train and bus schedules here.

Train arriving into Nice

7 to 10 Day South of France Itinerary

From cities and towns to lakes and villages, our southern France itinerary will show you the best that France has to offer, without spending too long on the road so you can make the most of the bright sunshine, bustling streets and beautiful landscape.

Day 1 – Toulouse

Toulouse is a great place to start your 7 days in the south of France, as the airport has excellent connections to major European cities like London , Paris , Amsterdam and Munich , without being so busy that you spend your whole first day waiting at border control.

You can rent a car from the airport to start your road trip, or take the tram into the city for just a few euros and arrive in the centre ready to explore.

The centre of Toulouse has a wonderful large square lined on one side by the beautiful pink and white building Le Capitole that houses the town hall and the theatre of Toulouse.

This square is a great welcome into the city, leading off into winding streets full of boutiques and restaurants showing off the famous red brick of the region and the amazing cuisine.

You can wander around the city and discover the other incredible red brick structures like the Saint-Sernin Basilica and the Jacobins Convent with its enormous stained glass windows and occasional evening light show on the exterior façade. You can also  organise a walking tour  or  a food tour  if you want to learn more about the area from a guide.

The Canal du Midi also flows through Toulouse, as does the River Garonne, which provides a lovely place for an afternoon stroll, admiring the Occitan architecture, sunbathing on the steps leading to the river and sipping a cocktail on one of the floating bars. Plus, if you look closely under the Pont Neuf, you can spot one of James Colomina’s curious little red statues…

As a city, you can find plenty of places to stay within Toulouse from budget hotels and B&Bs to luxury apartments. Or, for a more rural gîte, you can head slightly further out of the city to enjoy nature, which is particularly beautiful around the Tarn and Garonne Rivers.

Pont Neuf in Toulouse

Where to Stay in Toulouse

Hôtel Héliot – Mid-range visitors to Toulouse will love this cool, 3-star hotel. Located in the centre of the city, they have a range of lovely rooms along with a great breakfast on offer in the morning. Click here to check availability

Boutique Hotel SOCLO – This boutique hotel is an excellent option for those after a luxury stay in Toulouse. They have a range of plush rooms to choose from along with an excellent location for exploring all the city has to offer. Click here to check availability

Appartements Design Hypercentre – If you’d prefer to have your own flat while in the South of France, then these apartments in Toulouse are a great choice. They come fully furnished and have a great, central location. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Toulouse hotels!

Day 2 – Carcassonne

Moving further south from Toulouse, you come across the amazing walled city of Carcassonne – the perfect place for a day trip. You can visit independently or go on an organised trip such as this full-day tour or this full-day tour.

Having been occupied since 500 BCE, this land was transformed by the Romans into a walled city which was further enhanced in the 12th century to create the incredible 3 km of ramparts we see today.

You can see the 52 towers rising in the distance as you approach by car, train or plane and the inside of the city takes you back in time with its traditional French shops selling everything from sweets to swords.

In the summer, the city comes to life with jousting tournaments, battle reenactments, opportunities to learn how to write with a quill and ink and people dressed in traditional mediaeval clothing wandering around the city. It’s a great place to visit with the family, but equally interesting for anyone with an interest in history, architecture or French culture.

The highlight of Carcassonne is the mediaeval city, however, there is a more modern town on the other side of the river which has hotels, restaurants and some apartments to rent, so if you haven’t brought your campervan, this is an excellent place to stay.

Carcassonne

Day 3 – Montpellier

Moving further south still, we get to the real entrance of the south of France: Montpellier . Located on the Mediterranean coast, the amazing city has everything, from Roman ruins and neoclassical architecture to beaches, parks and exquisite gastronomy.

Visitors can happily stroll around the streets of the city centre, coming across the main square La Comedie, named after the huge theatre on one end, where the locals gather for entertainment, or simply to pass through on their way to work.

A short walk will take you to the magnificent 17th-century Triumphal Arch and stunning 18th-century tiered aqueduct that’s still working to supply the city’s fountains with water.

If that’s not enough to entice you, Montpellier has a fantastic botanical garden, which is the oldest in France, as well as plenty of murals and trompe d’œils dotted around the city streets, making for a wonderful walking tour. You can also easily take the tram around the city if you don’t feel like walking too far, as well as to the enormous beach with wild flamingos nearby.

Montpellier is a large city and has a very popular university so you can find activities for young people around every corner, as well as cheap hotels and apartments so everyone can have the chance to explore this amazing coastal city. Even if you can only stay for 7 days in the south of France, make sure you stop by Montpellier – you won’t be disappointed!

Montpellier Cathedral

Where to Stay in Montpellier

Hôtel Royal – This 3-star hotel in the centre of Montpellier is a fantastic choice for those looking for a central place to stay in this French city. They have a range of chic rooms to choose from along with breakfast on offer each morning. Click here to check availability

Hôtel Oceania Le Métropole – This chic hotel is an excellent choice for those after a luxury option while staying in Montpellier. They have an excellent, central location along with an array of plush rooms plus many other amenities available. Click here to check their availability

Appart’City Confort Montpellier Saint Roch – If you’re keen for a self-catering option while exploring the south of France, then these apartments are a great choice. They have an array of fully-furnished flats all within easy access of all Montpellier has to offer. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Montpellier hotels!

Day 4 – Arles

Carcassonne and Montpellier were simply appetisers for history buffs, who can now rub their hands in glee at our next destination, the fabulous city of Arles . Arles is a perfectly sized town to wander around the streets and get a glimpse of the Provençal architecture and Roman ruins, namely the spectacular amphitheatre, Arènes d’Arles.

This 20,000 seater, two-tiered arena was built in 90 CE for gladiator fights and chariot races to entertain the locals and had towers added during the mediaeval era and looks unbelievably incredible today.

You can easily spend a few hours learning about the history of the structure or even watching a performance as it now hosts live music, bullfighting and other events in Summer, before heading off to experience the city’s other claim to fame: van Gogh’s house.

Having lived in the city for just a year, Vincent van Gogh created hundreds of artworks during his stay, having been greatly inspired by the natural beauty and pastel colours of the houses. Unfortunately, the house where he resided (and cut off his ear) was destroyed during the Second World War, however, you can visit a museum dedicated to the artist nearby.

Don’t miss out on the amazing and spooky Alyscamps either, with its incredible Gothic sarcophagi on either side of the ancient road leading down to a 12th-century church.

There aren’t lots of hotels within Arles city centre, however, with the Rhône River flowing through the landscape, there are some wonderful campsites and gîtes surrounded by countryside just five minutes driving out of the city. It is also very feasible to continue onto Marseille for the next few nights.

Roman Amphitheatre in Arles

Where to Stay in Marseille

Hôtel Life Marseille VP – Mid-range visitors to Marseille will love this cool 3-star hotel in the centre of the city. They have an array of wonderful rooms to choose from, a fantastic location and plenty of other perks to ensure you have an excellent stay. Click here to check availability

La Residence Du Vieux Port – This luxury hotel in the Old Port area of Marseille is perfect for those looking for a chic and romantic place to stay in this French city. There are plentiful rooms to choose from along with an excellent location for seeing the city. Located in the Old Port area of Marseille, those looking for luxury will love this opulent boutique hotel. Click here to check availability

Vertigo Vieux-Port – Those looking for a budget option or if you’re after a great social atmosphere will love this highly-rated hostel in the Old Port area of Marseille. They have great common areas and self-catering facilities along with both dorms and private rooms available. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Marseille hotels!

Day 5 – Marseille

There’s not much to be said about the oldest and third-largest city in France that hasn’t already been said, and all of the great things you’ve heard about Marseille are true. Founded by the Greeks over 2600 years ago, the port city has seen a great deal of migration from all across the world making it a spectacularly diverse melting pot of architecture, cuisine, culture and religion.

The Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde is a must-see place within the city, and fortunately, you can see it from all around Marseille as it towers high above the otherwise quite flat city.

On the opposite side of Marseille, close to the train station is the equally spectacular but less well-known black and white striped Cathedrale La Major, which looks particularly magnificent at sunrise when the daylight causes the domed roof to glow orange.

A short distance away is the famous fish market and port of Marseille where you can see the fishermen selling their catches, as they’ve done for centuries, and take amazing photographs with the beautiful boats in the fore and the basilica in the background.

It’s possible to spend a few days in Marseille and not get the chance to see everything, so it’s a great destination for a weekend break, but even if you’ve got 10 days in the area, you’ve got to spare one for Marseille – even if it’s just to eat seafood (or take a food tour ) and enjoy the views.

Similar to other cities in France, you can find many hotels across the city for all kinds of budgets, as well as smaller B&Bs in the suburbs.

But there’s great transportation in the city, so rather than driving in, it’s a good idea to leave your car parked by your accommodation and just take a bus in and out of the city when you need to. 

City of Marseille

Day 6 – Gorges du Verdon

So far each destination has been easily reachable by public transport, however, it’s more difficult to reach our next stop if you’re seeing the south of France by train. But, the Gorges du Verdon is one of the most breathtaking locations in the whole of France, so if possible, you have to include it on your southern France itinerary.

This 25 km long canyon has been cut out of limestone by the brilliant turquoise Verdon River that reaches down 700 metres at its deepest and is a popular place to take a pedalo or kayak, or go hiking and even rock climbing.

You can travel through the gorge into the Sainte-Croix Lake which was created in the 1970s by flooding the small village of Les Salles-sur-Verdon, later rebuilt on the banks of the lake. You can stop here for lunch in any number of delightful restaurants with mesmerising lakeside views, or bring a picnic with you to enjoy a full day out exploring the canyon and surrounding lakes.

There are several hotels in the village of Les Salles-sur-Verdon and near the small village of Boulogne, on the south side of the gorges, and you can find plenty of campsites surrounding the Sainte-Croix Lake, some with cabins that you can rent if you haven’t got your own tent.

But be wary that the Gorges du Verdon is a very popular place to stay in Summer, so you’ll need to book your accommodation well in advance. Alternatively, continue onto Cannes for the evening, where you can be based for the next few days of this itinerary. There are also a number of other places to stay on the French Riviera that are great choices.

For those who don’t want to make the drive out to the gorge, there are other great options available for this day. You could, for instance, spend another day exploring Marseille. You could also opt to take a day trip to the lavender fields and take in a hilltop village in Provence.

Another great option would be to visit the Calanques du Marseille and the village of Cassis for a gorgeous area very close to the city.

Verdon Gorge

Where to Stay in Cannes

Villa Claudia Hotel Cannes – If you’re on a mid-range budget while in Cannes, then this hotel is a good choice. It has a good location for exploring the city, breakfast is available in the mornings and there is a great garden to enjoy. Click here to check availability

Hotel Splendid – This hotel is a fantastic luxury option for those looking to live the high life while on the French Riviera. They have a myriad of incredible rooms to choose from along with a great location for exploring the city and area. Click here to check availability

La Bastide de l’Oliveraie – Those after a bit of an alternative accommodation option will love these plush suites in Cannes. They have an excellent, central location and there are plenty of rooms and suites available to choose from. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Cannes hotels!

Day 7 – Saint-Raphaël

Back down to the Mediterranean coast, between the picturesque but incredibly busy town of St Tropez and the large and equally popular city of Cannes , is the small yet delightful town of Saint-Raphaël.

With a small harbour, a huge cathedral and beautiful beaches, this lovely little town is a great place to spend a relaxing final day of a south of France itinerary if you’re on a week-long holiday.

The charming town is a wonderful place to wander around, perusing the little shops and soaking up the sun, but during the Summer, the town really comes to life after 7.30 pm with its famous night market! This is much different than market day in other Provençal towns.

Stalls line the boardwalk all evening, selling local products from traditional Provençal soaps and perfumes to sweet treats and jewellery, so after you’ve had your traditional fish soup, anchovy paste, stuffed peppers or Bouillabaisse, you can’t miss out on a wander around the market to bring your 7 days in the south of France to a close.

If you’ve got time, you’ve also got to check out the superb amphitheatre of Fréjus, just a ten-minute drive from Saint-Raphaël centre.

Saint-Raphaël doesn’t have its own airport, however, it’s just a 45-minute drive from Cannes Airport, or 1 hour along the coastal road so you can say your farewells to the Côte d’Azur as you head home.

If you’re staying on, you can find many different hotels and apartments to stay in for the night all along the coast, although as we head into the more glamorous coastline, you’ll notice the prices can jump up quite a bit from other properties on our itinerary.

Saint Raphael Promenade

Day 8 – Valbonne

For your eighth day in the south of France, it’s time to head away from the coastal towns and cities to experience life in a small village, and there’s none better than Valbonne.

Just north of Cannes and Antibes, you can easily reach Valbonne by car from Saint-Raphaël, or if you’re travelling on public transport you can take a bus from Cannes to Valbonne for just a few euros.

This little village may lack big landmarks and resorts, but it’s bursting with character, with charming cobbled streets leading you around the village, from quaint squares to historic churches.

This style of architecture and tiny community nestled into a valley surrounded by wilderness is archetypal of the area, so a must-visit place for anyone looking to get away from the busy cities and tourist-filled beaches to get a glimpse into the real south of France.

There are a number of wonderful places to eat, including Auberges, serving traditional dishes using produce sourced directly from the surrounding countryside to heighten your experience of rural French life. You can stay in the village, but there are only two hotels, so you’ll want to book well in advance if you want to stay overnight.

However, the large city of Cannes is not far away so there will be much more choice of hotels, as well as gîtes and B&Bs dotted around the countryside if you prefer to stay in a more rural location.

Monastery of Valbonne

Day 9 – Nice

After a day in the countryside, it’s time to get back into the city, and one of the French Riviera’s most unmissable cities has to be Nice .

With its bustling city centre full of designer shops, boutiques, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, you won’t be short of things to do as you walk from street to street, under the intriguing street lamps. But Nice isn’t your average city.

As you head out of the modern centre, you can come across the delightful old town, with more traditional boutiques and eateries, and you can even visit one of the first Russian Orthodox Cathedrals built in France, the beautiful Cathédrale Saint-Nicolas de Nice.

With its intriguing shape, red brick exterior, turquoise domed roofs and pointed turrets, it may be small but it’s well worth visiting while you’re in Nice – just remember to wear long sleeves and trousers to be allowed entry.

You can also walk up the Colline du Château to see the ruins of an old castle and a beautiful waterfall as well as have incredible views over the whole of Nice.

There’s plenty to do in the city for all ages and interests, as well as accommodation for all budgets in the city centre and further out in the suburbs. You can also  organise a walking tour  or  food tour  if you prefer to explore with a guide.

Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Nice

Where to Stay in Nice

Nice Garden Hotel – This is a great mid-range hotel in Nice to round out your south of France trip. They have a number of lovely rooms to choose from along with a great location within easy reach of the Promenade des Anglais. Click here to check availability

Palais Saleya Boutique hôtel – If you’re looking for a luxury hotel while in Nice, then you can’t go wrong with this lovely place. They have a number of delightful rooms to choose from along with plenty of amenities to ensure you have a great stay. Click here to check availability

Aparthotel AMMI Vieux Nice – Located in Old Nice, these apartments are a wonderful choice for those keen for their own space in this coastal metropolis. They have a number of great flats, all equipped with everything you may need for your stay. Click here to check availability

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Nice hotels!

Day 10 – Èze

Nice Airport is the best place to fly out of the south of France if you’ve come along the south coast from west to east, and fortunately, it’s not far from the wonderful village of Èze, which makes for a remarkably relaxing final day of your holiday.

Simply wander around the picturesque village with cobbled streets and stone houses, stunning views over the Mediterranean and the nearby millionaire’s playground that is Monaco.

Or, take a free tour of the renowned Fragonard perfume factory before heading to a cliffside restaurant to enjoy your final plat du jour and a crisp local vin blanc before heading home.

Village of Eze

Have More Time?

If you have more than 10 days , there are plenty of other highlights to stop in en route.

Stop in one of the only papal seats outside the Vatican in Avignon to explore the Pope’s Palace, the famous destroyed bridge Le Pont d’Avignon and the nearby Pont du Gard for a day before visiting Arles, or continue your journey along the French Riviera to the flash principality of Monaco to see how the other half live or try your luck in the famous casino.

Or if Roman history piques your interest, stop by the incredible city of Nîmes near Arles to see a 2,000-year-old Roman amphitheatre that gives Arles a run for its money, as well as its perfectly preserved white Roman temple La Maison Carrée.

En route from Carcassonne to Montpellier, you can also stop for a day of hiking and art in the community of Mayronnes to walk along the impressive 6 km long sculpture trail – but bring plenty of water with you as it can get very hot, especially in the height of summer.

Avignon City Walls

Whether you take a south of France road trip or see the south of France by train, there is plenty to do across the whole region for all interests. Over a week or 10 days in the south, you’ll get to experience some amazing food, architecture and natural areas that will surely have you aching to get back as soon as your feet are off French soil.

Are you visiting the south of France? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

south france travel itinerary

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The Perfect 1, 2 to 3 Days in Toulouse Itinerary

Brittany Scott-Gunfield

About Brittany Scott-Gunfield

Brittany is a writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from Colchester, England, she is slowly but surely travelling the world as a digital nomad. She loves to hike around different landscapes and has a deep love for travelling around France (and elsewhere in Europe).

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Senanque Abbey shot from above--the abbey is in the bottom left of the shot with lavender fields to the right--definitely stop here on your France road trip!

Ultimate South of France Itinerary: Provence + French Riviera

Home to everything from sprawling lavender fields to hilltop towns to fishing villages to the sparkling Mediterranean Sea, it’s no wonder that traveling through Provence and the French Riviera is a dream trip for many–and this south of France itinerary makes it easy to enjoy the perfect trip.

We absolutely love exploring southern France and have enjoyed a handful of road trips, train trips, and more throughout the region.

We designed this south of France itinerary for first-time visitors to the region who want a little taste of everything that Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur has to offer, from the cobblestone streets of the Luberon Valley to the glamour of Nice’s promenade.

Hoping to visit southern France and find yourself overwhelmed with village names and potential places to visit?

This south of France itinerary is for you !

Table of Contents

Where Exactly is Provence?

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Selfie of Kate and Jeremy in front of the Verdon Gorge. Both are wearing blue shirts and Kate is wearing sunglasses.

Some links in this post may be affiliate links. If you make a purchase through one of these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Please see our disclosure policy for more detail.

When planning a trip to the south of France, Provence is often the first region that comes to mind–but what exactly is Provence, anyway, other than an endless collection of photos of blooming lavender fields?

Short version: Provence is part of the French administrative region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, which is located in southeastern France.

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is then divided into six subregions, whose names you’ll probably notice around you as you work through this south of France itinerary–Vaucluse is one example.

The bulk of this recommended south of France itinerary takes place in what is colloquially known as Provence (the southern and western part of the region).

The d estinations mentioned toward the end of the trip like Nice, Cannes, and Saint-Paul-de-Vence are located along the Côte d’Azur–aka the French Riviera–in the eastern part of the region.

Kate in a blue skirt in Goult, France. There's a stone building with blue shutters to her left, and she's facing away from the camera. Goult is one of the best places to visit in the south of France.

While the cities and towns visited throughout this south of France itinerary are generally walkable (even Nice !), you will likely need a car to get between them.

In a pinch, you can certainly complete this itinerary with a combination of buses, trains, and booked tours, but that would be far less efficient than a road trip!

A few tips on driving in southern France: budget generously for gas and tolls, book your lodging each night with the parking situation in mind, and rent the smallest car you possibly can.

ranger storm smiling in front of gordes france

We cover our tips for driving in France a lot more thoroughly in our broader France road trip guide , so be sure to check that out before taking off on your trip to southern France !

To book your rental car for the south of France, we recommend checking prices, inclusions and availability via Discover Cars .

They’ll search both local and international brands that have available cars, and allow you to compare prices, reviews, and inclusions side-by-side.

Shop rental cars for your trip to the south of France today!

Jeremy standing to the right of a country road during our road trip in France. He's standing in front of a black rental car with the rear hatch open, and he's wearing a black jacket.

We’ve structured this South of France itinerary with the assumption that you’ll be spending roughly 2 weeks in the region, and the number of days noted by each city is the minimum number of full days that we recommend spending in each spot.

In other words, when you pull into town at 7:00 PM, that doesn’t count as a “day” in the destination on this suggested route.

That’s not to say you couldn’t stay longer–you absolutely could!

blooming lavender fields in the valensole plateau, one of the best places to visit on an itinerary provence

Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is an immense region that is absolutely packed with things to do, from strolling past lavender fields to perusing markets to going on adventurous hikes to relaxing on the beach, and so much more. 

There’s truly something for every interest here–and then some–so be prepared to start plotting your return visit by the halfway point through your trip!

If you have less than 2 weeks in the South of France, we recommend narrowing your focus to either the Cote d’Azur or Provence, rather than trying to squeeze both destinations into your limited time.

Cup of coffee sitting on an outdoor table at a cafe in Aix-en-Provence. There's a red and white checkered chair behind the coffee.

Perusing the open-air markets of the villages of Provence is an iconic part of any trip to the region–so make sure to structure your South of France itinerary so you don’t miss the best ones!

Most markets are open 1-3 days/week and different markets focus on different things.

Some will be about food, and others will be French flea markets/brocantes that focus on textiles, clothing, or antiques.

If you manage to time it right, on Thursdays Aix-en-Provence has three markets in town at once, so you can get the perfect experience all in one spot.

Collection of antique items for sale, laid out on a table at a market in Nice, as seen during a south of France vacation.

Avignon: 1 Day

Once the home of popes, Avignon is the perfect place to kick off your south of France itinerary.

Spend the day exploring the town, hitting up the impressive Papal Palace, the Pont d’Avignon, and the Les Halles Market in between wandering the streets and marveling that you’re finally in southern France!

If you have time, also consider ducking into one of the other beautiful art museums in the city.

If you’d like to get out of town for a bit in the afternoon, the 2,000-year-old Pont du Gard aqueduct is incredibly impressive and only a 30-minute drive from Avignon.

Photo of the exterior of the Papal Palace in Avignon. Don't miss this stop on your south of France itinerary!

Luberon Valley: 2 Days

Ah, the Luberon Valley: this is the area that tends to come to mind immediately when someone says the word “Provence”.

All hilltop villages and rolling countryside filled with lavender fields, the Luberon Valley is absolutely stunning and a must-visit on any Provence itinerary.

It also happens to be one of our favorite corners of France and one that we love to visit repeatedly!

kate storm and ranger storm in menerbes luberon valley france

Be sure to visit the town of Bonnieux for some of the best views over the valley, Gordes for its impressive location built into a hilltop, Fontaine-de-Vaucluse for its lovely spring and river, Roussillon for its majestic red cliff, and Goult for its understated and quiet beauty.

Other favorites include Lacoste for its picturesque views, Menerbes for its delightful charm (if you ever read A Year in Provence , this is the town!), and Lourmarin for its idyllic beauty.

That’s merely the tip of the iceberg, of course: Sénanque Abbey and Isle sur Sorgue are just a couple of the other spots that might hold your attention during this section of your south of France itinerary.

You probably won’t have time to visit all of those–but the great thing about exploring the Luberon Valley is that going slow and savoring the journey is half the fun anyway.

Depending on how fast you tend to go and how much each village captures your heart (okay, and how much French wine you indulge in at lunch), you can comfortably visit 2-3 villages a day.

Kate walking down a narrow street in Goult during our France road trip. There's a pink building to her left and she's wearing a long blue skirt.

The Alpilles: 1 Day

The first two towns on your list in the Alpilles?

Les Baux-de-Provence, often considered one of the most beautiful villages in France, and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, the former home of Van Gogh and a bit of an artistic enclave.

Both towns are absolutely lovely, but in our biased opinion, we do think that Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is slightly prettier than Les Baux-de-Provence .

abbey in st remy de provence with lavender growing in front of it

However, w e do recognize that the views from Les Baux-de-Provence themselves are top-notch !

While you can whip through these highlights in a day if needed, outdoor enthusiasts–especially hikers and bikers–might prefer to set up shop in the Alpilles a bit longer.

We enjoyed Saint-Rémy-de-Provence so much the first time around that when we later returned to southeast France, we based ourselves there for almost a week!

It’s a beautiful, conveniently located place that makes an excellent addition to any France trip.

Cobblestone street and stone buildings in Les Baux-de-Provence--don't forget to add this village to your South of France itinerary!

Aix-en-Provence: 1 Day

The gorgeous city of Aix-en-Provence is known for its beauty, its accessibility–this is a great place to base yourself for part of your southern France trip–and most importantly, its markets.

I’m not exaggerating when I say that the markets in Aix-en-Provence, which sell everything from flowers to fruits to fedoras, are some of the best that we’ve ever seen.

We have loaded up our backpack more than once on shopping extravaganzas here!

Though Aix-en-Provence does have daily markets, to see the markets at their biggest and best, plan to spend a day here on either a Thursday!

Tuesday and Saturday are great backup options.

Flower market as seen in Aix-en-Provence during a south of France vacation--you can see a clock tower in the upper left of the photo.

Cassis + Calanques National Park: 1 Day

The adorable fishing village of Cassis is a delightful addition to any south of France itinerary.

Much smaller and prettier than nearby Marseilles, Cassis is also the perfect jumping-off point for visiting Calanques National Park.

And, w hether you want to go for a hike or simply take a boat tour past the beautiful calanques, visiting this stunning part of the French coastline is a must !

While you’re in and around Cassis, be sure to also check out to picture-perfect Port de Cassis, visit the (extremely accessible) Calanque de Port Miou, and admire the views from the Cap Canaille.

Woman in floral dress standing in front of Port Miou near Cassis Provence France

Valensole Plateau + Verdon Gorge: 1 Day

Of all the suggested stops on this south of France itinerary, this one is probably the most anticipated for many summer visitors.

T he Valensole Plateau is the iconic home to those never-ending lavender fields pictured on tourism brochures around the world !

Sure, the Luberon Valley also has stunning fields, and they’re definitely worth seeing–but in Valensole, be ready to pull your car over nearly constantly, because every field seems to be more gorgeous than the last.

blooming lavender field on the valensole plateau, one of the best stops on a provence itinerary

Early July is considered the absolute optimal time for enjoying the lavender fields on the Valensole Plateau, though late June, the rest of July, and maybe the very beginning of August can work as well.

That being said, we have visited the Valensole Plateau outside of lavender season as well, and while it’s certainly not as magical as it is when the lavender is at its peak, it’s still a striking and beautiful part of Provence.

After you get your fill of snapping photos, head to the Verdon Gorge, home to cascading cliffs, turquoise water, the nearby Lake of Sainte-Croix, some incredible hiking, and–again for summer visitors specifically–excellent kayaking and rafting.

Though I’ve noted you can see the major sites of the area in one day here, like in the Alpilles, photographers and/or outdoor enthusiasts will probably want to spend at least a couple of days here if at all possible .

Photo of an empty road on the left, with the Verdon Gorge to the right. The turquoise river of the gorge is visible in the center of the photo. Definitely worth stopping here on a France road trip!

Saint-Paul-de-Vence: 1 Day

Perched high above the Mediterranean Sea along the Cote d’Azur, Saint-Paul-de-Vence is one of those destinations that we expected to enjoy but quickly move on from, but in actuality knocked us off our feet and charmed us completely.

For that reason alone, I can’t resist adding a day here to this suggested itinerary for the south of France!

Come here for a delightful combination of all the things that makes the south of France so charming , from the delicious food to the winding stone streets to the sublime views.

S tand on the medieval walls of the town, and you’ll be smitten with the views of the countryside and sea.

Photo of Saint-Paul-de-Vence France taken from outside the city. You can see the city walls.

Stroll through the tiny cobblestone streets of the village, and you’ll feel like you’re back in the Luberon Valley.

Sit down for a fantastic French meal on a stunning terrace, and you’ll immediately feel all the glitz and glamour of the Cote d’Azur.

Oh–and definitely grab a cup of coffee at the cafe just outside the town walls.

The coffee is merely average (by impeccable French standards, anyway), and I wouldn’t take chances on the touristy food, but it’s worth sitting down just to see if the adorable corgi who passes through regularly happens to come by!

Photo of a cobblestone street in Saint-Paul-de-Vence France, with stone buildings on either side and green plants along the street--don't miss this stop during your south of France itinerary!

Nice + The French Riviera: 3 Days

There’s no better place to close out your south of France itinerary than soaking up the sun along the French Riviera.

As the largest city in the region and home to a good airport, glamorous Nice is the obvious final stop for your south of France trip.

That being said, it certainly doesn’t need to be your only destination along the French Riviera!

view of promenade des angalis from above in nice france with med to the right

Antibes is another great option for a base in the area, and of course trips to places like Menton, Eze, and Monaco are all fabulous ways to spend a day.

(For travelers who happen to be visiting in the offseason, look up Menton’s February lemon festival !).

Of course, if all you want to do with the final days of your south of France vacation is lay on Nice’s famous beach, we certainly can’t blame you for that!

Be sure to at least make time for a quick stroll along the Promenade des Anglais, admiring the view from Castle Hill, and lunch spent diving into a plate of Nicoise salad.

Villefranche-sur-Mer as seen from across the water with sailboats and water in the foreground. Villefranche-sur-Mer is one of the prettiest villages in France

If you have significantly more time than the south of France itinerary outlined here suggests, we would recommend doing one of two things.

Option 1: Beaches

With more time in southern France, you can’t go wrong with s pending a lot more time along the French Riviera, especially if you’re visiting during the high season.

Highlights like Saint-Tropez, Cannes, and Antibes would be a great place to start, but there are endless gorgeous small towns and rural beaches to choose from in the region.

harbor of st tropez in the south of france road trip itinerary

Option 2: Small Town Vibes

Prefer to dive into the slower pace of village life for a few days?

After wrapping up this itinerary, pick your favorite place–maybe a tiny village like Lourmarin, maybe a city with plenty of day trip options like Aix-en-Provence, your choice–and settle into Provencal life for a while, savoring your experiences and slowly soaking up everything that makes southern France special.

Jeremy in a blue shirt and black jacket, holding a beer while eating lunch in a square of Aix-en-Provence

The most important thing to keep in mind when deciding where to stay in the south of France?

Limit your changes in lodging.

Packing and unpacking your belongings, loading and unloading the car, checking in and out of your hotels and/or apartments… all of these things take up more time than you might initially think.

Even as European road trip veterans of sorts, we still got too excited when planning our most recent trip to France and booked ourselves into an itinerary that moved around too much–and we paid for it in exhaustion.

Port de Cassis, Provence, France, with boats tied up to docks and the Chateau de Cassis in the background

We’d recommend only changing lodging every 2-3 days at the absolute maximum, and structuring your trip to the south of France as a series of day trips taken from various bases instead of actually sleeping in each location.

I’ve outlined some popular, well-reviewed, and well-located options in two of the most popular bases visited during this south of France itinerary: Aix-en-Provence and Nice.

That being said, we highly recommend basing yourselves at least once in a smaller village , too!

We’ve stayed in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence and Lourmarin and absolutely loved our experiences in both.

hotel room in lourmarin france

Aix-en-Provence

Séjours & Affaires Aix-en-Provence Mirabeau — This is where we stayed when visiting Aix-en-Provence, and we loved it!

These studio apartments are within walking distance of central Aix-en-Provence and all its best markets, have access to affordable parking across the street, and are very clean and comfortable.

They’re not particularly charming, and the vibe is very “could be a modern hotel anywhere in the world”, but they absolutely get the job done for a budget or even mid-range traveler visiting Aix-en-Provence.

Having the kitchen was a huge benefit for us (especially after visiting the markets in Aix-en-Provence), and we’d be happy to stay again.

Check rates & book your stay at Séjours & Affaires Aix-en-Provence Mirabeau!

Street in Aix-en-Provence France, with a cafe to the right. The tables of the cafe are filled with visitors.

Les Quatre Dauphins — Located in the heart of Aix-en-Provence, Les Quatre Dauphins boasts light and bright decor–this is the kind of hotel that you dream of when booking a trip to the south of France!

Street parking is available nearby, and everything you could hope to visit within the center of Aix-en-Provence is at your fingertips when staying at Les Quatre Dauphins.

Check rates & book your stay at Les Quatre Dauphins!

La Maison d’Aix — This converted townhome makes the perfect luxury boutique hotel in Aix-en-Provence!

Boasting impeccable reviews–especially for the breakfast, cleanliness, and customer service at the hotel–luxury travelers will love both the creature comforts and central location of La Maison d’Aix.

Check rates & book your stay at La Maison d’Aix!

Street in Aix-en-Provence with a red Vespa in the foreground and a yellow building in the background

Boutique Hôtel Neptune Nice — This small hotel in central Nice is perfect for travelers hoping to stay (somewhat–Nice is pricey!) on a budget while still keeping themselves within walking distance of Nice’s best highlights.

Rooms are small, but customer service is wonderful! The hotel is known for its impeccable location, and you can’t go wrong staying here on your south of France trip!

Check rates & book your stay at Boutique Hôtel Neptune Nice!

Close up shot of a Carousel in Avignon France--don't miss Avignon when making a Provence itinerary!

Le Dortoir — Featuring near-perfect reviews and a crisp, bright interior, Le Dortoir is an excellent option for visitors to Nice who want to enjoy a spacious hotel room… without Nice’s top-end luxury prices.

From Le Dortoir, you’ll be able to reach all of Nice’s highlights on foot, and its fabulous customer service ratings mean that you’ll be able to ask for advice on just about anywhere you want to go!

Check rates & book your stay at Le Dortoir!

Deli in Nice France with a car full of fruits and vegetables parked in front of it.

Hotel Negresco — If you’ve seen photos of the French Riviera, there’s a good chance you’ve seen photos of the iconic Hotel Negresco, with its tiled dome and bright white facade.

This is one of the most famous luxury hotels in France and has built up quite the storied history (and held a number of famous guests) since it opened in 1913–and it’s also a whimsical and wonderful place to stay today.

Located right along the Promenade des Anglais, a stay at the ever-popular and unique Hotel Negresco is not something you’re likely to forget anytime soon.

Check rates & book your stay at Hotel Negresco!

famous white and pink dome of hotel negresco in nice france

The two biggest airports in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region are Marseille and Nice, and you can easily fly into either to start your trip to southern France.

If you fly into Nice, consider completing this south of France itinerary in the opposite order that I’ve written it.

Alternatively, check the prices of flights to Geneva (on one of our trips to France, we flew into Geneva, spent a few days in the delightful city of Annecy , and then drove to Avignon to start exploring Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur) .

And, of course, there’s always Paris!

You can easily take a train from Paris to Nice, Marseille, Avignon, or Aix-en-Provence, but be sure to account for that cost and travel time when planning your southern France itinerary!

Shop train tickets from Paris to the south of France today!
Take This Map With You! Click each highlight to pull up the name of the destination. To save this map to “Your Places” on Google Maps, click the star to the right of the title. You’ll then be able to find it under the Maps tab of your Google Maps account! To open the map in a new window, click the button on the top right of the map.

Each season brings with it a reason to visit the south of France!

Unlike many other places, though, traveling during the high (read: summer) season here comes with enough advantages that unless you’re entirely allergic to crowds and high prices, I’d recommend planning your trip then.

Here are some quick pros and cons of completing this south of France itinerary in each season.

Kate in a blue skirt on a ledge overlooking Gordes, one of the best places to visit in the South of France

Summer is the best time to visit the south of France if you’re hoping for a classic trip.

The lavender fields will be blooming (July is the best time to aim for, though you might be lucky and still find some fields in early August), the beaches will be warm and lovely, and the sun will (most likely) be shining.

The downsides?

Everyone else also thinks this is the best time to visit the south of France, so prices will be high and crowds will be large.

Buildings in front of harbor of Cassis France, their reflections are on the water in the bottom half of the photo.

While you’ll experience a bit more rain than in the summer, fall can be a lovely time to visit the south of France if you’re looking for reduced crowds and prices while still experiencing quite a bit of sunshine and some lovely markets.

Except for perhaps in the very early fall during a hot year, though, you likely won’t want to swim during this time of year, and of course, there won’t be any lavender around.

Photo of a square in Saint-Paul-de-Vence France--there's a red banner hanging over a restaurant in the center of the photo.

Winter is very quiet in the south of France, and if you visit during this time, expect to find some businesses (including accommodation) closed.

Winter definitely isn’t an ideal time to be experiencing this south of France itinerary, but if cold weather and closed businesses are a worthy trade for rock-bottom prices and a lack of crowds, winter might be an option for your trip!

Plus, as a bonus, Provencal Christmas traditions (and markets!) are lovely.

wooden carvings in a provencal christmas nativity

We love the south of France in the spring, and would happily visit in the spring again.

Spring brings increased sunshine and temperatures, and businesses start to wake back up after the long winter. 

Spring is also an excellent time of year to be exploring Provencal markets, something that we have taken full advantage of when visiting during this time of year.

And sure, there isn’t lavender, but you do get to enjoy wisteria, which is the next-best thing!

