15 Fun & Best Things To Do In South of France

15 Fun & Best Things To Do In South of France

There are many the reason why France is consistently jostling for the title of the primary vacation vacation spot on the planet. Most guests are drawn to the elegant structure and iconic landmarks of Paris, others need to see the châteaux of the Loire Valley or the attractive cities of Alsace, and a few simply come for the meals. In my opinion, the actual gems are present in southern France.

The countryside’s pure magnificence, the Mediterranean shoreline and its sandy seashores, and the luxurious motels and scrumptious meals of the south of France solely start to explain its attract. There are charming outdated cities, medieval villages, hanging mountains, dreamy seashores, and storied histories on this a part of the nation.

I’ve lived on the French Riviera for fairly some years now, and I like luring buddies who suppose they need to spend their complete journey in Paris to our picturesque shores. Therefore, I’m happy to share my tackle what to do within the south of France and the right way to have a tremendous journey in probably the most stunning areas of the nation.

While “southern France” might embody areas so far as the French-Spanish border, southwest France has a definite id. So, we’ll keep on with the French Riviera and Provence beneath, saving the Pyrenees and most of Occitanie for one more day. Read on to see why you want extra time in these locations than anyplace else in France!


  • Most important landmark – The Mediterranean Coastline
  • Best park – Verdon Natural Regional Park, dwelling to the Gorges du Verdon
  • Best free exercise – The Promenade des Anglais & its Beach
  • Best exercise for youths – Monaco Museum of Oceanography
  • Best exercise for adults – Drinks & Dining in St. Tropez
  • Best meals – Le Plongeoir in Nice
  • Best nightlife – Waka Bar in Nice
  • Best all-around lodgingLe Méridien Nice

Best & Fun Things to do within the South of France

As you’ll see, a lot of the issues I listing beneath are cities and villages (and, in Monaco’s case, a rustic) – every one is a vacation spot itself with many issues to do there. I do my greatest to share one of the best issues to do in every, in addition to how a lot time to spend there. Most may be visited in a day, and don’t be shocked if you wish to hit all of them!

1. Nice

Promenade des Anglais Scenery and Skyline - exploring the coast is one of the best things to do in south of France

Woodrow Matthews / ThroughTravelers

We’ll begin with the biggest city on the Côte d’Azur and the place you’ll in all probability be arriving: Nice, dwelling to a significant worldwide airport and railway station with connections throughout Europe. This seaside metropolis is steeped in historical past, culinary delights, and incredible views.

Its most well-known landmark is the Promenade des Anglais, the road and walkway that strains the Mediterranean. Don’t miss the chance to stroll or bike it, particularly to the japanese finish, the place the well-known “I Love Nice” signal sits on the prime of a panoramic hill. The seaside right here is made up of pebbles and small rocks, typical of the French Riviera, and extremely popular for sunbathing and swimming in good climate.

On the opposite facet of the promenade is the outdated city, made up of slim cobblestone streets and charming outdated buildings. Its japanese finish stops at Castle Hill, or the Colline du Château, which is a historic park with much more nice views of the outdated city and promenade on the prime. The outdated city and Castle Hill are nice for guided walking tours to essentially perceive the historical past and id of this vital metropolis.

Other enjoyable issues to do in Nice embrace the Matisse Museum, the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, the flower market on the Cours Saleya, and nightlife at locations just like the Waka Bar. The greatest restaurant in Nice, and presumably on the entire riviera, is Le Plongeoir for its sea views, high-end environment, and wonderful meals. For lodging, my favourite resort is the Le Méridien Nice – it has ocean and outdated city views, a terrific rooftop restaurant, and opulent rooms.

See Related: A 2 Days in Nice, France Itinerary You’ll Want to Copy

2. Saint Paul de Vence

An old street in the medieval village of Saint Paul de Vence
Woodrow Matthews / ThroughTravelers

One of probably the most popular provencal villages to go to on the French Riviera is the medieval city of Saint Paul de Vence. This hilltop village will transport you straight again to the Middle Ages with its cobbled streets and medieval partitions.

Located about half-hour from well-liked locations to remain, reminiscent of Nice and Antibes, this small city is a well-liked day journey vacation spot set barely again from the seaside. Its slim, pedestrianized streets are splendidly peaceable and picturesque for wandering round. It’s a village well-known for artwork, which you’ll discover from the numerous galleries all through – and the surroundings ought to clarify precisely why it’s so well-liked to color!

