Best Things to Do in the South of France: 12 Cool Places to Visit

by Flora
Here are some of the most fun, visually spectacular, and exceptional things to do in the South of France.
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Are you thinking about exploring the South of France soon? Here are some of the most fun, visually spectacular, and exceptional things to do in the South of France. These places of interest, events, and attractions are sure to make for an unforgettable vacation experience.

Ah the South of France! A region that effortlessly blends the allure of sun-kissed beaches, the charm of medieval villages, and the aroma of lavender fields. It’s a destination that beckons travelers with its promise of unforgettable experiences and memories waiting to be made. As far as best things to do in the South of France go, the selection is as endless as the azure waters that kiss its shores.

From the glitz and glamor of Cannes to the tranquil beauty of the Luberon, the South of France is a tapestry of diverse landscapes and cultures. It’s where the past and present coexist, where every corner holds a story, and where every moment feels like a scene straight out of a movie.

For those seeking a blend of adventure, relaxation, and a dash of the extraordinary, this region is your ultimate playground. Here’s everything you need to know about these fun things to do in the South of France.

The top places to visit in the South of France right now
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Best Places to Visit in the South of France

Ready to deep dive into all the most fun things to do in the South of France? If you’re a first-time visitor or a seasoned traveler, there’s always something new to discover in this enchanting part of the world. Keep reading and let’s embark on a journey through the coolest destination in the South of France.

Are you looking to explore architectural marvels and iconic historical sites? Or maybe you prefer to go for leisurely strolls admiring stunning natural landscapes?  Whatever you’re planning, these must-sees in the South of France can accommodate your needs. Here’s all the best attractions in the South of France that you should know about.

1. Saint-Paul de Vence

Nestled in the heart of the French Riviera, Saint-Paul de Vence is a medieval hilltop village that’s a dream for art enthusiasts and history buffs alike. As you wander through its cobblestone streets, you’ll be transported back in time, surrounded by well-preserved ramparts and historic buildings. The village is a hub for art galleries, where you can discover works from both local and international artists. It’s no wonder that this spot is one of the best places in the French Riviera for art lovers.

Saint-Paul de Vence is a captivating hilltop village known for its cobblestone streets and panoramic views.
Saint-Paul de Vence is a captivating hilltop village known for its cobblestone streets and panoramic views.

The views from Saint-Paul de Vence are nothing short of breathtaking. Overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, the panorama offers a serene backdrop to this artistic enclave. And if you’re a foodie, rejoice! The local bistros serve up delectable Provençal cuisine that’s sure to tantalize your taste buds.

For those wondering where to visit in the South of France, Saint-Paul de Vence is a must. Its blend of history, art, and stunning vistas make it a destination that shouldn’t be missed. If you’re crafting your travel itinerary, make sure to pencil in some time to explore this gem.

2. Eze

Perched high above the shimmering Mediterranean Sea, Eze is a picturesque village that offers panoramic views that will leave you spellbound. This medieval gem is a labyrinth of narrow alleys, stone houses, and blooming flowers, making it one of the unique places in the South of France to explore.

A medieval labyrinth of alleys and stone houses, Eze is a distinctive South of France gem to discover.
A medieval labyrinth of alleys and stone houses, Eze is a distinctive South of France gem to discover.

As you meander through its streets, you’ll come across artisan shops selling handcrafted goods. Its perfumeries wafts with the scents of the region, and art galleries showcasing the talent of local artists. The village’s crown jewel is the Jardin Exotique d’Èze. This is a garden filled with cacti, succulents, and sculptures, all set against the backdrop of the azure sea.

After exploring the village, make your way to the top for a view that’s worth every step. As the sun sets, the village transforms into a romantic haven, with its golden lights reflecting off the cobblestones. Truly, Eze is a testament to the timeless beauty and charm of the South of France. For those pondering what to do in the South of France, a visit to Eze should be high on your list.

3. Monaco

Top things to do in the French Riviera can’t touch Monaco! Stepping into Monaco feels like entering a world of opulence and grandeur. This tiny, independent city-state is a haven for the elite, with its luxury yachts, upscale casinos, and the renowned Grand Prix drawing visitors from all over the globe. If you’re wondering about the coolest activities in the South of France, Monaco offers a blend of glamor, culture, and adventure.