If you come during spring, though, pack for varying temperatures, and definitely bring plenty of layers to guard against the viciously cold mistral winds that whip through the region during this time of year.

Kate in a long blue skirt standing in front of a building in Goult with green shutters. Wisteria is blooming on the building. Don't miss visiting Goult during your south of France itinerary!

Books About the South of France — What’s better to add to your packing list than a book about the region you’re visiting?

Provence in particular has spawned countless novels and memoirs–if you’re looking for an excellent starting point, Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence is a classic.

Travel Insurance — We don’t ever suggest traveling without insurance–anything can happen anywhere, and this is definitely a case of better safe than sorry.

We use and recommend Safety Wing for trips to the south of France.

Travel Adaptors for France — If you’re coming from outside of Europe, you’ll definitely need adaptors for your electronics.

Photo of an empty street in Avignon, with brown buildings to either side. The road is curving to the left.

Pacsafe — We can’t recommend our Pacsafe enough: this travel safe is affordable, sturdy, easy to pack, and will help keep your valuables safe in your hotel room (not that you should need to worry much about theft in France, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!).

south france travel itinerary

Bring a small pack of tissues, toss them in your day bag, and you won’t have to worry about it.

Having these saved me more than once during our last trip to France!

Tote Bag — Trust me: you’ll want a very sturdy reusable bag with you when you visit Provencal markets!

selection of cheese and sausage for sale at provencal market

Hand Sanitizer — We’ve never been sorry to have this floating around in our day bag.

Swiss Army Knife — Want to open wine bottles in your hotel room, slice cheese from the market, or cut up that baguette from the bakery?

You’ll be so glad you brought a Swiss Army Knife along for your south of France vacation!

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Photo of the Verdon Gorge from above. There's text on the image in pink that says "South of France: The Ultimate Itinerary"

About Kate Storm

Image of the author, Kate Storm

In May 2016, I left my suburban life in the USA and became a full-time traveler. Since then, I have visited 50+ countries on 5 continents and lived in Portugal, developing a special love of traveling in Europe (especially Italy) along the way. Today, along with my husband Jeremy and dog Ranger, I’m working toward my eventual goal of splitting my life between Europe and the USA.

42 thoughts on “Ultimate South of France Itinerary: Provence + French Riviera”

This is such a great guide! I love that you added books about the South of France as well. My husband & I just relocated to Amsterdam and we are planning a trip here for early July. Do you have any 2020 specific tips or anything you think might be closed or different?

Thank you so much, Mercedes! I wish I could offer some 2020 specific advice, but everything has been developing and changing so quickly that it’s hard to predict from one day to the next! Outdoor dining and activities will definitely be your best bets, but luckily, that’s generally where you’ll find the best of southern France anyway!

I loved reading this! I do have a question for you. I am interested in going to the South of France but would like to stay in a house or villa that we would use as home base, but do day trips to various areas. Is this possible to do? if so what area would be the best to stay? I am just starting my research and I was so happy to come across your blog. Any input or advice would be so appreciated. Right now I am thinking around 10 days but could extend a little if necessary.

Yes, that would absolutely be possible, and in fact is a great way to see the area. You can’t day trip everywhere from one base, but you can sure see a lot!

Personally, if I were renting a villa I’d look somewhere in the Luberon Valley, so near villages like Gordes or Bonnieux. From there, you can reach the southern coast (we highly recommend Cassis in the surrounding area) on a day trip, as well as the Valensole Plateau, Avignon, Aix en Provence, etc.

If you also want to see Nice and the immediate surrounding area, you’d want to move into different lodging for that. 🙂

Thank you so much Kate for getting back to me. You have now given me a starting point in planning my trip! I will be in touch as I plan! I am happy that I stumbled across your site.

Love your travels. We follow your travels and learned much from you when we did the 3-week family trip to the Czech Republic, Austria, Germany and Italy in summer of 2019. (Family of 4 with two college-age boys) Thank you. Scratch last year, ugh…

Question.. How do you think things are looking for an August 2021 visit to the south of France and Barcelona? Using Aix as a home base while in France. Splitting 2 weeks up between Provence and Barcelona… (a little of each) thx

Thank you so much, Kevin! So glad we could help a couple of years ago.

I wish I knew exactly what the situation was going to look like in August–it seems likely that some travel will be open by then (both France and Spain have mentioned a desire to open to vaccinated tourists this summer), but as for what that will look like, no clue.

I’d recommend booking things with as flexible as cancellation policies as possible. I’d also only recommend booking one country right now–whichever is your priority–and then giving it another couple of months to see how easy it will be to travel between the two (will you need to test or isolate, etc).

Anecdotally, borders just officially opened between all Spanish regions for Spanish residents and citizens this week, and France is experiencing a notoriously long and expansive list of restrictions. Could things be 100% normal by then? Maybe, but I’d bank on a contingency plan or two.

A bit long-winded, I know, and will likely be dated advice within a week, but that’s the best I can offer now! On a personal note, we’re planning to visit Europe this summer but stick to one country for ease/to limit the risks of things going wrong… at least that’s the plan as of today!

Hi, We are American citizens visiting Portugal and plan on flying to Nice (early July) to see French Rivera from there. Do you think things are opening up? Thanks,

I wish we knew! Things are definitely more open than they were a couple of months ago, but I’d say it’s still a bit of a gamble to plan on a trip to two countries right now. In theory, there’s supposed to be more news from the EU on this front June 7, but we’ll see!

Hi Kate, I really enjoyed reading your post. We are planning a trip to southern France (flying into Nice) in mid-July for our long-awaited honeymoon! We have about 2 weeks. What are your thoughts about 5 days in the French Riviera, 5 days in Provence, and then 3 days in Paris. Does this seem too rushed? I know you suggested 14 days in Provence and the French Riviera but we’ve never been to Paris! Thanks 🙂

That sounds lovely, and congratulations on your marriage! Your itinerary will leave you tired at the end, but it’s definitely realistic. 🙂

I’d recommend basing yourselves in one place in each the French Riviera and Provence to cut down on travel days that will eat into your exploring, aiming to only stay in 3 hotels/rentals during your honeymoon.

If you haven’t read it, we highly recommend checking out our 3 days in Paris itinerary as well: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/3-days-in-paris-itinerary/

Hi Kate! I loved discovering your site! My husband and I are fully vaxed and can’t wait to start travelling overseas again! Lots of missed celebrations…so our first planned trip is to France in September, I grew up there and can’t wait to share it with him. We’re driving from Paris south, areas I want to specifically hit; Bordeaux, Nice/Cannes & Montpellier and then driving back to Paris. We have two weeks, would love to get some route& sightseeing suggestions from you. Merci!

Thank you so much, Crystina!

Sadly we haven’t been to Bordeaux or Montpellier yet (hopefully soon!). Nice is fantastic–we highly recommend visiting Eze and Vence when in the area as well. Both are gorgeous small towns with excellent views. I’m not sure if you’re planning inland at all, but the Verdon Gorge is incredible and is a couple of hours from Cannes.

You are covering a lot of ground in two weeks, especially with Paris too. If you’re only planning on visiting the city of Bordeaux, you may want to consider taking the fast train from Paris to Bordeaux and then from Bordeaux to Montpellier to speed things up, and then only rent a car in the southeast. Just food for thought!

Hello, this is simply superb, thank you very much for sharing this. This is exactly the itinerary I plan to follow next month, and I just have one question. I know you have mentioned Aix-en-Provence and Nice as two potential bases for the itinerary but I understand that may not be enough (i.e. not everything in your itinerary can be done has day trips from these 2 bases alone), and you also seem to have suggested 2 days in Luberon valley. So can you suggest a list of all the places we should use as our bases (overnight stays) so that we can cover all these places and yet not be packing/unpacking every other day? Many thanks in advance.

Hi Ricardo,

It really depends on your personal tastes–some people prefer to move around, and others prefer to stay in one base. For the Luberon Valley, all the major towns such as Gordes and Roussillon have beautiful places to stay, but you’ll want to book in advance as they’re mostly small, boutique properties. We personally explored the Luberon from a base of Aix-en-Provence.

Thank you Kate, much appreciated.

Hi We are thinking of spending 1 week in Lyon and 1 week in Porto to relax and at the same time visit the sights in and around in Sept/Oct 22. Do you have any suggestions for some can’t miss day trips from Lyon? Thank you

Sounds like a wonderful trip!

From Lyon, I highly recommend a day trip to Annecy! Here’s our post on it: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/things-to-do-in-annecy-france/

Dijon is another great option, though I haven’t had a chance to visit yet.

So helpful! My daughter will be doing a course through SCAD in Lacoste in December and I will join her around the 15th to travel a bit before she comes home. I know it is not the best time of year, but excited to go anyway. I am wondering if you have a “1 week don’t miss” version and anyway to print your itineraries. Thank you!!

December may not be a traditional time to be in Provence, but it is lovely!

I’d consider skipping the Riviera and sticking to the areas surrounding the Luberon Valley since you’re short on time and visiting in winter.

Be sure to seek out the Christmas markets–a fun bonus of a winter trip. I know Aix-en-Provence and Avignon are supposed to have lovely ones, and I’m sure the smaller cities and towns will have plenty too.

Sadly I don’t have a printable version of our itineraries yet, but I hope to create them in the future!

My family would like to spend one month in South France visiting beautiful villages! Where would you suggest for us to base and in how many locations? Could to suggest some of the villages to visit? Is Spring (June) a good time or Summer is a better season?

Thanks and much Appreciated for your help!

Hi Han! Sounds like a wonderful trip.

June is a wonderful time to visit Provence, but I’d aim for the end of the month and into July if you want to catch the lavender fields at their best.

For a month, I’d probably base yourselves for 2 weeks in one of the villages in the Luberon Valley (or Aix-in-Provence if you prefer more of a city feel), and half in one of the cities on the French Riviera!

Hello, What a great source of information-so very helpful in planning our trip which begins in Avignon on July 31. Would it make sense for us to stay between Luberon Valley, Valensole and Verdon Gorge so that we have a single base while visiting both of those areas before we head down to Nice? If so, can you recommend a particular town or inn? Second question, it sounds like we may miss the lavender fields in bloom! If that is a highlight of those areas and there is so much to see elsewhere too, should we skip Luberon Valley since we are already squeezing quite a lot in?

Thanks so much, Mimi!

You can use one base in a pinch, but that’ll mean a lot of driving each day. I’d recommend maybe one base in the Luberon and then one between Valensole/Verdon Gorge.

The Luberon Valley is a stunning place, and I personally think it’s absolutely worth visiting with or without lavender! As a silver lining, if the lavender is gone some of the crowds will disperse also. 🙂

I love and admire your site and insights. I will be part of a group of 8 women, arriving in Paris in October for one week. We’d like to head visit the small towns/villages of the south of France. Do you have a one week recommendation that begins and ends in Paris, in October? We’ve been thinking of perhaps hiring a van and driver. Thank you so much. Ellen

Hi Ellen! Unfortunately, I don’t, but off the top of my head, I’d consider maybe Paris – Luberon Valley – Paris.

It’d be a busy itinerary, but the Luberon Valley has a high concentration of darling Provencal villages so you can see several in quick succession.

If your group is comfortable with it, I’d look into potentially taking a train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence or Avignon and then hiring a driver for the Provence portion.

Alternatively, if you drive down, you could add a day in the Loire Valley (a bit out of the way but beautiful) or even a lesser-visited city like Dijon.

Hope you guys have a wonderful trip! France with girlfriends sounds delightful.

Hello Kate Thank you so much for the detailed itinerary. I am meeting my daughter in Paris and plan to travel via train to Nice and hit some of your highlighted spots in reverse. We would like to end in aix-en-Provence and possibly Avignon. See as much of the French Riveria as we can then head towards Avignon. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Hi Dominique! Near the French Riviera, hilltop towns like Eze and Saint-Paul-de-Vence are well worth adding in to mix up beach towns if you’re looking for great views. I also wouldn’t miss the Valensole Plateau as you’re heading toward Aix-en-Provence if you’re visiting during summer/lavender season.

Hello Kate, Thank you for such a helpful article! Great info! We will be coming from the U.S. in Sept. & only have 18 days, including travel, for France & Sicily. We were thinking of flying in to Paris (assuming cheapest, easiest), only staying1-2 night there. Really not interested in the city (no doubt fun, but save for another time). Would really only care to see Eiffel Tower at night, if that, on this trip. Planned to then drive to southern France & fly out of Nice to Sicily. Mainly wanted to see cute small towns & pretty scenery, not into the big cities for this trip. Several questions. Would you just skip Paris & fly into another city, or not that big of a deal to start there & drive, or take a train from Paris to the south & then get car? Sounds like we would like to be sure to see Aix-en-Provence, Gorge, Eze & Vence. Is that all doable from one location, or see part from Nice, as I imagine will need to stay there a night or two to be in the area to catch a flight out. Last, how many days would you choose for France & how many for Sicily? Also, enjoyed your Sicily blog! Obviously not enough time to see both in detail, but thought we could get a basic overview & know if there was somewhere we want to return with more time. Thank you so much for your thoughts!

Sounds like a magical trip–we actually flew from Nice to Sicily ourselves the first time we visit, and it worked out great.

If you’re not interested in seeing Paris on this trip, I’d definitely recommend checking flights to Nice as well, as that will save you time. If you do end up flying into Paris, definitely don’t drive to Provence/the Riviera, but instead book the fast train from Paris (probably to Aix-en-Provence). It’s much faster! However, book tickets in advance as prices for high speed trains increase as the date of travel gets closer.

Aix and Nice are both pretty big–not Paris big, but definitely small towns. For small towns I’d recommend the Luberon Valley–truly gorgeous and very typically “Provencal”. It’s where Gordes is as well as places like Bonneiux, Lourmarin, Roussillon, etc.

I’d think of that area–Aix + small Provencal villages–as a separate section from the Riviera. You’ll want one base there, and the one base on the coast.

Vence and Eze are both easy day trips from Nice, but if small towns are what you’re after, you may consider staying in one of them instead of Nice!

With 18 days you have some flexibility. I’d give Sicily a week minimum–with that timeline, you can cover the east coast (Taormina, Siracusa, etc.) at a pretty leisurely pace and enjoy some beach time!

Hope you guys have a fantastic trip! September is such a beautiful time to visit. 🙂

Hi! I love your site. I am having a hard time deciding where to go. I am a single woman and always travels solo to major cities like Paris, Rome etc. This time I want to go to the south of France but not sure the best way to do that if I am traveling solo. I will be in Paris then want to go to the South. I went to Cannes as a child with my family but obviously this trip will be different. I’d like a few beach dates where I can swim in the ocean, sit under an umbrella (basically being catered too lol) and then go out to fun dinners, walk around, shop (love antique markets etc.) Can you help me narrow it down if I am there for one week? Should I rent a car by myself or is that not recommended? Is it scary driving the roads? I also don’t want to do too much traveling and instead chill in a few cities and talk it all in!

Your help would be awesome. Oh, I’m thinking early/mid September…

I think you’ll definitely be able to find what you’re looking for.

Scary driving is a matter of perspective of course, but for confident drivers, the Riviera isn’t too bad! If you want to stay in only a handful of locations and have a more leisurely trip, though, you probably don’t need a car.

Most of the major beach towns/cities will have what you’re looking for, including Nice. You may want to look into Menton, too!

The hill towns about the Riviera are excellent for wandering around, restaurants, etc, but of course, you’re missing the beach.

Basing yourself in Nice and taking day trips (on non-beach days!) to places like Eze, St-Paul-de-Vence, Monaco, etc, might suit you perfectly.

Hello Kate, I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog posts about all your wonderful travels. My husband and I are looking at going to southern France for a week or two in July 2023. … Celebration of my 70th birthday and my wedding anniversary in 45 years. We were looking at an Airbnb in La Ciotat. Is that a good place to stay to have opportunity for day trips? We also considered staying in Provence for a few days too. Is there somewhere you would suggest. We can get another Airbnb or a hotel. Someone suggested Avignon, but wondered if outside the city would be better. We will rent a car. WE are novice travelers to France and are really seeking guidance on our first journey. We just dont want to do a river cruise or a tour group really.

Happy Birthday and Anniversary! France sounds like a fantastic way to celebrate both. 🙂

We haven’t stayed in La Ciotat, but it looks darling (its reputation is for being a bit quieter, which can make a nice base) and is fairly close to Cassis, which we love: https://www.ourescapeclause.com/things-to-do-in-cassis-france/

For day trips right around the coast, it will undoubtedly work. I’d also recommend looking into a boat trip around the Calanques!

If you want to spend time both on the coast and inland, I’d recommend choosing a second base as well.

For a more classic Provence feel with small farming villages, lavender fields (July is a great time to catch the blooms!), etc, we can’t recommend the Luberon Valley more highly. Villages like Gordes, Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, Roussillon, etc, are an absolute delight, and the fun of the region is driving between them and visiting several in one stay.

Avignon makes for an excellent base as well, as do the villages near the Alpilles (we adore Saint-Rémy-de-Provence), but the Luberon is the most classic option.

All of the inland places I just listed are within day-tripping distance of each other, though, so you don’t necessarily have to pick and choose.

The absolute best lavender fields are over at the Valensole Plateau, which is a bit of a drive but worth it if you want to see the biggest fields.

Hello Kate, I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog posts about all your wonderful travels. My husband and I are looking at going to southern France for six days in June 2023. … We are doing the River Rhine cruise and decided to visit southern France after the cruise. We should be arriving in Nice on the 26th of June. We were thinking of staying in Nice and visit the surrounding areas and then going to Provence region before flying back to California. Do you have any recommendations for hotels we can check out for the two areas and also if there are any small tour groups (no river cruise 🙂 ) you think would be good to use since we do not have a lot of time this time around.

That’s a beautiful time to be in southern France–it’ll definitely be busy, but not quite the peak summer crowds of July and August yet!

We have recommended hotels for some of the most popular places to stay in the area under the “Where to Stay” section above, including Nice! Hotel Negresco is the most iconic choice for its history and location alone.

If you’re looking for a small group tour, I’d look for day trips to the Luberon Valley area, probably leaving from Aix-en-Provence or perhaps Avignon. If you’d like to see several of Provence’s most iconic villages without driving, it’s a fun way to do so! We’ve always driven ourselves, but if we were planning to book a day trip like that, we’d look on Get Your Guide, which we use regularly.

thank you for the wonderful blog! I am definitely going to Provence this spring/summer and already imagining sounds, colours and vibes of the beautiful villages and small towns that you described. I am thinking, is it possible to arrange a multi-day round trip in Province, to avoid renting a car? There are lots of half-day or full day trips, but some round one lasting for few days would be perfect, like we did in Scotland. What is, in your opinion best alternative to renting a car? Thanks& enjoy your trips in 2023!

I’m sure they exist, though I’m not personally familiar with any! Rick Steves, for example, has a tour that touches on Provence but it doesn’t really focus on it.

If you search “Provence small group tours”, that’s where I found the results I think you’re looking for (as opposed to “Provence tours” that mostly suggests day trips). I can’t personally vouch for any of the companies that pop up in those results, though.

All of that being said, if there’s not a particular reason (not confident driving, etc) that you want to avoid a rental car, you will undoubtedly spend less and have more flexibility by driving yourself!

Driving in Provence is fairly simple–GPS directions work well, and you park outside the historic centers so you don’t have to worry about driving on tiny roads.

Hope you guys have a fantastic trip!

Hi Kate, We are going to Provence and the Riviera for a short 5 days. I would love to see best of both. I’ll be arriving in Avignon around noon on the 20th July and thinking of staying in either Saint Remy or Bonnieux or anywhere in those regions that make it easy to see the main villages and possibly fit in a hike. I would love to see a vineyard and maybe olive grove/mill and thinking of heading to either Aix en Provence or Cassis for the afternoon of 22nd. I see there is a vineyard/olive mill near aix so could go there is that makes more sense. Hoping to do the boat ride in calanques probably morning of 23rd and then head to Nice as a base until 25th…. Late flight at 10pm that day. It would be helpful if you can help me figure out the best route to take and where to base myself in Provence. Worried it’s too busy in Avignon and Aix with the festivals.My husband loves Rose wine so hoping to do a tasting wherever possible. Only have to do one vineyard. We have a 13 year old so have to really balance all the activities. Probably some watersport beach time in the riviera.

Hi Kinnari,

Honestly I think that’s a very long to-do list for 5 days, so I’d recommend cutting back where you can!

If you’re not too particular about which villages you see in Provence, I’d consider focusing your time there around the Luberon Valley, as you’ll be able to see several different villages fairly quickly.

From there, you can head down to Cassis, spend most of the 23rd there, and then drive to Nice for the night, which gives you the 24th and maybe part of the 25th on the Riviera.

I’d only prioritize Avignon and Aix if you want to see them in particular–they’re lovely places, but if you’re hoping for a smaller village feel with hiking options, I don’t think they’re worth prioritizing on this trip.

We have 14 days in Provence /south of France Fly in and out of nice We want to go to Gordes de Vernon Aix de Provence Avignon Arles Moustiers Luberon villages Cassis Antibes at the end We want to do wine tastings and markets Is it a good idea to spend 3 or 4 nights in a few places to use as base Thanks

Hi Maureen,

Yes, that definitely works! I’d probably choose 3 bases in your case, to give yourself enough time in each surrounding area while also not having to travel too far for day trips.

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Lindsay Silberman

South of France Itinerary: 7-Day Road Trip Through Provence & the French Riviera

south france travel itinerary

Whether you’re cruising with the top down through the stunning wine country of Provence , or driving through the French Riviera along the sparkling coast (aka “The Côte d’Azur”), southern France is a region you’ll want to absorb every last inch of. But because there’s so much to do and see, planning your South of France itinerary can be quite overwhelming. 

The good news? This guide—which was created as the result of some SERIOUS research prior to my own trip—will be the perfect outline for your road trip through the French Riviera and Provence. Whether you’re planning on spending 7 days or 10 days in the South of France, you’ll find the suggestions below to be the perfect road-trip itinerary for first-time visitors.

south of france itinerary 10 days

It hits every spot you’d want to see: Aix-en-Provence, Avignon, Marseille, Bormes-Les-Mimosas, Le Lavandou, St. Tropez, Nice, Cannes, Grasse, Antibes, Éze, and Monaco .

One thing to note before we dive in: the South of France is meant for exploring and discovering—a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a whole lot of rosé along the way (not while driving), of course. For me, it definitely felt like more of an “on-the-go” trip than a relaxing vacation. Just something to keep in mind while you’re planning your itinerary.

Here’s an overview of exactly what the quintessential South of France road trip looks like. One of the best travel hacks , in my opinion, is using Google Maps Trip Planner to plot out your own specific itinerary once you decide on it! You can add a ton of additional details and points of interest based on your specific road trip.

Table of Contents

The Perfect South of France Itinerary

How many days should you spend in the south of france.

The length of a trip to the South of France really depends on so many factors: your budget, your time, how quick of a pace you like to move at, where you’re flying in from, and how many places you want to see.

I’m going to start off by recommending at least 5 days— but truthfully, in order to get the full experience, you’d probably want to dedicate a week or 10 days.

south of france itinerary 7 days

Day 1 – 2: Aix-en-Provence, Avignon and Marseille

Upon landing, pick up your rental car and kick off your South of France road-trip in Provence. 

south of france itinerary ideas

Sample Itinerary

8:00 AM – Visit Notre Dame de Sanaque (make sure you check the times it opens)

11:30 AM – Pope’s Palace in Avignon (you could spend all day here, but if you want to cram in a bunch, you’ll get the gist of the place by just touring around and taking it all in)

2:00 PM – Lunch (and a glass, or two, of rosé, of course)

3:30 PM – Cavaillon Synagogue (you can easily substitute this with a visit to a winery or another local attraction)

6:00 PM – Discover Port of Marseilles and eat at La Marine des Goudes (one of the best fresh seafood meals I’ve had in my life, overlooking the most stunning vista). Separately, you can find a restaurant where to eat Bouillabaisse, as this region is well-known for this traditional Provençal fish stew.

10:00 PM – Head back to the hotel.

Dresses to wear in Provence

Pro Tip: If you’re dead set on seeing the lavender fields, make sure you time it right. When I went the lavender had just been harvested and I did not see one ounce of purple anywhere. The best time to see the lavender fields in Provence is from mid-June to mid-July.

Now, if you’re hoping to add winery visits to your Provence itinerary, you’ll notice that I didn’t include that. Since I only had one day and there’s so much to explore, I chose to skip the wineries in favor of seeing other aspects of the area. However, if I had more time, I would have spent the second day dedicated to seeing all of the different wineries.

For those looking to incorporate a winery or vineyard visit into their trip for Day 2 , here’s a quick list for you! 

The Best Wineries to Visit in Provence

  • Chateau la Canorgue
  • Château de Berne
  • Chêne Bleu Winery
  • Domaine de Fontenille
  • Château Fontvert
  • Chateau D’Esclans

drinks and book by the pool

The Best Restaurants In Provence, France

  • Le Jardin du Quai
  • La Petite Maison de Cucuron
  • Le Pont de l’Orme
  • L’Agape, Avignon
  • L’Oustau de Baumanière, Les Baux de Provence

Where to Stay in Aix-en-Provence: Hotel Le Pigonnet

In order to get to the hotel, we drove through what was a seemingly industrial area, so I initially wasn’t sure what to expect. However, once we turned off the main road and into the gates of this property, I knew it was a fantastic choice. At the end of a short, tree-lined gravel road was Le Pigonnet, a stunning boutique hotel in the middle of Aix-en-Provence. 

With its old world charm and 18th century foundations, this stunner did not disappoint. Although small, the rooms were adorable, some with balconies overlooking the small, but unique pool set up. The staff was friendly and welcoming and it was a lovely start to our trip. 

Hotel Le Pigonnet

From here, it was easy to get around, even on foot. We were in the middle of Aix and could visit the town center, as well as easily drive out of town to the wineries and small surrounding villages we wanted to explore, including the lavender fields that everyone raves about.

(FYI: we initially decided on the property because it’s a Chase Sapphire partner. If you’re not using credit card benefits and points for travel , you’re doing it wrong!)

Day 3: Bormes-Les-Mimosas, Le Lavandou, and St. Tropez

After a fruitful first day, we kept it moving. Waking up early, and having breakfast by our beautiful pool, we then hoped in our Fiat and rode down the scenic A52 autoroute toward St. Tropez—the epitome of a seaside French Riviera town (and the one you see in all those vintage posters of the Cote d’Azur).

Road Trip Through Provence & the French Riviera

For this portion of your itinerary, you’ll definitely want to explore all of the small villages including Bormes-Les-Mimosas and Le Lavandou on the way to the famed St. Tropez. 

9:00 AM – Light breakfast at the hotel; hit the road.

The drive is beautiful, and you’ll find it hard not to pull over every 10 minutes. Definitely give yourself some extra time to wander around throughout your drive.

* Pro Tip: If you’re not interested in hilltop villages, you can always head to Chateau D’Esclans (Whispering Angel winery) for a little early morning rosé tasting.

12:30 PM – Stop for lunch. We decided to stop at Bormes-Les-Mimosas for a quick lunch and a hurried peek to appreciate the perfect panorama along the many outlook points on this hilltop village.

Continue your drive and stop at other small villages and communes along the way. A few of the most beautiful towns in this area are Grimaud, Port Grimaud, and Le Lavandou.

Then head to St. Tropez.

south of france resorts

3:00 PM – Explore the Port de Saint-Tropez for shopping and an afternoon coffee. (Many of the items on our list of the best things to buy in Paris are available in Saint-Tropez as well, so keep an eye out!) Alternatively, if you’re interested in wine, you should check out Château Minuty in Gassin, which is located right near St. Tropez. (The brand is known for making some of the best rosé wine in the world.)

10:30 PM – Dinner at L’Opera. One of the most quintessentially over-the-top experiences you can have while visiting St. Tropez is dinner at L’Opera. It’s a restaurant, nightclub, and theatrical performance all wrapped into one. There are two main seatings—early and late—and as you might imagine, the later seating is when things really heat up. You can ask your hotel concierge to assist with making a reservation.

Day 4: St. Tropez

9:00 AM – Have a leisurely morning at your hotel.

2:00 PM – Late lunch & beach club.

The celeb-fueled party location of St. Tropez was made famous during the 60’s as the go-to destination for the jetsetting elite. Today, St. Tropez attracts an equally glamorous crowd, drawn to the area for its bustling beach clubs, mega-yachts, and high-end shopping.

Typically, if you walk along the beach, you’ll find people dancing on tables, loud thumping house music, and fabulous people feasting on lavish meals while downing jeroboams of rose and champagne.

Europe trip in August

However—you won’t find that if you go in August like we did. What we didn’t realize was that August is the slow month, as mostly everyone in Europe leaves these towns for their own vacations. Aside from the waitstaff and a few stragglers, the town was dead. Just something to keep in mind and help manage expectations. Lesson learned! May, June, and July are far more lively.

There are so many different beach clubs to choose from, so here’s a quick list of recommendations!

The Best Beach Clubs in St Tropez

  • Loulou Plage & Restaurant
  • Club 55 (a bit more low-key than the others)
  • Nikki Beach
  • Tahiti Plage
  • Pearl Beach
  • Bagatelle (perfect for a celebratory occasion or a bachelorette party)
  • La Réserve à la Plage (make sure you try the lobster salad)
  • Byblos Beach Club
  • Club Les Palmiers

Beach Clubs in St Tropez

7:00 PM – Enjoy sunset on the beach, then head back to your hotel. Grab a casual bite to eat near where you’re staying.

Where to Stay in St. Tropez

  • Mid-range: La Ponche
  • Expensive:  Lily of the Valley — If you’re lucky enough to stay here, be sure to have breakfast on the terrace. You can reserve a beach villa if you’re hoping for a getaway that feels super luxe and private. The property has a gorgeous spa and pool, and they serve really great food. I’m including some pics of the property below!

south france travel itinerary

Best Restaurants in St. Tropez, France

  • L’Opéra Saint-Tropez (a full show/experience rather than just a dinner)
  • La Petit Plage
  • Cucina Byblos
  • La Sauvageonne (a fun spot for cocktails)
  • Dior des Lices (the best place to grab brunch)

Day 5: Nice

8:00 AM – Make your way to Nice. The drive takes about an hour and a half without traffic.

10:00 AM – Food walking tour with A Taste of Nice.

Vieux Nice travel

2:30 PM – Explore Vieux Nice (Old Nice) and Lunch (tons of cute cafes, so pick your fave!)

Pro Tip: Booking AirBnB experiences is an excellent way to do things the way locals do. Whether its a bike tour, a food tour, a walking tour, or anything that suits your fancy, I always check these options wherever I travel.

4:30pm – Beach. During the summer, the sun stays out for a long time, so it’s nice to take a little rest. But, the beaches in Nice are rocky, so just account for that. Alternatively, you can chose to go to the beach in Villefranche-Sur-Mer or Menton, the lemon capital of the world and the last French town before you reach Italy.

Where to stay in Nice

7:00pm – Climb Le Parc de la Colline du Château for sunset views and a stroll along Port Lympia. Alternatively, you could head down to Le Plongeoir (a local restaurant) for a really unique sunset watching experience.

9:30 PM – Dinner at La Roustide or Le Petit Maison.

Where to Stay in Nice: Chateau Le Cagnard

Rather than staying in Nice proper, we chose instead to stay in nearby Cagnes-sur-Mer, and we’re so glad we did. This real-life 15th century castle-turned-boutique hotel is perched on a hilltop overlooking the quaint village of Haut de Cagnes.

Day 6: Grasse and Antibes

8:00 AM – Light breakfast and  drive to Grasse (the perfume capital of the world.)

Musee International de la Parfumerie

10:00 AM – Musee International de la Parfumerie. If you want to create your own fragrance, be sure to book that specific tour as it is about 4 hours long and requires advanced booking.

12:00 PM – Drive to the famous Hotel du Cap Eden Roc. ( Alternatively, you could use this afternoon to explore Cannes. If that’s what you choose, I recommend lunch at Restaurant La Palme d’Or or L’Alba.)

1:00 PM – Lunch, pool, and drinks at the Hotel du Cap Eden Roc. Try booking a day cabana and eat by the pool instead of the restaurant. It’s pricey—but not as pricey as staying at the hotel—and gives you the same indulgent and relaxing experience that you’d have if you were a guest.

south of france itinerary 7 days

5:00 PM – Head out to Antibes and explore the unique charm of this underrated town.

7:30 PM – Dinner in Antibes at Le Figuier de Saint Esprit (another stunning little town on the Cote d’Azur you just can’t miss!)

south of france itinerary 10 days

Day 7: Èze, Monaco

Next on the itinerary is the exquisite and fabulous village of Èze and the glitzy principality of Monaco. In reality, you could break these places up into two separate days, but for the sake of this itinerary, we have them included together.

8:00 AM – Depart your hotel and drive to Èze for breakfast. It’s approximately a 45-60 minute drive from the Cannes/Antibes area.

9:00 AM – Discover Èze. The Medieval hilltop village, which overlooks the Cote d’Azur, is stunning. Think quaint cobblestone streets, vibrant bougainvillea, and charming boutiques. Note that Èze requires a lot of walking at steep inclines, so you’ll want to wear comfortable shoes .

3:00 PM – Drive to Monaco and check into your hotel. 

There’s certainly no shortage of opulence or fabulosity in this region. It’s not for everyone. (Personally I found it very pretentious and it was a bit cheesy for my taste.) But there are certainly other areas, like the botanical gardens, that provide a more local experience.

8:00 PM – Dinner at Blue Bay, La Montgolfiere, Buddha Bar or Le Grill, followed by a round at the casino and a swing by the several bars, lounges and clubs to get the night going… if that’s your thing, of course!

Where to Stay in Monte Carlo

  • Mid-Range: Fairmont
  • Expensive: Hotel Metropole Monte-Carlo

We ended up getting a room at the Fairmont (where the famous “hairpin turn” is of the 24 Hours of Le Mans race every summer) because we wanted to enjoy the casino and nightlife of Monaco and didn’t want to drive back to our hotel late at night.

Monaco vs. Monte Carlo

Now you’re probably wondering: what’s the difference between Monte Carlo and Monaco? The two are often used interchangeably so it can be a bit confusing. Monaco is the name of the country (principality), and Monte Carlo is a neighborhood within Monaco.

Monte-Carlo is where you’ll find the famed Casino de Monte-Carlo and many luxury hotels.

Fun fact: Monaco is also the second smallest country in the world. (Only Vatican City is smaller.)

What to Wear in the South of France

One of the questions I get asked most often is about packing for a trip to the South of France—and more specifically, whether there’s a “French Riviera dress code.”

While the fashion here definitely skews a bit more polished than what you’d pack for a standard beach vacation or other European destinations like Santorini or Positano , there’s no specific dress code, per se.

Below you’ll find examples of several outfits I wore during my trip. Lots of sundresses, flat sandals, tasteful swimsuits, and sun-hats.

south of france itinerary 10 days

This packing guide for St Barths also provides additional inspo as the styles are very similar!

Hopefully you found this South of France itinerary helpful. Are there any recommendations you have that I didn’t include here? Please leave them in the comments below!

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7 day south of france itinerary

Nikki Marie, a Cuban American Miami native, moved to her dream city, NYC, in 2015. Her penchant for adventure and travel have taken her to more than 30 countries. A PR pro 9-5, Nikki Marie uses her free time to share her travel hacks and high-lo fashion inspo via her instagram  @TheCubanCarrie  – a play on words of her all-time favorite character, Carrie Bradshaw.

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loved this piece! what would you recommend for a more *relaxing* trip in the south of france (which cities, hotels, etc) for about 5 days? looking at also going at the end of august then spending 2 nights in paris on the return.

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Fly to Niece then stay in the small town of Mentin for a few days….you don’t need a car take the train along the coast maybe stay near eze or similar few days or Antibes…the train is coastal so you can use it daily..gappy holidays…

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South of France: The Ultimate 12-Day Travel Itinerary

South of France: The Ultimate 12-Day Travel Itinerary

The French Riviera: dazzling sea, sandy beaches, red & white candy-style parasols, and pastel-colored towns. This part of South France truly feels like something out of a vintage film, so it’s no surprise that it’s been used as the setting for many Hollywood movies. Spend around 2 weeks in the French Riviera, getting lost in the old towns, smelling the lemons, enjoying the shade of palm trees, and watching the sailing boats bob on the sparkling Mediterranean. It’s a vacation dream!

