Oh, France. You’re more than just a beautiful place to drink wine and dance in lavender fields. You were a much needed respite for me. A place to look inwardly, a place to make memories with friends, and yes of course, a place to get drunk on wine. And as much as I love Paris, the South of France holds a very special place in my heart. So whether you’re here for a week or more, I’ve got the *perfect* 7-14 day Provence and Côte d’Azur Itinerary.
Unfortunately, my duration in the South of France was cut very short due to scheduling issues. Thus OUR itinerary was only 7 days. Still, there are so many day trips and little villages you should check out that will last well over seven days.
While this itinerary guide is laid out as a 7-day guide, please note the “If You Have Time…” sections below each “day.” You can add an extra day or two by seeing the other villages listed here.
Don’t forget to scroll all the way to the bottom for my travel tips throughout the area!
I’ve included some of my favorite hotels in each area in this guide (complete with star ratings so you won’t have to search endlessly). I’ve also linked my favorite Airbnb properties in the post, but you can also see my list of favorites all in this link (don’t forget to use my code to get $40 off your Airbnb here).
Arrive in Avignon
Avignon, home of theater performances, a bridge that goes literally nowhere, and the perfect place to begin your journey. There’s not a whole heck of a lot to do in the city except explore some of the old historical landmarks so it makes a great half day if you’re flying/taking the train in from Paris.
If you find yourself coming in July, you’ll walk right into the middle of the most random and awesome annual arts festival, Festival D’Avignon. We may or may not have somehow wound up at an industry party with DJing mole rats…
What to Do in Avignon
Watch one of the performances, plays or buskers during the Festival d’Avignon (July)
Cross the bridge that goes nowhere, the Pont Saint-Bénézet aka the Pont d’Avignon
Travel just north of Avignon to dreamy Pujaut to dine at Michelin-starred restaurant Entre Vigne et Garrigue
Marvel at one of Europe’s most important medieval Gothic buildings and the Vatican’s former rival building, Palais de Papes
Take in the view and the people watching at the Place du Palais and have a glass of wine
Take part in the famous Vibrations sound and lights show (August to October)
Surround yourself in golden splendor at the Basilique Saint-Pierre d’Avignon
Get a small taste of Roman history at Pont du Gard
Enjoy the scenery at Jardin des doms
Save some money and pack a picnic to feast on along the Rhône River
Take a hike to the Middle Ages at the local Carthusian monastery, Chartreuse Notre-Dame-du-Val-e-Bénédiction
Attend the annual Avignon Jazz Festival (July to August)
Where to Stay in Avignon
Hotel D’Europe (*****)
La Mirande Hotel (*****)
Beautiful Apartment Across from Palais des Papes (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
Garland Hôtel Avignon Centre (***)
Régina Hotel (**)
Discover the Roman History of Provence
You may or may not be surprised to learn how much historical significance Provence holds, specifically during the Roman era. Towns like Arles, Nimes and Orange contain quite a few different UNESCO World Heritage sites due to the adaptation of an ancient city to medieval European civilization.
We didn’t have time to enjoy these cities as our priorities were a bit different. However, I think incorporating a sense of culture and history in your trip to Provence is very important, something we should continue to do on our trips instead of just taking photos and eating the best food.
If I could only do one, I’d probably head to Arles as there s a lot more to see and it’s a bit closer to the rest of the stops on this itinerary.
What to Do in Arles
Gaze upon the Ampitheatre, modeled after Rome’s Colliseum
Get in touch with nature at Camargue Nature Park
Check out the Romanesque church of Eglise St. Trophime
Enjoy more art at the International Photo Expo, or Rencontres d’Arles (July to September)
Explore the Abbey of Montmajour, a beautifully located abbey with incredible history and medieval roots
Grab some goods for a picnic at the local farmers market (held on Wednesdays and Saturdays)
Take a day trip to Fontvieille and enjoy a walk around Moulin de Daudet
Walk the creepy tunnels of Cryptoportiques
Attend the Les Suds à Arles, aka The World Music Festival (July)
What to Do in Nimes
Enjoy the city square of Esplanade de Charles de Gaulle
Explore the well preserved, Roman temples of La Maison Carée
Take in some art: contemporary at Le Carré d’Art and fine art at Le Musée des Beaux-Arts
Marvel at the world’s best preserved Roman amphitheatre, the Nimes Arena
I’ve listed the Feria de Pentecôte (bullfighting) festival here because it is a longstanding tradition and should be listed as a major, cultural event. However I find these events barbaric and would not attend them myself.