Just outdoors the walled city, there’s a Fragonard perfumery, well-known on the Riviera for its fragrances made just some miles from there. Some of one of the best eating places for lunch are discovered on the western fringe of city, close to the partitions and on the outskirts, the place there’s extra room for tables and chairs.

If you might have a automobile throughout your journey, I like to mix Saint Paul de Vence with Gourdon, one other very tiny village on an excellent greater hill overlooking the Côte d’Azur from the hinterland. Both are on the official listing of probably the most stunning villages in France. Without a automobile, you may also do that route on a guided tour from Nice, Antibes, or Cannes.

3. Gorges du Verdon

Gorges du Verdon Scenery. Paddling the waterways is one of the best things to do in south of France
Woodrow Matthews / ThroughTravelers

Another extremely well-liked day journey from the coastal cities of southern France is to the Verdon Natural Regional Park, the place you’ll discover the well-known Gorges du Verdon. This particular place can also be referred to as the Grand Canyon of France for its hanging pure surroundings.

The Verdon River carves its means by means of a steep gorge surrounded by tall cliffs on each side earlier than emptying into the electric-blue Lake of St. Croix. It’s a well-liked path to drive alongside, however I like to recommend doing one thing even higher – renting an electrical or pedal boat, a kayak, or a paddle board on the lake and traversing the gorge through water. You can discover loads of locations to lease these with out reservations wanted on the shores of the lake, and the journey up the river is solely spectacular.

After you’ve admired the gorges, head to the small village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, simply 10 minutes away and likewise on the official listing of probably the most stunning villages in France. Here, you’ll be able to have a beautiful lunch, get pleasure from a town-center waterfall, and store for native lavender merchandise. By the way in which – in case your journey is in June or July, you need to plan so as to add a cease at one of many lots of of lavender fields on this space.

This is a day actually performed greatest by automobile, however when you don’t have one, guided tours are available from Nice and nearby Aix en Provence. If you’re staying within the latter and lavender fields are excessive in your listing, there are additionally tours made specifically for that.

See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in a Small Town

4. Aix en Provence

The main square in Aix en Provence, south of France, on a spring day
Woodrow Matthews / ThroughTravelers

Speaking of Aix en Provence, often simply referred to as Aix by locals (pronounce: ex), it’s a great destination as effectively. Larger than the opposite provencal villages however with picturesque, slim streets in its historic heart, it’s a well-liked place to begin for these trying to go to the non-coastal a part of southern France.

This was the hometown of painter Paul Cézanne, and followers of his work can tour his childhood dwelling and his artwork studio. Some folks think about Aix a college metropolis, as the college right here brings younger folks from throughout France and even the world to review, giving the city a younger and energetic really feel. There are tons of shops, each brand-name and native, and locations to eat alongside its many elderly streets.

True historical past buffs would possibly recognize a walking tour of the city. Wine lovers can be very acquainted with the variability from this area, particularly the rosé, and may discover many winery day trips into the countryside. If you’re trying to discover a lot of this facet of the Riviera and Provence, it could be value spending a couple of nights in Aix – the Best Western Le Galice Centre Ville is comfy and in a terrific spot.

5. Saint Tropez

Clear Ocean Water
Woodrow Matthews / ThroughTravelers

Saint Tropez is considerably synonymous with southern France – this little city is called a holiday destination that the wealthy and well-known frequent. You’ll discover superyachts docked in its port, cobblestone streets crossing its outdated city, and a number of the most stunning seashores on the riviera simply down the street.

To be trustworthy, attending to Saint Tropez is a little bit of a nightmare – after the freeway, it’s only a single, two-lane street main down the hill into the city, and it’s infamous for its fixed site visitors. A way more scenic technique to arrive is by boat from Nice or Cannes, and it would even be quicker!

Once there, you’ll discover loads of locations to eat and store alongside its famed port. You discover much more by venturing additional into the outdated city, with some nice choices on the Place des Lices, the city’s predominant sq. courting to the 1800s. Luxury and brand-name shops are throughout Saint Tropez – there’s even a Dior Café.

While the city of Saint Tropez is iconic and price a go to for first-timers, my actual recommendation for {the summertime} is to go only a bit additional south to the well-known Plage de Pampelonne. This huge, sandy seaside is actually top-of-the-line in southern France for enjoyable, watersports, and beachside eating.

See Related: Best Things to Do in Burgundy, France & Places to Visit

6. Cannes

Cannes, France
Woodrow Matthews / ThroughTravelers

Cannes is one other icon of southern France well-known for its annual movie competition and its many luxurious motels. Many guests select to remain right here throughout their time on the riviera, however you may also simply go to Cannes on a day journey from most different locations within the space.

