The South of France is a standout among the most delightful and socially captivating spots on the planet. It’s extraordinarily different from the rich red gullies of the ochre mines, to the blue waters going through the Verdon Gorge.
By visiting these towns and villages in Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur, referred in French as le Midi, you can especially encounter the true southern French magnificence that has motivated specialists for a considerable length of time.
You most likely won’t have time to visit each and every town in the region, here’s a list of some of the more popular small towns and villages in the south of France. If you’re interested in a multi-day itinerary check out my other post as well.
Cute Small Towns & Villages in the South of France
Provence Alpes Cote d’Azur
Famously known for its inhabitants who are commonly referred to as the Aixois, the town was found at around 123 BC by the Roman consul Sextius Calnvius. A greater history of the headquarters of famous wars is associated with the town, in the long run having a series of takeovers from different warring groups.
By the year 1487, the parliament of the Provence was established in the town and so far it is a center for archeological discoveries including the recent excavation of the Roman Amphitheatre. It’s in the town that the deposit of fossil bones gave rise to a Christian dragon legend.
In regard to beauty, there are sceneries that are attractive in the town today. They include Cours Mirabeau beautified by double trees, elegant historic architecture and above all decorated mountains.
The widely known attraction is the cathedral of the holy savior, containing a mix of ancient style from the 5th to the 16th century. The here culture is attractive and wonderful; there are two significant cultural events in the town the first one is Festival d’Aix-en-Provence that takes place in June and July annually.
The second iconic cultural event in the town is the Musique Dans la rue. This coincidentally happens the same month as that of the first event in June, it features classical and jazz. The other beauties of the town are the several museums that have been packed with great historical facts.
Yet another beautiful place in Provence France; with sites that have been recognized by leading international organizations for a long time. Some of the sites that add beauty to the town include the Arles Obelisk, Barbegal aqueduct and mill, the cryptoporticus and the Gallo-Roman Theatre, among others, that have been listed by UNESCO world heritage sites as well as Romanesque monuments group.
The museum in Arles is overwhelmingly attractive scenery with historical collections of the Roman Sarcophagi. One of the greatest attractions in the town is the culture, the photography festival is held in the town annually. One of the most magnificent tourist attractions is the largest Roman Amphitheatre a well preserved ancient monument with the ability to accommodate over 20,000 onlookers at a go.
Another site worth noting is the Roman Theater built during the reign of Augustus. It is in this place that the famous archeology was discovered – Venus of Arles. A summation of the beauty of the region is by the presence of the department of Arles which displays the cultural heritage of the region.
Among other beauties in Arles is the Thermes De Constantin, this contains an established bathing complex located near the banks of Le Grand Rhone river. What remains of the establishment are two sceneries including the Caldarium warm bath and the Hypocaust under floor-heating.
Let’s also not forget about Van Gogh who spent a decent amount of his life in Arles. You can visit his old house, Café Terrace on the Place du Forum and L’espace de Van Gogh.
Moustiers is a lot livelier than numerous towns, a tribute to its characteristic magnificence and the number of guests it pulls in. There are various shops, bistros, and eateries both in the limited roads of the memorable focus and in the primary focal point of the town. On top of the waterfall coming down through the middle of the town.
There is additionally a lot to appreciate as far as verifiable and picturesque enthusiasm, with the boulevards containing various appealing houses and prattling wellsprings.
The congregation was initially worked in the XIIth century and holds some portion of its unique Roman style, albeit critical adjustments were made in the sixteenth century. You can observe some portion of the first protective defenses in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, while a characteristic picturesque feature is a cascade in the town focus that outcomes from a stream rising up out of the base of the precipice.
Fantasy winding roads, pastel-hued patisserie and bright asphalts bistros: Avignon’s old town may be the dreamiest spot in Provence to drink coffees and claim to be French. For the most extreme curious factor, head to one of Avignon’s lovely town squares. Noted as the region’s cultural hub, Avignon is known for its culture which appeals to those who like wine, the theater and music festivals.
The biggest attraction, however, is Palais des Papes. It’s one of the largest and most important medieval Gothic buildings in Europe. Once a fortress and palace, the papal residence was the seat of Western Christianity during the 14th century.