Enjoy the permanent market of Les Halles de Nîmes, where you will also find lively crowds, music, bars and restaurants
Check out the neo-gothic architecture of Place Gabriel Péri
What to Do in Orange
Take a day trip to the charming town of Gigondas and dine at L’Oustalet, the Michelin-starred restaurant
Listen to opera and classical music in Orange at Chorégies d’Orange (June to August)
Drink some award-winning wine at Chêne Bleu Winery
Check out two UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Roman Theatre of Orange and the Triumphal Arch of Orange
Take a roadtrip to the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave where you’ll find the most well-preserved cave paintings
Where to Stay in Arles
Hôtel Mas De Peint (*****)
Maison Volver (****)
Colorful Apartment in Old Town (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
Logis de la Muette (**)
Where to Stay in Nimes
Maison Albar Hotels L’Imperator (*****)
Hotel Novotel Atria Nimes Centre (****)
Appart’City Comfort Nimes Arenes (****)
Upscale Loft 10 Minutes from the Arena (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
Where to Stay in Orange
Villa Aurenjo (***)
Private Apartment in the Middle of Orange (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
Chambres d’Hôtes Mas Julien (***)
If You Have Time…
Though not known for its Roman influence as much, there is still a lot of Middle Age architecture in Venasque. The charming town is also known for its cherry and grape industry so that ALONE is worth visiting. It doesn’t get much more provencal than Uzès which still has a Duke in a castle as well as the Pont du Gard, a Roman aqueduct that cuts across the countryside. Saint-Remy-de-Provence is another very charming place to stop on your way to Day 3 of Provence adventures.
Explore The Small, Provencal French Towns
Hopefully you’re here between late June and early July to catch the lavender fields! But since that’s literally only 4 weeks out of 52, odds are you’re not. But that’s okay! These little villages have SO much to offer. Like Calendale at Christmas time or Journées du Patrimoine, aka French Heritage Days, where you get free access to historical sites and museums.
As much as I loved each of these places, they are very slow paced. So slow that we were able to visit three of them in one day (starting from Roussillon then to Gordes then to Valensole and staying in Aix-en-Provence for the night). If slow and steady is what you’re after, definitely stay a night in/around Roussillon or Gordes.
What to Do in Roussillon
Spend too much money at the open markets (especially the homemade jams; hosted on Thursdays)
Hike the famous Ohre Trail, a mineral found in the area and the color used to paint the literal town
Enjoy the buskers and a glass of wine in front of Hôtel de Ville (not actually a hotel, but the town hall)
What to Do in Gordes
Head to the “town view point” to grab a ‘gram-worthy photo
Visit the famous Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque for the monastery (but really, the lavender)
Shop around another amazing farmer’s market (hosted on Tuesdays)
Enjoy some fine-dining (and some of the best ice cream in Provence) at L’Estellan
What to Do in Valensole
Take all of the pictures of the legendary lavender fields, duh (the best spot is Lavandes Angelvin)
There’s also a ton of sunflower fields to photograph as well
If you’re here in the summer, check out the Annual Valensole Lavender Festival (held one day only in July)
What to Do in Lourmarin
Bask in the royal glow at the converted castle of Château d Lourmarin
Visit the vast and natural site of Luberon Regional Nature Park
Party at Festival Yeah! at Château de Lourmarin (June)
Enjoy the Summer Music Festival (July to October)
Enjoy yet another town market (this one is supposedly one of the best in the area; hosted Tuesday nights and Fridays)
Get some wine-tasting in at the famous Domaine de Fontenille winery (that you can also stay at overnight)
What to Do in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue
Find hidden treasures at the semi-annual antiques fair (Easter and August)
Wander the cobblestone streets and have a picnic along the canals and enjoy “the Venice of Provence”
Enjoy the weekly Sunday market or the annual floating market in August
Discover new and old artists at the famous Campredon Centre d’Art that holds art exhibits every year featuring famous artists
What to Do in Ménerbes
Enjoy Picasso’s old stomping grounds by seeing his work at various local, art museums
Check out architecture like Notre Dame des Graces and Chapelle Saint-Blaise
Take a brief road trip to Abbaye de Saint-Hilaire
Taste some of Provence’s best wine, truffle and olive oil at Maison de la tuffe et du Vin du Luberon
Where to Stay in Provence
Château de Fonscolombe, Aix-en-Provence (*****)
Le Pigonnet, Aix-en-Provence (*****)
Chateau de Fonscolombe, Le Puy-Sainte-Reparade (*****)
Le Petit Palais d’Aglae, Gordes (****)
Hotel Les Bories & Spa, Gordes (****)
Le Mas De La Rose, Orgon (****)
La Bastide de Marie, Ménerbes (****)
Private Apartment in Countryside Villa, Ménerbes (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
Hotel Les Sables d’Ocre, Roussillon (***)
La Maison des Ocres, Roussillon (***)
Charming Old World Home with Indoor Pool, Goult (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
If You Have Time…
I recommend checking out these small towns first as they’re quintessential to the Provence experience. But if you would like to enjoy a livelier scene, it’s worth exploring Aix-en-Provence for a day. Unless you want to stay in one of these gorgeous towns for a night to chill out and relax, it might be best to stay in Aix-en-Provence as it’s one step closer to your next destination on the coast.