Luxurious retailers and cafés line one facet of the Boulevard de la Croisette, whereas the opposite is the place seaside bars and eating places arrange chairs and umbrellas on the sandy beaches. A couple of blocks again, the Rue d’Antibes is one other road for procuring – probably the most well-liked sports activities in Cannes.

May is the month of the well-known movie competition when dozens of stars descend in town and stroll the purple carpet of the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès. While you in all probability received’t have the ability to entry their unique events and screenings, you’ll be able to wait alongside the steps to catch a glimpse of them or spot them round city. We obtained to see all the stars of the Elvis film in 2022!

If you’re a giant cinema and Hollywood fan, you would possibly think about a guided tour of Cannes given by an actual screenwriter to most recognize its native historical past and glamorous standing. In {the summertime}, take to the water on a catamaran cruise to benefit from the peaceable Mediterranean Sea. Staying in Cannes is a good alternative, as talked about – if you wish to do because the wealthy and well-known do, keep at a luxurious resort just like the Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes.

7. Monaco

Monaco Aerial View
Woodrow Matthews / ThroughTravelers

I don’t suppose any journey to the French Riviera could be full with out a go to to the principality of Monaco, outdoors France. This tiny nation is simply half-hour by practice from Nice or about an hour from Cannes and Antibes and is undoubtedly value at least a few hours of your time.

Of all of the locations I’ve already mentioned are playgrounds for the wealthy and well-known, it’s most true for Monaco. Here, each constructing, sidewalk, and backyard is meticulously maintained for magnificence. Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and Rolls Royces are regular to see parked on the facet of the street or driving round right here.

The well-known Monte Carlo Casino, the place you’ll be able to strive your hand at a slot or desk sport, is on one facet of the nation and a must-see. The prince’s palace, which just lately opened for touring, and the Oceanographic Museum are a couple of minutes away on the opposite facet. I like to recommend strolling between the 2, as you’ll be able to cease on the Prince’s Automobile Collection in between.

You also can benefit from the comfort of the Hop-On, Hop-Off Bus Tour in Monaco to see every part, or think about a hidden gems guided tour for an insider’s look. I consider a day journey is adequate for Monaco, however if you wish to take pleasure in its luxurious glory, you’ll be able to keep at a resort inside the principality, just like the Fairmont Monte Carlo.

See Related: Most Photographed Cities in the World

8. Les Baux de Provence & Saint Rémy de Provence

The ruins of a medieval castle at the top of Les Baux en Provence village, southern France
st1909 / Adobe Stock

I group these subsequent two villages collectively as a result of they’re each fairly tiny and instantly subsequent to one another, making for an simply mixed day journey. Les Baux de Provence and Saint Remy de Provence are simply west of Aix, close to the (additionally beautiful) cities of Arles and Avignon, within the countryside.

Saint Remy, the bigger of the 2, is known for being the place Vincent Van Gogh dedicated himself after eradicating his personal ear in close by Arles. He spent a yr right here, and a few folks think about his greatest work to have been produced throughout that point. You can tour his room on the St. Paul de Mausole Monastery, see the paint that is still on the ground, and see the views that impressed these work.

Just to the south, Lex Baux is a tiny village among the many rocky mountains of the world that’s on the official listing of probably the most stunning villages in France. The ruins of a medieval fortress sit at its highest level and supply shows of historic weapons and each day life, in addition to panoramic views of the outdated buildings beneath and the olive groves within the distance. It’s the proper place for ice cream with a view.

You received’t have the ability to get to those locations by public transportation, and having a automobile is one of the simplest ways to see them at your personal tempo. Day trip tours can be found from locations like Aix en Provence and Arles if that’s not potential.

9. Pont du Gard

The Pont du Gard bridge over the Gard River in southern France
Woodrow Matthews / ThroughTravelers

Close to the earlier two small villages is the Pont du Gard, a shocking piece of the area’s Roman heritage that’s additionally a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s shut sufficient to mix in a day journey with Saint Remy and Les Baux but in addition fascinating sufficient to warrant its personal day.

This huge aqueduct bridge was constructed within the 1st(!) Century, consisting of three tiers of arches crossing the Gardon River. It has withstood 1000’s of years of nature, struggle, and human improvement, remaining extremely well-preserved and nonetheless standing sturdy.

