The south of France features prominently in many people’s daydreams
of heaven on earth, and deservedly so. Those who haven’t yet seen this perfection dream of going, and those who have can’t wait to go back. If you’re thinking of finally checking out what all the fuss is about, here are some unique places that should make it onto your South of France holiday itinerary!
Enjoying this little séjour in the South of France? Check out our entire France canon!
The stunning capital of the Alpes-Maritimes region, Nice is one of the crown jewels of the French Riviera, with its year-round sunny weather juxtaposed against the glaringly blue Mediterranean. It is no wonder that, with its old-world charm and glamour, it’s still one of Europe’s most popular and prestigious holiday destinations. Today, Nice is an intoxicating mix of the old and the new. In the 19th century, Nice was the place to be for the British aristocracy, and the opulence from those days is still visible at every step, but the city has grown and modernized as well. Home to over 300 000 people, in the summer months, it swells with tourists from all across the globe. They all come in search of that perfect Mediterranean experience: gorgeous pebbly beaches, delicious food and wine, stylish shops, evocative architecture and the feel of French sophistication.
The Elegant Avignon
The breathtaking, dazzlingly white city on the river Rhône was once the seat of immense power. In the 14th century, seven Popes lived in the Palais des Papes, the Papal Residency, which is today one of the town’s most important places to visit. Nowadays, the city is thriving with culture. Every summer, around 100 000 people flock to the Avignon theater festival, one of the pre-eminent performance festivals in the world.
This medieval fortress town in the Languedoc/Occitanie region is one of France’s biggest cultural treasures and has been on UNESCO’s World Heritage list for the past two decades. The town has existed since ancient times but was particularly important under Roman rule and later in the Visigothic period. Today, it is a mysterious and charming town, with the old fortress as a focal point and the main draw for tourists. Visitors to Carcassonne often use the chance to explore the beautiful region by barge. The elegant Enchante leaves from Carcassonne and cruises along Canal du Midi.
Once the favourite holiday destination of the wife of Napoleon III, the Empress of France, Biarritz boasts some wonderful examples of authentic 19th-century architecture, such as the famous Hôtel du Palais and Casino Barrière. Its golden sandy beach is still a wonderful place for a seaside vacation, but its biggest attraction is to see where the crème de la crème of Europe like to spend their money. Lately, it has also been popular with surfers, if that’s more your scene.
If the name instantly reminds you of delicious wine, you are not mistaken. Bordeaux is France’s largest wine-growing region, and the eponymous city hosts the most important wine fair in the world – the Vinexpo. Bordeaux is on the UNESCO World Heritage list for its outstanding 18th-century architecture. After Paris, Bordeaux boasts the largest number of historical buildings in France. All in all, it offers an amazingly immersive experience.
Gordes is a typical medieval French town that is nestled high atop the Luberon mountains. To preserve the town’s beauty, even new buildings must be built in the same style, from stone and terracotta. Strolling around the cobbled streets and exploring its Renaissance castle will feel like you were transported back in time.
It is difficult to choose just a few destinations in the gorgeous landscapes of the South of France. The dazzling Riviera, colourful Provence, picturesque Languedoc and others are all worth a visit or ten.
World Traveler, Writer, and Blogger, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the followsummer.com travel blog. Come, travel the world with me and my experiential eye!