Azure Adventures: What to See When Visiting the South of France

French Riviera or Cote d' Azur, one of the best places to visit in the South of France, aerial view of boats anchored in the azure waters of the coastline; photo by Julius Hildebrandt, Unsplash.

Temperatures are hitting high, and if you love France, you’ll want to swap that beret for a sunhat. We have perfect destinations to try out your summer haute couture, at one of the most charming parts of Mediterranean Europe – the South of France.

If you’re looking to add both old-world charm and modern allure to your European holidays, this is the region to explore. Your greatest worries will probably be what to see when visiting the South of France, as every new town you discover becomes a pin on the map.

The South of France offers plentiful sunshine, lavender-infused villages, and a world-renowned cuisine

There’s a great diversity you can experience during your South of France vacation. From the glamorous French Riviera to the rustic countryside of Provence, the region’s appeal covers more than just picture-perfect backdrops for your social media posts.

Southern France provides a unique sensory journey. It includes plentiful sunshine in breathtaking landscapes, lavender-infused villages to wander through, rich history and vibrant culture to explore, and a world-renowned cuisine to indulge in. Don’t forget to toast with a glass of the finest local wine!

Welcome to the South of France!

Detouring to southeastern France won't be a mistake either. Here's what to see in Lyon

Best places to visit in South of France

1. Bordeaux

You could imagine Bordeaux as the place where wine flows like water. But it isn’t all about swirling and sipping. Tucked snugly amidst vineyards, this must-see city on any South of France adventure is also a feast for the eyes.

A statue of an angel with Bordeaux cityline in the background; photo by Tiphaine Sauveur, Unsplash.
Monument aux Girondins in Bordeaux commemorates the political martyrs of the French Revolution, with the Statue of Liberty standing atop the pillar

If you love elegant architecture and cultural heritage, the stroll through the city’s UNESCO-listed historic center is practically stepping into a period drama. The living museum comes with 18th-century buildings, wide boulevards, and postcard-worthy squares. Make sure to snap photos of iconic landmarks such as the Bordeaux Cathedral and the Place de la Bourse.

However, Bordeaux’s best currency is the liquid one, its vino. In this paradise for oenophiles, wineries and vineyards stretch across the countryside offering tours and tastings. From bold Cabernet Sauvignon via zesty Sauvignon Blanc to silky Merlot, bottles are practically calling your name. And you have a perfect excuse to try them all – you’re learning about the region’s winemaking traditions after all!

The wine tasting is bound to work up an appetite. When hunger strikes in Bordeaux, you’ll have plenty of options – from diving into a plate of fresh oysters at the local market to a gourmet feast at Michelin-starred restaurants. Try regional specialties such as caviar, white asparagus, or delectable pastries (the yummy Canelés de Bordeaux!).

Bordeaux offers diverse accommodation options – check them out here, with photographs and guest reviews.

2. The French Riviera

The allure of the South of France is often associated with the glamour of the French Riviera. Or, as locals call it, Côte d’Azur.

This beautiful slice of the Mediterranean is a magnet for jet-setters. But even if you’re not from the extravagant line of rich and fabulous, you should still pay a visit to the red carpet of all holiday destinations. The picturesque towns and beaches of the French Riviera are an oasis of relaxation.

Woman statue in the Botanical Garden of Eze, a beautiful medieval village in the French Riviera, with the Mediterranean Sea in the background; photo by V2F, Unsplash.
The Botanical Garden in Eze, a beautiful seaside commune in Southeastern France

The coastal views will knock your socks off. Well, you wouldn’t need them on those golden beaches anyway. Azure waters (hence the name!) and rugged cliffs create a dramatic scenery that you’ll question whether it’s Photoshopped or created by AI. The towns along the Riviera also look like a million bucks, from chic Saint-Tropez to glamorous Cannes.

Between sunbathing and people-watching sessions, there are historic landmarks, museums, and art galleries to visit on the French Riviera. From gambling at the legendary Monte Carlo Casino to enjoying hilltop views from the medieval village of Èze, cultural attractions here offer experiences that etch in your memory.

You’ll find many charming rentals in Southern France, with the scenic French Riviera being a great option. Whether you fancy a swanky seaside resort, an exclusive villa, or a cozy little hideaway tucked into the hills, the stunning landscape will host you like a movie star.

To skip the rush of large groups, discover coastal towns and vistas of the French Riviera with a private driver-guide. For an even more elevated experience, hop on board a private yacht, and take your group of eight to coastal hot spots in style.

3. Provence

Provence is another magical zone in the South of France where history, culture, and natural beauty collide in a peculiar way. The land of lavender is where the time slows down more than just giving the place a laid-back charm. The appeal of these villages became timeless too.

Verdon Gorge or Gorges du Verdon, a turquoise-green river canyon in the South of France, photo by Sarah Sheedy, Unsplash.
Verdon Gorge was named after its distinguished turquoise-green color

First things first, the views are taken from a fairytale. Imagine rolling hills dressed in vibrant fields of purple flowers and vineyards that seem to stretch to infinity. It’s an open invitation to enter the postcard, on foot, by bike, or on the back of a horse; lose yourself in this landscape. Don’t miss out on Gorges du Verdon (the largest European canyon) and Luberon Regional Natural Park (UNESCO’s Global Geopark).

More than just pretty vistas, Provence also gives a lot to history buffs and culture vultures alike. From ancient Roman ruins to cobbled streets of medieval villages, it’s a stroll through time. The two millennia-old Arles Amphitheater and the gothic Palace of the Popes in Avignon are especially fascinating landmarks.