Head South to Marseille
We heard a lot of mixed reviews about Marseille. Those who were not from the area said how dangerous it was. And of course the French people we met from Marseille were in love with it and couldn’t stop gushing. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to go. While planning the trip, we had initially kept it out based on what the former group had said and we regretted it.
Marseille is the oldest and second biggest city in France so naturally there’s a lot to see and do. But whatever you do, make sure you get your hands on some legendary seafood, as that is what Marseille is known for! That, and fantastic art and cinema.
What to Do in Marseille
Walk around the Old Port
Enjoy a picnic and the view at Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde
Head to the Calanques National Park and enjoy the water (just southeast of the Calanques)
Enjoy the view (and the sun) along La Corniche walkway
Marvel at the city’s history at Palais Longchamp(check out the Natural Museum and Museum of Fine Arts while you’re there if you’re into that sorta thing)
Try one of the five, Michelin-starred rated restaurants, Le Petit Nice, Alcyone, Une Table au SudUne Table au Sud, L’Epuisette and AM par Alexandre Mazzia, all of which are known for their amazing seafood
Enjoy the fireworks at Old Port during Bastille Day (July)
Walk around Marseille’s oldest and prettiest quarter, Le Panier
Where to Stay in Marseille
Le Petit Nice Passédat (*****)
InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu (*****)
NH Collection Marseille (****)
Les Bords de Mer (****)
Hotel 96 (***)
Trendy Apartment Near the Port (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
Mama Shelter (**)
Enjoy the Small Beach Town of Sainte-Maxime
It wouldn’t be a “clumsy traveler” itinerary if I didn’t include a happy accident of a town, and Sainte-Maxime is exactly that! We stumbled upon this city on our way up the coast for dinner and wished we had stayed longer! The town is charming, the locals are BEYOND friendly, and the view along the coast is gorgeous. Not to mention, the mussels in Sainte-Maxime are pretty legendary.
What to Do in Saint Maxime
Take in the view and the sun at Pointe des Sardinaux
Eat until your heart’s content with all-you-can-eat mussels at Le Montana, one of the best local restaurants
Meander through the cobblestone streets of Old Town
Enjoy the nightlife at the Port Privé de Sainte Maxime
Take a day trip to Verdon Gorge and rent a paddle boat (this is a great place for drone photography)
While you’re inland, enjoy one of the best wineries in Provence, Château e Berne
Try your luck at the city’s local casino, Casino Barrière de Sainte-Maxime
Stay cool at the local water park, Aqualand Sainte-Maxime
Where to Stay in Sainte-Maxime
Hotel La Belle Aurore (****)
Cute Apartment in the City Center (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
Le Petit Prince (***)
Matisse Hotel (***)
Princesse d’Azur (**)
If You Have Time…
I suppose if you’ve never seen Saint-Tropez, it’s worth going to. Personally, our time there was ruined once we decided to go to a douchey day club, but that’s not to say you would’t enjoy yourself. Just avoid the pretentious folk, which might be hard with Chanel on one corner and Dior on the other. If you’re looking for something more chill, I’d also check out Cassis!
And if you’re looking for something ultra hip, check out Porquerolles. This island is incredibly chic and known mostly by locals and those with yachts.
Where to Stay in Saint-Tropez
Hotel de Paris Saint-Tropez (*****)
Chateau de la Messardiere (*****)
Hôtel Le Mouillage (****)
Beautiful Apartment for Two Near Saint Tropez (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
Studio Apartment in Saint Tropez (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
Make Your Way to Nice
Nice has changed quite a bit since I last went there in 2013. The tourist scene is bustling, it seems a tad more run down, and there is more to do within the city itself. That being said, it’s still worth exploring as there are plenty of beautiful and ritzy things to do outside the center of the city. There are also some amazing day trips to be had from Nice. I mean, you just can’t go to the French Riviera and not head to Nice (to make a nice-Nice pun, at the very least), am I right?
What to Do in Nice
Rub elbows with the world’s greatest celebrities at the Cannes Film Festival (May)
Explore the beautiful peninsula of Sean Jean Cap Ferrat
Enjoy the color palette and checkered tiles of Place Masséna, Nice’s city square
Cool off with the city’s best ice cream at Fenocchio’s
Learn more about famous artist, Henri Matisse, at the Musée Matisse dedicated solely to him
Climb atop the famous Castle Hill and explore the Castle of Nice
Marvel at the gaudy St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral
Wander around the pink, pretty Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild
Watch the Paris to Nice Cycling Race (March)
Hang beachside at the more chill and gorgeous gulf of Villefranche-sur-Mer
Experience one of the largest festivals in the world at the Carnaval de Nice (February-March)
Check out the world famous Grand Prix in Monaco (May)
Where to Stay in Nice
Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat (*****)
Hyatt Regency Nice Palais de la Méditerranée (*****)
Hotel Royal-Riviera (*****)
Welcome Hotel (****)
Private Studio in City Center (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
Hotel Villa Rivoli (***)
If You Have Time…
Definitely hit up Cannes and Antibes. We didn’t have the opportunity to explore either but according to locals in Nice, Cannes is going OFF. It’s a bit more upscale and it’s way chill. I’ve also gotten a lot of intel from other bloggers and writers that Antibes is THE. PLACE. TO. GO.