A stroll through the old town lanes will uncover some decent old structures, some going back to the sixteenth century, and some numerous with the vivid pastels of Provence. Different locales in the town are old wellsprings, and the extensive outside market held each Wed and Sat all year two or three squares from the port.
The town was reconstructed on the old demolishes in the eighteenth century, bringing about a more normal format than most other medieval towns. There’s very little medieval town to visit; Cassis is about the pretty seaport, the shorelines, and the oceanfront climate. The small angling pontoons presently share the harbor with yachts and a gathering of visitor’s vessels for visiting the Calanques.
The captivating town of Lourmarin likewise has a place with selected Most Beautiful Villages of France club. It’s somewhat unique in relation to most of the Luberon towns because of its plain, instead of roosted area. Lourmarin is also made up of buildings from various time periods.
The limited boulevards are fixed with bistros where you can kick back and drench up the daylight to a soundtrack of regular Provencal life. With its vivid blossom boxes and affectionately reestablished structures, it’s a delight to meander around at relaxation.
The Château de Lourmarin is additionally remarkable to this piece of Provence. The random state of the mansion is suggestive of its wild past. It was worked in three phases, spreading over from the twelfth to the sixteenth century, and proof of the various styles is as yet clear today. Take a voyage through the palace, have a cookout in its grounds, or go to one of the shows or presentations that occur all through the midyear months.
Oppède Le Vieux is a quaint little commune built on a rocky outcrop surrounded by lush vegetation and is home to unique architectural remains of a stunning 12th-century church and an ancient chateau, as well as 15th and 16th-century houses that have been beautifully restored.
The commune has been a proud producer of lavender oil for several generations and you can learn about the history and it’s contemporary production at the Lavender Museum.
For a simple getaway in the French countryside, you can also go on a wine tasting tour at The Domaine de la Citadelle or stroll around the Farmer’s Market for organic, local fruit and veg.
There aren’t any genuine vacation destinations in Rustrel, aside from the estate with the similarity to a little historical center inside. The estate is dated 1626, with the wellspring of the date from the engraved sundial on the house. Inside the manor are photographs, maps and data boards about the region, old wellsprings of water and a few climbs.
However, Rustrel is home to Colorado Provencal. This spot is called Colorado Provencal as a result of its similitude to the American territory of the event of this vivid shake. It merits a visit since it is progressively “wild” and less visited.
You can experience a captivating universe of shading and magnificence made by both man and nature. Go for a fun walk along the limited, stamped trails, through open and furthermore private property.
Marseille is a most loved explorer destination favored for its warm Mediterranean atmosphere, ancient sites, and the charm of its way of life. One of the world-well-known vacation destinations in Marseille is the Basilique Notre Dame de la Garde, which the neighborhood occupants respectfully allude to as La Bonne Mere or ‘the Good Mother’.
The basilica is a compositional perfect work of art both basic and in inside embellishment and any guest visiting the congregation would not miss the ‘Great Mother’, a 30 ft statue of Virgin Mary holding infant Jesus at the top the Cathedral’s chime tower.
The aureate statue was introduced around 1870 and it is re-overlaid intermittently after at regular intervals. It is a journey site with a large number of explorers visiting every year for the Feast of Assumption on August 15 every year. The congregation likewise has profound chronicled hugeness with established angles that anybody would appreciate.
Ongoing history is as yet obvious on its northern dividers as it bears scars of the Marseilles’ Liberation War of 1944 with unmistakable slug markings consumes and shrapnel pits. The memorable church is additionally mainstream among Marseille guests for its magnificent all-encompassing perspective on Marseille since it is based on a normal high ground; it remains on the 532 ft La Garde slope. The brilliant scene incorporates the islands and the immense ocean.
While famous for its lavender and sunflower fields, Valensole is an extremely intriguing little town based in favor of a slope sitting above a little stream valley.
The town is very extensive and the lanes are fascinating, so you’ll require a couple of hours and some vitality to see everything. The town focus has a reduced principle road with shops, eateries and bistros, a brilliant old wellspring, and an old sundial.
Make sure to stay at Chateau du Grand Jardin – a beautiful family-owned castle in the city center.