The space surrounding the bridge has been changed into a form of park. On the proper financial institution, there’s a restaurant and an fascinating prehistoric cave, together with a pleasant community of mountain climbing trails alongside the river and as much as greater ranges of the bridge. The left financial institution hosts extra mountain climbing and viewpoints, in addition to the Museum of the Pont du Gard.

Buy a skip-the-line ticket to save lots of time, particularly if you’re combining this with different close by points of interest, as it could possibly get fairly busy right here. If you might have the time, there are some nice spots on the proper financial institution to picnic, swim, and calm down in little beach-like spots – I plan to convey a bottle of wine on my subsequent go to!

See Related: Best Day Trips from Strasbourg, France

10. Calanques National Park

The famous Calanque d'En Vau in Calanques National Park, southern France
marako85 / Adobe Stock

Hikers and adventurers won’t need to miss exploring Calanques National Park. This huge expanse is positioned between the massive metropolis of Marseille and the small village of Cassis, and is greatest visited from the latter, which is reachable by practice.

The park is full of scenic mountain climbing trails and delightful seashores. A “calanque” is sort of a small cove, and this shoreline is stuffed with them. The rocky terrain on the shore has quite a few slim spots reducing inland for as much as lots of of toes, leaving sandy seashores on the ends.

Many trails lower by means of the park resulting in spots on cliffs excessive above the ocean, in addition to to seashores on the calanques beneath. If you’re not a assured hiker, guided hikes can be found, too. You also can get out on the water for a kayaking tour of this park’s shoreline for a distinct perspective.

11. Èze Village

Èze, France Scenery
Woodrow Matthews / ThroughTravelers

Many guests think about the tiny hilltop village of Èze a do-not-miss when within the south of France, and I don’t disagree. Perched on a cliff proper between Nice and Monaco, Èze is handy and delightful to go to.

Perhaps probably the most well-known factor to do in Èze is to go to the Fragonard Perfume Factory and Laboratory, which is simply outdoors the outdated village. The employees provides a free tour of the services the place you’ll be able to study the perfume-making course of and about many varieties of fragrances from one of many nation’s most prestigious manufacturers.

Up the hill, the village consists of just some windy, hilly streets. However, they’re a number of the most picturesque within the area. Wear acceptable sneakers for exploring this city, because the streets are product of cobblestone and may be fairly steep. That goes for the Jardin Exotique (Exotic Garden), too, and I’d additionally think about this hillside botanical stroll a must-see right here.

There are a couple of methods to get to Èze and luxuriate in its medieval allure. It’s simply reachable by automobile, and there are numerous tours from Nice and different areas on the Riviera that can cease in Èze. But when you like a superb hike, take the practice to Èze-sur-Mer, down by the ocean, and stroll as much as the village on the Chemin de Nietzsche path – it’s fairly vertical however provides wonderful views on the way in which.

See Related: Most Beautiful Small Towns in France

12. Villefranche-sur-Mer

Villefranche sur Mer Scenery
Woodrow Matthews / ThroughTravelers

Just on the opposite facet of the hills that again Nice to the east is the little fishing village of Villefranche-sur-Mer, typically simply referred to as Villefranche domestically. It’s considered one of my favourite spots on the coast and is partially chargeable for luring me to maneuver to the area.

Villefranche is shut sufficient to Nice that you may really stroll when you wished to, both alongside the coast or up over Mont Boron through its trails. It’s additionally obtained a handy rail station simply two stops from Nice Ville. If you are taking the practice to Monaco or elsewhere east of right here, you’ll be captivated by the view of Villefranche’s huge bay and sandy seaside from the window.

In reality, having fun with its lengthy, sandy seaside is considered one of my favourite free issues to do within the south of France. In the summer season, spots replenish in a short time, so arrive early. The locally-owned eating places alongside the outdated city’s seaside supply a number of the greatest seafood, pasta, and French cuisine I’ve had right here.

You also can hike the close by Chemin des Douaniers, a coastal path alongside the Cap Ferrat peninsula to the east of Villefranche, which has spectacular views of the bay and city throughout. There’s a terrific spot earlier than the lighthouse the place you’ll be able to leap proper into the water, too.

13. Menton

Menton, France Skyline
Woodrow Matthews / ThroughTravelers

The final village you’ll come throughout earlier than getting into Italy is Menton. Some folks consult with it as “the lemon city” because it’s well-known for rising a neighborhood number of citrus fruit, even internet hosting a massive festival to rejoice it annually.