Monaco would also be worth a night or two. I was bummed to miss this one, BUT wasn’t too sad when I heard it was a lot like Saint Tropez in it’s snottiness. Still, who doesn’t want to see the legendary Grand Prix or Monaco Casino?! Unless you see yourself partying at Jimmy’z all night, I would forgo the expensive stay in Monaco and just visit for the day.
If you want even more Medieval culture, maybe swing by Saint-Paul-de-Vence, one of the oldest Medieval towns in the country.
Where to Stay in Cannes
Hôtel Tiara Yaktsa Côte d’Azur (*****)
Le Mas Candille (*****)
Waterfront House (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
Private Villa with a Pool (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
Where to Stay in Antibes
Royal Antibes Hotel Beach & Spa (****)
Private, Old World Loft (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
Where to Stay in Monaco
Hotel De Paris Monte-Carlo (*****)
Fairmont Monte-Carlo (****)
Affordable Apartment in Central Location (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
Take a Day Trip to Menton
Despite only being here for the afternoon, I have a complete love affair with Menton. Maybe because of the beautiful, pastel buildings. Maybe because of it’s bordering, former-home of Italy. Maybe because their lemonade game is fire. Whatever, I’m not gonna question it. All I know, is that this place is relatively unknown to Americans, which makes me like it all the more. It’s 100% worth a gander and a quick 40-minute train ride from Nice.
What to Do in Menton
Take a walk along the famous ocean promenade and enjoy the colorful buildings (and snap an insta-pic or 20)
Wander along the cute alleyways and discover the Basilique St-Michel Archange
Wine and dine at one of the world’s best restaurants and the three Michelin star, Mirazur Ristorante
Explore the beloved Jean Cocteau sight and restored Musée du Bastion
Meet some old souls at the Cemetery of the Old Château
Drink all of the lemonade and check out the floats at the Lemon Festival aka the Fête du Citron (February-March)
Take a day trip to Grasse, perfume capital of France, and make your own beautiful scent
Where to Stay in Menton
Villa Philae (*****)
Hôtel Napoleon (****)
Ibis Styles Menton Centre (***)
Apartment with Ocean View (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
If You Have Time…
There are so many day trips (or single night stays) you can explore near Nice. Èze was one of my personal favorites (especially Château Eza and the restaurant there.)
Where to Stay Èze
Hôtel Cap-Estel (*****)
Chateau Eza (*****)
Chateau de la Chevre d’Or (*****)
Hotel Les Terrasses d’Eze (****)
Private Beach House (***) (use this code for $40 off your Airbnb stay)
Getting Around Provence and Côte d’Azur
Driving is the best way to get around such vast distances on your own time. However, we used a car for the first four days in the countryside and took the train along the coast. When it comes to renting a car, try to get as small as possible. The roads are narrow and it helps when driving around tiny villages.
If you’re booking a car in advance online, make sure you book for an automatic car (unless you know how to drive stick, aka manual). We made that mistake and that’s why we THOUGHT we had a great price. In reality, it will be a bit more expensive but if you book in advance, you will still save money.
The train was super affordable and very efficient. You can buy tickets at the station upon arrival, but it’s better to buy tickets in advance if you’re going long distances. Use the OUI.sncf site for the cheapest option within France!
When is the Best Time to Travel to Provence and Côte d’Azur
I mean, let’s be real here: THERE IS NO BAD TIME TO VISIT FRANCE. Christmas is charming, the Fall is stunning, Spring is cool and it’s a great time to party in the Summer!
But if you have to pick the ideal season, I would go with Spring or Fall. It’s shoulder season, the crowds will be less and it won’t be nearly as hot. If you do come in the summer, there isn’t a lot of AC around France so bring a fan if you can.
What Should You Pack for Provence and Côte d’Azur
This, of course, if very dependent on the season you’re traveling in. But remember: this is where the upper crust tends to travel, so bring your fancy outfits. Beautiful white dresses for traipsing around colorful villages, striped linen rompers for the seaside, cute bathing suits and cover ups for any pool/beach parties, and of course cocktail attire for fancy restaurants.
Have You Been to the South of France? What Else Should I Add to my Provence and Côte d’Azur Itinerary?
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