French Riviera Travel Guide

Traveling in the French Riviera (Cote d’Azur) is an absolute dream. It’s easy to get around, every town has its own unique wow factor, and the coastline is as pretty as a picture. Enjoy all the top things to do with this complete French Riviera travel guide.

south france travel itinerary

Day 1 – 2: Marseille

Marseille is the best place to start your Cote d’Azur trip, as the oldest city in France and the capital of the French Riviera! It’s a romantic city, with narrow alleys filled with pastel-colored houses, flowers, and elegant ancient buildings. However, it’s also dynamic and vibrant, with its street art, food markets, and modern architecture that pops out amongst the old.

french riviera south france marseille

There are so many great things to do in Marseille itself, however, it’s also a great jumping-off point to visit some stunning natural wonders in the area, such as Calanques national park. Here you can hike along sheer cliffs and among dense greenery, before reaching sheltered coves with stunning blue water. This is what the French Riviera is all about: the perfect combination of refreshing summer swims, warm nights, delicious dinners, and city sightseeing. 

Read: Things to do on a city trip to Marseille

french riviera travel guide south france marseille

Where to stay in Marseille

The best place to stay in Marseille is anywhere near the old port (Vieux Port). It’s right in the center of the old town and the best place to stay to see the sights and be at the heart of the action of the city. 

Hotels in Marseille 😴

Hotel Marsiho Best Western Hotel

Getting to Marseille

Despite being in the deep south of France, Marseille is really well connected by train to other cities in France, as well as other cities in Europe! For example, you can take a train from London, Paris , Rotterdam , or Amsterdam . This is a fantastic slow way to travel, allowing you to see beautiful landscapes and be more sustainable.

Find your train options to Marseille here.

Marseille also has its own airport, which has flights leaving to many other international destinations. This makes it a very easy place to fly into on your French Riviera trip!

french riviera south france marseille

Day 3 – 4: Cassis

Cassis is just 30 minutes away from Marseille, but a whole world away from the bustling city life. When you arrive in Cassis, you’ll immediately be transported to a slower pace of life, and the beauty of the town is truly like something from an old painting. There are pastel-colored houses that complement the charming harbor, and loads of delicious restaurants to choose from.

french riviera south france cassis

Food is very important here and the small town is famous for its extensive market, with beautiful locally sourced products. Grab your shopping bag and head here to buy the most delicious ingredients for your dinner! 

Read more about Cassis in the Marseille travel guide

Where to Stay in Cassis

Cassis is small, but there are plenty of great places to stay. If you’re looking for a little more luxury, there are some incredible hotels that sit high above the town on the surrounding cliffs, with views of the sea. There are also local guest houses too, which are the perfect place to stay to be in the heart of Cassis.

Hotels in Cassis 😴

Les Roches Blanches

Getting to Cassis

Cassis is only 30 minutes drive from Marseille, so use Marseille as your main hub for travel. From Marseille, you can travel to Cassis by train in 18 minutes for as little as 5 EUR.

french riviera south france cassis

Day 5: Saint-Tropez

Saint-Tropez used to be a small fishing village popular with artists. Over the years, it became known as a luxury destination. Now, the colorful town is home to chic cafes, beautiful houses, and a harbor full of elegant yachts. One of the best things to do is come, people-watch, and sit in one of the harbor-side restaurants with a cocktail in hand. 

french riviera travel guide south france st tropez

All of the beaches in Saint-Tropez are beautiful! The water here is a stunning turquoise color that is reminiscent of a Caribbean island – perfect for a day of relaxing and swimming. Hire yourself the classic red and white parasol and live out your French Riviera dreams.

Tip: Saint-Tropez has a citadel that sits high up on the hill above the town. It’s the perfect place to go and catch some magical views, especially at sunset or sunrise.

french riviera travel guide south france st tropez

Getting to Saint-Tropez , French Riviera

The nearest airport to Saint-Tropez is Toulon (50 minutes). Alternatively, there is Nice airport which is 90 minutes away.

Reaching Saint-Tropez by public transport is a little harder as there is no train station. However, you can take a train from Nice to the nearest station, ‘St Raphael’, which takes around 50 minutes. From here, you’ll need to take a taxi to Saint-Tropez (1 hour and 15 minutes).

Day 6: Cannes (or Antibes)

Known for the Cannes Film festival, the city is often in the spotlight as a place for celebrities, bringing it a certain exclusivity. However, it’s still a charming port town and there are ways to enjoy it without breaking the bank!

french riviera travel guide south france cannes

There are lots of great free things to do, from visiting the famous weekly market to finding murals in the old town (Le Suquet). You can also stand in the same spot as some of your favorite actors and actresses by visiting the Palais des Festivals, where you can see the red carpet and the ‘walk of fame’. Or, as an alternative to Cannes, visit Antibes!

Getting to Cannes

Reach Cannes from Saint-Tropez by car in 2 hours or by train from Nice in under half an hour.

french riviera travel guide south france cannes

Day 7 – 8: Nice , French Riviera

Nice is true to its name: one of the nicest cities in our French Riviera travel guide! Sandwiched between the majestic Alps and the dazzling blue of the Mediterranean Sea, it’s no surprise that Nice is one of the most popular places to visit on the Cote d’Azur.

nice south france travel guide

As a seaside city, one of the best things to do here is to visit the many beaches. Follow the Promenade des Anglais, a long boulevard that follows the sea. Although it looks like there is one long stretch of beach, it’s actually split up into 30 different beaches (some private, some public) for you to choose from. 

french riviera travel guide south france nice beach

In the evening, take a picnic with the food you’ve bought at the market and head to the top of Castle Hill. Here you’ll discover panoramic views out across Nice and the surrounding coastline; it’s the perfect place to sit as the sun goes down. 

Tip: Nice is oozing with history. One of the most unusual historical buildings is the Russian Orthodox Cathedral, known as one of the most impressive of its type outside of Russia itself.

french riviera travel guide south france nice

Where to Stay in Nice

Many people choose to base themselves in Nice for the entire duration of their stay on the French Riviera, as it’s such a good location to get to all the other delights of the Cote d’Azur. It’s also got loads of great accommodation options for a variety of prices. Whether it’s beachside or in the historic center, there’s something for every kind of traveler.

Hotels in Nice 😴

Maison Durante

Getting to Nice

Nice has an international airport so it’s very easy to get to from all over the world. Trains from Cannes to Nice run regularly and take about 35 minutes. Book your train connection here.

Read: Complete Nice, France travel guide

South of France: The Ultimate 12-Day Travel Itinerary

Day 9: Villefranche-sur-Mer

Villefranche-sur-Mer is the hidden gem of the French Riviera. It’s much quieter than some of the more popular neighboring cities and towns on the coastline and this adds to its charm. Every old building has been beautifully preserved and it’s so picturesque that it’s been the setting for many famous films. 

french riviera travel guide south france

The old town is the must-see on your trip to Villefranche-sur-Mer and you could easily spend a few hours getting lost in the narrow cobbled streets. Grab your camera and enjoy finding all the beautiful details of the colorful townhouses, painted shutters, and hanging flowers. There are even some spooky surprises when stumbling across the Rue Obscure: a 13th-century passageway that goes under the old town.

Tip: Finish your day at the Plage des Marinieres. This is a beautiful bay, with perfect water for swimming, which looks across to the colorful old town.

french riviera travel guide south france

Where to Stay in Villefranche-sur-Mer

Most people choose to visit Villefranche on a day trip from Nice. However, if you have time to extend your itinerary, it’s well worth slowing down in this charming town. There are plenty of great accommodation options beachside, or you can find pretty apartments in the old town.

Hotels in Villefranche-sur-Mer 😴

L'Hostellerie la Ferme du Poulet

Getting to Villefranche-sur-Mer

The train from Nice only takes a few minutes and costs 2 EUR. This makes it the perfect day trip! Alternatively, it’s also a great base to explore the rest of the French Riviera, as it’s quieter and less crowded.

Read everything about Villefranche-sur-Mer !

french riviera travel guide south france villefranche-sur-mer

Day 10: Monaco

Monaco is an independent state that’s so beautiful it has become an exclusive holiday destination for the rich and famous. There are grand houses, villas, and even a palace to see on a day trip to Monaco. 

Spend your morning exploring the city, your afternoon relaxing on the beautiful beach, and the evening enjoying the legendary nightlife!

Getting to Monaco

Take a train from Nice to Monaco in under half an hour. You can also drive in around 30 minutes but be aware that parking is very expensive.

Book your train tickets here .

french riviera travel guide south france monaco

Day 11 – 12: Menton – Pearl of the French Riviera

Menton is known as the ‘Pearl of the French Riviera’ and for good reason! The town has a beauty that is postcard-worthy, with its pastel-colored houses, terracotta roofs, and gardens of lemon trees.

french riviera travel guide south france menton

Best of all, it’s thought to be one of the warmest places on the coastline, with over 316 days of sunshine a year! This means it’s the perfect place to visit the French Riviera at any time of year, and it’s the perfect place to grow lemons. The town is very proud of this, and you can find every type of lemon product imaginable. There’s even a lemon festival held every year at the end of February.

menton south france

Just like Nice, there are plenty of town beaches to choose from. The ones to the east of Menton (towards Italy) are the sandier ones and are a great place to relax after a day of wandering the steep streets of the gorgeous old town.

Did you know? Menton is so close to the border of Italy that it can feel more Italian than French. Hello, pizza, pasta, and gelato!

Read: Menton – The Pearl of France

menton beach south france

Where to Stay in Menton

Menton is small but perfectly formed, and anywhere in this beautiful town is a good area to stay. It’s particularly nice to choose from one of the hotels that look out over the sea and wake up to beautiful views! 

Hotels in Menton 😴

Hotel Napoléon

Getting to Menton

There are two railway stations in Menton, and it sits on the regional train line that goes between Nice and Italy. From Nice, it only takes 40 minutes, and it’s a beautiful train ride. 

Book your train tickets easily online here.

french riviera travel guide

Extending your French Riviera Travels

If you’ve got more time, there are lots more incredible destinations to see on the French Riviera, like Antibes or Eze .

Costs of Traveling on the French Riviera

The French Riviera is known for its beautiful but expensive hotels and restaurants. However, there are ways you can budget for your trip. For example, travel in the off-season when the prices are lower, and it’s less busy. You can also stay in lesser-visited towns like Menton or Eze to reduce costs. Nice and Marseille are bigger cities that also offer a much bigger range of accommodation.

Costs of Traveling in France

Travel on a budget in France, from $340 − $670 USD weekly per person, mid-range $980 − $2160 USD, and high-end from $2070 − $3140 USD. However, costs depend on factors like accommodation, transportation, and activities. We did not include flights. Check flight prices here

  • Hotels: $75 − $300 USD Check available hotels
  • Hostels: $20 − $70 USD Check available hostels
  • Transport: $5 − $20 USD Book public transport
  • Car Rental: $35 − $60 USD Book a rental car
  • Food: $15 − $50 USD
  • Activities: $5 − $30 USD See tickets & tours
  • Sim: $1 − $3 USD Get an eSIM or SIM here
  • Travel Insurance: $2 − $6 USD Get Travel Insurance

How to Travel Around the French Riviera

Traveling around the French Riviera is super easy by car but also via public transport. There are great rail links between all the towns and tickets are generally very cheap

Find train tickets .

There are public buses, but roads can be busy at peak times on coastal roads. Additionally, hiring a car can give you the freedom to explore hidden corners of the French Riviera but make sure to factor in the costs of parking in the cities and towns. 

We recommend to rent a car in France through Sunny Cars with free cancellation and insurance included. Book your rental car here .

Best Time to Travel to the French Riviera

The French Riviera is the warmest place in France, with over 300 days of sunshine a year! The summers are hot and dry, spring and fall are still warm, and the winters are mild. This means that any time is good to travel to the French Riviera. If you want fewer crowds and lower prices, we recommend traveling during the spring or fall.

french riviera travel guide south france

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Villefranche-sur-Mer: Visit the Most Colorful Town in South France

Menton, france: the pearl of the french riviera, cotignac: the cliffside village of provence, france.

Looking for more travel information? Plan a chat with us for personalised travel advice or get an answer from the Salt in our Hair Travel Community on Facebook.

Hey! This sounds amazing! Have you got any articles about travelling from south of France into Italy as part of your trip? Thanks!

Hi Kate, we don’t have guides that specific but you can have a look at our Italy travel guides .

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Le Long Weekend

The Perfect Southern France Itinerary – 7 Days in Provence

Creating a 7-day itinerary for the South of France is no easy task. With so much to see and do, you really do have to narrow your focus a little or you could end up spending all of your time in the car!

With this in mind, I’ve created the perfect Southern France itinerary that will allow you to see many of the highlights of the region while minimising driving time and allowing you to chop and change some aspects to suit your holiday style.

This South of France itinerary focuses on what I consider to be the most beautiful and authentic area of Southern France – Provence . I’m lucky enough to call Provence home, and I love sharing my knowledge of what makes this region of France so special. So let’s jump in and start planning your holiday to Provence!

Southern France Itinerary - One Week in Provence.

Itinerary for a Week in Provence, France

Ideally, you’ll arrive on a Friday and leave on a Friday to take full advantage of the following Provence itinerary. It’s been designed to make the most of opening times, market days and other seasonal events.

But if that’s not possible, don’t despair! You’ll still have a brilliant time, and you can mix the days up as you choose.

The following itinerary also assumes you’ll have a car available to use during your visit. Although some people are nervous about driving in France, there really isn’t too much to be concerned about. I really believe the best way to explore Provence is by car, so you can go at your own pace, discover hidden gems and stop at breathtaking roadside scenes as you go.

Lavender tour from Aix-en-Provence

Tips for Getting Around Provence

  • The roads are narrow, so it’s best to hire a smaller car ( book your car rental here ).
  • Directions are well signposted, or you can get around with the help of a map, GPS, or map on your phone.
  • Stick to smaller road networks instead of the motorway to drive alongside vineyards and olive groves, and you’ll get to see some beautiful hamlets or smaller villages that you’d otherwise miss.

Best Time to Visit Provence

It’s hard to pinpoint the best time to travel to Provence, as it depends on what you want to do while you’re here! With that said, there are definitely pros and cons for each season, so I’ll go over these briefly below.

Visiting Provence in Winter

Winter is not a popular time to visit Provence unless you’re headed for the Alps! It’s therefore much quieter around the region, but as a consequence, you’ll find a lot of the attractions are closed during this period.

  • Good deals on accommodation
  • Experience the ‘real Provence’
  • Visit beautiful Christmas markets and experience Provençal Xmas traditions
  •  Some tourist attractions closed
  • Colder weather

Visiting Provence in Spring

I know I said it’s hard to pick the best time to visit Provence, but if I absolutely had to, I’d say Spring. The landscape is filled with wonderfully bright flowers, the sleepier villages start to come to life again and the weather is much more pleasant.

  • The sun is out, and the weather is generally lovely by mid-late Spring
  • Tourist attractions open their doors again
  • Experience Easter celebrations around the region
  • Spring is prime time for the Mistral to be blowing – a strong, cool wind that makes it almost impossible to enjoy outdoor activities in exposed areas. The good news is that it usually only lasts a day or so before dying off again.

Visiting Provence in Summer

Summer is, without a doubt, the most popular time to visit Provence. The days are hot and long, the lavender fields are in full bloom, and the beaches are perfect for sunning yourself. But there are also downsides to visiting in the busy period of June to September.

  • Consistently hot, dry weather.
  • Perfect time to enjoy swimming in the Mediterranean, or in your own pool
  • Many festivals and events take place throughout July & August
  • Crowds, especially on the beaches
  • Some walking tracks (such as the Calanques walk ) are closed due to the risk of wildfires

Visiting Provence in Autumn

Autumn is another good time to visit Provence. The weather remains hot throughout September and the crowds begin to thin. School is back, which means mid-week trips to the beach and attractions are much quieter.

  • Weather at the beginning of Autumn is hot, and it remains fairly warm throughout the season
  • School is back, meaning fewer holidaymakers are around
  • You can expect more rain in Autumn than in Spring.

Looking for more Provence travel inspiration? Don’t forget to join our free Facebook group  Provence Travel Planning !

Where to Stay in Provence

To choose the best place to stay in Provence, I’d advise you to have a read of our Provence Hotel Guide .

For the purposes of this itinerary, I’ve recommended the best location to stay for each day in order to reduce the number of accommodation changes throughout the week. No one likes to have to pack up and check-in/out of hotels every day!

I’m going to start the itinerary in the popular base of Avignon , but you could just as easily pick a base in many a place nearby. L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue is a good choice if you’d like a slower pace, and Saint-Rémy-de-Provence is a popular spot too.

Alternatively, you could do this Provence itinerary backwards and start in Aix-en-Provence !

Best of the South of France in 7 Days Itinerary

Day 1 (1/2 Day) Pont du Gard & Avignon

Stay: Avignon

Arrival day in Provence! Whether you’re driving, taking the train, or flying into Provence, it’s going to eat up a few hours of your first day, so I’ve started this itinerary with a half-day, and it’s ending with a half-day on day eight.

Once you’ve arrived and are ready to explore – set the tone of your tour around Provence with a visit to one of the finest sites in the South of France! The Pont du Gard is just a half-hour drive from Avignon and the perfect place to spend your first afternoon.

Place du Palais, Avignon, France

Before leaving Avignon, pop into Les Halles to pick up some picnic supplies. Les Halles is Avignon’s centrally-located covered farmers market that’s open every day except Monday and offers an authentic way to get acquainted with the fresh flavours of the region.

Tip – If you happen to be visiting Avignon on a Saturday, don’t miss the live cooking demonstration at Les Halles at 11 am! 

Once you arrive at the Pont du Gard you can settle down for lunch with a view of the highest Roman aqueduct in the world. Depending on the weather, you may like to take a dip in the Gardon River before drying off and strolling across the bridge into the heavenly scented bush on the other side.

The Pont du Gard is an easy day trip from Avignon.

When you head back into Avignon, you can enjoy dinner in the old town, where you’ll find plenty of dining options – from Michelin Star restaurants to cheap and cheerful family-run bistros.

Day 2 – Avignon

Leave the car parked today and explore the sights of Avignon by foot.

Start with a visit to the most famous attraction in Avignon , Palais des Papes. Once home to the Popes (hence its name), the well-preserved palace is an intriguing place to visit throughout the morning. Take a virtual tour of the palace and papal apartments before pausing for lunch.

For a fun lunch experience, you could try the open kitchen in Les Halles – Cuisine Centr’Halles. Or simply fill up on delicious treats from the boulangerie before heading to your next stop – the Pont d’Avignon.

If you’ve seen a photo of Avignon, you’ve most likely seen a picture of its most famous bridge. Once spanning the length of the Rhône, nowadays only 4 of its original 22 stone arches remain. Take a stroll to the end, pop inside the petite chapel, and visit the exhibition that includes a couple of short films about the history of the bridge.

Popes Palace in Avignon, France

Tip – A combined ticket to the Pope’s Palace and the Pont d’Avignon will save you money. Buy your tickets here.

In the afternoon, head to Avignon’s elevated garden, Rocher des Doms, for stunning views of the city. The shaded garden is a good place to seek respite from the afternoon heat, have a cool drink at the café, or relax by the pond as you watch the peacocks strutting by.

Day 3 – L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue and Fontaine de Vaucluse (plus Grottes Option)

Head to the charming canalside town of L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue. Known as the antique capital of Provence, you’ll be spoiled for choice if you’re looking for a unique souvenir or memento of your time in France.

Even if you don’t visit on market day (Sunday), there are many brocantes and antique stores dotted throughout the town where you’ll find both expensive and inexpensive gems.

L'isle-sur-la-Sorgue makes a great day trip from Aix en Provence

Enjoy lunch at one of the cafés positioned to make the most of the town’s unique situation. L’isle-sur-la-Sorgue translates to “the island on the (river) Sorgue” and you certainly feel as though you’re on an island as you explore the water framed streets. Wander past the moss-covered waterwheels that serve as a reminder of the town’s textile industry before heading to the nearby village of Fontaine de Vaucluse.

It’s in Fontaine de Vaucluse that you’ll find the source of the river Sorgue. A deep spring emerges from the craggy mountainside and flows down into the village of the same name.

As you enter the village you’ll find a small smattering of boutiques selling locally made wares, and restaurants strategically positioned to make the most of the stunning views. A short gently sloping walk will take you along a riverside path to the fountain. The fontaine always looks different – sometimes spilling over the rocks and through any stubborn trees that dare grow in its path, and at other times resting silently at the bottom of an orange-hued cave.

south france travel itinerary

As an optional extra, if you have the time, the Grottes de Thouzon make for a fascinating side trip before heading back to Avignon for the night. A short walk through a grotto full of pencil-thin stalactites, cave pearls, and underground lakes will delight you, and the informative guides will make the experience a memorable one.

Day 4 – Les Baux de Provence and Glanum

History buffs will be in their element today with not one but two ancient sites to discover. But even if history isn’t your thing, there’s still plenty of variety to keep everyone happy on day 4 of our 7-day South of France itinerary.

First up you’ll be heading to Les Baux de Provence , officially one of the most beautiful villages in Provence, and home to the magnificent Château des Baux. Although the castle is now in ruins, it remains one of the most impressive châteaux in Provence , and there’s plenty left to explore within the old walls and wider grounds.

Once you’ve taken the time to wander the charming village and explore the château, head 5 mins down the road to Carrières de Lumières. Unlike anything you’ve likely experienced before, Carrières de Lumières is an art-based multimedia show set within an abandoned underground stone quarry in the Alpilles.

Les Baux de Provence, France

The exhibit changes yearly and showcases some of the greatest artists in history. The 2020 exhibition brings works from Spanish artist Salvador Dali to life. The show, “The Endless Enigma” features works spanning the length of the artist’s career. It’s truly one of the most unforgettable things to do in Provence.

Tip – Buy a combined ticket to Château des Baux and Carrières de Lumières to save money.

A short drive back in the direction of Avignon will bring you to the fortified town of Glanum. A remarkable site not far from Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, Glanum is over 2,000 years old. It was destroyed by Germanic tribes in 260 AD and has remained abandoned ever since.

Glanum near Saint-Remy-de-Provence is a great place to visit on your southern France itinerary.

First rediscovered in the 16th century, it wasn’t until more recent times that serious excavation and preservation efforts have been carried out. Today you can walk among the ruins while imaging the grand structures that once stood in their place. Peek into the sacred well, rest your eyes on the remnants of the twin temples, and hear the water that flows beneath a deserted street.

Day 5 – The Villages of the Luberon

An absolute must-do on your South of France itinerary is a tour of the Luberon Villages . It’s easy to spend an entire day (or several) exploring the hillside villages and incredible scenery of this unique part of France.

Start at the Sénanque Abbey and you’ll find a wonderful scene framed by fragrant lavender fields in the summer months. From here it’s a short drive to the most famous Luberon village, Gordes .

Tuesday is market day in Gordes, so sample the freshest flavours of the region as you wander around the ancient streets. Think about visiting the Village des Bories nearby before continuing on to the pastel-coloured town of Roussillon.

The village of Roussillon makes a great day trip from Aix-en-Provence

Built next to an ochre mine, the village lends itself as a haven for artists and the streets are awash with galleries and generous splashes of colour. The ochre mine next door is an attraction unlike any other. Take a short but stunning walk through the dusty red canyons and pine-fringed valleys of the ochre trail before continuing your Luberon tour.

Bonnieux and Lacoste are up next. Both lovely villages with a slower pace of life and enough differences to make them both worthy of a visit. Bonnieux is lovingly restored and has sweeping views over the fertile landscape of the Luberon. Walk the stone staircase to the church at the top of the village for the best views.

Most beautiful villages in Provence, France. Best Provence Villages

Next door, Lacoste is home to a semi-restored château that you can visit during the summer months. At other times, walk around the back of the castle to view the contemporary sculptures and views of surrounding hilltop villages.

A trip to Goult and Ménerbes will round the day off nicely. In Goult, follow the signs through rustic streets to take in all the best bits. Don’t miss the restored windmill and the terraced gardens showcasing the area’s agricultural history.

Ménerbes is best explored at leisure. Stroll the bucolic village before heading to the quirky corkscrew museum nearby and end the day with a wine tasting session at Domaine de la Citadelle.

Tip – full details of your Luberon driving tour and options to extend can be found here.

Day 6 – Camargue and Arles or Nîmes

Stay: Avignon , Cassis, or Aix-en-Provence

The sixth day of your Provence itinerary will see you heading south to one of the most intriguing places in Provence.

The Camargue is Western Europe’s largest river delta with around 930 sq km of marshes and wetlands to explore. Unsurprisingly this fertile land attracts a vast array of wildlife and it’s here you’ll find over 400 species of birds including the impressive pink greater flamingos.  

The infamous black Camargue bulls also roam freely among the reeds and herds of snow-white horses – one of the oldest horse breeds in the world – live in harmony with nature.

Flamingos in the Camargue

The best way to discover this area when you’re short on time is to take a tour. Tours depart Arles and Avignon daily and will allow you to see the best of the Camargue while providing you with an interesting and informative commentary.

Book Your Camargue Tour Here.

Alternatively, you can head directly to Parc Ornithologique du Pont de Gau where you’re almost guaranteed to see flamingos in the wild.

In the afternoon, you can choose to visit Arles nearby, or Nîmes a little further afield.

Arles has a small but perfectly formed old town with plenty to see and do in an afternoon. Take a free Van Gogh walking tour to see the exact spots depicted in the late artist’s work, visit the grand amphitheatre, or take a walk through the underground Cryptoportiques.

Nimes is one of the best day trips from Avignon.

Nîmes is a larger town but is still very walkable. It’s notable for its many Roman monuments – many of which are among the most well-preserved in the world. Be sure to take a walk through the magnificent public gardens – the Jardins de la Fontaine.

One of the first-ever public gardens in Europe, they are a fascinating mix of open green spaces, large water features, intricate sculptures, and ancient ruins. Climb to the top of the gardens for unmatched views of the city!

Day 7 – Cassis and the Calanques

Stay: Aix-en-Provence

Cassis is a charming portside town tucked in between towering cliffs near Marseille on the Mediterranean coast. It’s by far one of the more popular places to visit in the South of France due to its recent reputation as the new St Tropez .

But while Cassis benefits from its stunning geographical location, beautiful beaches, and historically interesting sites, personally I think it’s better suited as a day trip destination than a long-term holiday base.

Things to do in Cassis, France

If you arrive early enough, you can stroll through the old town, browse the colourful boutiques, take in the historic buildings, and walk the pier – all in a morning. You then have the option of dining quayside, or grabbing lunch to-go and heading to the calanques.

The Calanques of Cassis are one of the most impressive natural attractions in Provence . The first time I laid eyes on these high-rise limestone cliffs I was absolutely blown away by their incredible size and stature as they jut out into the azure blue sea.

The Calanques of Cassis deserve to be included in your Southern France Itinerary

Hiking the calanques is an ideal way to appreciate the natural beauty of this national park, but if you’re short on time, or the track is closed (as it often is during the summer months when the risk of wildfires is higher), then taking a boat tour or hiring a kayak to explore the calanques from below is the way to go.

Whichever way you decide to explore the calanques , it’s sure to be one of the most memorable moments of your trip.

Day 8 – Aix-en-Provence

The last half-day of your one week in Provence itinerary is spent enjoying Aix-en-Provence . The cultural capital of Provence really deserves a longer stay, but perhaps after being immersed in the city for a morning, you’ll be convinced to come back!

Aix-en-Provence markets

Colourful produce and flower markets are held throughout the week filling the streets with the lively atmosphere synonymous with the South of France. After you’ve browsed the wares on offer, stop for a coffee at a corner café or head to one of the famed museums to witness the true heart of this historical city .

The old town is best explored without a plan of attack. You’ll thoroughly enjoy wandering around the curved streets and hidden alleyways, coming across an elaborate – or downright eccentric – fountain at every turn. The Pavillon Vendôme is perfect for a mid-morning repose, and the iconic Hôtel de Caumont arts centre shouldn’t be sidestepped!

The streets of Aix en Provence France

Tip – If you’ve forgotten to pick up Provence souvenirs or gifts for those back home, pop into the gift shop in the centrally located tourist office. They stock a small but curated selection of the region’s finest products.

It’s impossible to see everything Provence has to offer in just one week, but this 7-day South of France itinerary is sure to give you an in-depth taster of this delectable part of France !

If you’re looking to extend your trip by a few extra days, I’d suggest checking out my posts on day trips from Avignon , and Aix-en-Provence to find inspiration for a few extra days touring.

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Heading to the South of France and not sure how to best use your time? This one week itinerary takes in the best of southern France and introduces you to some of the best sights in Provence! #Provence #france #itinerary #southoffrance

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49 comments.

Loved your Itinerary of South of France. We will be traveling in mid October.

That’s great – so glad you found it helpful!

This sounds amazing! Travelling with an almost 1 year old – do you think it’s doable basing ourselves in Avignon?

Hi Sophie, I think it’s doable with an almost 1-year-old! I remember at that age my son was easy enough to cart around with the help of a baby carrier (easier than prams on French streets!). I’ve deliberately not overloaded the days, as I don’t think rushing around does anyone any favours. So you should be fine 🙂

This is great! Thanks for sharing this one week itinerary to visit Southern France, it indeed is perfect! This will be our itinerary come this week. Appreciate much!

You’re most welcome Berna! I hope you enjoy your time in Provence 🙂

We will be visiting Southern France in Mid May 2019. Your information has been very helpful for our planning. Thank you!

You’re so welcome! Glad you found it helpful 🙂

This is an absolutely fantastic itinerary and so wonderfully well-explained; the best I’ve found anywhere on the Internet. It has helped us immensely to organise our own itinerary. Thank you so much!

This makes me so happy to hear! Thanks for your lovely comment and I hope you have a fantastic holiday in Provence 🙂

Thank you Nadine – terrific suggestions. WE will be heading there in early June 2019 and have almost 2 weeks to spend there. FRom Aix, any suggestions for adding 4 or 5 days?

Hi Beth, with an extra few days you’ll want to spend an extra day getting to know Aix itself. You could also head over to the Verdon Gorge which is breathtaking, as are the surrounding villages. You could spend longer getting to know the Luberon area, and around Sault. Head to St Remy for a stroll, Nimes is a fantastic city for history and gardens and Marseille waterfront area is great for a day trip too. It should be fairly warm by then, so the beaches south of Martigues are perfect and not too busy then!

Planning a spring or fall 2019 trip to Provence- your itinerary looks really good! any concerns about driving? For seniors?

Hi Dick, the advice I’d give you regarding driving, is to hire a small car, and take your time. Allow plenty of time to get around so you can stop and take in the view when it suits you. Try to avoid the main large roads as these can get very busy – especially during peak times. And have some kind of GPS on you. Hope you have a great time 🙂

Your blog post is super helpful (and beautiful pictures as well!). I love that you provided highlights for each of the places mentioned. My husband and I have booked a 10 day trip to France for Feb 2019 and were wondering if you could provide some advice. Here is our tentative itinerary:

Feb. 10th – land in Paris at 10am Feb 10th – 14th: stay in Paris (with a day trip to Versailles on Feb. 13th) Feb 14th – take TVG to Nice (19Euros per person one-way direct) Feb 14th – 17th – stay in Nice (and surrounding region) Feb. 17th – rent car and drive to Aix-en-Provence Feb 17th – 19th – stay in Aix-en-Provence (or somewhere else) Feb 19th – take TVG back to Paris (19Euros per person one-way direct) Feb. 19th – stay in Paris Feb 20th – take flight back home in the morning

What are your thoughts? Do you think we are spending enough nights (or not enough) in each of these regions? Or would you recommend just spending 5 nights in Paris and 5 nights in Nice to keep it simple? Given that it will be winter, would you recommend other regions instead (Annecy? Chamonix (although we don’t ski). Thanks!!

Hi Nadia, so sorry for the delayed reply. Oh, it’s so hard when you only have ten days to explore! So I think you’ve done the right thing by choosing just two areas to explore this time around. I’m kind of biased, but I think Paris and Provence is a good place to start. And then you can plan another trip to France to see some more at a later date 🙂 To answer your question, I think it looks pretty much spot on. Again, I may be a bit biased but I’d cut one day off Nice and move it to Aix – to allow yourself time to explore this side of Provence more. You could even scrape one day off Paris at the beginning – but it depends whether you’re more into city attractions or cultural/countryside attractions. You can see a lot of Paris in 2/3 days. Hope that helps a little and apologies again for the delay!

Wonderful itinerary- thank you for sharing your advice. We are planning on traveling to France this May as a family of 5. The plan is to fly into Paris for a few nights before heading to Provence for 6 nights. I know you recommend driving in Provence, but do you have any suggestions regarding transportation from Paris to Provence? We don’t have any interest in going to Nice during this time, so we would prefer not to fly into that airport. Any advice is appreciated!

Hi Laura, your best bet is to take the TGV to Aix-en-Provence or Avignon – depending on where you’re intending on staying. You could fly into Marseille, but I find the train journey to be much more pleasant and straightforward! Hope that helps 🙂

Thank you, Nadine!

You’re most welcome 🙂

My wife and I are planning to spend 5 days based out of Aix-En-Provence (with hotel points so we are limited there). Do your recommendations change at all if Aix is our home base? We are total wine freaks and love touring the little villages!

Hi Jonathan, with only 5 days, and based in Aix, I’d suggest spending at least two days in the Luberon (where you’ll find plenty of little villages and wineries). Have you read my post about touring the Luberon yet ( find it here )? It has lots of suggestions for driving routes. Then a day maybe down by the coast, around Cassis and the Calanques, a day getting to know Aix, and maybe a day heading over towards Valensole and the Verdon Gorge. More lovely villages around the lake, and if it’s the lavender season (June/July) its the best place to find beautiful fields!

This is really helpful. I’m planning my trip this first week of June 2019. I’m travelling alone though, will you still recommend the same places? Or can you suggest other places as well. I’m thinking of spending 10-15 days after Bordeaux &Lourdes. Thank you very much for your recommendations.

Hi John, yes absolutely! You could also add in the Verdon Gorge (and surrounding villages), the coast around Niolon/Martigues, Sault, or Marseille if you like the city vibe. And/or spend more time in Aix-en-Provence or the Luberon. So many options, sorry 😉

Hello Nadine, Can you give me your thoughts on this itinerary? Houston to Nice, stay in Eze two nights(possibly visit Antibes, Menton, And Vence) drive to St. Remy for three nights(traveling to area village) and Aix for two nights. Fly out of Marsielle. Love your blog!!!!

Hi Melissa, your itinerary looks good to me! By staying in all three areas you’ll get a really good ‘taster’ of these areas – which are all quite different. Have a great trip!

We will be going to South France in May 2019.

Arriving Avignon on 13May for 3 nights. After then 1 night in Provence and 2 nights in Nice.

We have not plan much with our itinerary. Will you be able to help.

Thanks and regards Doreen

Hi Doreen, unfortunately, I can no longer offer personalised itineraries. However, I’d suggest starting by reading my Day Trips from Avignon and Day Trips from Aix-en-Provence articles and noting down which things interest you most and going from there. If you’re staying in Avignon you’ll most likely want to spend a day getting to know the city too – it’s lovely and there is plenty to do! Sorry, I don’t have much written about Nice as yet!

My parents and I have just returned from a wonderful week in Provence. We largely followed your itinerary so I wanted to say thank you! It really saved me a job of researching and coming up with my own itinerary for which I was really grateful! We loved how every day was different (we added a St Tropez day too) and couldn’t actually pick a favourite day as each day offered so much. Unfortunately, though we bought tickets, we didn’t actually go to Carrières de Lumières as the queues were quite ridiculous – which was surprising as we experienced very few queues anywhere else. Instead, we continued straight to Glarnum and really enjoyed the site. In Cassis, we also drove the Corniche des Cretes (which I have visited before) to take in the wonderful view – it was just as impressive as I remembered.

I’m heading back to the South of France this summer to spend a month in Nice/Villefranche-sur-Mer – I cannot wait! I’m hoping for more of the same wonderful weather!

Anyway, thank you again!!

Ah – you are so welcome Sheralyn! Thanks for telling me about your experience and for the lovely feedback. Much appreciated 🙂 Enjoy your time on the Côte d’Azur! Best, Nadine

Hi Nadine, We have about 10 days in Provence this summer (July 26-August 9) after four to five days in Paris. Two of our three children have multiple food allergies, so we plan to rent a house as home base so we can pack and prepare some meals. We would like to do as much as possible on your itinerary. Is this doable staying in just one location? (We would rent a car). If so, where would you suggest we stay? I found a lovely home in Louramin and another in Villars. Are these too remote? The other possibility is finding two different houses to rent but that can get tricky with seven day minimums with most rentals. Thank you! Laura

Hi Laura, Yes renting houses normally comes with a one-week min rental in summer. But don’t worry, it’s totally doable staying at just one location. We often do all of these places as day trips from our home in Rognes. Villars would be good for visiting the Luberon, but Lourmarin is better located for exploring – I’d go with that. It’s a lovely village too. Otherwise, you could look at a village further south for good access routes, like Venelles or Puyricard but they don’t have the same feel as the villages in the Luberon. Hope you find something amazing! Best, Nadine

Sorry, I meant to type Lourmarin. Thank you!