It’s solely becoming, then, that you just’ll discover many buildings painted in yellows and oranges in Menton. The greatest view of that is from Sablettes Beach – stroll out to the top of the jetty alongside the port for a terrific picture of the yellow church and surrounding buildings, the seaside, and the mountains.

Every February, Menton hosts the Fête du Citron, or the Festival of the Lemon. Local artists put collectively huge sculptures product of lemons and oranges within the heart of city, and parades run by means of the streets. You should purchase lemon olive oil, limoncello, citrus jams, and all types of merchandise from native producers.

See Related: Where to Stay in Alsace, France: Best Towns & Areas

14. Roussillon & Gordes

Le Sentier des Ocres hiking trail in Rousillon, one of the most beautiful villages in France
Woodrow Matthews / ThroughTravelers

We’re going again to the hilly countryside of Provence for 2 extra of probably the most stunning villages in France – Roussillon and Gordes, which each made the official listing. These villages are side-by-side and simply over an hour north of Aix en Provence and about three hours from Nice.

Even most south of France locals I’ve met aren’t acquainted with Roussillon, which is a disgrace, however nice for crowds! Besides having a picturesque, very outdated historic heart, the village is beloved for its Sentier des Ocres hike. This brief, straightforward path goes by means of a panorama of crimson-red rocks, cliffs, and sand that can make you suppose you’re somewhere in Utah.

It received’t take you greater than two or three hours to do the hike and see the whole city of Rousillon, which is why it is best to pair it with Gordes, simply quarter-hour away. This hilltop village is simply usually stunning, with outdated brick buildings making up its historic heart and artwork galleries lining the streets. It’s a terrific place for coffee or lunch.

This mixture is completely doable in a day journey from the Nice space if you’re renting a automobile, however guided excursions from there are much less frequent. They are available from Aix en Provence, although, which you’ll be able to attain by practice if you wish to see these great little villages.

15. Antibes

Beach in Antibes
Woodrow Matthews / ThroughTravelers

Finally, I’ve saved my favourite for final – the seaside city of Antibes. A fraction of the scale of Nice and never as high-profile as Cannes, Antibes sits between the 2 on the Cap d’Antibes peninsula that you just’ll in all probability see simply earlier than touchdown.

Antibes is made up of some smaller neighborhoods. Biot, to its east, has a shoreline of pebble seashores similar to these in Nice, and it’s considered one of my favourite locations to spend a summer season afternoon with a pizza. Juan les Pins is on the western facet, with its well-known summertime jazz competition, its sandy beaches, and the seaside bars and golf equipment that line them.

In the middle and on the peninsula is the outdated city of Antibes, a picturesque place lined by metropolis partitions and with a lined market within the heart. There are numerous nice eating places, cafés, and bars right here. There’s additionally a museum devoted to Pablo Picasso right here with a lot of his work and drawings, as he spent appreciable time on this a part of the riviera.

The huge port is called the superyacht capital of the world – there’s actually a bit of it referred to as Billionaire’s Quay (which matches properly with Billionaire’s Bay, one other actual place with a pleasant seaside on the peninsula). You can lease a ship (although it will likely be a lot smaller than the billionaires’) and discover the ocean by yourself when you’d like. I extremely suggest contemplating staying in Antibes – the Hôtel La Villa Port d’Antibes & Spa is in a terrific spot and top-of-the-line locations on the town.


What is the south of France recognized for?

Southern France, higher often known as the French Riviera or the Côte d’Azur, is thought for its luxurious Mediterranean seaside, its stunning provençal villages, and its wealthy historical past. Its claims to fame embrace the well-known Cannes Film Festival, the perfume-making trade, and its many well-known work and artwork galleries.

Is the south of France value visiting?

Far too many guests to France transfer on after a couple of days in Paris – there’s a complete different (higher) a part of the nation just some hours south! Some of the most well-liked south of France vacationer points of interest embrace the glamorous city-state of Monaco, the picturesque seaside metropolis of Nice and its well-known Promenade des Anglais, and the quite a few postcard-perfect villages like Saint Paul de Vence and Èze.

Are there any issues to do within the south of France with youngsters?

Plenty of locations to go to within the south of France are enjoyable for the entire household. Children of all ages ought to benefit from the calm and refreshing Mediterranean Sea within the summertime, and also you’ll discover loads of beautiful seashores to entry it. Kids can be simply as in awe as their mother and father on the stunning Gorges du Verdon, and there’s an ice cream store on each nook in locations like Saint Tropez and Nice. Don’t miss the Oceanography Museum in Monaco!

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