The medieval town of Grimaud, with its prime location on the French Riviera and its excellent regularly Provencal blossom-filled restricted lanes, is ruled by the remains of its stronghold.
From that point, the all-encompassing perspective on the coast and the slopes secured with the timberlands of the Massif des Maures mountains is breathtaking.
Recently named as one of France’s most beautiful villages, Gordes is located within Luberon Regional Nature Park. Here you’ll find cobblestone streets and old-world buildings. You’ll even find a 16th-century chateau in Gordes.
Because of the town’s beauty, many famous painters have chosen to live here, including Victor Vasarely. If you’re visiting during summer, then you’ll want to join in on the summer music festival held here.
Make sure you stop for the view of Gordes on your way out of town!
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A very well known town, Saint-Remy-de-Provence is a great visit for both art and history enthusiasts. Within the town, you’ll find one of the oldest ‘Arcs de Triomphe’ in the entirety of France. You’ll also find beautiful remains of medieval walls, fountains and inviting cafes.
If you’re a fan of Van Gogh, then you’ll definitely want to visit. His painting ‘The Starry Night’ along with others were created here while he was a patient of the local asylum.
Calanques de Cassis
A standout amongst the most audacious activities in Provence is to climb the Calanques of Cassis. When you’re not investigating the prettiest towns that Provence brings to the table, tasting on wine developed in the district, or investigating the historical backdrop of the area, at that point you should think about climbing the tricky pathways of the notable milestone.
The hike is surely accessible to anyone, I’ve done it myself in a dress and flip-flops. If you’re keen you can sign up for rock-climbing and bouldering there.
Verdon Gorge is a stream gulch in southeastern France. Cut by the Verdon River, it has white-water rapids and bluffs that can be discovered by boat. It incorporates the Blanc-Martel trail, finishing at Point Sublime post, and Verdon Natural Regional Park.
The Musée des Tourneur’s sur Bois indicates nearby woodwork. The Verdon Gorge is tight and profound, with profundities of 250 to 700 meters and widths of 6 to 100 at the waterway level and 200 to 1500 meters from one side of the Gorge to the next at the summit.
Best Spots to Visit on French Riviera
The crystal clear turquoise water of Cote d’Azur is truly a beautiful sight. If you’re visiting the region, you’ll discover towns that take you back in time. Others will thrill you with outdoor adventures and that offer cultural experiences worth remembering for the rest of your life.
Nice is a spot to appreciate life, to take in the excellence of the patio nurseries and the ocean, which douse up the lively Mediterranean vitality. The city has a particular Italian character that is particularly obvious in the Old Town.
Regardless of whether you are idle, the interesting cobblestone boulevards or walking the well known Promenade des Anglais, guests will be pleased by the excellence, culture, and vibe of Nice.
Eze is a medieval town on a slope over the French Riviera, offering unparalleled perspectives over the Mediterranean. Located between Nice and Monaco, it’s extremely easy to reach from either.
The main reasons why visitors find this town charming is the uneven and narrow stone streets that weave their way around the village. Beginning at the highest point of the slope, you will most likely observe the vestiges of a château, which today monitors the passage to an amazing arrangement of patio nurseries.
The town church and gardens of Eze also adds to the ‘awe factor’ with an interior that looks as if time has stood still. Though this town is old, you’ll find modern gift shops and cafes throughout, giving you the best of both worlds.
Villefranche-sur-Mer is a standout amongst the most beguiling if not the most enchanting French and Niçoise angling town on the French Riviera, in the core of the Cote d’Azur. With Monaco on one side and Nice on the other, it is difficult to trust that it can hold its appeal and credibility of a little town where individuals still know one another.
The Bay of Villefranche, rumored as one of the five loveliest inlets on the planet, is grasped by the Cap of Nice on the privilege and Cap Ferrat on the left.
The enchanting Old Town of Villefranche falls down the slope to the ocean and the sandy kilometer-long shoreline offers incredible diversion consistently.
If you prefer more quiet towns it’s a good spot to base yourself there instead of Nice while you explore the neighboring towns.