We expect to be there mid to late February next year. I was wondering how the 7 day tour would stack up in winter. It sounds perfect to me and touches on most things we want to see and experience. Are there other places we should go instead. I suspect there will be some rainy days, and it really isn’t swim suit weather but there will be enough and more…. to just be there. So do you get snow there? Is Carnival celebrated there? What would be the best place to stay in winter? So glad I found your site.

Hi Nancy, it changes every year so hard to say specifically. Last February we had a tiny bit of snowfall in February and this year we’re seeing temperatures of up to 20 degrees (Celcius) already and beautiful blue skies – very little rainfall actually as that normally comes later. There are just a few attractions that won’t be open – Carrières de Lumières for example – and less frequent markets, but other than that it’s business as usual. Carnival is celebrated nearby, in Nice, mid-late Feb. For a winter stay I’d still recommend Avignon or Aix as a base for exploring the region. Hope that helps – feel free to pop over to our Provence Travel Planning Facebook group if you have more questions 🙂

We are a kiwi family of 4 and will be arriving in Provence in mid Sept for 11 days. Your itinerary looks fantastic but I’ve seen your comments about driving, particularly the small roads. We have toured that area before in smallish hire cars but this time we were planning to do 1 week in a camper van because the kids love the idea but I’m worried that it will stop us seeing places due to its size / parking etc. As you live there I’d really appreciate your thoughts.

Thanks, Duncan

Hi Duncan, yes I normally recommend smaller cars if you’re inexperienced driving on smaller roads. But as it sounds like you’ve done it before, and if you have experience with campers, you may find it’s ok. With the villages in the Luberon, you’ll need to park outside the villages anyway and there are often large carparks outside for this purpose. Some attractions also have dedicated camper parking – normally a little further away. For example, at the Village des Bories outside of Gordes, there is campervan parking, but quite far away, as the road to access the village is too narrow. Places like the Camargue and Pont du Gard, Avignon & Aix etc you’ll have no trouble I’d imagine. So, it won’t stop you – just be prepared to walk a little further in some cases! Have a fab trip 🙂

Thank you for this! We are a family of 5 who will be visiting the last week of September and basing ourselves in Alleins. Your blog is very helpful! We’d love to do do canoeing, hiking and biking. Do you think the weather at that time of year will be be warm enough to swim in the river or in the sea? Thanks!

Hi Julia, first of all, Alleins is a great village as a base! We used to live there and still have our Airbnb in the village. As for swimming, it’s typically still swimmable in September, as it has had all summer to warm up, but the temperature does taper off a bit by the end of the month. It depends how brave you are 😉 I don’t find our ‘part’ of the Med ever gets super warm… You might be better off going to Lac de Sainte Croix which is absolutely stunning and a must-do if you’re an outdoor loving family! Hope you have a fab time. Nadine

Wonderful itinerary, thank you so much!! My husband and I are coming Oct 11-21 for our honeymoon! We fly into Barcelona and will be renting a car and driving up to Provence area.We get in mid afternoon to Barcelona so we are planning to rent our car and stay on the Costa Brava the night we get in. Then exploring that area for a bit on Sunday, then driving up to France. Wondering what you would recommend- here are our options we have been debating:

1. When driving up from Barcelona, veer off to Carcassone and Toulouse (probably would also visit Albi) for a few days. Then drive over to Provence area, probably Avignon to stay, and be in Provence for around 4-4.5 days. Then drive back to Barcelona.

2. After leaving Costa Brava, drive straight to France, probably stop in Narbonne for the night on the 13th. Head to Avignon and spend the entire time we are there in Provence- doing similar things to what your itinerary outlines. We would have about 6-6.5 days in Provence.

3. After leaving Costa Brava, drive straight to France, probably stop in Narbonne for the night on the 13th. Head to Avignon and spend whole time there. Do a day trip (or potentially a few days) in Lyon.

Which would you recommend? Or is there something we should do even differently? Thanks!!

Hi Melanie, apologies for the delay with my reply. With ten days up your sleeve, you certainly have a fair bit of time to look around. I loved Narbonne when I visited, but I’m not sure how lively it is in October. And I’ll admit I’m not familiar with Lyon yet. I guess it depends if you’re more city people, or village people! Avignon is a beautiful city, that feels more like a large village, especially if you stay in the centre. I would think 6-7 days is a good time to explore the best of what Provence has to offer. And my inclination would be that if you want to see somewhere a little different, to do the Carcassone option on the way. Rather than going all the way up to Lyon. Hope that helps a little!

Hi Nadine, we are travelling to France in january 2021 and depart on a cruise leaving Marseille on 16 january for 8 days. We arrive in Nice about 4/01/20 and would like advise on what to do after that as we want to hire a car and visit the Provence area and the south of Spain for the next 10 days. Do we hire a car in Nice or travel by train to Marseilles or Avignon at where we will hire a car. Because it is winter, we would like to visit Annecy from Lyon, by train or bus to Annecy. Please suggest an itinerary from your experience.

Hi Geoffrey, Seeing as your cruise is departing from Marseille, I’d recommend taking the train (or FlixBus) from Nice to Marseille and hiring a car there. This way you won’t get charged one-way fees that can be quite high. With ten days you could take in Marseille (& Cassis), Aix, Avignon, the Luberon & the Camargue area fairly easily before heading down to Spain. However, you won’t have time to drive to Southern Spain unless you want to spend a lot of time in the car! I’d recommend Catalonia instead. I’m not sure how the Lyon/Annecy trip fits in? Is it part of the ten days, or in addition? Best, Nadine

Thank you for writing this informative article .i have read twice a time

Hi, Nadine, your itinerary is just perfect for our trip that I’m planning for the fall of 2021 for our 30th anniversary. We’ve never been to France and want to fly into Paris, spend 2 days there and then take the train to follow your itinerary. After that we want to make our way down to the Val D’Orcia in Pienza and spend a week at our favorite agriturismo. Is it possible to take a train from Aix to Florence (that’s where we would transfer to get to our car rental in Terantola)?

Hi Judy. I do believe it would be possible. But train travel between the south of France and Italy isn’t normally fast, cost-effective, or straight forward from my experience! I think you may find it’s easier and cheaper to fly from Marseille to Florence. Or from Marseille to Rome and then take the high-speed train to Florence.

Can’t wait

I love your itinerary but I will be traveling with a group that does not want to “move around”. I would love your input on a 5 vs 6 night stay in St Remy. I will be bringing family (total of 4 couples) to Provence April 23-30, 2022. They do not like to “pack & unpack” so I will rent a luxury farmhouse in St. Remy for the either 5 or 6 nights. We will fly back to the US on April 30th. I cannot decide if we should spend 5 nights in St Remy then the last 2 nights at a waterfront hotel on the French Riviera (would have to be within 1 hr of the Nice airport OR the other option is to spend 6 nights in St Remy then just the last night close to the Nice airport. Do you think it’s worth moving those last two nights?? Would it allow enough time to see a little of the French Riviera?? Thank you for any suggestions you might have! Jane

If you have your heart set on seeing the seaside, I’d recommend a 5-night stay in St Remy and 2 nights on the Riviera. But keep in mind, April can be a mixed bag weather-wise and the mistral wind (frequent in spring) can make the seaside unenjoyable some days.

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Home » Itineraries » South of France Itinerary

South of France Itinerary

Colorful window shutters on a 10-day South of France itinerary.

It’s almost impossible not to love France. But between business trips and personal trips, we hadn’t made it out of the northern part of the country…until now. This 10 day South of France itinerary took us through small towns and larger cities, to Roman ruins, lush vineyards, seaside retreats, and to all the local Provence markets we could possibly want. The first five days of the trip were done using Avignon as a base and traveling via public transportation. For the last five days of the trip, we rented a car and used Saint-Remy de Provence as a base.

10 Days in the South of France

Getting to southern france, days 1 & 2: avignon, day 3: nimes, day 4: arles, day 5: markets of aix-en-provence, day 6: roussillon and beyond, day 7: cotes du rhone, day 8: pont du gard and uzes, day 9: cassis, day 10: saint-remy de provence and beyond, provence travel tips.

Tables and chairs in front of a cafe with a green awning.

The two main ways to travel to Avignon are by flying into Paris or Marseille. From Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, you can take the TGV train to Avignon’s TGV station and then transfer to the city center (about 3 hours). Or, you can fly into Marseille and take a local train (30-60 min, depending on the train).

Fountain and pond in a park.

Our first day exploring Avignon brought a stop at the bustling indoor Les Halles market. Even if you’re not buying groceries, this is a great place to acquaint yourself with one of the most important things in Provence—the food. Sample some goat cheese, breathe in the olives, and grab a tart and a glass of white wine for a light lunch. If it’s Saturday morning, don’t miss the cooking demonstration.

In the afternoon, we strolled through the lovely Place de l’Horloge on the way to a tour at the Palace of the Popes . While we didn’t strictly need a guided tour of this UNESCO World Heritage site , it was a great way to see areas that aren’t otherwise open to the public, and the view from the roof is worth it.

After our tour, we headed a few steps across the plaza to the Musee du Petit Palais . It contains a world-class collection of Renaissance works, all dealing with Christian themes. We capped off our day with tea at the famous La Mirande hotel.

White building topped with a gold statue.

Our second full day in Provence was just as full as the first. We visited the Parc Rocher des Doms, a sprawling local park with beautiful views near the Palace of the Popes. From the park, it was an easy walk to Avignon’s famous bridge, Pont Saint-Bénézet, which only partially crosses the Rhone thanks to the erosion that comes with regular flooding.

We also wandered the Rue des Teinturiers, a tree-lined street with an unexpected complement of canals and waterwheels. This area is home to a number of shops and galleries as well as the affordable and un-touristy La Cave des Pas Sages wine bar.

If you have access to a car or other transportation, a visit to Manguin distillery just across the river is a fun outing. Saturday morning tours (in French) show the production of brandies and liqueurs and the pear orchard where bottles seem to grow on trees. With its mix of culture, history, and delicious things to eat and drink, Avignon is undoubtedly one of the best cities in Southern France.

Skip the line at the Palace of the Popes, see other Avignon highlights, and go wine tasting on this half-day tour of the city .

Where to Stay in Avignon

  • On a pedestrian street in walking distance to all the sites, Garlande Hôtel Avignon Centre offers a great breakfast and helpful staff ( Read reviews and book a room )
  • A central location with views of the Palace of the Popes and a hearty breakfast make the Hotel de l’Horloge a winner ( Read reviews and book a room )

Arched arcades on the exterior of an ancient arena.

A quick train ride from Avignon, Nimes was our second stop on our 10-day South of France itinerary. The city dates back to Roman times, which is obvious by its centerpiece, the Arena of Nimes . Built in 70 AD, the arena still hosts bullfights and other events. Another popular site in Nimes is the Maison Carree, one of the best-preserved temples in the Roman Empire, which is amazing when you consider that it is over 2000 years old. Nearby, the city’s indoor market makes a great option for lunch.

Before leaving Nimes, we had two more stops. The first was the Musée des Beaux-Arts of Nimes , a fantastic museum featuring a collection of 3600 impressive works of fine art and sculpture from Roman times to the Old Masters. Then it was time to get outdoors and spend some time at the Jardins de la Fontaine, an 18th-century public park modeled after the gardens at Versailles . It was gorgeous, and we spent way more time than was reasonable, but the park was an unexpected highlight of our South of France trip.

This 5-hour guided tour of Nimes, Pont du Gard, and Uzes will let you see the sights near Avignon the easy way.

Curving street full of homes with colorful shutters.

Another easy day trip from Avignon, Arles is one of the most picturesque places to visit in Provence. Splashed in blues, yellows, and greens, Arles makes you feel like you’ve stepped into a Van Gogh painting for good reason—you have. All over the city, you can see the exact spots where Van Gogh painted some of his greatest works, along with replicas of the works and some of the story behind them.

Other spots not to miss include the Arles Amphitheater and Alyscamps (a Roman necropolis) , both of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. If you visit on a Wednesday or Saturday, the market on the ring road will be impossible to miss. Stroll through to see the cuisines of France, Spain, Italy, and North Africa all on display.

Produce vendors in a city square.

You can’t travel to Southern France without visiting Aix-en-Provence. Luckily, the alluring city is connected by bus to several towns in the region; line 23 took us there from Avignon in just over an hour.

A visit to Aix is less about how many things there are to see than it is just about experiencing the joie de vivre of Provence.

There are attractions in Aix like the city’s many fountains, Cathedrale St. Sauveur, or Place d’Albertas, an 18th-century mansion. But we spent our day in Aix-en-Provence strolling through the five markets—the farmer’s market, the flower market, the antiques market, the fruit and vegetable market, and the textiles market—that were open in the city’s center that day.

When we were done gawking and tasting, we wandered under Aix’s beautiful plane trees, bought some macarons, and snagged a place for a late lunch at La Fromagerie du Passage.

Where to Stay in Aix-en-Provence

We opted to visit Aix as a day trip, but it’s a popular place to stay overnight.

  • The 5-star Renaissance Aix-en-Provence Hotel was created to be an art gallery. It features a garden terrace, a lounge bar, and the level of service you would expect from the Renaissance brand ( Read reviews and book a room )
  • A 5-minute walk from the center of Aix, the Grand Hotel Roi Rene by MGallery has the comforts of a big hotel in a boutique atmosphere ( Read reviews and book a room )

Orange and red ochre cliffs.

After picking up our rental car at the Avignon TGV train station, we were off on our journey deeper into the Vaucluse region. The first stop on this part of our South of France itinerary was only an hour’s drive from Avignon– Roussillon , a tiny village of less than 1300 people that known for its amazing ochre deposits.

We stopped at the small morning market in Roussillon and hiked along the streets that crisscross the hilltop, winding past small shops and homes and stopping for the sweeping views of the valley below. The ochre cliffs are also not to be missed here, whether you opt for the 30- or 60-minute walk. We paused briefly at the town’s unique cemetery before continuing our Provence road trip.

A short drive led us to Abbaye Notre-Dame de Senanque . In the summer, the field in front of this 12th-century abbey is full of brilliant purple lavender. It’s beautiful on the outside, but tours of the interior are also available. Stop for photos and to breathe deeply before getting back on the road.

Town built on a hillside.

Backtracking a bit on D177 took us to the breathtaking hillside village of Gordes . If it’s mealtime, it may be worth a quick stop in town, but we found the view from a bit farther away to be the ideal way to experience Gordes. After taking more pictures than were necessary here, we were bound for our new home base of Saint-Remy de Provence.

Where to Stay in Saint-Remy de Provence

  • Hotel Gounod is a beautifully-restored hotel with rich furnishings and a lovely courtyard. It feels like a French-country retreat ( Read reviews and book a room )
  • With a huge courtyard and garden, pool, and inviting rooms the Hotel de l’Image is an ideal base in the middle of Saint Remy ( Read reviews and book a room )

Hilltop church with a bell tower.

Day 7 was Cotes du Rhone day!

The Cotes du Rhone wine road runs over hills and valleys through this part of France , passing numerous vineyards and wineries along the way. We started off at Domaine de Mourchon for some full-bodied reds and drove Le Col de la Chaine Mountain Pass to Domaine Saint Amant for an afternoon wine tasting.

Stops in Suzette and Gigondas and at several other wineries made this a perfect day. We write in much more detail about the wine road here . If you’re a lover of French wine or gorgeous scenery, make this part of your trip.

Don’t want to drive? See prices, reviews, and details for this 5-hour Cotes du Rhone tour from Avignon .

Stone arches of an ancient aqueduct over a dry river bed.

After two days full of driving in Vaucluse and the Cotes du Rhone, we decided to take day 8 a little easier with only two destinations. Though the road changes designations a number of times, the 45-minute route from Saint-Remy de Provence to Pont du Gard is fairly straightforward, and the bridge is very well signposted.

Another UNESCO site like the stunning aqueduct in Segovia , the Pont du Gard is an extremely well-preserved aqueduct that once carried water from a spring in the town of Uzes to the Roman colony at what is now Nimes. It spans the Gardon River where people still swim and kayak beneath its arches. After seeing the visitor’s center and exploring the bridge from every possible angle, it was time for another drive.

We took a quick road trip down D981 to Uzes. When we arrived, it seemed that the whole town was consumed by market day. In addition to the market stalls, regular businesses set up shop outdoors, and all the sidewalk cafes were filled with people enjoying the spring afternoon. Several Medieval buildings still stand, but the real appeal of the town is wandering its old lanes and squares, doing a bit of window shopping, and enjoying the atmosphere.

Boats docked beside a seaside restaurant.

Though it’s impossible to compare all the places we visited, Cassis was certainly one of our favorite stops on our southern France travel itinerary. Not only does Cassis have stunning natural features but its location right on the water couldn’t be more ideal.

From Saint Remy, it’s a bit of a drive on the A7 and A55 that send you through Marseille, so don’t attempt this around rush hour. From there, the A50 will send you into Cassis. The whole drive takes about 1.5 hours, but it’s worth it.

In Cassis, we enjoyed a lunch of fresh fish and local wine while staring out at the boats on the harbor. In the afternoon, we took a boat cruise of the calanques (the area’s amazing limestone cliffs that plunge into the sea), followed by the curvy La Route des Cretes drive, which sends you to a vantage point high above the town.

If you’re coming from Marseille, consider this full-day tour of Marseille, Aix-en-Provence, and Cassis. A half-day tour of Cassis is also available from Aix-en-Provence. If you want to see the calanques up close in a unique way, see reviews and prices for a snorkel tour .

Bed and paintings in Van Gogh's room.

On our last day in town, it was finally time to visit the two main sites of Saint-Remy de Provence – Saint-Paul Asylum and the Glanum ruins. The asylum was home to Vincent van Gogh for a little over a year in 1889 and 1890, shortly before his death. Visitors can see van Gogh’s room and the settings of many of the works he completed while he was a patient here.

Essentially across the street from the asylum are the Roman ruins at Glanum. Over 2000 years old, most of the ruins of the ancient town are foundations of buildings, so a visit here requires a bit of imagination. There are a few great structures, however, including an arch, columns of a temple from 20 BC, and the Mausoleum of the Julii, one of the best-preserved mausoleums of the Roman era.

From Saint Remy, we headed north to Vaison la Romaine where we explored the Roman ruins of the town as well as the market.

Our final stop before returning our rental car in Avignon took us to the town of Orange. As with several of the other stops on our Provence itinerary, Orange is renowned for its Roman architecture. The city’s main site, the Ancient Theater of Orange , is still well-preserved and used for occasional performances. The original statue of the Emperor Augustus still looks down on the crowd from the 2000-year-old stage.

Sidewalk cafe alongside a painting of the site.

Check prices for hotels in Provence

Driving : Certain places in Provence are easier to see via a rental car than by public transportation. The good news is that—unlike many places in Europe—there is an ample supply of automatic transmission cars at reasonable prices. We’ve rented with many different companies in the past, but we found that Auto Europe’s comparison tool helped us save money in France. Before you go, we recommend getting a copy of our book, The Essential Guide to Driving Abroad , which demystifies and simplifies the process of renting overseas. If you are considering a trip, be sure our check out our French Driving Guide , with lots of practical tips.

Travel insurance : Provence and the South of France is an amazing destination! While the country is extremely safe, car accidents can happen. For this trip, we bought travel insurance from Travel Guard because it’s always good to be prepared.

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This 10-day itinerary for the South of France includes Avignon, wine country, Roman ruins, the markets of Provence, and more.

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The Ultimate South of France Road Trip Itinerary (2 Weeks)

Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France This article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info.

Here’s the Best Road Trip South of France Itinerary

The South of France is the perfect French holiday destination. There are many great places to visit in Southern France , the scenery is always beautiful, and the food and culture are hard to beat.

This area of France has a wonderful climate with long warm summer days stretching through to September and October. Winters in Southern France, especially along the Mediterranean coast, are always mild.

Harbor Nice

The best way to explore Southern France is by car. This South of France road trip itinerary from Toulouse to Nice (or vice-versa) covers the French regions of Occitanie and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. This Southern France road trip itinerary lasts two weeks, and it is a good itinerary for first-timers in Southern France who love history, sightseeing, outdoor activities, and great food.

This road trip south of France is one of the best road trips in France . Read more about road-tripping in France:

France by Car

Southern France Road Trip Overview

  • Start: Toulouse
  • Finish: Nice
  • Duration: 14 days
  • Suggested route: Toulouse – Narbonne – Arles – Camargue – Aix-en-Provence – Cassis – Cannes – Nice
  • Total distance: 751 Km, 8.5 hours drive in total
  • Region covered: Occitanie and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur
  • Best for: history, sightseeing, nature, small towns, food & wine

This South of France road trip itinerary starts from  Toulouse , the capital city of the Occitanie region. Toulouse is easy to reach by train from Paris or Bordeaux. The journey from Paris to Toulouse by train takes around 4 hours while Bordeaux to Toulouse by train is only 2 hours.

Toulouse also has one of the major airports in France . Toulouse-Blagnac Airport (TLS) has regular and seasonal international flights from Europe, Africa, and America – Click here for flight times and rates to Toulouse .

TIP: If you are looking for a road trip from Paris to South of France, here’s the perfect road trip itinerary for you .

South France Road Trip Map

south france travel itinerary

Click here to see this South France Road Trip Map on Google

South of France Road Trip Itinerary

For this South of France roadtrip, you don’t need the car until day 2, so if you are taking a South of France driving holiday in a hire car, wait until then to pick up your rental car in Toulouse. Click here for our best tips for renting a car in France .

Click here to rent your car in Toulouse

south france travel itinerary

Day 0 | Arrival at Toulouse

Arrive at Toulouse the day before the start of this road trip South France. For your two nights in Toulouse, the Boutique Hotel SOCLO  is comfortable, beautiful, and very central. Its swimming pool and garden are ideal for the warmest days in Southern France.

Click here to book your stay at Boutique Hotel Soclo

Day 1 | Toulouse

Toulouse - France

Located in the Southwest of France, between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France. Boasting a rich historical heritage and sumptuous monuments, the famous “Pink City” always ranks among the most beautiful cities in France .

Cradle of aviation and space, Toulouse is ranked among the most advanced technology parks in terms of research. With many elegant mansions, historical buildings, museums, and monuments, Toulouse welcomes many students and tourists each year, making the city very lively and an excellent base to explore the region.

The list of interesting things to visit in Toulouse includes:

  • Toulouse free walking tour
  • Place du Capitole
  • Basilique Saint-Sermin
  • Toulouse bike tour
  • La Cité de l’Espace
  • The banks of the River Garonne
  • La Maison de la Violette
  • Halle de la Machine (exhibition hall of performance machines)
  • Nocturnes at Marché Victor Hugo (Thursday night)

TIP: with this Toulouse City Card , enjoy free entrance to museums along with discounts at dozens of participating partners. Travel for free on city buses, trams, and the metro, save money on cruises, boat rental, and much more!

Day 2 | Toulouse – Carcassonne – Narbonne

Carcassonne - Southern France

It’s time to hit the road and drive to Narbonne, the next stop of this South of France trip. The drive from Toulouse – Narbonne via the A61 highway is straightforward and only takes 1.5 hours.

If you are not in a hurry, stop for a couple of hours at Carcassonne to admire one of the most beautiful medieval towns in France . The Cité de Carcassonne is listed UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the top sights of the Cathar Country .

For your stay in Narbonne , book two nights at Hôtel La Résidence . Set in an elegant 19th building well located to the Canal de la Robine, with restaurants and public parking nearby, Hôtel La Résidence offers everything you could expect for a perfect stay in Narbonne.

Click here to book your stay in Hôtel La Résidence

Day 3 | Narbonne

south france travel itinerary

Located in the Aude department, in the Occitanie region , Narbonne is a touristy city thanks to its 5 km of thin sand at Narbonne-Plage . It is also a city with a rich history that goes back to Roman times (118 BC) and an excellent base to explore the Massif de la Clape and the Fontfroide Abbey.

The Canal de la Robine is one of France’s oldest canals, and it separates the Historical Center and the Cité district in central Narbonne. Here, you will see vestiges of Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and Narbonne’s Age of Gold at the end of the 19th century.

The list of interesting things to visit in Narbonne includes:

  • Stroll around the Old Town
  • Visit the Cathédrale Saint-Just-et-Saint-Pasteur
  • Visit the Archaeological Museum of Narbonne
  • Visit the Musée Lapidaire de Narbonne
  • Explore the Musée Roman Horréum (ancient Roman galleries)
  • Beach day at Narbonne-Plage
  • Sail the Canal de la Robine on an electric boat (no boating license required).

Day 4 | Arles

After three days in the Occitanie region, this road trip Southern France moves to Provence. Provence is one of France’s favorite destinations and a must on any Southern France itinerary. With gorgeous towns such as Cassis, Grasse, St Remy, and Arles and stunning countryside, you can see why it remains one of the most popular destinations in France to visit.

Start the day early with a coffee and drive to Arles , where you will spend one night. For your stay in Arles, book at L’Hotel Particulier , a charming private mansion built in the 18th century and lovingly renovated in the center of Arles. L’Hotel Particulier offers stylish rooms with comfortable beds, beautiful floral gardens, a pool, and private parking.

Click here to book your stay at L’Hotel Particulier

Arles - Provence

Located in the heart of Provence, Arles is always a favorite. Arles has it all: an interesting Roman heritage, beautiful 17th-century mansions, mazy streets, modern museums, and the wide rolling Rhône River. When the temperatures are warm, all the café-terraces and restaurants are full of locals and tourists, creating a lively atmosphere.

Arles was also the base for Paul Gauguin and Van Gogh. Here, Van Gogh painted some of his most famous masterpieces.

The list of interesting things to visit in Arles includes:

  • Arènes d’Arles
  • Roman Theater
  • Arles through Van Gogh: Espace Van Gogh & Fondation Van Gogh
  • Abbey of Montmajour
  • Church and Cloister St Trophime
  • Musée Départamentale Arles Antique
  • Les Alyscamps (Roman necropolis)

Days 5 and 6 | The Camargue

south france travel itinerary

From Arles, this south of France itinerary 14 days takes a detour for the sole reason of visiting the Camargue. The Camargue Regional Natural Park is the largest wetland in France, covering a surface of ​​100,000 hectares. It is famous worldwide for its stunning landscapes, lakes, and exceptional fauna.

Located on the axis of migration of birds from northern Europe to Africa, this area is also home to one of the main nesting sites for pink flamingos in France. But above all, the Camargue is an area for breeding Camargue horses and bulls! Here, bulls and horses live in semi-freedom, most often in herds, watched over by herdsmen on horseback.

From Arles, take the road D570 to Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer . Considered the capital of the Camargue, Les Saintes is a little corner of paradise with beautiful beaches, wild nature, and some places of interest.

After four days on the road, it’s time to relax for a couple of days in one of France’s most beautiful natural regions! For your stay in the Camargue, book two nights at the Hotel La Tramontane . The hotel offers individually-decorated, airy rooms which lead to the outdoor swimming pool, the garden, and a private pond.

Click here to book your stay in Hotel La Tramontane

To get the most out of this natural paradise, book this guided safari in a convertible 4×4 , which starts from Les Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. If you prefer to explore the Camargue from the water, rent a boat (with or without a skipper) at Port Camargue.

Day 7 | Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence - France

Start the day early and enjoy a last breakfast in the gardens of Hotel La Tramontane. Back to Arles, take the N113 road direction to Aix-en-Provence , the next stop of this Southern France road trip.

For a unique stay in Aix-en-Provence, book a night at the  Hotel des Augustins , a former 12th-century convent just off the famous Cours Mirabeau in the heart of the Old Town. The hotel features spacious rooms combining historic and modern features and a magnificent lobby.

Click here to book your stay at Hotel des Augustins

Aix-en-Provence   is the typical Provencal city and a wonderful place to explore in Southern France. Aix’s historic center, with Italian influences, boasts beautiful architecture and pretty squares adorned with stone fountains. Aix is also known for its traditional markets. The Aix-en-Provence markets are worth exploring for their colorful stalls and delicious local products.

The list of fun things to do in Aix-en-Provence includes:

  • Stroll around the Old Tour
  • Aix-en-Provence markets walking tour with tastings
  • A coffee break at Cours Mirabeau
  • The Mazarin neighborhood
  • Paul Cézanne’s workshop
  • Granet Museum (art museum)
  • Taste the famous  calissons  (Aix’s typical sweets)
  • E-bike tour of Montagne Sainte-Victoire

TIP: Don’t miss this 3-hour gourmet walking tour in Aix-en-Provence’s Old Town!

Days 8 and 9 | Cassis

From Aix-en-Provence, drive to Cassis , the last Provencal destination of this South of France itinerary by car. For your stay in Cassis, book two nights at Le Jardin d’Emile . This characteristic Provence-style house has the perfect location by the beach with a short walk to the port/town. Le Jardin d’Emile offers uniquely decorated rooms, each with a different color and atmosphere, a garden, and an outdoor terrace overlooking Cape Canaille.

Click here to book your stay in Le Jardin d’Emile

Cassis

Cassis  is a cute fishing town located on one of the sides of the  Parc National des Calanques de Marseille-Cassis . This colorful town near  Marseille , so typical of Provence, is one of the best coastal towns in France , perfect for a couple of relaxing days by the Mediterranean Sea.

Spend day 8 exploring Cassis. The town is dominated by a castle built in the 8th century, and it is renowned for its trails running along the Cap Canaille, its round pebble beaches, and a little bit further, its creeks and their majestic cliffs plunging into deep blue water (Calanques). There’s also an adorable little port lined with multicolored buildings, cafés, and delicious restaurants offering bouillabaisse, seafood, and fish dishes.

On day 9, you can take a day trip to Marseille – here’s a list of the best things to do in Marseille . You can also explore the Calanques of Cassis on foot or on a catamaran tour.

Suggested tours and activities:

  • Calanques National Park sea kayaking tour
  • Calanques Cassis Hike: Port-Miou, Port-Pin & En-Vau
  • From Marseille: 5-hour catamaran tour with lunch
  • Calanques & Viewpoints guided tour with mountain e-bike
  • Rent a boat, with or without a skipper, in Cassis

Days 10 and 11 | Cannes

The last days of this South France road trip are spent in Côte d’Azur, also known as French Riviera . Côte d’Azur is well-known for its beaches and coves, impressive views, azure water, and for being a playground for the wealthy. The French Riviera is also home to pretty towns and villages, and there’s a vibrant cultural scene, especially in the summer.

From Cassis, drive to Cannes , where you will spend two nights. For your stay in Cannes, book at Hotel Croisette Beach Cannes Mc Gallery . Located in central Cannes, 150m far from the famous La Croisette beach, this hotel offers the best of the French Riviera: stylish and comfortable rooms, a swimming pool, a restaurant with sea views, and a private beach at an extra cost.

Click here to book your stay in Hotel Croisette Beach Cannes Mc Gallery

south france travel itinerary

Known for its luxurious accommodations and shopping, as well as for the world-famous Cannes Film Festival, Cannes truly is a dream destination for many travelers. Cannes is the kind of place you visit when you want to relax and enjoy some luxury. With its stunning beaches, warm weather, and convenient location close to Nice, this is where the stars go for a holiday.

Use the first day in Cannes to visit the city. The list of fun things to do in Cannes includes:

  • Cannes free walking tour
  • Explore Le Suquet (Cannes’ oldest neighborhood)
  • La Croix des Gardes neighborhood
  • The Old Port
  • La Croisette Walkway
  • Sandy beaches
  • Villa Rothschild

For your second day, you can take a relaxing catamaran tour with lunch or drive to one of the many great places to visit on the French Riviera near Cannes:

  • Juan-les-Pins
  • Boat trip to the Calanques d’Esterel
  • Mandelieu-la-Napoule
  • Private boat trip to Lérins Islands and Cap d’Antibes

Days 12, 13, and 14 | Nice

Old Town Nice

The last stop of this road trip South of France is Nice , the capital of the French Riviera. For your stay in Nice, book three nights at the  Hotel La Pérouse Nice Baie des Anges . This 4-star hotel is nestled into the Colline du Château, and it comes with Nice’s best view over the Baie des Anges. Rooms are huge, with elegant Mediterranean décor, and some of them also come with a private balcony with great ocean views. 

Click here to book your stay at Hotel La Pérouse Nice Baie des Anges

In Nice , take your time to explore the Old Town, taste some provençal specialties, and, of course, have a stroll on the famous  Promenade des Anglais ! Nice also has some of the  best French Riviera beaches , and their turquoise waters are calling for a dip.

For your first two days in Nice, we recommend this  Nice 2-day itinerary , which also explores the colorful neighboring town of Villefranche-sur-Mer . For your last day in the city, take one of these best day trips from Nice . We recommend Éze Village and Menton , but all the places on the list are lovely.

So, what are you waiting for? Book this South of France road trip itinerary today!

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The Smooth Escape

5-day South of France itinerary: Provence road trip for nature lovers

south france travel itinerary

Spanning across the southeastern corner of France, Provence is known for its fragrant lavender fields, fairytale villages, picturesque landscapes and azure blue seas. It is one of the most visited regions in the country and a dream destination for many travelers around the globe. 

With so much to see and do, it’s impossible to explore all the treasures of Provence in one trip, but this 5-day South of France itinerary will surely give you a taste of what this fascinating region has to offer. The best way to experience this part of France is to rent a car or a campervan and take a Provence road trip since many of the top attractions are situated in rather remote places.

As is the case with most of my travel itineraries, this Southern France road trip itinerary focuses on the most beautiful natural attractions and the scenic countryside, and doesn’t include big cities. If you’re keen on seeing the region’s larger cities like Nice, Marseille and Cannes, you can easily add these stops and adjust the itinerary to suit your preferences.

A woman sitting on a rock, overlooking the dramatic landscape of the Calanques National Park, a top destination on any South of France itinerary

Since this Provence itinerary is a circular route, you could start it either in Nice, Marseille, Avignon or any other place nearby. In this blog post, I will describe the itinerary starting from Avignon. You can see the exact driving route on the map at the end of the article.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links from which I may make a commission at no additional cost to you if you make a purchase.

The best time to do this South of France road trip

The best time to go on this Provence road trip is from late spring to early autumn. The weather in this period is usually dry and warm and the days are long, making it the perfect time for outdoor activities, beach visits and exploring the charming countryside.

If your main goal is to see the famous Provence lavender fields in bloom, you should time your visit between late June and mid-July. We visited Provence in late July (after exploring the strikingly beautiful Chamonix area) and as we expected, all the lavender was already harvested by then.

June to August is also the peak tourism season in Provence, which means that there are more crowds and accommodation prices are higher. Depending on the weather, some attractions (like the Ochre Trail or Calanques National Park) might sometimes be closed in the summer due to the risk of wildfires.

Green vegetation and limestone cliffs in Calanques National Park on the Mediterranean coast of France

Driving in Provence

Driving in Provence is safe and pretty simple. The majority of the roads are paved and in good condition.

There are some toll roads, which are of course more convenient and take you to your destination faster, but they can be quite pricy. The small local roads are slower but offer a more scenic drive past enchanting vineyards, olive groves, chateaus and quaint villages. 

Be aware that some of the roads in the mountains are quite narrow and curvy so you need to be extra careful.

We did this Provence road trip with a campervan and really enjoyed it. France offers fantastic conditions for campervanning or motorhoming and we love the freedom and flexibility that comes with this type of travel. If this is something you’d like to do as well, check out Motorhome Republic to find great deals on motorhome, RV and campervan rental in France.

For those who prefer to do this road trip with a regular car and sleep in hotels, I’ve also included my hotel recommendations for each of the days in this South of France itinerary.

As I mentioned earlier, the starting point of this itinerary is Avignon, but you could also start in Nice or Marseille and follow the same circular route (just with a different starting point).

Avignon can easily be reached from Paris by the high-speed TGV train and the journey takes only 2 hours and 40 minutes. Find the schedules and book tickets here . There are several car rental agencies at the Avignon TGV train station.

Day 1: Luberon villages and lavender fields

After picking up your rental car, kick off your 5-day South of France itinerary by visiting some lovely hilltop villages in the Luberon region, just an hour’s drive from Avignon. I explored the villages of Gordes and Roussillon, which are both well worth a visit but I’ve also heard great things about Ansouis, Bonnieux and Goult.

Gordes is often considered to be the prettiest of the Luberon villages (though I have to say I liked Roussillon better). 

A panoramic view of the medieval hilltop village of Gordes, a must-visit stop on any Provence road trip itinerary

Right before entering Gordes, be sure to stop at the roadside lookout point for a glorious view of the entire village. You can find its exact location by searching ‘Town View Point Gordes’ on Google Maps. I’ve also pinned it on the Provence road trip map at the end of this post.

Built on the side of a hill, Gordes is home to medieval stone houses and a labyrinth of steep alleyways. Here you can find charming cafes, restaurants and small souvenir shops selling local handicrafts. Take a stroll through its narrow cobblestone streets, grab a cup of coffee or some lavender ice cream and enjoy the sweeping views of the idyllic Provence countryside.