With its renowned gastronomy and world-class wineries, Provence elevated eating and drinking to a religious experience. Definitely try local specialties like bouillabaisse, ratatouille, and tapenade, and wash them down with a glass (or two?) of the region’s finest wines. Whether you are sipping on a bold Châteauneuf-du-Pape or a crisp Côtes de Provence rosé, these appellations provide only the best from their grapes.

Provence is sprinkled with thousands of accommodation options. Find the best prices and deals here. 

4. Nice

Holidaying in the South of France cannot pass without Nice, a crown jewel of the French Riviera. Right between the azure waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the rugged hills of the Alpes-Maritimes, the postcard called Nice comes to life, with centuries of history and enough culture to plan even future visits.

The Promenade des Anglais, a promenade along the Mediterranean coast of Nice in South France; photo by 12019, Pixabay.
Nice is nicknamed Nice la Belle, as if just being nice is not nice enough

Nice is home to some of the most pristine Mediterranean beaches. Here, you can kick back on the pebbles of the iconic Promenade des Anglais, try your hand at paddleboarding, jet skiing, and other water sports, or take a stroll along the palm-lined waterfront.

Beyond the beach, the exploration continues through the charming streets of the Old Town, known as Vieux Nice. This maze of cobblestone streets, bustling markets, colorful buildings, and centuries-old landmarks is perfect to get lost in. Visit the Baroque Cathédrale Sainte-Réparate, or the musical instruments museum housed in the aristocratic Palais Lascaris, before you refresh yourself at one of many lively cafes.

To further satisfy your taste for finer things in life, Nice is the perfect base for luxury tours in France. From here, you can book private yacht charters, attend gourmet food and wine tastings, or discover charming hilltop villages. Whether you’re cruising along the coast, or go village hopping through Provence, you’ll get experiences to brag about.

From urban lofts to boutique hotels, Nice offers great places to stay. Check them out!

5. Marseille

The bustling port city of Marseille is another unavoidable stop on your South of France holiday itinerary. The capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region is a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and outdoor adventures.

The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations (MUCEM) with Marseille Cathedral in the background; photo by Romain Galoche, Unsplash.
The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations at the entrance to the Old Port, with Marseille Cathedral in the background

Cultural riches range from ancient forts to majestic churches and world-class museums. The most-visited Marseille landmark is the Notre-Dame de la Garde Basilica. Perched high on a hill, this emblematic religious monument is a fantastic place to enjoy panoramic views. If you want to dive deep into the region’s past, you should explore MuCEM. The Museum of European and Mediterranean Civilizations was launched in 2013 when Marseille held the title of the European Capital of Culture.

Besides indoor treasures, Marseille also offers excitement to lovers of outdoor activities. Calanques National Park is Europe’s largest peri-urban national park, inviting you to lace up your hiking boots, dive into crystal-clear coves, or simply unwind on the beach.

Thanks to its diverse population and multicultural heritage, Marseille is also an exciting culinary destination. From traditional Provencal dishes to North African specialties, from hearty stews to delicate pastries, your taste buds will be tortured by the richness of choices.

Whether you want to stay in a hotel, a B&B, or a yacht, Marseille has you covered. Check out what’s on offer here. 

South of France vacation, best places to visit – conclusion

Every adventure eventually comes to an end, so does your holiday to the South of France.

You reluctantly pack your bags and bid adieu to the Mediterranean breeze, a chorus of cicadas, and the scent of lavender in the air. But there is an underlying hope that the memories you’ve crafted in this lovely domain will endure like the finest Bordeaux wine.

Falling in love with Southern France is easy. Departing is the hard part

From the glitz of the French Riviera to the rustic charm of Provence, you’ve wandered through ancient streets, lounged on the azure shores, and savored flavors that danced on your tongue. Falling in love with Southern France is easy. Departing is the hard part.

As you leave these enchanting shores, toss a pebble in the sea. Make a wish. Maybe that adieu is au revoir.

Did you find your favorite place on the South of France map? Share what you’ll include in your itinerary, and pin this article for later!

From the glitz of the French Riviera to the rustic charm of Provence, Southern France offers a lot to incoming tourists. These are the best places to visit in South of France.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you click on them and make a purchase, Pipeaway may make a small commission, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting our work!

The images in this article have been sourced through Unsplash and Pixabay.

In the order of appearance, their authors are as follows:
Côte d’Azur (cover image) - Julius Hildebrandt, Unsplash
Bordeaux - Tiphaine Sauveur, Unsplash
Èze - French Riviera - V2F, Unsplash
Verdon Gorge, Provence - Sarah Sheedy, Unsplash
Nice - 12019, Pixabay
Marseille - Romain Galoché, Unsplash
Èze (pin image) - ivan zakharenko, Unsplash 
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  1. After reading this, I think I need to go back to Provence to see the Gorges du Verdon. Looks beautiful!

    1. Sonia, you’re absolutely right!
      The Gorges du Verdon is a breathtaking natural wonder that truly deserves a visit.
      The sheer beauty and rugged grandeur of the canyon are unlike anything else in Provence.
      It’s definitely worth adding to your itinerary for your next trip back to the region.
      Happy travels!

  2. I had already booked a ticket to France a few years ago, and then air travel was disrupted, and I had to cancel the trip. OMG! This post just reinforces that desire to visit France. And I wouldn’t want to visit just Paris. The South of France is definitely where I would want to spend most of my time!

    1. Hey Michael, it sounds like fate has been teasing you with the promise of a French adventure!
      The South of France is indeed a captivating destination with its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and laid-back vibe.
      From the sun-soaked beaches of the French Riviera to the picturesque villages of Provence, there’s something truly magical about this corner of the world.
      It’s the perfect excuse to dust off those travel plans and make your French dreams a reality.
      Here’s to hoping your next trip to France is everything you’ve been dreaming of and more!

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