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Best Places to Visit South of France


Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Visit Southern France

There are so many unique places to visit in South France that you could spend weeks here and not see everything!

If possible, try to see as much as you can (you won’t regret it!), but if you have limited time, this article has all the best places to visit South of France.

This is not a definitive list of South of France destinations – we could easily include another 50 places! – but a good start to deciding where to go in South of France.

Sénanque Abbey

Beautiful Places to Visit in South France

Where to go South of France? Here’s the list of beautiful places to visit in South of France, best places to visit in Southern France for any kind of traveler.

1. French Riviera

Hotel Negresco - Nice

If you can only visit one place in Southern France, it should be the French Riviera. The region is in southeast France, close to Italy, and truly has something for everyone. There are cities where you will get a truly French experience, smaller towns on the coast bathed by turquoise waters, and some hilltop villages begging to be explored.

Nice is the capital of the French Riviera and one of the best places to visit in the South of France because of its stunning baroque architecture and historic neighborhoods.

Cannes is glitzy and glamorous and is the perfect place to relax after exploring Nice. The town is most popular for its hotel resorts and beaches and hosts the world-famous Cannes Festival of Cinema.

TIP: This top-rated French Riviera in One Day tour from Nice always gets excellent reviews

Monaco is another of the best places to visit in the French Riviera, famous for its casinos and being home to the Grand Prix de Monaco.

Finally, don’t miss the French Riviera’s beaches, bathed by the Mediterranean Sea. The French Riviera beaches are ideal places to relax in the summer, but you can also enjoy them from the water on a catamaran tour.

2. Calanques of Marseille-Cassis

Calanques Marseille Port Miou - France

The Calanques of Marseille-Cassis is a French National Park on the Southern coast West of the French Riviera. There are beaches, hiking paths overlooking the water, and many different cliffs to climb, but you can also explore it from the water on a catamaran tour from Marseille.

If you are looking for some of the best scenery near Marseille, this National Park is the place for you! Whether you are exploring or just relaxing on the beach, you will see some of the prettiest views in all of France. The water is a vibrant blue, and it contrasts with the sandy beaches.

The Calanques of Marseille makes for one of the best day trips from Marseille, and it’s one of the best places to visit in Southern France if you want to spend time in nature.

3. Cité de Carcassonne

Carcassonne Castle

The Cité de Carcassonne is a citadel within the city of Carcassonne in the Occitanie region. The site is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located in the Southeast part of the city on a hill.

The Citadel was built by the Romans in the 3rd century when they settled in the town. Over time, the Citadel came under Visigoth, Crusaders, and French rule. It was used as a military fort until it was abandoned in the 17th century.

One of the Cathars’ main strongholds, who were considered heretics by the Catholic Church, Carcassonne is today one of the main stops of any Cathar Country road trip. This is also one of the best places in South of France for history lovers, but anyone and everyone will find it enjoyable as it is rated as one of the top landmarks in France.

During the visit, you can explore the Cité de Carcassonne alone or on a guided tour with an expert guide to learn about its history.

4. Avignon

Avignon - France

Avignon is one of the most beautiful cities in southern France. Today part of the Provence region in Southeastern France, the city sits on the Rhône River, and it was the capital of the papacy from 1309 to 1377.

Avignon is one of the best places to visit in South of France to explore for history lovers. Visit Avignon’s Medieval Town, the Palace of the Popes, Le Rocher des Doms and, the Pont d’Avignon.

TIP: This combo ticket Palace of the Popes + Pont d’Avignon saves you money!

If you can, visit this UNESCO city during the famous Festival d’Avignon. The theatre festival occurs every July, with the main events held in the Palais des Papes’ courtyard.

5. Lavender Fields of Provence

Wine of Provence, France

If you want to visit Southern France in the summer, there is nothing better than exploring the endless fields of lavender flowers in Provence. The smell of lavender is one of the best and most relaxing, and the flowers are all a vibrant purple.

The fields are a unique place to visit, and everyone will love them. Even if you are not into flowers, it is interesting to see where the lavender comes from since it is an important part of Provence. For this, combine the most photogenic lavender fields in Provence with a lavender workshop or a visit to a lavender museum – check out our suggested lavender route in Provence.

However, the lavender season in Provence is short – generally from the end of June to early August – so you must plan ahead and know where to go depending on the area and altitude of the lavender fields.

6. Gorges du Verdon

Gorges du Verdon Road Trip

The Gorges du Verdon is a spectacular natural canyon with a river running through it. It is the largest canyon in Europe, and you will certainly notice its size as soon as you arrive.

There is plenty to do here, no matter what you are interested in. In the area, you’ll find hiking trails with views of the Gorges, the oh-so-pretty village of Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, and many water activities and river beaches.

The Gorges du Verdon is in Southwest France, north of the French Riviera. It is an easy day trip from Aix-en-Provence or Nice, but if you have more time available, try this Gorges du Verdon road trip.

7. Hilltop Villages of the Luberon

Gordes - Provence

Another great place to visit for a South of France vacation is the Luberon and its hilltop villages. The Luberon is a massif in central Provence, part of the French Prealps.

The towns here are beautiful as they sit on top of mountains and are surrounded by amazing landscapes. You can also see many vineyards and (in the right season) some lavender fields too.

The list of most popular hilltop villages in the Luberon includes Bonnieux, Lacoste, Lourmarin, Cucuron, Gordes, Castellet, Auribeau, and Roussillon. All these beautiful villages have winding streets, stone houses, and picturesque little squares.

If you want to spend some time exploring small French towns away from the coast, consider this Luberon road trip which starts from Avignon. If you don’t have a car, this guided tour from Avignon visits the best villages in the Luberon. No matter which of the towns you choose or how long you have to spend here, you will love it!

8. The Camargue

Flamingos - Camargue

One of the most popular places to visit in South France is the Parc Naturel Régional de Camargue, which is a UNESCO biosphere reserve. Located between Arles and Montpellier, the region is mostly natural land, with one-third of the area being either lakes or marsh. There are also 400 species of birds, like pink flamingos, which you can see in the Ornithological Park of Pont de Gau.

The cities of Aigues-Mortes and Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer are two excellent places to explore the Camargue. If you want to visit Camargue on a day trip, consider this 4×4 Camargue Safari from Arles with an informative guide, which includes bird-watching, scenic views of the area, and free time in the famous village of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.

9. Canal du Midi

Canal de Midi

Stretching from Toulouse to Sète, the Canal du Midi is a feat of architectural genius that connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. This 17th-century construction designed by Pierre-Paul Riquet required 12,000 men over fifteen years, from 1666 to 1681.

Today, the Canal du Midi is one of the best places to visit South of France. Here, visitors can hire boats, hotel-barges, or rent bikes and make their way along the Canal at their own pace.

If you are in Toulouse, you can explore a section of the Canal du Midi by bike. Some hikers use the trail along the Canal to make their way toward the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

10. Bonifacio

Bonifacio - Corsica

The last of the best places to visit in the South of France is Bonifacio and the surrounding areas, including Figari, Sotta, and Porto-Vecchio.

Bonifacio is on the southern tip of Corsica, one of the French islands in the Mediterranean Sea. When you visit, you should check out the Citadel overlooking the cliffs, the Old Town, and the area by the water and the port. If you have the time for a day trip, this boat tour from Bonifacio always gets the best reviews. Discover cliffs, sea caves, and beaches, and stop to snorkel with the provided gear.

If you are staying on the west coast of Corsica, you can take a full-day boat tour to Bonifacio from Ajaccio or Porticcio.

And there you have it, our list of the best places South of France for a memorable trip. Which Southern France destinations would you like to visit next?

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