If you happen to be in Gordes on a Tuesday morning, you can visit the local market in the village square.

Roussillon & the Ochre Trail

Next, drive to the nearby village of Roussillon. What makes this small village so unique is the fact that all of its buildings are dyed in various hues of orange, pink and red. The reason for this is that Roussillon is situated in the middle of one of the largest ochre (a natural pigment) deposits in the world.

With its colorful facades and winding alleys, it’s a truly picturesque village where every corner is worth a photo. The streets and squares here are lined with outdoor cafes, art galleries and small boutiques selling lavender products, ceramics and jewellery.

An ochre-colored house with blue window shutters in the village of Roussillon, a place that should be on every South of France road trip

Consider also walking the Ochre Trail (Sentier des Ocres) in Roussillon. You can choose between a 30-minute or a 60-minute trail. Both of them take you through the former ochre quarry and allow you to get a closer look at the magnificent orange cliffs and rock formations.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to walk the Ochre Trail as it was closed due to a fire risk during my visit.

a cliff in various shades of orange on the Ochre Trail near Roussillon village in Provence

After roaming around Roussillon, drive to the Valensole Plateau. It is the best and most famous place to see lavender fields in Provence so if you’re visiting during lavender season, don’t miss it! This is where you’ll find those iconic seemingly endless lavender fields that you’ve probably seen in many photos. 

As I mentioned earlier, all the lavender in Valensole was already harvested when we did our Provence road trip in late July. Nevertheless, it was a scenic drive through rolling hills and farmlands, and there was hardly anyone there.

A field with rows of purple lavender in Valensole, a mandatory stop on every Provence road trip

Where to stay

Spend the next two nights in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, my favorite village in this 5-day Southern France itinerary! You’ll probably arrive quite late and not have time to properly see the village on the first night but don’t panic, you’ll have plenty of time to do this on day 2.

Here are my top picks on where to stay in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie:

MID-RANGE: La Ferme Rose This fabulous boutique hotel is full of character and features quirky rooms decorated with antique objects. There’s also a fantastic pool with mountain views.

LUXURY: La Bastide de Moustiers If you’re looking for a romantic Provençal countryside retreat, there’s no better place than this one. Owned by the famous French chef, Alain Ducasse, this renovated country house boasts a Michelin-star restaurant and rustic yet luxurious rooms.

Terracotta-colored roofs of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie village, one of the best places in this 5-day South of France itinerary

Day 2: Lake of Sainte-Croix, Verdon Gorge & Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Lake of sainte-croix & verdon gorge.

On the second day of your road trip in Provence, get ready to explore one of the most beautiful lakes in France , Lac de Sainte-Croix and the adjacent Verdon Gorge. 

Located in the heart of Verdon Natural Regional Park, this spectacular man-made lake is an ideal place to spend a hot summer day. Swimming in its calm, turquoise, bathtub-warm water is definitely one of the highlights of this 5-day South of France itinerary.

The Lake of Sainte-Croix with clear turquoise water and a backdrop of forest-covered hills

At the lake’s northern tip, you’ll find the mouth of the gigantic Verdon Gorge, also known as the Grand Canyon of France. With its dramatic cliffs and untouched nature, it is one of the most impressive natural wonders of Provence. To get the iconic Verdon Gorge photo, head to Pont du Galetas bridge.

A popular thing to do here is to rent kayaks or pedalo boats near the bridge and cruise along the river into the gorge. During our visit, however, the region had been hit by a serious drought which caused the water level to be so low that boats couldn’t enter the gorge. Unfortunately, this is becoming more and more common due to climate change.

If the water level is too low for boats or you’re simply craving something a bit more adventurous, consider doing this epic ‘aqua trekking’ experience , where you float through the gorge with a life jacket.

A woman sitting on a yellow boat on the river passing through Verdon Gorge, one of the best places to add to your South of France road trip

Route des Crêtes Verdon

Another fun (and a lot less known) way to see Verdon Gorge is to take a road trip along its rim. You can either drive around the entire gorge or just take the shorter but very scenic Route des Crêtes.

We chose the latter option. Starting at the village of La Palud-sur-Verdon, this loop road passes 14 lookout points or ‘Belvederes’ with jaw-dropping views of the magnificent gorge below. Although it might sound like a hair-raising drive along the edge of a cliff, I was actually surprised by how safe it felt to drive there.

Read my detailed post about the Route des Crêtes Verdon for more useful tips on how to do this road trip.

A woman standing on a viewing platform overlooking the mountains of the Alps region at Route des Crêtes Verdon

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Spend your evening wandering around Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. It is ranked as one of the most beautiful villages in France and it’s easy to see why. 

Situated below towering limestone cliffs and surrounded by olive groves, the village boasts an exceptional natural setting. Its narrow streets are lined with adorable pastel-colored houses, small fountains and shops selling local pottery. And to top it off, there’s also a waterfall running through the center of Moustiers. This medieval village really can’t get more picturesque.

For a wonderful view over the rooftops of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, walk up to the Chapel Notre-Dame de Beauvoir high above the village.

Colorful houses and flower-adorned balconies at Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, the most beautiful village to visit on a Provence road trip

Spend another night in Moustiers-Ste-Marie at La Ferme Rose hotel or the gorgeous La Bastide de Moustiers country house.

Day 3: Cascade de Sillans & Saint-Tropez

Cascade de sillans.

Continue your South of France road trip by driving to Cascade de Sillans waterfall. Surprisingly, I haven’t seen this place featured in any Provence itineraries, but I think it’s a must-visit spot if you’re fascinated by waterfalls like I am!

In Sillans-la-Cascade village, a short forest trail leads you to an observation deck where you can marvel at this mesmerizing 44-meter (144 ft) waterfall with a gorgeous turquoise pool and lush green vegetation around it. This place could easily be somewhere in Costa Rica ! 

A woman leaning on a railing with the Cascade de Sillans waterfall and its lush vegetation as a backdrop

Note that at this observation deck, you can just view the waterfall from a distance and not actually get close to the water. If you’d like to visit the river at the bottom of the waterfall, you need to take an entirely different trail, one called ‘Circuit de Randonnée – La Cascade’ in Google Maps. 

The trail takes you to a magical spot with a clear emerald river flowing through a tranquil forest. If you feel like going for a dip, you are allowed to do so in the river (but not in the pool of the waterfall).

A woman sitting on the roots of a tree next to an emerald river at Sillans-la-Cascade in southern France

Saint-Tropez

Next, it’s time to head to Saint-Tropez, an iconic coastal town on the French Riviera. Known as a glamorous beach holiday destination, Saint-Tropez is home to luxury yachts, upscale boutiques and a small historic quarter full of colorful old buildings.

While the town is worth a quick visit, the real allure of Saint-Tropez lies in the fabulous sandy beaches around it.

Fine sand and crystal clear water at Pampelonne beach near Saint-Tropez, a must-see spot on every Provence road trip

At Pampelonne beach (Plage de Pampelonne), you’ll find a 5 km (3 mi) long stretch of white sand and shimmering turquoise water. Several posh beach clubs line the shore and offer parasols and chairs for rent, but you can also just throw down your towel on the sand and enjoy the beach for free.

From Pampelonne beach you can also take this 3-hour kayaking tour to a secluded cove where you can snorkel with colorful marine life such as seahorses, starfish and cuttlefish.

Bouillabaisse beach is another wonderful sandy beach, which doesn’t have quite as blue water but is an excellent place for watching the sunset.

Pastel-colored houses at Saint-Tropez waterfront, an iconic place to add to your South of France itinerary

Spend the night in or near Saint-Tropez.

MID-RANGE: Domaine Les Mésanges Surrounded by vineyards, this charming Provencal country house is a 5-minute drive from Saint-Tropez and has a heated pool, a large garden with olive trees and rooms with rustic decor.

LUXURY: Villa Cosy Hotel & Spa A 5-star boutique hotel located just a short walk from Saint-Tropez center. It features spacious contemporary rooms and an outdoor swimming pool surrounded by a serene garden. There’s also a beautiful spa with a sauna and jacuzzi.

Day 4: La Ciotat, Parc du Mugel & Cassis

The 4th day of this South of France itinerary will be all about exploring the beautiful Mediterranean coastline.

La Ciotat & Parc du Mugel

Start your day with a visit to the seaside town of La Ciotat. This town has a relaxed Mediterranean feel and is home to an old harbor surrounded by brightly colored houses and sidewalk cafes. There’s also a small historic quarter worth strolling through and a waterfront promenade lined with palm trees. 

A picturesque old harbor with sailing boats at La Ciotat, a less-known spot to add to your Provence road trip

The main reason I recommend visiting La Ciotat though is Parc du Mugel. Set on a rocky peninsula, this 12-hectare botanical garden features a variety of exotic plants and views of the massive Bec de l’Aigle (The Eagle’s Beak) rock. 

The park also has two small pebble beaches – Grand Mugel and Petit Mugel. Thanks to their calm, crystal-clear water, these beaches are great for snorkeling, and you’re likely to see a variety of fish around the rocks.

The small pebbly Grand Mugel beach surrounded by tall rocks, one of the most unique beaches in this 5-day South of France itinerary

After exploring La Ciotat, head to the neighboring town of Cassis, only 30 minutes away.

With its bustling port area, fantastic seafood restaurants and lovely old architecture, Cassis is a quintessentially charming French seaside town. Right next to the port lies the sandy Plage de la Grande Mer beach perfect for a quick dip. There’s also a medieval chateau perched on a cliff overlooking the port of Cassis.

Because of its beauty, Cassis attracts a lot of visitors in the summer months, so don’t expect to find peace and tranquility here (at least not in the center of the town).

A colorful wooden sailing boat at the busy harbor of Cassis, a popular seaside town in Southern France

Spend the night in Cassis.

MID-RANGE: Hotel Les Volets Rouges This is an eco-friendly boutique hotel in a quiet location surrounded by a pine forest. Their rooms are bright and tastefully decorated, and almost all have a private terrace.

LUXURY: Hôtel Les Roches Blanches If you’re looking for some luxury and world-class service, the 5-star Hôtel Les Roches Blanches is likely the best choice in Cassis. This stunning waterfront property features two infinity pools and views of the Mediterranean sea.

Day 5: Calanques National Park, return to Avignon

On the final day of your 5-day South of France itinerary, get up early to visit the spectacular Calanques National Park . 

Extending along the coast between Cassis and Marseille, this national park is undoubtedly one of the most breathtaking sights in Provence. Here, towering limestone cliffs rise vertically from the neon blue waters of the Mediterranean and form narrow sheltered inlets known as ‘Calanques’. 

A view over the neon blue water and towering cliffs of Calanque d'En Vau, one of the most beautiful places in this Provence road trip itinerary

To access the most beautiful Calanques and swim in their irresistible turquoise waters, you’ll either need to hike, mountain bike or approach them from the sea. We hiked from Port-Miou to Calanque d’En Vau and back, which took us about 4.5 hours, including breaks for taking photos and relaxing on the beaches.

A woman posing in the clear blue water of the Calanque d'En Vau beach in the South of France

If you’d like to visit the Calanques on a tour, here are some fun options: 

  • A stand-up paddle-boarding tour from Cassis
  • A relaxing cruise aboard a sailing yacht with lunch departing from Marseille 
  • An electric mountain bike tour from Marseille
  • A guided sea kayaking tour from Cassis

P.S. I’ve seen many travel blogs state that it’s not possible to visit the Calanques by land or that it’s closed for hiking in the summer. This is simply not true. You can definitely access the park by land, just be aware that during the summer, on some days the trails might be closed due to the risk of wildfires (you can find daily updates in the ‘Mes Calanques’ app). And if that’s the case, then taking a kayak, SUP or a boat tour is an excellent alternative.

Once you’re done marveling at the Calanques, it’s time to round off your Provence road trip and return your rental car to Avignon. The drive from Cassis/Marseille to Avignon should take you around 1.5 hours.

5-day Provence road trip map

On this map, you can see the locations of all the stops in this Provence travel itinerary, as well as the driving routes. Click on the icon in the top left corner of the map for more details.

Other places to include in your South of France road trip

Provence is full of exciting places to explore and it’s impossible to visit all of them in 5 days. If you’re lucky enough to have more than 5 days in Provence, or you’re just looking to add other stops to your itinerary, here are some places and activities to consider:

  • Visit wineries and taste the beloved Provence rosé. Some of the most famous vineyards/wineries you can visit (and spend a night at) are Château De Berne , Château De Saint Martin and Domaine de Fontenille . 
  • Explore more of the glamorous beach resorts of the French Riviera, such as Cannes, Nice, Monaco and Menton.
  • If you’re interested in seeing some of the larger towns in the region, visit Marseille, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence or Nice.

5-day South of France itinerary: Final thoughts

From fairytale villages and natural wonders to a mesmerizing coastline, this beautiful region in Southern France has so much to offer. 

I hope this post gave you some inspiration for planning your own Provence road trip and convinced you to add some new places to your France bucket list! 

Be sure to check out my other France travel guides as well:

  • Best things to do in Chamonix, the French Alps
  • 11 beautiful lakes to visit in France
  • Route des Cretes, a scenic mountain road in Provence
  • Lac Blanc hike: One of the best walks in the French Alps
  • Grand Balcon Nord hike: An alpine walk in Chamonix

Enjoyed reading about this Provence road trip? Pin it!

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Best things to do in Chamonix in the summer

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Driving the scenic Route des Cretes of Verdon Gorge in France

This is a lovely (and timely!) post. My husband and I are planning our May 2023 trip to France, and appreciate how thorough you were about the sights to explore in Provence.

We have just barely 5 days to travel through southern France, so I’m leaning towards prioritizing Cassis over St. Tropez. Do you have a strong recommendation? We are equally interested in hiking and exploring a coastal town but recognize we likely don’t have time to give both Day 4 and Day 5 sights justice. Any insight is much appreciate!

Hi Esther. Glad to hear you found the post helpful! If I had to choose between Cassis and St. Tropez, I would definitely choose Cassis. I think the town itself is more charming and I also really loved the Calanque d’En Vau hike which starts in Cassis.

This is amazing and hits all my top bucket lists for the trip. Wondering if I can start in Cassis and loop around to finish in St. Tropez since I have a flight out of Nice. I’m going to be there on 20-25 July so will it be too late to see the lavender fields.. is there anywhere else I can see them. Definitely want to do one hike and one water activity

That’s awesome Kinnari! You can definitely start in Cassis and finish in St. Tropez. Regarding the lavender, I’m afraid it’s too late, I’m not aware of any place where you could see them at that time.

My husband and I were thinking of hitting up this road trip this summer during the first week of July! And we’d love to campervan it! How did you find places to park and stay for the night?

Hi Josephine. That’s a great plan, we absolutely loved doing it by campervan! We use the Park4Night app to find parking spots.

Hey! Thanks so much for this detailed itinerary. What’s the total driving time for it?

You’re welcome! Sorry I don’t remember how many hours it took to drive. But it’s easily doable in 5 days.

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Epic South Of France Itinerary: 14 Days With Tips [2024]

  • Post author: Nicoletta
  • Reading time: 89 mins read
  • Post last modified: February 29, 2024
  • Post comments: 0 Comments

South of France Itinerary 14 days

This itinerary will take you to the beautiful corners of southern France . Don’t expect to relax on the beach or visit the French Riviera. South of France has other spectacular places that you need to explore.

I traveled to the south of France many times , visiting all the places on this itinerary. And it always excited me – it’s truly the most beautiful part of France . After seeing it all, I’ve put together this itinerary based on my experience so you can see the highlights, too.

We’ll visit the most beautiful  French cities ,  medieval towns , a  miracle town , natural wonders , and end even the  highest European peak , Mount Blanc.

Let’s get started!

✈ Travel Resources For Your Trip ✈

Here are some of my favorite travel resources I use for my travel adventures.

Overview Of The South Of France Itinerary For 14 Days

Here is an overview of what you can expect from this itinerary in southern France. I’ve designed a basic 14-day road trip , which you can follow.

If you only have 10 days or less , scroll down to see more tips and places I recommend visiting on a 10-day trip.

Map Of South Of France Itinerary

Here is a map of this 14-day road trip through southern France. Save it and follow it once you travel:

Excited To Visit French Riviera?

Don’t be disappointed if you expected a few places from the French Riviera and Provence in this itinerary. I’ve also designed a full  French Riviera itinerary  for 7 days for you. So, if you want to visit the French Riviera, take that itinerary.

French Riviera road trip itinerary 7 days

How To Get To Southern France

You can get south of France by plane, train, or bus .

This itinerary starts in Bordeaux , in the southwestern part of France. The fastest and most convenient way to reach it is to fly.

Flying To South Of France

Bordeaux has an airport with good international connections, so you can reach it by plane.

The biggest airports in southern France are :

✈ Lyon ✈ Nice ✈ Marseille

If you have trouble finding good plane tickets to Bordeaux, you can also fly to these airports instead.

➡ Check out flights to Bordeaux with great deals here.

Getting To Southern France By Train

You can also take trains if you’re visiting southern France from other French cities or neighboring countries (like Spain , Germany, or Switzerland ). It’s fast, convenient, and often cheap to travel on the French TGV – high-speed trains .

➡ Get the best train deals to southern France & Bordeaux via Trainline.

Getting To South Of France By Bus

Alternatively, you can also take a bus to get to Bordeaux . It’s a slow option, but it’s the cheapest. So it’s great if you’re on a budget.

The most common bus companies covering routes in southern France are Flixbus and the local OUI French company.

➡ Check out bus connections to Bordeaux here.

How To Get Around Southern France & Make This Itinerary

The best way to get around southern France is by car . That’s why I’ve also designed this itinerary as a road trip . It’s difficult and time-consuming to get to some of the places by bus or train. You would waste a lot of time changing trains and buses .

With a car, you’ll have a lot of flexibility and get to the most beautiful places, which aren’t accessible by trains and buses.

So I recommend renting a car in Bordeaux on day 3. of this itinerary. Rent it for 11 days and return it to Lyon on day 13.

RENT A CAR FOR YOUR ITINERARY

south france travel itinerary

Rent A Car Via Discover Cars – best prices and big selection of car rentals. PRO TIP: Check ratings of the company you choose before booking ( ratings can be off ). Go on Google, see ratings of the car rental company, then book on Discover Cars.

0. DAY: ARRIVE IN BORDEAUX

Welcome to France, the most visited country in Europe . It’s time to explore its southern part with this itinerary.

You might have  arrived in Paris  on your flight. Or you’ve been exploring other countries around France and want to continue to the south of France. You can  take a train to Bordeaux .

Today, check in to your accommodation and get your first impression of Bordeaux. Then, you can head to the riverside and the promenade for a nice dinner and enjoy the nightlife.

Evening Cruise With A Glass Of Wine

One activity I recommend for tonight is hopping on a  cruise on the River Garonne . You’ll see the city from a different angle and learn some interesting things about it.

Of course, a  glass of wine  won’t be missing. It’s a good start to your trip.

➡ Book the cruise in Bordeaux here.

south of France itinerary 14 days Bordeaux

Where To Stay In Bordeaux: My TOP TIPS For Accommodation

HOTEL MADAME – budget-friendly hotel HOTEL DE SEZE & SPA – mid-range hotel HOTEL SINGULIER BORDEAUX – luxury hotel VILLA REALE – luxury apartment

1. DAY: BORDEAUX

Bordeaux, the  world’s wine capital , is the city that truly deserves to be the first one on this itinerary. It surprised me in many ways, so let’s explore it together.

Bordeaux is mainly known for its delicious wine and is named the  City of Art and History . Once you arrive, you’ll first notice the spectacular  Miroir D’Eau  in front of the  Place de la Bourse . The Water Mirror is  the largest reflecting pool  in the world.

Around 80% of the land around Bordeaux is used for  wine production . Today, you’ll get to taste some of them.

Let’s see what Bordeaux has to offer.

bordeaux water mirror square

Sighseeing In Bordeaux

🔆 Water Mirror (Miroir D’Eau) 🔆 Place de la Bourse 🔆 La Grosse Chloche 🔆 Bordeaux Cathedral 🔆 Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux 🔆 Quais de Bordeaux 🔆 La Cité du Vin

🔆 Place De La Bourse

Jacques Gabriel, Louis XV’s favorite architect , designed the entrance to the old city of Bourdeaux, Place de la Bourse.

Before entering, admire the extensive  Water Mirror  and cool yourself during the hot summer months.

🔆 La Grosse Cloche

The big bell above the former dungeon from the 18th century is super impressive. Nowadays, you won’t hear the bell as locals only use it on special occasions such as Bastille Day . The tower building alone is beautiful, with nice ornaments, so check it out.

In the past, it hosted a small prison . Locals kept offenders inside closed with a 10-centimeter-thick door for months.

bordeaux bell tower south of France itinerary

🔆 Bordeaux Cathedral

Bordeaux Cathedral, one of the most impressive buildings in the city, had hard times during the  French Revolution .

Like other important French buildings, it lost its decorations and was damaged significantly. Walk up to the  Tour Pey Berland bell tower  for great city views.

🔆 Grand Théâtre De Bordeaux

Built in 1780, it had the original French monarchy style. After the revolution, they changed the way it looks now.

The best way to experience it is to see a show by the  Bordeaux National Opera , consisting of 110 orchestra musicians, 37 choral artists, and 38 dancers.

🔆 Quais De Bordeaux

Once you come out of the old town, walk alongside the  Bordeaux promenade  until you reach the wine museum. There are many restaurants and cafes , so stop and have a little break on the way.

I loved walking through the promenade; it has a great atmosphere.

🔆 La Cité Du Vin

Perhaps the main reason for visiting Bordeaux is its spectacular wine museum. The building has been constructed in the  shape of a wine carafe  or, as professional sommeliers would say, a decanter.

Inside, you’ll learn about the  history of wine , its  production , and various places where it’s produced. After the tour, stop at the bar to taste the local wine you’ve seen in the museum.

It’s one of the best experiences in Bordeaux. Even if you don’t drink wine, come to see the museum building . It’s cool.

➡ Get a skip-the-line ticket to the wine museum + wine tasting after here.

Bordeaux La Cité Du Vin wine museum and tasting

Bordeaux Guided Walking Tour

Join this guided tour of Bordeaux with a local guide if you want to learn more about its history and hear exciting stories

Don’t forget to try  ‘caneles’  – a local  French dessert  that originated here. It’s a rum and vanilla-flavored pastry with custard cream in the middle and a caramelized crust.

Caneles Bordeaux patisserie

Enjoy Bordeaux today with everything it offers.

Tomorrow, we’ll stay in the region and do a beautiful half-day trip visiting a famous winery and having a picnic in the French countryside .

2. DAY: BORDEAUX ⇒ HALF-DAY WINE TOUR

Good morning to Bordeaux. I hope you slept well and didn’t drink too much wine yesterday :D… Because we are heading to one of the most famous  wine locations  in southern France,  St. Emilion village .

We’ll do a  half-day tour of the wine yards  with  wine tasting . Of course, a  French picnic  with stunning views of the French countryside won’t be missing.

The  Romans  brought the  wine-making tradition  to this region in the 2nd century. During these guided tours, you’ll  experience real wine production  and taste some of the world’s best wine classes.

Visit St. Emilion & Wine-Tasting With French Picnic

You recommend joining one of these excursions from Bordeaux today. You can visit  St. Emilion village  to learn about its history and wine production. After, you’ll experience  wine tasting  in one of the local chateaus.

Or you can  visit 2 different wineries , modern and traditional. Then, enjoy great  wine tasting  and  picnic in the French countryside .

Book one of the excursions if you want to have fun on this day.  Transportation  from and back to Bordeaux  is included .

3. DAY: BORDEAUX ⇒ DUNES DE PILAT ⇒ LOURDES

Let’s drive further south today. We’ll  sleep in a miracle town  tonight (just my internal name for the place). But before, we’ll drive to see a natural wonder.

In the morning, drive from Bordeaux to the  Dunes de Pilat . First drive direction  Bassin d’Arcachon . Follow the signs with the name  ‘Biscarosse/Dune du Pyla.’  

The  car park  is located just 400m from the dunes. So stop the car and head to the dunes.

Distance Bordeaux ⇒ Dunes De Pilat by car: approx. 1 hour (67 km/42 miles)

Dunes De Pilat

Dunes de Pilat is  the tallest sand dune in Europe . It’s situated  60 km (37 miles) from Bordeaux  in the famous Archacon Bay . It gets 2 million visitors per year.

Surf down on a bodyboard and have fun with spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean .

The dune is 500 wide, 107 high, and almost 3 km (1.8 miles) long, so you have a lot to explore.

French dunes

Drive To Lourdes

Once you have enough of the dunes, head further south to our destination for today. It’s a little miracle town of Lourdes at the foothills of the Pyrenees mountains .

Check in to your accommodation in the evening. Tomorrow, we’ll have the whole day to explore the town and its hidden gems.

Distance Dunes De Pilat ⇒ Lourdes by car: approx. 3 hours (265 km/165 miles)

Where To Stay In Lourdes: My TOP TIPS For Accommodation

LOGIS HOTEL CASTEL DE MIRAMBEL – budget-friendly hotel GRAND HOTEL MODERNE – mid-range hotel GRAND HOTEL GALLIA & SPA – luxury hotel

4. DAY: LOURDES

I fell in love with this town after visiting. It has a special charm, and the atmosphere is great.

Lourdes is one of the most famous  pilgrimage destinations in Europe  and the entire world. It’s because  the Virgin Mary appeared  in the local cave 18 times to the 14-year-old peasant girl  Bernadette .

However, nobody believed her when she saw the Virgin Mary. Eventually, they even  imprisoned her  because they believed she was lying to the authorities and making fun of them.

Nevertheless, Bernadette persisted and stood up for the truth, which made the place so beloved among visitors and pilgrims nowadays.

Lourdes France

The Story Of Bernadette & Virgin Mary Apparitions

One day, Mary asked Bernadette to dig into the local cave to find a  natural spring . People soon realized that it had  healing effects , and news spread it to the entire world. It’s how Lourdes became a famous  pilgrimage destination .

In 1863, locals created a statue of  the Virgin Mary  on the exact spot  in the cave  where she appeared.

In January 1860, the Catholic Church finally declared that the apparitions of the Virgin Mary were true. Later on, they built the basilica to honor the apparitions.

south of France itinerary 14 days Lourdes

Nowadays, the  Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes and the healing effects of Lourdes water from the local spring  gets millions of visitors yearly, including many pilgrims.

After, many of them head off for the famous  Camino de Santiago pilgrimage  in Spain (which I completed, and it was an experience of a lifetime).

Signtseeing In Lourdes

🔆 The Sancutary Of Our Lady Of Lourdes 🔆 Château Fort 🔆 Pic Du Jer 🔆 Le Cachot 🔆 Moulin De Boly 🔆 Les Halles Market

Head to the Sanctuary of Our Lady in the morning and experience the special atmosphere.

After, walk behind to see the cave with the healing spring.

Walk through the old town and go up to the spectacular  Château Fort . The castle stands on the hill overlooking the whole town, so you’ll get the  best views .

For extra stunning views,  take a funicular  to the top of  Pic du Jer  in the afternoon.

Get local snacks at the  Les Halles market  before seeing the rest of the sites.

me visiting Lourdes on south of France itinerary

Don’t forget to visit  Le Cachot , where the family lived after Bernadette saw the Virgin Mary. This room used to be a  prison  and was the place where Bernadette prayed to the Virgin Mary.

Afterward, head to the  Moulin de Boly , which was the house where Bernadette’s family used to live.

Candelit Procession In The Evening

In the evening, you can join the  Candelit procession march with candles  from the cave with the statue of the Virgin Mary towards the sanctuary. It  starts at 9 pm  and takes about  90 minutes . Light up your candle and pray/wish for something to become true.

It takes place  from April until October  every year.

Enjoy Lourdes, and have fun! Tomorrow, we’ll continue visiting other highlights of southern France.

5. DAY: LOURDES ⇒ CARCASSONNE ⇒ TOULOUSE

Today, we’ll visit one of southern France’s biggest and most beautiful cities, Toulouse . But before, let’s explore a charming medieval town on the way.

Pack your bags in the morning and set off to Carcassonne.

Distance Lourdes ⇒ Carcassonne by car: approx. 2 hours & 45 minutes (261 km/162 miles)

Carcassonne south of France itinerary

Carcassonne

Carcassonne is  one of the strongest fortifications in France,  and it was very difficult to defeat in the past, even during the 100 Years’ War.

Its city  walls are 3km long  (1.9 miles) and include  52 huge towers . It became mainly famous thanks to the French poem Gustav Nadaud.

Carcassone and St. Mont Michel are one of the most beautiful French medieval castles and compete for the title of being the  most visited monument in France . The site is spectacular , and I highly recommend making a stop here.

There are 50 houses where residents live permanently within the city walls nowadays.

Carcassonne Smartphone Tour

Follow this smartphone game and learn about the history of Carcassonne on a self-guided tour.

Later on, drive to  Toulouse city.  Take your time; tomorrow, you’ll have the entire day to explore the city. Check in to your accommodation and get the first glimpse of the place.

Distance Carcassonne ⇒ Toulouse by car: approx. 1 hour & 20 minutes (95 km/59 miles)

Where To Stay In Toulouse: My TOP TIPS For Accommodation

HOTEL CROIX BARAGNON – budget-friendly hotel PLAZA HOTEL CAPITOLE – mid-range hotel LE GRAND BALCON HOTEL – mid-range hotel BOUTIQUE HOTEL SOCLO – luxury hotel

6. DAY: TOULOUSE

Good morning to Toulouse, known as the  ‘Pink City’ . It’s because locals used  pale-colored bricks  in the past to build the buildings. Some claim that these houses turn pink during  sunset .

It’s also the fourth largest city in France and offers you a lot of art. 

One of the main reasons to stay in this city for a day is to explore the  headquarters of European Airbus  and the  French space agency . Thanks to that, Toulouse has become Europe’s  largest center for aerospace .

You’ll have the whole day to wander around the city. Below are some sightseeing suggestions for you.

Toulouse city France

Sightseeing In Toulouse

🔆 Place Du Capitol 🔆 Basilique Saint-Sernin 🔆 Toulouse Cathedral 🔆 Canal Du Midi 🔆 Cité De l’Espace

🔆 Canal Du Midi

Canal du Midi is an impressive engineering work from the 17th century, ordered by Louis XIV – Canal des Deux Mers  (Canal of the Two Seas) . It was constructed to connect the Mediterranean with the Atlantic Ocean and is  430 km long .

Canal du Midi takes up 230 km (143 miles) from the entire stretch. It runs from Toulouse to the coastal town of Sète on the eastern Mediterranean French coast.

You can walk alongside it and enjoy the views.

Toulouse Canal du midi France

🔆 Cité De l’Espace

Explore space on Earth inside this theme park. See the proper-size model of the  European Ariane 5 rocket , which has already completed 70 missions. After, watch a show inside its  planetarium .

Enjoy French Cousine In Toulouse

Then, come back to the center; try  French cassoulet , a casserole made with various types of meat, including pork, goose, duck, broth, and haricot beans. It also comes with  Toulouse sausage , the dish’s main component.

Or go for  Roquefort cheese  with a nice salad. Of course, accompany your food with delicious local  French wine .

Enjoy your evening with a glass of wine and delicious food.

7. DAY: TOULOUSE ⇒ ALBI ⇒ MARSEILLE

Today, we’re heading to the eastern coastline of southern France and the Mediterranean side. On the way, we’ll again stop to see a much-worthy charming French town, Albi .

Albi is a small medieval town unique for its red-brick buildings , old mills, and an outstanding cathedral. Walk through the tiny cobbled streets while exploring the most important sites.

Distance Toulouse ⇒ Albi by car: approx. 1 hour (76 km/47 miles)

Sightseeing In Albi

🔆 Cathedral Saint Cecile 🔆 Pont Vieux 🔆 Saint-Salvi & Collegiate Church 🔆 Albi’s Covered Market 🔆 Barbie Palace Gardens

south of France itinerary 14 days Albi

🔆 Cathedral Saint Cecile

One thing that makes this cathedral unique and why it stands out from the others is its  fortress  design. It’ll surprise you with beautiful ornaments , carved statues, stained-glass windows, and frescos inside .

🔆 Pont Vieux

Pont Vieux, the  Old Bridge  built above the  River Tarn , makes this town so charming. It’s almost 1000 years old and was mainly built for  trading purposes . Nowadays, it’s one of Albi’s most important landmarks.

🔆 Covered Market

Head to the Albi’s covered market to smell the fresh flavors of local fruits and vegetables, meat, and delicacies.

Try some fresh French cheese with a baguette and bread. Have some lunch and feel the special atmosphere of this place.

*Note that the market is closed on Mondays .

🔆 Barbie Palace Gardens

Barbie Palace Gardens are quite similar to those in  Versailles . Except they’re much smaller. You can take some nice photos and get  panoramic views  of the town and the River Tarn.

One thing you must try when visiting Albi is the famous  ‘Earthquake’ cocktail . Toulouse-Lautrec, an alcoholic French artist from Albi, first made it. It’s a combination of cognac and absinthe.

Drive To Marseille

After you have enough exploring Albi, make your way to the Mediterranean French city , Marseille.

Again, you’ll have the entire day to explore the city tomorrow. So for now, check in to your accommodation and rest well.

In the evening, you can enjoy a glass of wine on its promenade with the views of the harbor and its stunning cathedral.

Distance Albi ⇒ Marseille by car: approx. 4 hours & 30 minutes (366 km/227 miles)

Where To Stay In Marseille: My TOP TIPS For Accommodation

PLACE AUX HUILES – apartment NH COLLECTION MARSEILLE – mid-range hotel SOFITEL MARSEILLE VIEUX PORT – mid-range hotel with views of the port

8. DAY: MARSEILLE

Welcome to Marseille,  the oldest city in France , founded by the Greeks in 600 BC.

Marseille has various things to do , interesting sights, and a seaside promenade with a harbor, which gives the city a unique charm. So, let’s explore it together today.

Interesting Facts About Marseille

The city has played a vital role in history. Marseille is the city where local volunteers first sang the  French anthem . That’s why the anthem was named  ‘ La Marseillaise.’

The Vieux-Port (old port) was Marseille’s most important  economic center  in the past. It connected the city to other colonies in  North Africa , such as Morocco, Tunis, and Algeria. That is why you’ll find a significant part of the population originating from Africa.

The city is mainly famous worldwide for its soap  Savon de Marseille .

Marseille city

💡 FUN FACT: Savon de Marseille is traditionally made by mixing Mediterranean seawater, olive oil, and alkaline ash from sea plants. After, they heat it for a couple of days. The entire production can take up to 1 month.

Sightseeing In Marseille

🔆 Notre-Dame De La Garde  🔆 Vieux Port 🔆 Château D’If 🔆 Cathédral De La Major 🔆 MuCEM – Museum of Europe & Mediterranean Civilizations 🔆 La Panier – Oldest District

The first thing you’ll notice when arriving in Marseille is its impressive  cathedral  on the top of the hill. It was the highlight of Marseille for me. You’ll get  stunning views  from the cathedral, so don’t miss it.

The  Vieuw-Port  is the social and cultural center of the city. Head there for lunch or dinner and get local drinks.

Marseille views from the cathedral

Château d’If  is another relevant sight not to be missed. It used to be a prison, which was converted into a fortress. You’ll have to walk 1.5km to reach it. The fortress was also featured in the novel  ‘ The Count of Montecristo .

Also, take advantage of the nearby  beaches  and enjoy the Mediterranean. If you’re a  kite surfer , it might become your new  paradise , as the wind is often very strong.

Marseille Cathedral on the south of France itinerary

Food & Drinks In Marseille

You can’t miss trying the local dish when you’re in Marseille. It’s a  fish stew  traditionally cooked by the fishermen, called  Bouillabaisse . They couldn’t sell their rockfish on the market, so they created the stew and tried to sell it this way.

Pastis  is a  traditional drink  prepared from aniseed and flavored with licorice root. Around 130 million liters of this drink are sold in France per year.

Head to the  Old Port – Vieux Port for great bars and restaurants.

Guided Tours In Marseille

I recommend the following tours in Marseille. One is a 3.5-hour bike tour (on electric bikes), on which you’ll see the city’s highlights . And the other one is a food tour . Click on the images below and book one of the tours:

9. DAY: MARSEILLE ⇒ AVIGNON

Today, we’ll go to another very significant French city from the past. It has mainly  religious importance  and is packed with history.

In the morning, take your time for a good breakfast. If you missed any sightseeing in Marseille yesterday, catch up this morning .

In the afternoon , drive up to Avignon . Check in to your accommodation in Avignon and get the first glimpse of the city. Tomorrow, you’ll have the entire day to explore it.