Nestled between Cannes and Nice on the French Riviera, the popular resort town in Antibes is well known because of the 16th-century fort that surrounds the old town, as well as it’s typical charming Meditteranean town buildings. The sea-facing hilltops are dotted with charming white villas, just as the ocean glitters with luxury yachts mingling with local fishermen’s boats.
The old town is where all of the best Provencial restaurants and farmers markets can be found but take a stroll around to discover the Picasso Museum, the impressive Baroque style Cathedral Notre Dame, the Archeology Museum and the more contemporary Nomade at the Bastion Saint-Jaume which is a giant cast-iron statue visible from far along the coast, by famous artist Jaume Plensa.
Venture just outside the town and you’ll find the picturesque Juan-les-Pin Beaches where you can lounge in the sun on rented loungers, the Fort Carre and the Chemin des Douaniers for unique coastal and landscape views.
You’ve probably heard of Cannes because of its world-famous International Film Festival which takes place every year around Springtime and celebrates all genres of videography, movies and documentaries. The town is also an iconic destination for holiday-makers because it embodies much of the charm and attraction that the French Riviera is known for.
Such as the gorgeous 19th-century architecture, the Intercontinental Carlton Hotel and the Centre d’Art La Malmaison being just two examples.
The town is also a well sought after Meditteranean beach destination because of places like Palm Beach, Long Beach (private beach near the Marriot Hotel), Plage Du Midi and La Croisette near Palais des Festivals which has seen some of the most famous personalities on the planet walk its steps.
Not to forget that the older parts of the town, where the original settlement was, is filled with streets and houses that have been around for hundreds of years. Visit the Marché Forville to sample seasonal and regional produce and foods from all over the South of France.
You most certainly won’t want to miss a visit to one of the neighboring little islands which are a skip, hop and ferry ride away from Cannes old Port. See Île Sainte-Marguerite with her lush pines and eucalyptus forests and Île Saint-Honorat to see the dramatic 15th-century monastery for the followers of the monastic community of St Honoratus founded in 410.
Once a simple fishing village on the Cote d’Azur, Saint Tropez saw a boom in its visitors during the 60s and today remains one of the most thriving Provencial towns, especially in the summer for its postcard-perfect beaches and hip nightlife.
Many celebrities and movie stars have been known to party in this little town so if you head to the right nightclub you might bump shoulders with someone!
Often called the vanguard of modern art at the turn of the 20th century, the historically rich village with a resident population of around 5000 is the perfect place to hire a boat for the day and sail out into the Mediterranean ocean and lap up the ocean air and sunshine. There are several museums, chapels, and the Saint Tropez citadel dating back several centuries.
St Paul de Vence
St. Paul de Vence is a tiny place that’s a huge artist hub. Establishments like Fondation Maeght, La Chapelle Folon, Musée Renoir and Eglise Collégiale Saint Paul house pieces of art that date as far back as the 16th century.
During their time, this town was frequented by artists like Picasso and Matisse, who stayed at the boutique hotel La Colombe D’Or which remains a family-run auberge today that you can dine in.
This just goes to show that even the smallest towns carry just as much rich history and culture, if not more, than others. St Paul de Vence is also one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera.
Grasse has been a scent town as far back as the seventeenth century, and today as the world’s aroma capital, its notoriety justifies itself. The three noteworthy aroma producers; Fragonard, Galimard, and Molinard open their ways to give free guided visits. Grasse is additionally a world chief in the creation of normal aromas for the fragrance business and of flavorings for sustenance producers.
The aroma business, albeit generally constrained by global gatherings, commands the neighborhood economy. Roses, jasmine, and different blooms, just as harsh orange bloom, from which the aromas are refined, are developed in the region. The International Perfume Museum, including shows following the historical backdrop of scent, revived in 2008.
A wonderful island that has yet to beckon hordes of tourists, Porquerolles offers beaches, clear waters for swimming and culture of hotels and restaurants that will make any budget happy.
Here you’ll also find a yearly jazz festival along with a sailing festival. Though you won’t find medieval ruins to explore here, you will find plenty of rocky coastlines to hike and sand beaches to stroll.
To reach this town, you’ll take a fun, yet short, a 10-minute boat ride from the coast of France. It’s totally worth your time.