Distance Marseille ⇒ Avignon by car: approx. 1 hour & 30 minutes (100 km/62 miles)

Where To Stay In Avignon: My TOP TIPS For Accommodation

GARLANDE HOTEL AVIGNON CENTER – budget-friendly hotel HOTEL DE L’HORLOGE – mid-range hotel LE CLOS SALUCES – luxury hotel

10. DAY: AVIGNON

Avignon, also known as the city of Popes, used to be an important religious center in the 14th century. It’s because  Pope Clement V  decided to  leave Rome  due to corruption and political problems and  establish the pope’s new base  in this French city.

This event is also historically known as the  Great Schism  when the Catholic Church and its papacy split apart. It resulted in a  rivalry between the popes in Rome and in Avignon , who fought to establish official administrative offices of the Catholic Church.

Avignon Cathedral Pope City

Nowadays, the city attracts visitors worldwide thanks to its rich history, medieval buildings, and great social life.

If you visit Avignon in July, don’t miss the annual  Avignon Theatre Festival . During 3 weeks, you can admire local dances, performances, and musical shows.

Let’s explore Avignon today.

Sightseeing In Avignon

🔆 Palace Of The Popes 🔆 Sur Le Pont d’Avignon 🔆 Les Halles 🔆 Museum Calvet 🔆 Palais Du Roure

The main attraction and reason I took you to Avignon is to see the  Pope’s Palace . It has brought importance to the city and played a significant role in the history of France and Europe .

The nine popes who left Rome lived in the palace. Nowadays, you can  explore their apartments  and  worship places . It has remarkable architecture and beautiful murals.

south of France itinerary Avignon

Afterward, don’t forget to check out the  Les Halles market . Even local  chefs  who have  Michelin Star restaurants  come to the market to get fresh and delicious ingredients daily. Try local food, taste some cheese, and finish with tasty wine.

Enjoy another day exploring French history and the stories from the Catholic Church in Avignon.

Avignon Guided Food Tour

If you’d like to learn more about Avignong through gastronomy and local drinks, join this guided food tour of Avignon . You’ll taste local delicacies and hear interesting stories from a local on your guided tour.

Tomorrow, we’ll continue driving up to a beautiful town at the foothill of the Alps. You’ll also get to see the  highest European mountain ,  Mount Blanc . So stay tuned for the next adventure.

11. DAY: AVIGNON ⇒ ANNECY ⇒ CHAMONIX

Let’s take a break from bigger towns packed with history and sights. It’s time to experience beautiful oases at the  foothills of the snowy Alps  and a picturesque lake. Today, we’re heading to Annecy and Chamonix.

In the morning,  drive to Annecy . Enjoy the town, visit its castle, and picnic on the lake shores , or have some  Swiss Raclette  in one of the shops.

After, drive to the alpine town Chamonix , where we’ll stay the next two nights.

Distance Avignon ⇒ Annecy by car: approx. 3 hours & 20 minutes (339 km/210 miles)

Annecy

Annecy is located in southeast France and is one of the most beautiful towns. Its  lake is one of the cleanest in Europe . You can  go   paddleboarding or yachting , or take a small boat and explore the lake for a while.

Annecy also has a couple of nice  beaches . You can swim and refresh yourself in the crystal-clear lake as well.

We’re next to Switzerland , so you’ll already feel some  Swiss influence . You can try some  Raclette , a typical  Swiss melted cheese  served on a piece of bread.

Sightseeing In Annecy

🔆 Old Town 🔆 Palace De l’Île 🔆 Pont Des Amours 🔆 Lake Annecy

🔆 Explore Old Town Annecy

Annecy is also known as the  Venice of the Alps . You can get lost in its tiny streets intertwined with canals. Its colored houses only add up to this town’s whole experience and beauty.

It’s time to do some  people-watching , have ice cream, a French croissant, or a coffee. Then enjoy local shops and buy some souvenirs.

Annecy Castle France

🔆 Palace De l’Île

Visit the castle from the 12th century, which used to be a  prison , a  courthouse , and a  lord’s residence  back then. Now, it’s a history museum, so if you love history, it’s the place to be in Annecy.

🔆 Pont Des Amours

The legend has it that if  two lovers kiss on the bridge , they’ll stay together forever. But don’t worry if you’re single; it has  stunning scenery , so you should also check it out.

May you meet your loved one right there.

Annecy Lake south of France itinerary

Drive To Chamonix

Spend some time at the lake , breathing fresh air and enjoying the mountain views before heading to our destination today – Chamonix.

Chamonix is one of the most beautiful alpine towns in Europe . Check in to your accommodation, and enjoy some more Raclett or Swiss Fondue for dinner.

Tomorrow, we’ll make one of the most spectacular mountain excursions ever.

Distance Annecy ⇒ Chamonix by car: approx. 1 hour & 15 minutes (101 km/63 miles)

Where To Stay In Chamonix: My TOP TIPS For Accommodation

CHALET HOTEL LE PRIEURE & SPA LES BALCONS DU SAVOY CHALET HOTEL HERMITAGE HOTEL DE L’ARVE BY HAPPY CULTURE

12. DAY: CHAMONIX & MT. BLANC

Welcome to Chamonix and the Savoy region of France.

Chamonix is a charming French town below the highest European mountain, Mount Blanc . It’s one of the most beautiful towns in Europe and offers plenty of activities to do.

One of the most famous mountain excursions why people come here is Aiguille du Midi and Mt. Blanc. Besides, you can go hiking and enjoy the Alps .

Today, I recommend visiting Aiguille du Midi and see Mt. Blanc. You’ll love it.

Chamonix Mont Blanc Voices of Travel

Aiguille Du Midi

Take a cable car from Chamonix to Aiguille du Midi. From there, you can enjoy the spectacular scenery of the French , Swiss , and Italian Alps .

Then, take a lift further and get close to Mont Blanc . From there, you’ll be able to spot Switzerland and even Italy. The views are just stunning.

Be sure to take extra layers of clothes as it’s quite cold even in summer.

See the picture below of how the Aiguille du Midi station looks like.

Aiguille Du Midi Mt. Blanc Excursion from Chamonix

Step Into The Void

The Void is a  glass room with 3 glass walls  and a glass floor on the terrace of Aiguille du Midi. If you’re scared of heights, you should overcome them because that’s an incredible experience .

Standing on the top of the highest European mountains , not having the floor below you, is intimidating, but at the same time, very exciting.

Panoramic Mt. Blanc Cable Car

After you have explored the entire Aiguille du Midi station, you can continue with the panoramic cable car. It’s the highest cable car in the world and the closest you can get to Mt. Blanc, the highest European peak.

You’ll take a scenic ride and see the mountain from different angles. It’s an unforgettable experience, and the views are breathtaking .

Whenever you have enough of the views, return to Chamonix.

PRO TIP: I recommend making the entire excursion in the morning right after the cable car starts operating. This way, you’ll avoid crowds.

Activities In Chamonix

In the afternoon, you can also visit the amusement park in Chamonix. Take a ride on the thrilling Chamonix Lupe alpine coaster and have fun.

You can also do paragliding around and enjoy views of the unique surroundings.

Enjoy the town with everything it offers, and stay one more night.

south of France itinerary Chamonix

13. DAY: CHAMONIX ⇒ LYON

Good morning to Chamonix. I hope you got the most out of this cute town. If you want, you can stay in the morning, go hiking, or enjoy more activities.

After that, it’s time to head to our last destination on this itinerary.

Distance Chamonix ⇒ Chamonix by car: approx. 2 hours & 40 minutes (230 km/143 miles)

Check in to your accommodation. Depending on when you arrive in the city, you can already explore some sights .

Check out the next day for sightseeing ideas. Or spend the entire day in Chamonix hiking and drive to Lyon in the evening .

Tomorrow, you’ll have the entire day to explore the city.

Where To Stay In Lyon: My TOP TIPS For Accommodation

HOTEL LE ROOSEVELT LYON – mid-range hotel MHL – MAISON HOTEL LYON – boutique mid-range hotel BOSCOLO LYON HOTEL & SPA – luxury hotel

14. DAY: LYON

We’ll end our road trip in the city of Lyon. It’s the  third biggest French city  after Paris and Marseille and  the second richest city  in France.

Lyon marks the end of our itinerary. So take some time to enjoy the city today .

After, you’ll have great connections to anywhere else in Europe . So keep exploring if the time and budget allow you to do so.

south of France itinerary 14 days Lyon city

Sightseeing In Lyon

🔆 Cathedral Notre-Dame De Fourvière 🔆 Lyon Cathedral 🔆 Musem Of Fine Arts Of Lyon 🔆 Vieux Lyon – Old Town

The city gained importance in the 17th century as it became the  European capital of silk  manufacturing. There is still some  underground passage , which silk weavers used in the past.

Lyon also has other passages called traboules, which helped people  escape Nazi occupation  during World War II.

For the best views, walk up to the  Cathedral Notre-Dame de Fourvière  or  take a funicular .

10-Day Southern France Itinerary

If you only have 10 days to explore southern France, here is what I’d do. You can choose the places you like from my base 14-day itinerary or make it a 10-day trip .

Or follow my suggestions below. Just skip Lourdes and Marseille from the basic itinerary :

Practical Tips For Visiting Southern France

To help you plan your trip to the south of France even in more detail, I’ve got some more tips for you. See when the best time to visit is, how many days to spend, what to pack, and what budget you’ll need.

How Many Days Do You Need In South Of France?

You need between 10 and 14 days to explore southern France. It’s a large area and offers so much (as you can see in this itinerary). So spend a minimum of 10 days .

The optimal number of days to enjoy everything the regions offer is 14 days .

Best Time To Visit Southern France

The best time to visit southern France is  late May, June, July, August, and September . You’ll enjoy all the activities, hiking, and cultural sights during these months. The weather is also pleasant.

If you want  less crowds in the sights  and cities, visit at the  end of May, June, and September .

For  hiking in Chamonix  and the French Alps, the best time to visit is the  end of June, July, and August .

southern France countryside tips for visiting

What To Pack For Your Trip To Southern France

You’ll need a  variety of clothes  for this itinerary. From  summer clothes  to hiking stuff and a warmer jacket if you decide to make the Mt. Blanc excursion.

Here is a  quick packing list  for your trip:

🎁  T-Shirts 🎁 Dresses 🎁 Hat 🎁 Sunscreen 🎁 Shorts 🎁 Comfortable shoes (you’ll walk a lot) 🎁 Dresses

🎁  Swimming suite 🎁 Sandals 🎁 Hiking/Trekking boots 🎁 Hiking pants & T-Shirts 🎁 Waterproof jacket 🎁 Sweater

Cost Of A Road Trip In Southern France

The budget for a 14-day road trip to southern France per person ( mid-range traveler ) is $2310 .

This is a very realistic budget for mid-range travelers who want to stay in nice hotels, rent a car and travel conveniently, enjoy the mountains, walking tours, and each location’s activities.

Here is a breakdown of this French itinerary budget for each travel category:

So the total budget for a 14-day trip to southern France , without restricting yourself too much and enjoying everything the country offers, is $2310 per person .

Budget Breakdown For Different Traveler Styles

Here is a quick overview of the budget for every type of traveler:

➡ 14-day itinerary budget for backpackers and travelers on the budget: $850 ➡ 14-day itinerary budget for mid-range travelers : $2310 ➡ 14-day itinerary budget for luxury travelers : up to $3600

NOTE: This is an approximate budget based on my calculations and spending during my 14-day trip to southern France. The budget will vary based on every traveler’s preferences .

Is South Of France Safe?

Yes, southern France is safe . There is not much to be worried about. If I’m completely honest with you, I felt the least safe in Marseille. 

But overall, there is not much danger. So  use your common sense , don’t walk with your bag open, and  be aware of pickpockets in bigger cities  like Marseille and Lyon. Otherwise, it’s safe.

France is ranked n.  64 in the Global Safety Index , which is safer than the Netherlands, Italy, Canada, or Hungary.

In the mountains,   check the weather forecast  before you go hiking. I recommend starting your hike in the morning, as the weather can get worse in the afternoon.

I’ve also answered some of the frequently asked questions about southern France. Check my answers below:

Where Is A Good Base To Explore South Of France?

Toulouse, Marseille, and Lyon are the best base to explore southern France. Make these cities your base depending on what region in southern France you want to explore.

What Is The Best Way To Tour The South Of France?

The best way to tour southern France is by car . There are places which aren’t easily accessible by train or bus. And you’d spend a lot of time traveling around. So with a car, you’ll have a lot of flexibility and enjoy everything fully.

Is It Expensive To Vacation In The South Of France?

It’s mid expensive to make holidays in southern France. Expect to spend about $165 per day as a mid-range traveler , including accommodation, activities, rental car, and food.

The good thing about southern France is that it offers a wide range of prices and options , so you can adjust the price of your itinerary.

WRAP-UP: South Of France Itinerary 14 Days

This is the ultimate itinerary for southern France. It’ll help you explore all the highlights and take you to the most beautiful spots, cultural places full of history, and breathtaking mountains. South of France is honestly one of my favorite travel destinations in Europe . It’s filled with so much beauty – I’m sure you’ll fall in love.

If you have any questions or need help planning your itinerary , contact me at info(at)voicesoftravel.com . I’ll gladly help you.

Happy Travels!

More Tips For France Travel

Looking to visit more places in France? Check out my related articles:

Epic French Riviera Itinerary For 7 Days

Medieval Castles In France To Perfect Your Itinerary

5 Best Trains From Paris To Switzerland: Ultimate Guide

Fastest Way From Paris To Zermatt: Revealed!

voices of travel about me photo

About the author: Nicoletta  is a travel enthusiast and passionate language learner. While traveling, she loves to connect with locals using her language skills to learn about new cultures. Look for her skiing, hiking in the mountains, or exploring new destinations as she designs travel itineraries for her clients.

FRANCE: Interested in more articles for France? Check out my France Travel Page :

France Travel Page

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The South of France Is My Favorite Vacation Destination — Here Are Its 20 Best Places to Visit

The lavender fields, quaint villages, and beautiful beaches have my heart.

Lindsay Cohn is a writer, editor, and avid traveler who has visited 45 countries across six continents — and counting. She contributes to Travel + Leisure, Hotels Above Par, InsideHook, Well+Good, The Zoe Report, and more.

south france travel itinerary

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France ranks among the most popular tourist destinations in all of Europe — of course there are remarkable destinations in the country that gave us boeuf bourguignon , the Eiffel Tower , and Champagne. But with alluring beaches along the Côte d'Azur , magical lavender fields, and the vineyards of the Luberon, the South of France is a superb destination all on its own. I'm a professional travel writer who's been to 45 countries across six continents, and it's my absolute favorite place in the world to visit. If you’re planning on spending even just a few days in le Midi , this list will help you choose which of the region's many, many highlights to include in your itinerary.

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Gordes is one of the most beautiful small towns in the world , with roads and facades that seem to have sprung from the pages of a children's storybook. Unsurprisingly, tourists beeline to this enchanting Luberon village to see — and snap photos of — its cobbled lanes, white stone buildings, and churches.

Saint-Tropez

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A French Riviera hotspot put on the map by Bridget Bardot and other members of the jet-set pack in the 1960s, Saint-Tropez still sizzles. Sun-kissed holiday goers crowd glamorous beach clubs here, moor their mega yachts in the harbor, shop for breezy linens at the boutiques, and traipse around the old fishing quarter.

Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque

Just outside the tourist-trodden center of Gordes lies Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, a photogenic monastery founded in 1148 by Cistercians monks. Guided tours of the church and cloisters are available throughout the year. When the lavender fields bloom in the summer, this site reaches peak prettiness.

Île Sainte-Marguerite

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Île Sainte-Marguerite floats about half a mile offshore from Cannes. In contrast to its mainland neighbor, the largest of the Lérins Islands is small, slow-paced, and steeped in nature. Expect rocky beaches, turquoise waters, and a eucalyptus forest, as well as a very interesting underwater sculpture museum.

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It’s not hard to find enchanting hilltop towns in Provence. The enduring charm of Mougin that lured Edith Piaf and Christian Dior enamors all who visit. This medieval village has a snail-shaped center with cobbled lanes and flower-clad houses, plus large-scale art sculptures and award-winning restaurants overlooking the leafy countryside.

Oppède le Vieux

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In stark contrast to the Disneyland-like atmosphere of Gordes, Oppède le Vieux is an under-the-radar village that’s built atop rocks and surrounded by overgrown trees. The stone pathways, steps, and structures here are in various degrees of ruin, which imbues a time-worn charm.

Porquerolles

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Escape to Porquerolles, off the coast of Hyères, for a peaceful respite that can include time lazing on near-empty beaches, swimming in placid tides, sipping your way through vineyards, cycling in the countryside, and wandering through old forts.

Plage des Marinières

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Widely considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the French Riviera, crescent-shaped Plage des Marinières in the darling village of Villefranche-sur-Mer is the perfect spot for a day of basking in the sun, strolling across golden sand, and splashing in the blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

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The exclusive commune of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat has long attracted the attention of artists and jet setters with deep pockets and a desire for privacy. Exquisite villas are obscured from sight by lush vegetation. Pristine beaches, scenic hiking trails, and a yacht-filled harbor define this desirable destination.

Site Archéologique de Glanum

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Named after the Celtic god Glanis, Site Archéologique de Glanum traces its roots back to 600 BC. It’s at this extensive site just outside the town of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence that visitors can walk through remarkable surviving remains of both Gaulish and Roman settlements.

Le Sentier des Ocres

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The most iconic and unmissable sight in the Luberon village of Roussilian, Le Sentier des Ocres is a former ochre quarry with walking paths through rust-hued hills. The setting certainly provides spellbinding photo ops.

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Nice is a vibrant seaside city with a lovely historic core. If Vieux Nice is on your itinerary, begin with the Promenade des Anglais, then wander through the narrow cobblestone streets, admiring the pastel-hued facades and shopping for Niçoise soaps. Experience a Provencale market, grab socca (chickpea pancake) at one of the outdoor cafes, and soak in the views from Colline du Château before you depart.

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The untamed region between the Mediterranean Sea and the two branches of the Rhône River delta, Camargue defies preconceptions with its vastly different landscape. Rather than olive groves and grape vines, expect salt marshes and reed beds inhabited by free-roaming white horses and pink flamingos.

Valensole Plateau Lavender Fields

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Lavender is the emblem of Provence. The fields on the Valensole Plateau that erupt into a fragrant and gorgeous purple bloom each summer are some of the most popular — and photogenic — attractions in the region.

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Fragrance fans are no doubt familiar with Grasse, a French Riviera town in the hills behind Cannes that’s considered the perfume capital of the word. Rare roses and jasmine for designer luxury scent makers grow in this sunny village. It’s also home to many perfumeries.

Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole

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If you’re at all interested in the life and work of Vincent Van Gogh, consider a visit to Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole. This is the monastery-turned-psychiatric facility in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence where the tortured Dutch artist sought treatment and famously painted “The Starry Night.”

Palais des Papes

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The standout attraction in Avignon, the enormous Palais des Papes served as a pontifical residence in the 14th century. It's also on the shortlist of the most significant medieval Gothic buildings in all of Europe, with ceremonial halls, chapels, a cloister, and frescos.

Mines Bruoux

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Mines Bruoux , near Gargas, gives visitors the chance to tour a maze-like complex of tunnels and galleries in a 19th-century ochre mine. You will learn about the fascinating mining process as you go. The cool underground temperature provides a reprieve from the summer sun, too.

Promenade de la Croisette

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Few places embody French Riviera glamor quite like Promenade de la Croisette. Running along the Mediterranean Sea, the famous palm-fringed thoroughfare is crowned by Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, which hosts the Cannes Film Festival, and you'll find many upmarket hotels, shops, and restaurants here as well.

Carrières de Lumières

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For an unforgettable experience that speaks to Provence’s artistic pedigree, head to Carrières de Lumières in Les Baux-de-Provence. Housed in an old quarry, this contemporary art center hosts multimedia shows that combine larger-than-life projections of famous paintings and music.

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The Best 10 Day South of France Road Trip Itinerary

  • David Angel

Welcome to my South of France Road Trip itinerary guide, taking in the best of both Provence and Occitanie.

Driving in the South of France enables you to see far more than public transport does. You can get off the beaten path, seeing some of the most beautiful scenery in France along the way.

This road trip itinerary is packed with suggestions, and if you have a few more days available, there are plenty of possibilities for discovering even more amazing places.

I’ve devised this southern France road trip itinerary to include some of the best of Provence and the region to the west, Occitanie. The latter, covering southwest France, used to be known as Languedoc & Roussillon.

Provence is perhaps better known than Occitanie – but over several trips I’ve found both are equally compelling. This itinerary is an amalgamation of two of the south of France road trips I have done. It also takes you around six UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

The first few days are spent driving short distances around the west of Provence before heading west. You eventually return via the fascinating city of Albi, enjoying some of the most beautiful scenery in France along the way.

Table of Contents

South of France Road Trip Itinerary

Day 1 – avignon.

image of pont d'avignon and cathedral at dusk avignon france

Avignon, my suggested starting point for this south of France vacation, is one of the best cities in France to visit. It’s best known as the City of Popes – six Popes presided from there in the 13 th and 14 th centuries.

The Palais des Papes – the Popes’ Palace – is one of the highlights. The immense fortified palace is one of the greatest Gothic buildings in France, and still dominates the whole city.

Avignon is also renowned because of the famous song, Sur le pont d’Avignon . The Pont Saint-Bénézet is named after the local saint who claimed he had a vision telling him to build a bridge on the site.

The location was unsuitable: the original 12th-century bridge was destroyed by floods, and just four arches of its replacement survive.

image of ont d'avignon and cathedral avignon france

I suggest sticking to one day in Avignon , simply because there is so much to see elsewhere. It may well be worth considering a guided walking tour of Avignon , which will cover the main sights I’ve mentioned and the Notre Dame des Doms Cathedral near the Papal Palace.

There are also several more churches to explore, including those of St Didier and St Pierre, and the formidable circuit of town walls.

Also take a walk to the Rue des Teinturiers, one of the prettiest streets in Avignon. It’s set along a canal in an area once lived in by the city’s dyers and tanners, and one of their waterwheels is still preserved.

Places To Stay In Avignon

Hotel d’Europe : 5-star luxury on one of the loveliest squares in Avignon

La Mirande – 5-star elegance next to the Palais des Papes

Les Jardins de Baracane :  gorgeous 17 th century guesthouse      

Day 2 – Around Avignon – Pont du Gard, Orange And More

image of pont du gard aqueduct france

I suggest using Avignon as a base for the first part of this south of France road trip as there is such an abundance of day trips from Avignon . 

One of the best things about staying in Avignon is that so many of the best places to visit in Provence are within reach by public transport. That said, a great many places to see in Provence can only be reached by car.

The drawback of using public transport in the south of France is that you’re limited to seeing one place a day. Driving allows you to cover more ground more quickly, and on the second day of your South of France vacation you can easily reach two World Heritage Sites and explore some of the best of Côtes du Rhône wine country.    

Start the day by heading west along the N100 from Avignon, continuing to Remoulins and following the D19 towards the Pont du Gard. It’s one of the most iconic bridges in Europe , a triple-layered arched aqueduct built in the 1 st century AD. The Romans built it to supply the nearby town of Nemausus with water.

It’s remarkably well preserved, among the outstanding Roman monuments in Europe. The Aqueduct is a few minutes’ walk from the car park and small museum devoted to the Pont.

image of arc de triomphe orange provence france

After a couple of hours at the Pont du Gard, return to Remoulins and then join the A9 motorway (toll applies) for the short journey (around 30 km from where you join the motorway) to Orange. Follow the signs to the centre of Orange, a provincial town to the north of Avignon.

Here you’ll need a couple of hours to visit two more amazing Roman sights (which make up another World Heritage Site). The Arc de Triomphe d’Orange is beautifully preserved, especially its exceptional bas-reliefs. It’s believed to date from the reign of the first Roman Emperor, Caesar Augustus, and there is also an inscription dedicated to his successor, Tiberius.

The other unmissable sight in Orange is the Théâtre Antique, or Ancient Theatre. Again, it’s incredibly well reserved, with an intact stage wall. The statue in the stage wall is of Emperor Augustus, during whose reign it was probably built. The Theatre has been used to stage productions again since the 19 th century.

image or roman theatre orange provence france

The stage is an astonishing 60 metres wide, and dramas and comedies would have been performed on it in ancient times. Nowadays it’s used for opera performances, especially during the summertime Choregies d’Orange festival.

image of vineyard in gigondas provence france

You can return to Orange via the backroads around the famous wine village of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. Alternatively, a more scenic route takes you east via Violes to the Dentelles de Montmirail, Beaumes-de-Venise and Carpentras before swinging south-east to Avignon.  

Day 3 – Avignon to Arles

image of cafe sign st remy de provence france

We leave Avignon behind on the third morning of our South of France road trip, gently making our way a short distance down to the Rhone to the gorgeous World Heritage city of Arles.

Begin the day by driving the 10 miles (16 km) south from Avignon to the gorgeous little town of St Remy de Provence. I’ve stopped here numerous times over the years, and always found something new to intrigue me.

image of old house in st remy de provence france

It’s mainly known for its connection to Vincent van Gogh, who made several of his most famous paintings there, including Starry Night and Olive trees with the Alpilles in the background . He produced these while a patient at what was then known as the Saint-Paul Asylum, on the southern edge of the town.

image of les antiques roman monuments glanum provence france

This is now known as the Centre Culturel Saint-Paul de Mausole, and is next to the same groves of olive trees van Gogh painted. These are, in turn, next to the ancient Roman city of Glanum. Two of the best-preserved monuments – the Mausoleum of the Julii and Triumphal Arch – are on the west side of the road, while the rest of the city is on the other side.

image of olive trees painted by vincent van gogh in st remy de provence france

The settlement pre-dated the Romans, who occupied the site until it was ransacked around 260 AD by the Alemanni.  The ruins of the main town are substantial, including part of a temple, a well-preserved main street, baths and a spring.

Head south over the jagged hills of the Alpilles range, from which you emerge with a view of the vast coastal plain.  The D5 road continues around to Les Baux de Provence, one of ‘les plus beaux villages de France’.   

image of village of les baux de provence france

It’s certainly one of the most dramatically sited villages in France, occupying a limestone outcrop with superb views in all directions. The village is huddled below the ruined medieval castle, which ruled over more than 70 villages before the line of succession ended in the 15 th century.

Most of the old village is given over to tourism, with many of the houses now used as galleries or gift shops. But don’t be put off. I’ve visited the village three times, and most recently loved the walks around the Val d’Enfer (the Valley of Hell) to the north of the village.

image of the castle in les baux de provence france

The views there are superb, and if you have time I also suggest visiting Les Carrières de Lumières , a series of underground caverns that hosts some amazing art installations. At the time of writing they have a Dutch theme, with Vermeer, van Gogh and Mondrian featured.

The village also gave its name to bauxite, an aluminium ore quarried to exhaustion until the end of the 20 th century. Your day is almost done. It’s a 20-minute drive – around 8 miles (14 km) south-east to the wonderful city of Arles, where I suggest staying two nights.

Where To Stay In Arles

Hotel de l’Anglais:  wonderful guesthouse in the heart of Old Arles

Hotel de l’Amphitheatre

Hotel Spa Le Calendal

Day 4 – Arles

image of roman amphitheatre arles france

Arles may just be our favourite city in Provence. I’ve visited several times over the years, and it’s a great base for a day – even several. It’s the gateway to the Camargue, the wetlands of the Rhone delta, and like Avignon, makes a great base for day trips in the south of France.  

Some of you may prefer Arles to Avignon – it’s more vivid, bright and colourful than its more austere neighbour to the north. Arles, another UNESCO World Heritage city, has two main draws for its visitors: its Roman sites and Vincent van Gogh association.

image of hotel with blue window shutters in arles france

The Roman amphitheatre, which holds crowds of 25,000, was completed a few years after the Colosseum in Rome. It’s in excellent condition, and like its counterpart in Nimes, hosts bullfighting (but no killing), and concerts.  It’s an awesome venue for events like this, and an absolute must-see if you visit Arles.

The Roman Theatre is a short distance away. It would have been of similar size to the Roman Theatre in Orange, but is in worse state of preservation. The most intriguing of the Roman sites in Arles is Les Alyscamps, a Roman-era necropolis that continued to be Arles’ principal burial ground a thousand years after they had gone.  Roman burial grounds were traditionally outside the city walls, as was the case here.

image of vincent van gogh's starry night over the rhone painting in the musee d'orsay paris

Vincent van Gogh moved to Arles in 1888, and though some of his time there could be described as turbulent, it was also one of the most productive of his lifetime.  Arles undoubtedly inspired him. It was where he produced the likes of Starry Night Over the Rhone , The Yellow House , Café Terrace At Night , L’Arlesienne and some of his famous still-lifes and studies of chairs.

He left Arles for St-Remy in May 1889, having spent time at the Hospital (now L’Espace van Gogh). If you have an interest in van Gogh, you should also make time to visit the Fondation Vincent van Gogh , which usually has a small collection of his paintings on display.

Aficionados of modern architecture should also seek out Luma Arles. It’s an arts and cultural centre, the distinctive work of Frank Gehry.  The architect of the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and Dancing House Prague completed this commission in 2021, and it’s one of his best.  I love the description of the Tower in the Guardian just after its completion – ‘Bacofoil scrunched by an invisible fist’.

Day 5 – Arles to Carcassonne

image of castle in carcassonne france

The fifth day of your South of France road trip is really down to you. It’s a two-hour drive, mostly along the A9 autoroute, to your next stop, Carcassonne. You may wish to see more of Arles. Or perhaps you may wish to get to Carcassonne as early as possible.

On the other hand, there is the option of heading south to the fascinating Camargue, or visiting some intriguing seaside towns very close by. I spent a couple of days of my first south of France road trip, back in the summer of 1988, in this area and have always meant to return.

We meandered around the Camargue for a while, camping near the beautiful old seaside town of Le Grau du Roi, on the western edge of the wetland area. Le Grau is a few miles along the coast from La Grande Motte, a resort built in the 1960s and 1970s.

I wrote in my journal at the time that it was ‘a seaside resort for aliens’. Many of the buildings – designed by Jean Balladur – are pyramid-like constructions. They were supposedly inspired by some of the pyramids of Central America, but always struck me as being more futuristic.

image of gateway to citadel of carcassonne

The medieval fortress town of Aigues-Mortes is a few miles along the coast on the D62. The town walls are superb, the architecture of much of the small town likewise. It’s on the shore of the Camargue, on the edge of a vast expanse of salt flats.  I haven’t returned there since the ‘80s, but would recommend anyone intrigued enough to go exploring.

Head for the A709 and then the A9 autoroute south of Montpellier. La Languedocienne takes you past the splendid old cities of Beziers and Narbonne, and at the latter take the A61 to your next stop, the fortified town of Carcassonne.

Places To Stay in Carcassonne

Hotel de la Cite & Spa MGallery : stunning 5-star hotel in the medieval citadel

Sowell Hotels Les Chevaliers : fine 4star in the Ville Basse, with some of the best views in town

Day 6 – Carcassonne

image of cite of carcassonne france

Carcassonne is one of the great icons of France and most beautiful castles in Europe.  The city – close to the Mediterranean and trade routes – has been fortified to some degree since Roman times.

The Visigoths took over the city, and the Carolingians, under Pepin the Short, took over in the 8 th century. The city was also renowned as one of the main refuges of the Cathars, Christians with what the Catholic Church considered heretical beliefs. As part of the Albigensian Crusade, thousands were brutally expelled from Carcassonne.

I’ve visited Carcassonne on three south of France road trips, and each time the initial sight of it has blown me away. The Cité de Carcassonne – the Citadel – encompasses the Old Town and Castle (Chateau Comtal), its 50 or more towers and turrets and immense walls visible from many miles away.  

It’s an amazing sight from the Pont Vieux – the long medieval bridge across the river Aude – and from the vineyards that surround the town. The Cité is quite small and only takes a few hours to explore, including its gateways and ramparts and the Basilica of St Nazaire. 

image of carcassonne cite at dusk

Each time I’ve visited I’ve ended up spending more time in the Ville Basse – the modern lower town – than the Cité.  A restored medieval citadel isn’t really conducive to day-to-day modern life, and this is where you’ll find more Carcassonne restaurants and hotels.

While there, don’t miss the Cathedral of Saint-Michel, which replaced the Basilica in the Cité as the region’s mother church in 1803. Also take a drive into the surrounding countryside to appreciate some of the amazing views of the Cité.  Some of the best are from the vineyards surrounding the town.

Carcassonne is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is on the doorstep of another – the Canal du Midi. This amazing feat of engineering was completed in the mid-17 th century. The 240-kilometre waterway links the city of Toulouse with the Mediterranean Sea, and Carcassonne is near the mid-point of the Canal.

Day 7 – Carcassonne to Albi

image of the windmill at lautrec tarn france

The drive between these two World Heritage cities takes you over the unheralded Montagne Noire (Black Mountain). It also crosses from the Aude departement to Tarn, of which Albi is the capital.

The Montagne Noire is a vast upland forest area, and the D118 winds its way up and over the top. It takes you as far as the outskirts of the fine town of Castres , a name familiar to rugby fans around Europe. I only stopped for lunch for an hour or so, with just enough time to admire the quirky tanners’ houses above the Agout river.

A few old friends from Wales have visited to watch rugby there, and are very enamoured with the town. I’d be inclined to press on towards Albi, but there are plenty of other things to see in Castres, including a Goya Museum.

image of albi cathedral france

Continuing northwards, you eventually pass the turnoff for the gorgeous medieval village of Lautrec. If the name is familiar, it’s the ancestral village of the family of artist Henri de Toulouse—Lautrec, more on whom shortly. There’s a beautiful square surrounded by characteristic local brick and timber houses, and a fine 17 th century windmill on the hill above the village.

Eventually you reach the red-brick wonder of Albi, long one of my favourite cities in France. Park, check in and head straight for the most striking building in the city, the extraordinary Cathédrale Ste Cécile.

Its exterior looks more like a forbidding fortress than a place of worship. This was the intention of Bishop Bernard de Castanet, who began the Cathedral in the aftermath of the 13th-century Albigensian Crusade.

This campaign had seen the defeat of the Cathar heretics, so the new Cathedral was all about projecting Bernard’s power.  Although he did cut costs somewhat by using brick rather than stone. Albi Cathedral is said to be the biggest brick building in the world. I’m pretty sure that it isn’t (mighty Malbork Castle in Poland is bigger) but it’s a hugely impressive edifice.

image of medieval house in albi france

I strongly recommend taking a walk down the hill to the River Tarn to admire the view of the city with the Cathedral looming above.  It’s particularly striking at sunrise, when the first light of the day glances across the red-brick buildings. Albi Cathedral is so different inside. I remember expecting a bare, austere interior, like a vast empty hall in a Castle. Not at all. It’s positively lavish and extravagant.

I was particularly struck by the beautifully painted vaults, which run the length of the church. This would have been done in the late 15 th and early 16 th centuries. The walls are also beautifully decorated, with the 15 th -century Last Judgment mural at the west end of the nave the oldest surviving work.

Places To Stay In Albi

Hotel Alchimy: 4-star with luxury suites in the historical centre

Hostellerie du Grand St-Antoine

La Voute du 26   – amazing apartment in medieval house in the historic centre of Albi  

Day 8 – Albi and Albigeois Region

image of the palais de la berbie housing the toulouse-lautrec museum albi france

There are enough things to do in Albi to keep you there for two or three days. It’s one of the most underrated cities in France, a place rich in medieval architecture. Other cities (Toulouse) and towns in the region also have the distinctive red brick houses with timber frames – as does Lautrec, from the previous day of this South of France itinerary.

Start the day at the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum , housed next door to the Cathedral in the Bishops’ Palace, the Palais de la Berbie. The superb collection of Toulouse-Lautrec’s works was donated to his home city in 1922. He was famous for his Parisian posters and also drawings and paintings, and some of his best-known works are included in the collection, including the Moulin Rouge Masked Ball poster.

Spend more time exploring the less-known Albi sights, including the Maison du Vieil Alby (House of Old Albi, open afternoons only) and the Saint-Salvi church and cloister.      I was fortunate to have allowed myself three days in Albi, leaving time for a short drive north into the Albigeois, the countryside north of Albi. 

The main draw in the area is the gorgeous hilltop town of Cordes-sur-Ciel. It’s a beautiful rambling medieval town built on a steep hill, its cobbled streets full of galleries. It seemed to be pitched towards curious visitors, but when we visited, in April, there were very few of us around.

If Cordes is busy in summer and you really want to step back in time, head around 10 miles west to the village of Penne. It’s somewhere I yearn to return, an extraordinary village crowned by a wonky medieval castle. It’s in my personal most beautiful villages in France list, for sure.  

Day 9 – Albi to Millau

image of cheese maker mural near roquefort-sur-soulzon   aveyron france

With great reluctance, we bid farewell to Albi to head east towards the southern end of the Massif Central. On this day we visit one of the great modern famous landmarks in France . And there is the option of visiting the home of one of the best blue cheeses in the world, if your tastebuds are so inclined.

We suggest following the D999 east from Albi into the Aveyron department, a journey of around 60 miles (100 km).  ass through the pretty town of Saint-Affrique before you reach the cheese mecca of Roquefort-sur-Soulzon. 

This small village is paradise to blue cheese fiends like us, and I ate one of the best sandwiches of my life there. The contents were no more than a very large chunk of bread and a huge helping of Roquefort cheese, but this was my food paradise.

image of millau viaduct france

The story goes that a shepherd left a piece of cheese in the high pastures, retrieving it months later to find it covered in mould. He supposedly tried a bite, and so one of the most famous cheeses in France was born.

See Also: What Is France Famous For? 

It’s a half-hour drive from there through the Grands Causses Regional Natural Park to Millau. These days it’s best-known as the nearest town to the Viaduc de Millau – or Millau Viaduct.

This magnificent bridge is the tallest in Europe, 270 metres above the Tarn valley floor at one point. One of its piers is 1143 feet (348 metres) high – which is considerably taller than the Eiffel Tower.

image of millau viaduct france at dusk

From Roquefort, I suggest rejoining the D999 and turning right, heading east to the nearest junction of the A75 autoroute (motorway). Join the autoroute, heading left (north) where you enjoy astounding views of the bridge and landscape below.

Turn off the A75 at the next junction, and follow the road around to the rest area (Aire du Viaduc de Millau) and viewpoint. From there you get a stunning view, with the piers of the bridge very close to each other. I also suggest driving around the Tarn Valley below the Viaduct to seek out more views of it.

One of my favourites is the beautiful village of Peyre, roughly a mile west of the Viaduct. This is where our dusk image of the Viaduct was shot.  

Hotels In Millau

Couvent de la Salette :  the best luxury bet in Millau, beautiful rooms in a centuries-old former convent

Domaine des Ondes – great guesthouse with wonderful mountain views

Day 10 – Millau to Avignon

image of old town hall tower millau aveyron france

Before the Viaduct was built, Millau was best-known as the gateway to the Gorges du Tarn. The upper reaches of the river flow through this spectacular narrow gorge on its way west, where it eventually meets the broad Garonne river.

Follow the D187 north out of Millau, continuing north-east to Le Rozier. From there, you have the option of heading 10 miles north to the best viewpoint in the Gorges du Tarn, the Point Sublime, which commands a breathtaking view of the valley.

From there, double back to Millau or head south via minor roads via Nant, to join the D7. This becomes the D999 a few miles to the east, and from here you continue into the Cevennes.  briefly stopped) and Saint Hippolyte du Fort. The D999 takes you all the way to Nimes, home to of the greatest Roman monuments in France and an enchanting old centre.  

image of maison carree nimes at dusk

You could overnight in Nimes or continue to Avignon – entirely up to you. I’ve stayed in Nimes twice, both times for one night, and would gladly do so again. The Maison Carrée, a 2 nd century AD Roman Temple, is one of the best-reserved ancient buildings anywhere in the world. It’s an astonishing sight, especially at dusk when the floodlights give it a magical aura.  

The Temple is on the same square as the Carré d’Art, a contemporary arts centre and museum designed by Norman Foster (who also designed the Viaduc de Millau. Even if a little Roman monument fatigue is beginning to creep in, the Arènes of Nimes is a must-see. Like that of Arles, this amphitheatre is in superb condition and still used for concerts and events.  

Getting To The South Of France

image of papal palace avignon france

If you’re flying long-haul to France, from North America or Australia, it makes sense to fly to Paris, then catch the TGV (fast train) south to Avignon. You can then pick up your hire car from there. We recommend discover cars , who we use ourselves to find the best car rental deal in the area we’re exploring.

If you’re flying to the south of France from elsewhere in Europe, there are a multitude of airports in southern France to choose from.

You don’t necessarily have to start this south of France road trip from Avignon – you could easily do so from Carcassonne, which has a small airport that is a hub for budget carrier Ryanair.

I’ve flown into several other airports across the region, including Nimes (another Ryanair option), Marseille and Nice. You can also fly to Lyon (less than two hours’ drive north of Avignon) or even Grenoble, in the heart of the French Alps.  

South of France Road Trip – Final Thoughts

image of window with wooden shutter and flowers st remy de provence france

I hope this south of France road trip itinerary gives you some inspiration. It’s an astounding part of the world, and this mixture of Provence and Occitanie will encourage you to delve deeper into one, or both, of them.  

Check out more of our Europe road trip articles here:

  • Normandy Road Trip – 7 days itinerary through gorgeous Normandy
  • Portugal Road Trip – Alentejo – exploring the borderlands and backwoods of south-east Portugal
  • Pembrokeshire Road Trip – 5 days around glorious West Wales
  • Snowdonia Road Trip – 4 road itineraries around Eryri

Image of David Angel found of Delve into Europe Travel Blog / Website

David Angel is a British photographer, writer and historian. He is a European travel expert with over 30 years’ experience exploring Europe. He has a degree in History from Manchester University, and his work is regularly featured in global media including the BBC, Condé Nast Traveler, The Guardian, The Times, and The Sunday Times.  David is fluent in French and Welsh, and can also converse in Italian, German, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech and Polish.

Jen on a Jet Plane

The Ultimate South of France Itinerary: One Week Road Trip Guide and Map

The Ultimate South of France Itinerary: One Week Road Trip Guide and Map

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Trying to plan out your South of France Itinerary? Here’s how to hit the highlights on a one-week road trip. 

The South of France is heaven on earth. It smells like fresh lavender, has delicious cheese and boasts pristine nature that inspired some of the world’s most renowned artists.

The ideal time of year to visit is in the summer when the lavender and sunflower fields are in bloom. This is also the most in-demand season but thankfully Provence is filled with wide open spaces so it rarely feels crowded. 

The best way to see the region is by renting a car and driving yourself since public transport is sparse between villages and arranged tours don’t allow you to see things at your own schedule. Driving here is easy — you drive on the right side of the road, tolls are automatically billed to your credit card and there’s ample parking outside of the big cities. You can rent a car with just your license and passport. 

The following is a schedule I put together for one week in the South of France, allowing you to hit all the major highlights in record time. You can still follow this itinerary if you go during a different season besides summer but the route won’t be as scenic. It will also be significantly harder to drive on narrow mountain roads come winter. 

Day 1: Arrive in France 

Bridge in Paris

Flying into Paris is likely your most affordable option, so I suggest you start there. You can take a day to acclimate and enjoy the city, perhaps stopping by the Eiffel Tower or going to a museum you haven’t seen before if this is a return visit. 

Another option is to fly into Nice or Marseilles. Choose whichever one gets you there the cheapest since you have a long drive ahead of you either way.

No matter where you fly into, take it easy on the first day and make sure you have lots of energy before you hit the road. 

Day 2: Head to Provence 

Strolling the lavender fields in the South of France

From Paris you can catch a high-speed train to Avignon, where you can rent a car. I picked up a car in Avignon and returned it to Nice when the week was over. Avignon is the middle of Provence and makes a great starting point. I passed through the city but you can feel free to explore a little when you arrive. 

If you’re not coming from Paris, you can head straight to Saint Remy de Provence . Once there, I recommend that you go for lunch at Da Peppe , they serve pasta in a cheese wheel that’s orgasmic. 

Afterwards, head to Monastery Saint-Paul de Mausole , where Vincent Van Gogh was committed and spent his later years. You can see a model of his room there, the same one featured in the famous painting, “The Bedroom.”

When you’re ready, go south towards Arles. On the way, stop by Carrières de Lumières , a former quarry that projects images of art onto the interior walls, played to music. It is absolutely magical, so much so that the popular Atelier des Lumieres was created in Paris in its image. 

Day 3: Explore Arles 

Standing in the Arles Ampitheatre

Arles is where Van Gogh lived and worked for many years, creating more than 300 paintings and drawing. The main draw here is the Van Gogh walking trail , which allows you to visit the real-life places featured in his masterpieces, like the view of the Rhone in starry night over the Rhone and the yellow cafe seen in Cafe Terrace at Night. 

There’s a visitor’s center where you can get a map to do a self-guided tour on your own for €1. If you go at a leisurely pace, it’ll take you roughly half a day. You can also do a guided tour, offered by the Tourism Office on Wednesdays and Saturdays in the late afternoon or take a bike tour of the city. 

RELATED POST: FINDING VAN GOGH IN ARLES ON A SELF-GUIDED ART ROUTE

Day 4: Gordes and Rousillon

Red rock formations in Rousillon

The next morning, head from Arles to Gordes to visit the Senanque Abbey . You’ll need to get an early start as the drive over is filled with magnificent sunflower fields and you’ll be tempted to stop every five minutes.

The Senanque Abbey is one of the most photographed places in Provence and is packed with people who want to capture the lavender fields. Aim to be there before 10 a.m. so you can beat the tour buses. 

Next, head to Fontaine-de-Vaucluse . The area is built around a natural spring and is beautiful for just walking around and perusing. When you’re ready, make your way to  Rousillon . This is a unique village with red rock formations that are great for hiking. Hit the road by 3-4 p.m. since you have to drive to Castellane and it’s a long, windy mountain road to get there.

If you have time you can stop by the L’Occitane Factory in Manosque on the way, getting fancy hand lotion straight from the source. 

RELATED POST: VISITING THE SENANQUE ABBEY IN GORDES, FRANCE

Day 5: Castellane

Blue waters at Lac de Saint Croix in the South of France

The main reason to go to Castellane is to visit the Gorge du Verdon , widely regarded as the Grand Canyon of Europe. This gorgeous, turquoise river ends in lake called Lac de Sainte Croix . Here, you can rent paddleboat or kayaks and take in the gorgeous setting. This is the perfect activity on a warm summer day.

Those looking for adventure can find different outfitters in Castellane that offer everything from climbing to canyoning. If you visit in the winter, the mountains near the gorge have skiing available. 

RELATED POST: HOW TO VISIT LAC DE SAINTE CROIX IN CASTELLANE, FRANCE

Day 6: Cannes 

Yellow buildings in Cannes

Cannes is a resort town on the French Riviera widely known for its international film festival. This is a place to relax after a long week of sightseeing and is a favorite of the rich and famous. Sit in the sun, have a drink and stroll the Promenade de la Croisette .

If you’re a fan of fine fragrances, visit the Musée International de la Parfumerie to see how perfume is made. Cannes offers more by way of shopping and yachting than arts and culture, so if you’re looking for the latter spend a day in Marseilles after Arles instead. 

Day 7: Nice

View of the French Rivera in Nice

Finish your week-long road trip in Nice. There are several museums here, including the Matisse Museum , but if it’s a sunny day you won’t want to be indoors. Walk throughout old Nice, with cobblestone streets and pastel-colored buildings.

If you want to be transported to a different destination, check out the Saint Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral. It boasts traditional Russian architecture reminiscent of the famous church in Russia and a collection of national artifacts inside. 

I always take advantage of the opportunity to see Russian art when available since it’s not allowed to leave the country without permission and, as such, is rarely seen outside of Russian borders. 

While there’s no shortage of things to do in Nice , you can also get to Monaco in under an hour by bus or train, knocking out the second smallest country in the world in one afternoon. 

There are many ways that you could mold this itinerary to fit your needs. You could start and end in Nice or Marseilles. You could do it backwards, from the French Riviera heading inwards to Provence. 

You also have the ability to extend your stay at certain places, or cut out cities and attractions altogether. No matter your preferences, the South of France is always a good idea.

Till next time, safe travels!  

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Faith Coates

Wednesday 18th of March 2020

I was headed to France before CV but had to cancel so I get to enjoy it vicariously through your article so I will be prepared for my trip.

Friday 2nd of August 2019

this is very nice and the places are unique from other places most people visit,

Monday 20th of May 2019

As I am French I can confirm that this road trip is very interesting. Thank you for highlighting my beautiful country that is a little tormented now ... Congratulations on this beautiful article!

Jen on a Jet Plane

Saturday 25th of May 2019

I appreciate that Coco, I absolutely fell in love with your country!

Wednesday 27th of March 2019

This is really a great article! I love it when people use Google maps embedded in their blog posts. This makes your blog post such a great ressource when touring around France!

Thursday 28th of March 2019

Thank you Sarah, happy to be of service!

Never Ending Footsteps

How to Spend Two Weeks in the South of France

south france travel itinerary

The South of France holds a special place in my heart.

I first fell in love with this corner of the earth whilst au pairing in Manosque. After too many weekend trips to Aix-en-Provence on the bus, I slowly began to venture out and discover the beauty of the French Riviera.

That’s how my love began and it’s been blossoming ever since, and in this itinerary, I am going to share how to spend an unforgettable two weeks in the most magical region of France.

Sun-soaked beaches, charming Provençal villages, and world-class cuisine. Put simply, this is your two-week South of France getaway. 

south france travel itinerary

Day 1 – Marseille

Begin your two-week trip in France’s oldest city, Marseille. Whenever I visit Marseille, I like to stay right in the middle of the action; that’s why I recommend staying here . The French are known to love their elegant spaces, and I adore staying at this lovely apartment. Spacious, bright, and offering up a neat terrace, it will leave you wishing to call this city home. 

Once settled in, follow the noise to the waterfront.

Find yourself standing in the Vieux Port, Marseille’s historic harbor that has served as the heart of the city for over 2,600 years. Wander your way over to Fort Saint-Jean. One of the oldest monuments in Marseille, this fort marks the entrance to the Old Port and is a symbol of Marseille’s military history.

To enter the fortress, climb up the stairs on the far side of the road and cross an elevated footbridge. Explore the many walls and interesting fortifications that have protected the Old Port since 1660. Around the corner you have the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée, a modern museum dedicated to the history and culture of the entire Mediterranean region. The building itself, with its extra-terrestrial feel, is worth a photo.

Pro tip: visit on the first Sunday of the month when admission is free!

For lunch, get ready to indulge in Marseille’s most famous dish: Bouillabaisse. Once a poor man’s soup, this hearty meal is a garlic and saffron-flavored fish stew that seafood enthusiasts will fall in love with. Whenever I am in Marseille, Chez Fonfon is my first stop. I love starting with the hot bouillon and delicious toasted bread, then savoring the fish and potatoes afterward. Pair with a light Sauvignon Blanc and voila!

After fuelling up, head to the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde. Perched atop a hill overlooking Marseille, this historic site is a must-see. Book a tour to make the most of it – I recommend the urban walking tour. You can enjoy a tour with expert knowledge and great company because let’s face it – climbing the 170 steps as a group is much more fun and rewarding!

When you are at the top, take a minute to take in the breathtaking panoramic views of Marseille. But it does not stop there; turn around and admire the Neo-Byzantine masterpiece that is the Basilica. Intricate carvings, stunning mosaics, and beautiful stained-glass windows. It is truly a work of art. 

End your day exploring the nearby neighborhood of Le Panier, a vibrant district perfect for a cozy café or dinner spot. In fact, Marseille’s large North African community makes it a foodie heaven – my favorite spot is Chez Tamar for delicious Magreb cuisine. Take my advice and order the ‘Tamar’ plate. Expect a colorful and vibrant spread of mezze and small bites, like delicious muhammara and tabbouleh.

south france travel itinerary

Day 2 – Marseille and Ensuès la Redonne

Start your second day in Marseille with a visit to the Palais Longchamp, a grand 19th century palace which celebrates the construction of the Canal de Marseille. The palace now boasts a beautiful park, two museums, and a garden oasis. Not only is the Natural History Museum free but it is filled with hundreds of thousands botanical, fossil, and mineral specimens which will keep you busy for hours. If you want to skip the museum, you can enjoy a relaxing stroll around the grounds during the morning sunshine.

Afterwards, take the train to Ensuès la Redonne. This gorgeous little village is a complete hidden gem and my absolute favorite spot to visit when I want to escape the business of Marseille.

When you arrive at the station, follow the winding path downhill to the main village and settle in at Plage de la Redonne. Soak up the warm Mediterranean sunshine, read a book, and explore the nearby hidden coves on a rented paddleboard or kayak. It’s the perfect spot to relax, unwind, and immerse yourself in the stunning natural beauty of the South of France.

After a few hours, get ready for a well-deserved afternoon hike.

Sentier du Littoral is my top pick, having hiked it many times during my weekends in Aix. It’s not too strenuous and takes around three hours to complete, but make sure to bring plenty of water and snacks. Along the way, discover what the hidden coves look like from above, experience stunning cliffs, and even an ancient fort. The dramatic contrast between the blue of the ocean and the deep hues of the wilderness and pines makes for excellent photos. 

For a fun and unique dining experience, head to Pizza Rocca in La Redonne, where you’ll find some of the best pizzas in the South of France. Any pizza with the balsamic dressing is delicious! Enjoy your meal from this delightful food truck at sunset before heading back to the station. Although you can stay in La Redonne, I would suggest heading back to Marseille after dinner for easier travel to Aix.

south france travel itinerary

Day 3 – Aix-en-Provence

Wake up to the hustle and bustle of Marseille. Enjoy your final moments in this city as you take the train over to your next stop: Aix-en-Provence. 

In the blink of an eye (literally just 11 minutes), you will arrive in Aix.

Before any tours or recommendations, the first thing I want you to do is go on an explore through the center of this colorful city. Getting lost amidst the narrow streets, finding local hidden gems, and taking in the wonderful architecture on your way is a sheer pleasure and will inspire how you want to spend your time here.

Another free (yet amazing) thing to do in Aix is visit Church Saint-Jean of Malta, the first Gothic church to be built in the Provence region. The church’s facade is truly spectacular, adorned with intricate stone carvings, striking arches, and a magnificent rose window.

Step inside the church and expect more of the same: soaring vaulted ceilings, vibrant stained-glass windows, and ornately detailed altarpieces. If you are lucky, maybe you will catch a glimpse of one of the regular events hosted at the church. From music concerts to funky art exhibits, there’s always something going on here. 

Head straight to Cours Mirabeau for lunch. 440 meters long and lined with cafés, fancy restaurants, terraces and elegant private mansions, this avenue will give you the perfect welcome to Aix. There are so many options, but I suggest watching the world go by as you enjoy lunch at Les Deux Garcons.

In terms of where to stay, I always choose to stay here when I am in Aix. Not only is the location fantastic (right on Aix’s most popular avenue) but the place has a relaxing spa and a gorgeous outdoor terrace.

south france travel itinerary

Day 4 – Aix-en-Provence

Get ready to experience the symbol of Provence: an abundance of sprawling lavender fields that stretch out as far as the eye can see. Today, you are headed to the Plateau of Valensole. 

The first time I visited the Plateau of Valensole I jumped on this morning tour of the lavender fields . The excursion included transport from the center of Aix, endless photo opportunities, and an exciting stop at a local farmers shop. This was my favorite part as we were taught everything from the cultivation, distillation, to the properties of pure lavender. At the end of the tour you’ll have the chance to purchase pure lavender products: from lavandin essential oils to olive oils and delicious types of honey, this place is truly a foodie’s paradise! I cannot recommend their lavender honey enough. 

Once you are back in town, grab a coffee at Cours Mirabeau before indulging in some delicious Provençal market produce. My favorite market in Aix is the food market which can be found at Place Verdun and Place des Precheurs. Sample rich local wines, gourmet cheeses, and mouthwatering fresh produce. You can either do it on your own or follow along on a guided tour – this is actually the best way to learn about the local delicacies and gastronomy of the region. If you are going to try something, please try olives noires. Grown exclusively in the French region of Bouches-du-Rhône, these tasty, plump, and dark olives are used to produce some of the finest olive oil. On that note, definitely pick up a bottle of aromatic olive oil from the region – perfect to pair with tapenades, cheeses and biscuits. 

After a few hours browsing the markets, dedicate the rest of your day to the protagonist of this wonderful city: Paul Cézanne. Born here in 1839, Cézanne spent most of his life in Aix and the majority of his oeuvre was actually inspired by his hometown. If you want to dig a little bit deeper into his life and art, do not miss out on a visit to Cezanne’s Workshop (his last workshop and home for the final four years of his life). Since everything is intact – from the materials to the objects he used, you can still feel his presence here. 

south france travel itinerary

Day 5 – Cassis

Head to the gorgeous little portside town of Cassis. Sheltered by both the Calanques National Park and the Cap Canaille, there is so much natural beauty to be explored here. One of the very best ways to do this is on a calanque hiking tour (book here ). Visit the creeks of Port-Miou, Port-Pin, and En-Veau with explanations from an expert local guide. Not to worry, the guide will have you covered in both English and French! 

Upon your return, get lost amongst the myriad of picturesque streets. Enjoy an ice cream at Maison Casalini Cassis (I always go for their speculoos and chocolate combination) and then spend the afternoon beach hopping. Start at Cassis’ main beach: Plage de la Grande Mer. Here you can easily rent pedalos and hang out for hours with friends and family. If you want to explore a wilder beach, I recommend Plage de l’Arène. This place is perfect to escape the summer crowds. Just remember to bring a sturdy pair of reef shoes to protect yourself from the rocks!

Accommodation wise, my Cassis go-to is Cassis Ma Vie La, mainly for the garden and close location to the beach. It’s one of the best-rated options in town. Book here .

Take a stroll along the harbor at sunset and you will find an array of dining options. If you want to try typical French bistro food, La Vieille Auberge offers the true Cassis experience: classic Provençal dishes paired with Cassis wines right on the port. Both their ratatouille and octopus salad is to die for but make sure to check out their seasonal menu. Finish up your day with a wander around the cobbled streets of the old town, take in the buzz of the night, and stop for a nightcap at Les Caves Du Port. 

south france travel itinerary

Day 6 – La Ciotat

The South of France is home to so many interesting and quirky villages, and La Ciotat is definitely up there as one of my favorites. Once a major industrial shipbuilding hub, today La Ciotat is known for its charming old town and untouched, crystal clear waters. I always say that the small towns are just as worth visiting as the busier, bigger cities and it could not be more true in La Ciotat! In fact, this sleepy town is actually where the game of Petanque was invented (a Provencale version of boules), and is also the birthplace of cinema as we know it! So, keep a look out for the locals participating in competitive games of Petanque. 

Since this is a smaller town with a more laid back vibe, I recommend treating yourself to a luxury apartment stay like this one. Relax in your private oasis as you reflect on your trip so far and take in the best of the South of France. 

south france travel itinerary

Day 7 – Toulon and Porquerolles 

It is Day 7 and you are headed to Toulon.Start your morning off at the Place de la Liberté, Toulon’s beautiful central square. Here you will find a stunning fountain which stands as a symbol of force and justice (drawing on Toulon’s rich naval history) as well as Toulon’s famous boat sculpture. Wander over to Toulon’s main port. This is a busy, energetic place so just immerse yourself in the atmosphere and take it all in. Wander the quays and do not miss out on a visit to the local market. Full of fresh seafood, flowers, and attractive handicrafts, you are sure to encounter a unique souvenir or two to take back home with you. Next, jump on the ferry to Porquerolles. 

With up to 300 days of sunshine annually, Porqureolles flaunts its quintessentially Mediterranean character: whispering pine forests, merging water and sky in a rich hue of deep blue. Whatever you are looking for, you can find it here: meandering pathways winding beneath the shelter of pine trees for an afternoon walk, gorgeous sunsets beyond the windswept cliffs, and rough dirt roads perfect for cycling. My recommendation would be to do a bit of everything! You can easily find bike rentals and tour guides once you disembark the ferry at Porquerolles. 

Since you are on an island, it only makes sense to spend your night aboard a yacht. You can reserve this wonderful yachting experience here . Look forward to waking up to the serene tranquility of the ocean and feasting on a French breakfast on the yacht’s bow.

south france travel itinerary

Day 8 – Hyères 

Head back to Toulon in the morning and jump on a train to Hyères. This is the place to truly experience the French bon vivant. Settle into your home for the night. If you are looking for an exceptional ecolodge and spa suite hidden in nature, with a private jacuzzi and mini bar to enjoy, this place is your go to. 

As you set foot into the town, take a deep breath and breathe in the irresistible Mediterranean aromas coming from the morning market stalls. Be sure to ask the vendors for the seasonal fruits – from juicy peaches and plump cherries to luscious figs and tangy apricots, there’s no shortage of mouth-watering options to try. Personally, I cannot resist the Cavaillon melon. 

Start your day off on the right foot by hiking the famous Sentier Du Littoral, a trail that hugs the coastline and promises stunning views of the rocky shore, crystalline waters, and diverse flora. Although the hike isn’t too strenuous, I recommend setting out either early in the morning or in the late afternoon to avoid the summer sun. Don’t forget to bring plenty of water, your market snacks, and pack a swimsuit for a refreshing dip in the sea.

After working up an appetite, head to the charming old town for a delicious lunch. The narrow streets, ancient churches, and charming boutiques will enchant you as you explore. Whether you are a history buff or a shopaholic, there’s something for everyone in this quaint neighborhood. So, grab a bite to eat (my go to lunch is cocktails and tapas at Le People) and soak up the charming ambiance of this magical town.

Spend the rest of your day exploring the immaculate white sand beaches (Plage de l’Almanarre, Plage de l’Almanarre, and Plage de l’Almanarre are among my favorites) before enjoying a well-deserved apéro along Gambetta Avenue at sunset. 

south france travel itinerary

Day 9 – Saint-Tropez

You were waiting for this one… Today, you are headed to the glorious land of Saint-Tropez. Once a simple fishing village, this place is now a world-renowned destination for the wealthy and famous. First things first, wake up with espresso in one of the many cafes along the harbor and simply people (and yacht!) watch. 

If you are a boat lover like me, I would recommend renting a yacht for a day to truly explore the gorgeous coastline of the Cote-d’Azur. This really is an experience, especially when you keep your eyes out for the famous opulent villas that line the shore. Your captain will most likely moor you to one of the many beaches for an afternoon stop.  

As the sun begins to dip below the horizon, it’s time to say goodbye to the luxurious yacht and head back to shore. You are in Saint-Tropez, so dinner is either a Michelin-starred restaurant…or a Michelin-starred restaurant! La Vague d’Or and La Table du Marché are two of my favorites. Everything on the menu will be exquisite, so bon appetit! For a charming, stylish and central hotel, I recommend Lou Cagnard .

south france travel itinerary

Day 10 – Cannes 

The glitz and glamor is not over yet, because you are headed to Cannes. Your first stop is Villa Rothschild. Feel free to purchase entry tickets on the door, or book in advance online. As soon as you enter the property, you’ll be transported back to the glamorous era of the French Riviera in the 19th century. Stroll through the lush gardens (which are dotted with exotic plants and trees from everywhere around the world) and marvel at the breathtaking views of the Mediterranean Sea. The last time I was here, I grabbed a coffee and felt like pure royalty – try it!

Next up, you are headed to La Croisette. This is the iconic avenue that comes to life every year during the Cannes Film Festival. Trust me, as you make your way down La Croisette, you’ll feel like a star yourself. Enjoy this moment: channel your inner movie star as you walk the red carpet and approach the doors to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. Another thing I love to do in Cannes is taking my time to browse through the designer shops and luxury boutiques, stopping for various coffees and even glasses of champagne along the way. 

For a unique stay in Cannes, Hotel Barriere Le Majestic has you covered. Located on the coveted Croisette Boulevard, enjoy stunning Mediterranean Sea views from the Deluxe Sea View Rooms and take advantage of the hotel’s private beach, heated outdoor pool, spa, and fitness center. 

south france travel itinerary

Day 11 – Cannes

It is Day 2 in Cannes and today you are headed to the Avenue of Stars. One of my favorite things about this place is the opportunity to walk in the footsteps of some of the most talented actors and actresses in history. The 300+ handprints on the pavement are a testament to the enduring popularity of cinema, and it is quite humbling to think that you’re standing where some of the greats once stood! 

Just a walk away, you will find La Môme Plage. Stop here for a once in a lifetime dining experience you won’t forget. Their menu is a delicious fusion of French and Mediterranean cuisine, with a focus on fresh seafood and seasonal ingredients. From the succulent grilled prawns to the tender grilled octopus, everything on the menu is expertly prepared and bursting with flavor. You can literally spend hours here, thanks to the eclectic and lively atmosphere. 

Before you leave, take another stroll along La Croisette – because why not? 

south france travel itinerary

Day 12 – Antibes

Antibes is a town that I simply can’t get enough of. Begin your day by taking a leisurely stroll through the vibrant Marché Provençal. Immerse yourself in the hustle and bustle of the market and delight your senses with the aroma of fresh herbs and spices wafting through the air. Sample a variety of delicious local cheeses (Pont l’Évêque is my favorite), meats, and fresh produce to energize you for the day ahead.

After all that cheesy goodness, make your way to the Musée Picasso, located in the stunning Château Grimaldi. This place is not only great for admiring the collection of works by the famed artist, but the medieval castle itself is just as impressive. If you want another great museum, I recommend the History & Archaeology Museum. What really sets this museum apart is the way it brings history to life through interactive exhibits and interesting multimedia displays. For those who are interested, you can even dress up in authentic ancient Roman attire and take part in various crafts to fully immerse yourself in the experience!

The afternoon is yours to enjoy! Take your pick of activities – go for a scenic hike in Cap d’Antibes, take a refreshing dip in the sea, or relax with a long apéro before a sunset dinner. Settle in for the night at this wonderful property – I loved this place so much!

south france travel itinerary

Day 13 – Nice

You have made it to Nice! If you want to skip the walking and explore Nice on your own schedule, I recommend a hop-on hop-off bus tour . You will see all the top sights, from Place Garibaldi to the Promenade des Anglais with expert guide explanations.

Lunch is simple: a Tuna Niçoise salad paired with a glass of white wine. For dessert, head to one of the most famous markets in Nice. The Cours Saleya Market sells everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to fine olive oils and freshly baked pastries. Once you’ve got your market fix, start walking towards the Colline du Chateau. From this site you will be able to take in some epic views of the city, as well as checking out the Foilles Archeologiques (an archaeological site) and an artificial waterfall. On your way down, don’t forget to snap a picture by the #ILoveNice Sign. 

For a relaxing pool stay in the center of Nice, I recommend Boscolo Hotel . This place feels so connected to nature, the service is amazing, and the breakfast is even better! 

south france travel itinerary

Day 14 – Menton

Your final stop is Menton, the last French city before we hit Italian territory. Menton may be the sleepy, pearl of the French Riviera but one thing is mandatory here: lemons, lemons, and more lemons! From limoncello to lemon tarts, this tasty citrus fruit is everywhere in Menton and you are going to love it. 

By now, you should be an expert in exploring these Provençal villages. Take a stroll through the old town as you experience all the colors (lemons, remember!), architecture and revel in Menton’s local history here. In particular, you should look out for the Basilique Saint-Michel, France’s grandest Baroque church built by the 17th century Italianate, and the cemetery for stunning views. Imagine terracotta roofs overlooking the deep blue hues of the French and Italian coastline. For me, what makes this place extra special is the special Mediterranean blend that comes from Menton’s close proximity to Spain and Italy. 

It is your last day so stock up on your market goods. By now you must have a few favorites, but in Menton I promise you will find new delights that have sneaked their way from Italy.

Finish your day at the beautiful Jardin Serre de la Madone, a botanical garden bursting with exotic plants and flowers from all over the world. Most importantly, take the time to immerse yourself in the divine natural tranquility. When it comes to dinner plans, I know you are technically in France, but Menton is so close to Italy it would be a shame not to make the most out of the Italian cuisine! Head over to Little Italy Restaurant for a wonderful final dinner in France. 

Full of character, charm, and of course, lemons, Menton is the perfect place to relax and get nostalgic as you say goodbye to the most amazing 2 weeks in the South of France. From here, you can continue to travel around Europe, or head back to Nice to fly back home.

Lauren Juliff

Lauren Juliff is a published author and travel expert who founded Never Ending Footsteps in 2011. She has spent over 12 years travelling the world, sharing in-depth advice from more than 100 countries across six continents. Lauren's travel advice has been featured in publications like the BBC, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and Cosmopolitan, and her work is read by 200,000 readers each month. Her travel memoir can be found in bookstores across the planet.

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The Mindful Traveller

The Mindful Traveller

Eco Travel Blog & Photography

South of France Road Trip: 1-Week Itinerary

27 October 2022 · In: France , Road Trip , Travel

provence france

What could be better than spending a road trip vacation through the South of France?

Here is a complete road trip guide to the South of France, including how to get around, when to visit and an incredible 1-week itinerary that ensures you see the best attractions and sights Provence and the French Riviera offer. From Nice to Marseille and Avignon, this travel guide is perfect for first-timers and will allow you to get to know the country and locals on a deeper level.

The South of France offers plenty of opportunities for an epic road trip . Through Provence and the French Riviera or the  Côte d’Azur , you will discover a part of France with its own culture, heritage and way of life. Venture into small picturesque villages, sample local wine on your journey and unwind at pristine beaches – a summer you will never forget.

Even though France is my homeland, I am constantly discovering something new. My trip to Provence was one of those moments when I felt like I was in another country! It is a unique and authentic region where time slows down, a place that will truly leave you speechless.  

In this article, I give you the tools you need to have a memorable experience in Southern France. Plus, do not forget to check out the sustainable tips at the end. Enjoy!

Disclosure : Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, we will receive a commission if you click through and make a purchase. For more information, read our full affiliate disclosure  here .

Saint-Tropez

Moustiers-sainte-marie & verdon gorge, overview: 1-week south of france itinerary.

  • Day 1: Nice
  • Day 2: Saint Paul de Vence, Grasse & Antibes
  • Day 3: Cannes, Port Grimaud & Saint-Tropez
  • Day 4: Hyères, Cassis & Marseille
  • Day 5: Aix-en-Provence, Arles & Avignon
  • Day 6: Lourmarin, Valensole & Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
  • Day 7: Nice

south of france road trip

free download

South of france itinerary.

Planning your road trip in France and not sure where to start?  Here is an outline of an epic 1-week itinerary in the South of France . Enjoy! 🇫🇷

free download

How to get around South of France

There are several ways to explore and get around the South of France. Here are some of your options:

  • Rent a car : one of the best ways to explore the South of France is by car. It will allow you to move freely and discover this unique region full of hidden treasures. I recommend using  Rentalcars.com  to search and compare which car is best for you. From affordable to luxury, they make it easy to choose and have a great selection of rental agents.  Eco-tips: try to rent the smallest vehicle possible, or go electric! 
  • Hop on public transport : if driving is not your thing or you would prefer to discover France from a different perspective, you can travel across the south of the country by public transport, with buses and trains. The area and major cities are well-connected to make things easier for you. And to reach remote places, look at the local buses.
  • Explore by bike : biking is an incredible way to discover the South of France. It will allow you to slow travel and immerse yourself in unique culture and scenery and is perfect for reaching secluded areas. You will find many great cycle paths in the region. Plus, you will do our planet a favour! 

south of france road trip

South of France road trip: map

Click on the top left of the map to display the list of stops and locations.

Detailed South of France 1-week itinerary

This South of France road trip is excellent for a 1-week vacation in Europe . From picturesque villages to lavender fields and pristine beaches, it offers a perfect taste of the unique French culture across the French Riviera and Provence.

On the other hand, this self-drive itinerary is only a guide with recommendations. You are more than welcome to spend more days in one area or add other stops on your way. France has a lot to offer: you will not run out of things to do and see!

Here is my suggestion for where to stop on a road trip across the South of France with an itinerary idea for 7 days.

READ MORE: 20+ Best Places to Visit in The South of France

south of france road trip

Day 1 – Welcome to Provence

Your adventure in the South of France begins with the bustling city of  Nice . 

With an international airport connecting most big cities, Nice is the perfect getaway to the French Riviera or the  Côte d’Azur  and an excellent starting point for your road trip.

Whether you like exploring, shopping, relaxing or sampling delicious food, Nice has it all. From world-class museums to gorgeous beaches and renowned restaurants, you will have no shortage of ideas for things to do and see. Plus, the buzzing city is an ideal place for families with children or couples on a romantic holiday. 

Things to do and see in Nice

  • Stroll along the Promenade Des Anglais
  • Explore by bike with Vélo Bleu
  • Wander the Old Town (Vieille Ville)
  • Visit the flower market (Marché aux Fleurs)
  • Relax at the Jardin Albert I 
  • Admire Square (Place) Massena
  • Enjoy the view from Castle Hill (La Colline Du Château)
  • Walk along the harbour
  • Go to the beach

In addition, if you have time, go for a venture around the city and stop at the hilltop village of  Èze , located 8.5 km northeast of Nice. Famous for its spectacular views and impressive architecture, this charming village dates back to the Middle Ages and hangs impressively to the mountainside above the Mediterranean Sea. 

Unforgettable experiences I recommend

Day 2 – a journey through senses, saint-paul de vence.

Nice – Saint-Paul de Vence: 40 minutes / 21 km

Here you go – your road trip in the South of France begins! 

Your first stop will be the hilltop village of  Saint-Paul de Vence , a hotspot for artists and art lovers since the 1920s. The town is easily accessible by car from Nice and is an ideal place to discover Provence, especially if it is your first time in the area. 

Saint-Paul de Vence is not favoured for its endless tourist attractions but is an attraction in itself. Wander through the village, take in the views and pass by charming galleries, shops, restaurants and art studios – let time slow down and enjoy a one-of-a-kind French experience. 

Things to do and see in Saint-Paul de Vence

  • Walk along the ramparts
  • Admire the views
  • Watch the locals play Pétanque
  • Stop at the cemetery
  • Visit the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs

Saint-Paul de Vence – Grasse: 40 minutes / 22 km

If you have time, stop at  Gourdon  (an impressive village perched on a cliff) on your way to Grasse.

Your road trip continues with the gorgeous town of  Grasse , well-known for its long-established perfume industry, with a heritage celebrated at the Musée International de la Parfumerie in the town centre.

Today, the town is still home to about 30 makers, including Fragonard, Molinard and Galimard, and a few offer guided tours of their factories, with the chance to sharpen your skills and develop your senses.

Enjoy the unique atmosphere of this small medieval town, get lost in its quaint streets and make your own perfume – there is a vast choice of things to do and see for a stopover in Grasse. 

Things to do and see in Grasse

  • Visit the Musée International de la Parfumerie
  • Tour the Fragonard factory
  • Learn & make your own perfume – book your tour
  • Get lost in the Old Town
  • See Notre Dame De Puy
  • Explore the Domaine de la Royrie
  • Admire Jean-Honoré Fragonard paintings

Grasse – Antibes: 35 minutes / 27 km

You will end your second day of touring the South of France with the seaside town of  Antibes , known for its old centre surrounded by 16th-century ramparts with the star-shaped Fort Carré. 

With a rich history and an active harbour, Antibes has a lot to offer and is a perfect way to end your day. The coastal town is a vibrant blend of quaint cobbled old streets and a beach resort that makes for one fascinating and well-earned stopover.

Things to do and see in Antibes

  • Wander the Old Town
  • Relax at the beach
  • Explore Fort Carré 
  • Hike up the Garoupe Lighthouse
  • Visit the Musée Picasso 

Day 3 – Glitz & Glam

Cannes .

Antibes – Cannes: 30 minutes / 12 km

It is glitter time! Your third day begins in the luxurious city of  Cannes , famous for its international film festival, golden beaches, exclusive boutiques and exquisite hotels. It is also home to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, a modern building with red carpet and Allée des Étoiles – the Walk of Fame.

A trip through the French Riviera would not be complete without visiting Cannes. Whether you decide on a short stopover or a day out, there is plenty to do and see in this resort town. Stroll through the old quarter of Le Suquet, enjoy the view from Notre-Dame d’Esperance church or treat yourself to a shopping spree on Rue d’Antibes. 

Things to do and see in Cannes

  • Stroll along La Croisette
  • Sample local produce at Forville Market
  • Shop on Rue d’Antibes
  • Visit the Vieux Port
  • Get lost in Le Suquet (Old Town)
  • Go sailing along the French Riviera
  • Enjoy the view from Notre-Dame d’Espérance

Port Grimaud

Cannes – Port Grimaud: 1 hour 20 minutes / 67 km

port grimaud

Nicknamed the Little Venice of Provence, the coastal town of  Port Grimaud , approved as a 20th Century Heritage site, is a place full of surprises and a fascinating stopover on your route across the South of France. Even though it is small in size, it is a great place to take a break and unwind. 

Stroll along the canal, enjoy a boat trip, savour an ice cream or admire the colourful facade; there are many reasons why you should visit this lovely town on your way to Saint-Tropez.

Things to do and see in Grimaud

  • Hire a boat and explore the canals
  • Relax at Grimaud Beach
  • Visit the Église Saint Michel
  • Shop at the local market
  • Go wine tasting at a nearby winery
  • Wander the old centre of the village Grimaud
  • Admire the view from Château de Grimaud

Port Grimaud – Saint-Tropez: 15 minutes / 8 km

Another unmissable stop on your journey in Provence: the sunny  Saint-Tropez . Long popular with artists, the town attracted the international rich and famous in the 1960s and remains renowned for its beaches, yacht community and nightlife.

From traditional markets to peaceful coastal paths and natural sites steeped in history, Saint-Tropez has plenty to offer visitors seeking local culture, heritage and architecture – with a touch of glamour. In addition, if you are looking for a relaxed night out, you will find plenty of restaurants and bars with a welcoming atmosphere.

Things to do and see in Saint-Tropez

  • Walk around the Old Port
  • Explore stunning beaches and coastal trails
  • Stroll through the Old Quarter of La Ponche
  • Go shopping for local gifts
  • Visit the Old Market Square (Place des Lices)
  • Enjoy panoramic views from the Old Citadel
  • Visit the Musée de l’Annonciade

Day 4 – From Islands to Epic Cliffs

This fourth day is quite busy with activities and experiences, as it includes the island of Porquerolles and the Calanques, so it is up to you to decide what you prefer to do or skip.

Hyères & Porquerolles

Saint-Tropez – Hyères: 1 hour / 51 km

On this fourth day of your road trip in the South of France, you will leave Saint-Tropez for the seaside town of  Hyères , with its hillside old town housing the remains of a medieval castle and centuries-old ramparts.

Things to do and see in Hyères

  • Hike the Sentier du Littoral
  • Visit the Old Town
  • Sunbathe at the beach

Hyères is a beautiful town to stop and stroll around, but also the perfect place to reach  Porquerolles , one of the Golden Islands, a group of isles with spotless beaches, coastal paths and underwater shipwrecks. 

The island of Porquerolles is only a short 10-minute boat ride from La Tour Fondue and offers many hidden treasures and exciting activities ideal for a day out with children. Moreover, the best way to discover this gorgeous island is to walk or cycle – you can rent your bike once on the island.

Things to do and see on Porquerolles

  • Explore the island by bike
  • Hike & immerse yourself in nature
  • Enjoy a picnic with a view
  • Visit the picturesque town
  • Swim in the turquoise water
  • Try yourself at water sports

Cassis & the Calanques

Hyères – Cassis: 57 minutes / 63 km

calanques

It is impossible not to mention  Cassis  and the Calanques for this road trip in Provence! Overlooked by a century-old castle, the town of Cassis is a historic fishing port known for its pebble beaches, vineyards and unmissable Calanques – narrow inlets framed by steep limestone cliffs part of a protected national park. 

Once in Cassis, enjoy a well-deserved break in its lovely harbour featuring pastel-colours buildings, local cafes and restaurants. And if nature is more your thing, venture along the Calanques trails for panoramic sea views.

Things to do and see in Cassis

  • Wander along the harbour
  • Take a boat trip
  • Hike the Calanques National Park
  • Admire the Château de Cassis (now a hotel)
  • Sample local wine & cuisine

To get to the  Calanques  from Cassis, you can walk directly from the village to Port Miou. Or you can drive to  Parking de la Presqu’îl e and start the hike from there.

Best Calanques near Cassis: 

  • Port d’En Vau

Marseille 

Cassis – Marseille: 40 minutes / 33 km

Your exciting day ends in  Marseille , a port city full of cultural sites, historical landmarks and fun attractions. Being one of the largest cities and the second in population size, you will not run out of ideas for things to do and see in this lively city.

Explore the peaceful Vieux Port, admire Notre Dame de la Garde or take a stroll through the Old Town – many activities to experience for an unforgettable evening in this unique provincial city. 

Things to do and see in Marseille

  • Explore the Vieux Port
  • Enjoy the view from Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica
  • Visit Marseille Cathedral (Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure)
  • Wander through the old district of Le Panier 
  • Visit Palais Longchamp
  • Take a boat to the Château d’If
  • Discover Fort Saint-Jean

Day 5 – Art, Culture & Heritage

Aix-en-provence.

Marseille – Aix-en-Provence: 40 minutes / 33 km

Not far from Marseille, you will find  Aix-en-Provence , known for its university and being the birthplace of post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne. The provincial city is the perfect stopover for culture lovers and art enthusiasts on a road trip in the South of France. 

Take the time to explore this city full of attractions and stunning architecture. Stroll through the peaceful streets, shop at local markets and attend art exhibitions – there are plenty of activities for everyone to experience the unique richness and heritage of the region. Even for a short break, Aix-en-Provence is a worthwhile detour on your route through Provence.

Things to do and see in Aix-en-Provence

  • Stroll around the historic city
  • Walk through Cours Mirabeau
  • Admire Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur
  • Visit the Atelier Cézanne
  • Explore the local markets
  • Wander in Musée Granet
  • Hike up Sainte-Victoire

Arles & Camargue

Aix-en-Provence – Arles: 1 hour 10 minutes / 81 km

You continue your journey with a city that needs to be on your bucket list: the provincial capital of ancient Rome,  Arles , famous for housing many ruins and remains of this time, including Arles Amphitheatre, which now hosts plays and concerts.

With a wealth of cultural attractions, the city is another perfect detour for art lovers, as it offers an excellent insight into the Roman heritage and boasts wonderfully preserved ruins. Moreover, between 1888 and 1889, Arles was a place of inspiration for the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh, masterpieces you can visit throughout the city.

Things to do and see in Arles

  • Admire the Arles Amphitheatre
  • Tour the Ancient Roman Theatre
  • Explore the Vincent Van Gogh Foundation
  • Walk through Place de la République
  • Visit Église St-Trophime
  • Wander Place du Forum
  • Get inspired at L’espace Van Gogh

And if you love nature and wildlife, discover the  Camargue National Park , a sublime marshy region located south of Arles, populated by black bulls, white horses, cowboys, pink flamingos and migratory birds.

Things to do and see in Camargue

  • Ride a white horse 
  • Spot the pink flamingos
  • Discover the Musée de la Camargue
  • Walk along the walls of a Crusader Town
  • Visit a working ranch
  • Explore a salt pan

Arles – Avignon: 50 minutes / 39 km

Your fifth day in the South of France ends with  Avignon , home of the Catholic popes from 1309 to 1377. Located on the banks of the Rhône and surrounded by medieval stone ramparts, the city is full of cultural riches awaiting exploration. 

Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway or a place to have fun with the kids, Avignon has something for everyone. It is a great city to get lost and wander through beautiful quaint streets, famous bridges and market squares. 

Things to do and see in Avignon

  • Walk on the Pont Saint-Bénézet
  • Visit the Palais des Papes
  • Wander along the ramparts
  • Enjoy artworks in one of its museums
  • Stroll down Rue des Teinturiers
  • Take a boat trip on the Rhône
  • Visit Avignon Cathedral

Day 6 – The Most Idyllic Provence

Avignon – Lourmarin: 1 hour / 70 km

Another day on the road! East of Avignon, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France,  Lourmarin  finds home in the middle of vineyards, olive groves and almond trees. With quaint cobbled streets, lovely terrace cafes and a Renaissance-style castle, it is a perfect provincial village with a relaxed atmosphere. 

Therefore, you will not regret a stopover in beautiful Lourmarin: charming and captivating, it offers a well-deserved break for solo travellers, couples or families with children on a road trip across Southern France.

Things to do and see in Lourmarin

  • Visit the Lourmarin Château
  • Explore art galleries and shops
  • Enjoy the vibrant Lourmarin market
  • Sample local wine

Lourmarin – Valensole: 1 hour / 76 km

Set on a hill overlooking a lavender field,  Valensole  is a scenic medieval town on the northern edge of the Verdon Regional Nature Park and a must-see on a South of France road trip – a paradise for photographers and nature lovers.

Take a stroll through its historic centre with old colourful houses, allow yourself a peaceful pause in one of its gardens, admire the beauty of the lavender fields or relax at the terrace of a friendly café – the choice is yours! There are plenty of activities and attractions to experience on a short stay in Valensole.

Things to do and see in Valensole

  • Get lost in its quiet streets
  • Walk up Boulevard Frederic Mistra
  • Visit a lavender field 
  • Tour a Valensole Lavender Distillery

Valensole – Moustiers-Sainte-Marie: 35 minutes / 32 km

Continuing east, your final stop of the day will be  Moustiers-Sainte-Marie , a Provencal village set dramatically below two cliffs in the Verdon Natural Regional Park. Perched 100m high limestone ridges, the preserved medieval town offers an impressive and idyllic setting you will not encounter anywhere else.

Although Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is small, there are plenty of things to do and see for all ages. Take advantage of this well-deserved break and immerse yourself in the fascinating atmosphere of this one-of-a-kind village. Wander around the town, explore independent shops and visit the church – and do not forget to capture the moment! 

Things to do and see in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

  • Wander around the town
  • Visit the Musée de la Faïence
  • Admire Notre Dame de l’Assomption Church
  • Eat lavender ice cream
  • Climb up to Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir

verdon gorge

And if you prefer to spend time outdoors and in nature, check out the  Verdon Gorge , a stunning river canyon and a must-see natural wonder not far from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Whilst there is no road along the gorge, there is a breathtaking circular route around the edge and plenty of boat and kayak rental opportunities on the lower end.

Things to do and see in the Verdon Gorge

  • Enjoy the view from Galetas Bridge
  • Explore and go hiking 
  • Paddleboard or kayak the gorge

Day 7 – Finale Day

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie – Nice: 2 hours 35 minutes / 147 km

Finale day on the French road of Provence and back to  Nice . The journey can be long, so do not hesitate to stop and take a few detours on your way.

Once in Nice, take advantage of this last day to relax, enjoy the beach or go shopping. And if you have time or did not have the chance on day one, visit  Èze  or  Menton .

I hope you enjoyed this road trip across the South of France! 

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Best time to visit the South of France

The best time for a road trip in the South of France is from May to June and from September to October.

Spring and autumn are two beautiful seasons as the roads and towns are less busy, the temperatures are pleasant, and the colours are gorgeous.

Summer is also an excellent period to visit the South of France. However, the temperatures can get extremely high during that season, and the region will be busy, leading to higher prices. 

Keep in mind that Provence and the French Riviera enjoy the sunniest climate in France, with over 300 days of sunshine a year, so do not worry too much. The season you choose will mainly depend on the activity you want to do and what you want to experience.

south of france road trip

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Sustainable travel in Southern France

Are you looking forward to your road trip through Southern France? I understand! Road trips are a fantastic way of travelling as they allow us to move freely and discover so many incredible places at our own pace. However, they can also have negative environmental impacts. That is why considering our carbon footprint and adopting eco-responsible habits is essential.

Here are some simple tips for creating an unforgettable adventure in the South of France with less impact. 

PREPARE YOUR ROUTE

I know getting lost on a road trip can feel fun and exciting. But when trying to minimise your footprint, it is best to plan your route to avoid unnecessary travel. In addition, the shorter the distance you travel, the less fuel you will use and the less harmful emissions you will produce. Tip: Get offline maps to stay on track even if you lose signal. 

PLAN YOUR MEALS

Another great way to reduce your impact on the road is to plan your meals. Throughout your journey, try to find local restaurants or eco-friendly facilities. You can try the local cuisine or wander through local markets and buy fresh produce. 

MAKE YOUR TRIP PLASTIC-FREE

As you might know, plastic packaging is a significant environmental issue and causes concerns for wildlife and the preservation of natural landscapes. Therefore, avoid plastic as much as possible and bring reusable items instead. Choose eco-friendly alternatives , like reusable tote bags, cutlery, plates, etc. Tip: you can also buy  filtered water bottles  to refill your water anywhere. 

CHECK YOUR CAR

Make sure your vehicle is in the best possible condition for the road: check the engine, oil level and tyre pressure before your trip. In addition, use the available features in your car, like cruise control, to help you maintain your speed and reduce excess emissions. And even better, drive an electric vehicle if possible! (Or a bike for the most courageous).

LEAVE NO TRACE

Aim to leave a place better than you found it. For example, dispose of your litter appropriately and pick up any trash you encounter. Be respectful of the land and do not drive over protected areas. And finally, stay on the marked trails when hiking, as going off can be dangerous for flora and fauna. 

RESPECT WILDLIFE

Be mindful of your surroundings and adopt a responsible attitude towards wildlife, on land and in the sea. Do not come close to, feed or touch animals and corals. Remember that you are only a guest in their home.

USE REEF-SAFE SUNSCREEN

Protecting your skin from the sun during the hottest hours of the day is non-negotiable, especially during outdoor activities. But be careful about the cream you choose. Zero-waste and reef-safe sunscreens are an excellent alternative to chemical creams and are incredibly beneficial for many reasons: they protect the environment by reducing plastic waste and preserve your health by eliminating harmful components.

For more ideas of eco-friendly habits at the beach and near the coast, check out this article:  Sustainable Beach Guide: 10 Easy Eco-Tips .

Want more inspiration?

  • Sustainable Travel Guide: What, Why & How
  • Best Travel Apps for Exploring Sustainably
  • 15 Travel Books to Inspire Your Next Eco-Adventure
  • Best Sustainable Backpacks for Travel & Hiking

Download your  FREE sustainable travel checklist  ↓

sustainable travel checklist

France travel planning guide

🚑 Should I buy travel insurance to travel to France? Yes, buying insurance is always valuable when travelling abroad. Enjoy your road trip across the South of France stress-free with one of my favourite providers,  Nomad Insurance .

💧 Can you drink the water in France? Yes, tap water is safe to drink all over France. However, I also recommend travelling with the  UltraPress Purifier Bottle , a lightweight filtered water bottle perfect for reducing plastic and staying hydrated.

🚗 Is it easy to rent a car in France? Yes, renting a car in France is easy and is a great way to explore the country freely. I recommend booking yours with  Rentalcars.com  – they offer a variety of operators for all budgets.

🏨 H ow to book accommodation in France? The best way to book your accommodation in France is with  Booking.com  – my favourite platform to compare and reserve places to stay each night, from affordable hotels to luxury resorts with sea views.

✈️ What is the best site to buy a flight to France? I recommend booking your plane with  Skyscanner . It has been my favourite platform for years, as it allows me to book the cheapest flights whilst lowering my carbon emissions.

South of France road trip – FAQ

Yes, it is easy to drive in the South of France. However, keep a GPS and map nearby. Most roads are in good condition but drive carefully in remote places. And please, do not go fast!

I recommend spending at least seven days or more in the South of France, as there is so much to do and see. A week will allow you to discover the region and its hidden natural treasures whilst taking the time to relax and enjoy the sunny French weather.

The best time to visit the South of France is from May to June and from September to October. Spring and autumn are two lovely seasons as the roads and towns are less busy, the temperatures are pleasant, and the colours are gorgeous.

south of france road trip

And you, have you ever experienced a road trip in the South of France? Let me know in the comments below!

With love ♡ Lucie

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  • South of France Itinerary – The Best Southern France Road Trip

Southern France Itinerary Nice

Southern France is a dream. From the rolling lavender fields of Provence, up to the snowy peaks of the French Alps , and down to the pristine blue waters of the Riviera, the South of France is packed with beauty and charm. While living in Paris, I was lucky enough to explore the area on a Southern France road trip, and now, I want to share it with you. This is the perfect 10 day South of France itinerary, complete with amazing day trips and one-of-a-kind experiences you can only have in France .

Check out my guide visiting France for the first time, which includes information about customs, travel, and more, that will be very helpful when following this Southern France itinerary!

Southern France road trip Eze

10 Day South of France Itinerary Overview

My Southern France itinerary is 10 days long, and it focuses on three main cities- Nice, Avignon, and Annecy. At each of these stops, you’ll find unique experiences that give you a taste of the region. Soak up the sun on the beach in Nice, and enjoy the luxe life with day trips to world-famous Cannes and nearby Monaco. Experience the Provencal countryside on day trips while using Avignon, a historically significant city, as your home base for a few days. Finally, explore the winding streets of Annecy’s quaint old town amidst the backdrop of the French Alps. I fell in love with every village, town, and city we visited on this trip, and I’m sure you will too.

Southern France Road Trip Tips

This itinerary is best experienced as a road trip during the summer. Having a car makes the day trips, especially those throughout the countryside, much easier and more efficient as you can come and go as you please. When my family and I took this trip, we flew in and out of Paris, bookending this trip with a few days in the French capital for a perfect 2-week vacation. We took the train from Paris to Nice and picked up our rental car there, driving from city to city until we went back to Paris. If you don’t want to drive, you can still follow this itinerary, for the most part, using public transportation. However, some of the day trips, like the trip to Les Baux-de-Provence, would be near impossible unless you found a private driver or tour to join.

Southern France Road Trip Itinerary

Southern France Road trip Nice

Days 1-4: Nice, France

Day One: Arrive in Nice

Our train arrived in Nice in the afternoon, so we immediately started our Southern France road trip and picked up our rental car before heading to the hotel. After that, we spent the afternoon wandering along the famous beachfront Promenade des Anglais and exploring the winding streets of the old town, called Vieux Nice . While the promenade is lined with big, beautiful hotels, the old town is full of brightly colored, rustic homes that look like they’ve been there for hundreds of years. Make sure to try some classic southern French cuisin e for dinner!

Day Two: Art and Sun

In the morning of our second day in Nice, we visited the Chapelle du Rosaire , a church designed by famous artist Henri Matisse. The church is located in nearby Vence, and although it appears unassuming from the outside, the inside features art and stained glass windows by the expressionist artist. After that, we headed to one of Nice’s many private beaches for lunch and sunbathing. Nice has a few public beaches, but there are also private beaches where you can rent a chair and get food and drinks delivered to you. Visiting the beach in Nice is a must-do if you’re visiting the Riviera in the summer.

Day Three: Day Trip to Eze and Monaco

On the third day of our Southern France road trip, we visited Eze , a hilltop village located less than a 30-minute drive from Nice. We spent some time wandering the old, cobbled streets of the city before heading to the Jardin Exotique , a garden located at the very top of the village. Through the cacti and succulents, you can find stunning views of the beautiful Mediterranean Sea and nearby towns. After that, we grabbed a quick lunch in Eze before heading to Monaco , located just 20 minutes from Eze.

The Grand Prix course was still up when we visited Monaco, so we spent time checking that out before also visiting the famous Monte Carlo Casino and window shopping at all the nearby designer stores. That evening, we headed back to Nice for dinner and a sunset walk down the Promenade.

Day Four: Day Trip to Cannes

For our final full day in Nice, we took a day trip to Cannes , a city famous for its international film festival! We visited the famous spot where the stars walk the red carpet for the event and then wandered through the city, taking a break to enjoy a few pastries and coffee. In the afternoon, we headed back to Nice, and we visited the Florian Candy Factory , where we found regional sweets like candied clementines.

Southern France Itinerary Avignon

Days 5-6: Avignon, France

Day Five: Arrive in Avignon

We left Nice in the morning of the fifth day of our trip and headed to Avignon, located about a 3-hour drive away. After arriving in Avignon, we explored the old, walled city. Avignon was home to the papacy during the 1300s, so there are several historically significant structures to visit, including the Papal Palace and the Pont d’Avignon,  a 12th-century bridge with remains still standing today. We took a tram ride through the walled city to get a better feel for the town before grabbing dinner in one of the main squares. There’s so much Roman and medieval history in Avignon, so I’d recommend taking a tour if you want to learn more.

Day Six: Day trip to Les Baux and Pont du Gard

Day six was the most surprising day of our Southern France road trip. We considered visiting the Roman ruins in nearby Nimes, but our hotel concierge recommended that we visit Les Baux de Provence during the day and Pont du Gard in the evening. We started our day by driving to Les Baux, a hilltop village dating back hundreds of years in the Provencal countryside. Throughout the village, you can find cute shops and cafes alongside medieval ruins. My favorite attraction in Les Baux isn’t its adorable old town- it’s the immersive art display located below inside of an old quarry. The Carrières de Lumières is a multimedia art show that projects famous works of art set to music on the huge walls of the quarry. Check out my full guide to Les Baux for more information about this amazing art experience.

That evening, we went to Pont du Gard, an ancient Roman aqueduct and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site itself is impressive to behold as it towers over the river today after being built thousands of years ago. Near the aqueduct, you can also find archeological cave sites that show humans lived in this area tens of thousands of years ago. In addition to these historical sites, the Pont du Gard is also home to the Féeries du Pont,  an incredible nighttime show projected on the Pont du Gard. This show combines projections, pyrotechnics, and live actors and acrobats to create a truly incredible show on the ancient structure. This show and the Carrières de Lumières   made day six my favorite day of this Southern France itinerary. Unfortunately, this show only occurs a few times during the summer, so check out the website to see if you’ll be able to experience it!

Southern France Itinerary Chamonix

Days 7-10: Annecy, France

Day Seven: Arrive in Annecy

After exploring Avignon, we were excited to head to Annecy, a beautiful town in the French Alps. It takes about three hours to get to Annecy from Avignon by car. After getting to Annecy, we spent some time wandering around Lake Annecy , a stunning blue lake surrounded by mountains. After enjoying the sunset over the lake, we ate dinner at a classic fondue restaurant in the Old Town and wandered through its cobbled streets after dinner. Check out my full list of things to do in Annecy for more trip inspiration!

Day Eight: Day Trip to Chamonix

We woke up early on day eight to get to Chamonix, a skiing town near the Italian border that was about an hour away by car. Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is famous for its winter sports and for having the tallest mountain peak in Europe, Mont Blanc. In Chamonix, you can visit the Mer de Glace , a giant glacier, or take a gondola up to the Aiguille du Midi. Once you’ve taken the gondola up the mountain, you can see amazing views of the Alps, and you can even stand in a glass box thousands of meters in the air! If you’re sensitive to major changes in altitude, you might get a little lightheaded and dizzy, so take a break in the cafe to relax if you need to! I’ve written a full guide to Chamonix , so check it out if you want more information to plan your trip!

Day Nine: Day Trip to Geneva

As if this Southern France itinerary wasn’t full of day trips, here’s one last stop! On the final full day of our Southern France road trip, we drove to Geneva for lunch! We walked along Lake Geneva , through the main streets of the old town, and then grabbed a quick lunch before heading back to Annecy. When we got back to Annecy, we rented a boat and cruised around the lake for a while before enjoying one last dinner in the charming town.

Day Ten: Back to Paris

Enjoy one last breakfast before your Southern France road trip finally comes to an end. We drove back to Paris and spent a few more days there before flying home.

Southern France Itinerary Annecy

South of France Itinerary: Experience the Best of France

My trip through Southern France was absolutely incredible, and if you follow this itinerary, I’m sure you’ll fall in love with the region just like I did. There’s so much to see, from the ancient Pont du Gard to the iconic beaches of the French Riviera. As I noted before, this South of France itinerary works best as a road trip, but most of the destinations are reachable using public transportation. Are you ready for your Southern France road trip?

southern france itinerary

3 thoughts on “ South of France Itinerary – The Best Southern France Road Trip ”

This sounds amazing!

Great 10 day itinerary! You could easily spend more time on just the Cote d’Azur, there’s so much to see and do throughout the year. Of course, as it’s my home turf, I am biased.

I would have loved to spend more time in Southern France! Great tips and itinerary!

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Ultimate French Riviera Itinerary in 5 Days

Some posts on this site contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission (at no additional cost to you!). Read the full disclosure policy here .

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Is there anything better than a French Riviera itinerary in 5 days? With its beautiful beaches, colorful villages, and sunny weather, the south of France certainly does have a unique charm that brings in many visitors every year.

And while we all wish we could spend a long time on a French Riviera road trip, sometimes, 5 days in Provence is all you have. 

However, there is a way to condense the best French Riviera itinerary into just 5 days and have the chance to visit stunning beaches, explore fun cities, and eat delicious food. 

I’m here to show you how below! 

Festival du Plage in Cannes

Summary of the Ultimate French Riviera Itinerary in 5 Days

For a quick glance at the south of France itinerary in 5 days, I have a list below of where you’ll be each day. To find out how to plan your perfect trip, keep reading. 

  • Day 1: Cassis
  • Day 2: Cannes 

Day 3: Antibes

  • Day 4: Nice
  • Day 5: Choose a Day Trip From Nice

French Riviera Road Trip Map

Best French Riviera Itinerary in 5 Days

Harbor in Cassis France

To get the best of the French Riviera let’s dive into the perfect itinerary! 

Day 1: Get to Cassis and Explore

Cap Canaille views from the beach in Cassis

For the first day of your French Riviera road trip, you’ll be arriving in Cassis . Now, there are a few ways to get here. The best option is to fly into Nice or Marseille and pick up a rental car . 

As you’ll be ending the trip in Nice, it is a good idea to perhaps fly round-trip into Nice and then get a car at the airport. Then, at the end of your trip, you can return the car before you fly home. 

The drive from Nice to Cassis is about 2 hours depending on traffic, but once you get to Cassis, hopefully before lunch, you can explore this truly lovely smaller city. 

This is the furthest destination in your Cote d’Azur road trip, and, while most itineraries will have you staying between Saint Tropez or Cannes and Menton, I fell head over heels for this less touristy town of Cassis. 

Also, as a side note, Cassis is a great place to visit to go to Calanques National Park . It is easy to just pay for a ticket at the Cassis Port and hop on a boat to see the lovely Calanques. 

Calanques National Park in Cassis - Things to do in Cassis

Calanques are limestone cliffs with a deep valley below that makes a cove merging with the sea. And from the Cassis Port, you can choose how many you want to see and go via boat tour. You can also hike along the Calanques from Cassis, as well as kayak. 

It is a great opportunity to see this lovely geographical feature in the south of France. So after lunch, be sure to check out Calanques National Park . 

Aside from the Calanques, the port itself is absolutely stunning, as is the old town . If you happen to be here on a Wednesday or Friday morning, you can partake in the lovely farmers market. And you cannot leave Cassis without admiring the highest sea cliff in France, Cap Canielle . 

Then, to wrap up a day of exploring Cassis , you’ll want to enjoy its lovely beaches like Plage du Bestouan or Plage du Corton for time sunbathing or watching the sun go down. 

plage du Bestouan

Where to Stay in Cassis:

Budget: This VRBO apartment is lovely!

Mid-Range: Hotel Les Volets Rouges – Cassis

Luxury: Chateau de Cassis

Day 2: Visit Cannes

Musee de la Castre in Cannes

After a lovely day and overnight in Cassis, it is time to drive closer to the other places you’ll be visiting on your trip. 

On day 2, you’ll be heading to Cannes . This city is full of luxury shopping and lush beaches, but there is more than meets the eye here. So arrive in Cannes and get exploring! 

First up, you’ll want to walk along the Croisette Promenade to take in the Mediterranean views and witness all the luxury shops across the street. If you have the money, by all means, go shopping, but if not, window shopping is a lot of fun too. 

Beach in Cannes

After wandering around the Croissette Promenade, it is actually a great idea to enjoy some of the beaches of the Cote d’Azur. And what better way to do that than at a beach club, especially on a beach with soft, powdery sand?

Book a lounger at La Plage du Festival and enjoy cocktails beachside in your chair. Get a scrumptious lunch and a few Aperol Spritzes or glasses of Rose as you relax, frolic, and swim the afternoon away. 

Aperol Spritz in Cannes

In the summertime, beach chairs do cost about €40-50+ per day to rent, but if you show up in the fall, those prices actually drop to €25+. 

After your beachy afternoon, it is time to get ready for the evening. Once you’re ready, it is time to head over to the Église Notre-Dame d’Espérance on top of the hill, where you’ll be met with stunning views over the city and sea. 

Catch a sunset here before going to get cocktails at a fun place in the Suquet neighborhood like Le Jardin Secret . Then, grab dinner at Restaurant Mickaella for great seafood before ending your night in Cannes. 

Jardin Secret in Cannes

Where to Stay in Cannes: 

Budget:  Novotel Suites Cannes Centre

Mid-Range: Hotel de Provence

Luxury: Hotel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes

Ramparts in Antibes

On day 3, you only have a short, 25-minute drive to Antibes, another lovely Cote d’Azur town. Once you get to Antibes, you should wander around the Old City for a bit. Full of lovely cobblestone streets and ramparts, Antibes has quite the charm. 

Be sure to stop by the Marché Provençal for fresh fruits and veggies, and perhaps admire the art at the Picasso Museum . 

Street in Antibes

Then, a visit to Fort Carre is a must to see a 16th-century fortress that was meant to protect Antibes. 

Lastly, you’ll want to visit the incredible beaches of Antibes . A few beaches to check out include Plage du Gravette , Plage du Ponteil , Plage de la Salis , or even nearby Plage de Jean les Pins . 

Beach in Antibes - French Riviera Itinerary in 5 Days

Where to Stay in Antibes: 

Budget: Irin Hotel

Mid-Range: Hotel le Ponteil

Luxury: Hotel du Cap Eden Rock

Day 4 of Your Ultimate French Riviera Road Trip: Nice

South of France Itinerary - Nice

On day 4, it is time to drive to Nice! Nice is only about a 30-minute drive from Antibes, so head over to the French Riviera’s most popular city and explore. 

This city has so much to see and do, but you’re really only going to spend 1 day in Nice . Start by strolling along the Promenade des Anglais along the Mediterranean coast for lovely views before continuing on to Cours Saleya Market . 

Socca at a market in NIce

This market sells delightful produce as well as local lavender products, soap, etc. Be sure to grab a socca here. That is a chickpea flour pancake made with olive oil, chickpea flour, and water. It is then topped with salt and is a perfectly delightful mid-morning snack.

After your stop at the Cours Saleya Market, be sure to trek up to the top of the Colline du Château . This offers some of the best views of the city and the sea. Also at the top are archeological ruins, a waterfall, a park, and views over the port. 

Views of the harbor in Nice from the Chateau - Provence Itinerary

If you have the extra time, be sure to check out some art museums like the Musee Matisse , Marc Chagall National Museum , or the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Nice .

Obviously, you can’t see them all in a day, but pick one and enjoy. Also, Place Massena is a lovely area with the Fontaine du Soleil ,  Promenade du Paillon , and Jardin Albert 1er .

Then, of course, to wrap up a day in Nice, you’ve got to watch the sun go down from the beach . 

Beach chairs and umbrellas on the beach in Nice

Where to Stay in Nice: 

Budget: Arome Hotel

Mid-Range: Hotel Palais Saleya

Luxury: Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée

Day 5: Day Trip From Nice

Views from Roussillon - South of France Itinerary

The day trips from Nice are seemingly endless, so this is a great day to pick a place to explore nearby to get a better feel of the French Riviera. 

If you want a lovely beach destination to wrap up your French Riviera itinerary, I suggest visiting Villefranche-sur-Mer . Less crowded than Nice’s beaches, you can even find a bit of sand here. 

For a stunning, sun-drenched town built into the hillside of the Mediterranean, then Eze is endlessly adorable. 

And if you want to get super close to the Italian border and love a colorful, vibrant town, then Menton is your perfect getaway. 

For those who want to check off another country, or love gambling, then you’ll definitely want to head into Monaco for the day.

And lastly, if you want to explore more of Provence outside of the beaches, then you can take a day to explore the lavender villages of the Luberon . 

The possibilities are endless. And if you want to just stay put, Nice is a fun place for relaxation on the beach as well. 

When to Visit the French Riviera

Cassis Harbor

Most people love to visit the French Riviera during prime summertime, or June through August/early September. This is because this is the perfect time for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying the weather. 

But, the French Riviera is lovely year-round! I mean sure, you can’t go for a swim in January, but the temperatures, while cool, are not freezing. 

If you would like to visit without a ton of crowds and enjoy the beach, I suggest mid-September through mid-October, as the weather is generally warm enough for a swim and the summertime crowds have begun dispersing. 

Also, early June is a good time to visit too before the hoards of summer travelers come in. 

Tips For Your French Riviera 5 Day Itinerary

Nougat at the market in Nice

Before your epic French Riviera road trip, here are a few key things to note:

  • Learn a little French. I’m not saying be fluent (I’m still learning too!), but know a few words/phrases like how to order at a restaurant and ask where the toilets are.
  • Always say “Bonjour/Bonsoir.” This is a France travel thing in general. It is important to greet people in shops and cafes with a simple “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” depending on the time of day. I typically start saying “Bonsoir” after 5 pm.
  • Take it slow. There is no need to rush around when you’re exploring the French Riviera. They take it slow there, and so should you. You’re on vacation after all! 
  • Know the rules of the road. I find this website to be helpful when it comes to driving tips and French road signs . Also, it is a good idea to get an International Driver’s Permit before you go. I get mine at AAA.
  • Be sure to budget for tolls and parking. If you’re renting a car, you’ll need to budget for tolls and parking, as you’ll likely encounter the need to pay for both during your road trip. 
  • Book ahead of time. Book everything ahead of time, especially if you plan to travel during the peak tourist season in the summer. Hotels and rental cars go quickly then.
  • Have fun! The French Riviera is a lovely place to spend 5 days, so enjoy each and every destination you get to visit! 

This is how to see the French Riviera in 5 days from Cassis to Nice and in between! Which stop would you most like to visit? 

Want more French travel ideas? Check out these posts!

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I am about to check this out from my bucket list in 2 weeks, I am super excited thanks for the article

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