Monaco, a tiny city-state, lures the elite with luxury yachts, upscale casinos, and the renowned Grand Prix.
Monaco, a tiny city-state, lures the elite with luxury yachts, upscale casinos, and the renowned Grand Prix.

The Prince’s Palace is perched on a rocky promontory. This offers a glimpse into the royal life, while the Oceanographic Museum showcases the wonders of the marine world. For those who love the thrill of the game, the Casino de Monte-Carlo is a must-visit. Its lavish interiors and high-stakes games make it one of the best places to go in the South of France for entertainment.

Stroll through the manicured gardens, dine at gourmet restaurants, or simply soak in the views of the Mediterranean. Every corner of Monaco exudes luxury. For travelers seeking both relaxation and excitement, this city-state promises an experience like no other, making it a must-see on any travel itinerary.

4. Antibes

Antibes is a radiant coastal town that perfectly captures the essence of the Mediterranean lifestyle. With its sun-drenched beaches, historic old town, and bustling markets, it’s a destination that offers a delightful mix of relaxation and exploration. If you’re looking for the best places in the South of France to visit, Antibes is one you don’t want to miss.

The town’s maritime heritage is evident in its impressive yachts moored at Port Vauban, Europe’s largest marina. History enthusiasts will be captivated by Fort Carré, a 16th-century fortress offering panoramic views of the town and the sea. Art lovers, on the other hand, can’t miss the Picasso Museum, housed in the Château Grimaldi, where the legendary artist once lived and worked.

The vibrant market at Cours Masséna is a feast for the senses, with stalls brimming with fresh produce, fragrant spices, and local crafts. As evening descends, the town’s many bistros and cafes come alive, offering a taste of the region’s delectable cuisine. In Antibes, every moment feels like a celebration of life, making it one of the coolest destinations in the South of France.

5. Cannes

Famed for its international film festival, Cannes is more than just a red carpet and celebrity sightings. This glamorous seaside town, one of the best places in the South of France, offers a blend of cultural richness, sandy beaches, and luxury shopping. When you think of the South of France attractions, Cannes surely stands out with its palm-lined boulevards and elegant seafront promenades.

Cannes is a chic coastal town, combines cultural heritage and upscale shopping.
Cannes is a chic coastal town, combines cultural heritage and upscale shopping.

La Croisette, the town’s main boulevard, is perfect for a leisurely stroll, with upscale boutiques on one side and the sparkling Mediterranean on the other. For a dose of history, head to Le Suquet, the old town. This is where narrow winding streets lead to the Musée de la Castre, offering panoramic views of the bay.

Beach lovers will find their paradise here, with both public and private beaches offering golden sands and azure waters. And when the sun sets, Cannes comes alive with its vibrant nightlife, from chic bars to world-class restaurants.

If you’re thinking of where to go in the South of France, you should definitely consider Cannes which offers a mix of luxury, culture, and natural beauty. It’s a destination that promises unforgettable moments and experiences that linger long after the trip ends.

6. St. Tropez

St. Tropez is synonymous with luxury, sun, and the sea. This glamorous seaside town has long been a favorite among celebrities and jet-setters, making it one of the must-see in the South of France destinations. With its golden beaches, historic old town, and vibrant nightlife, St. Tropez offers a taste of the good life on the French Riviera.

St. Tropez is a glamorous coastal town, cherished by celebrities and jet-setters, is a must-see destination in the South of France.
St. Tropez is a glamorous coastal town, cherished by celebrities and jet-setters, is a must-see destination in the South of France.

The town’s marina is a spectacle in itself, with luxury yachts dotting the harbor and chic cafes lining the quays. For art enthusiasts, the Musée de l’Annonciade showcases works from renowned artists who were inspired by the town’s beauty. And for those who love to go for a bit of shopping, the bustling Place des Lices market offers a range of local produce and crafts.

Beach lovers will be spoilt for choice, with both public and private beaches offering pristine sands and clear waters. As evening approaches, the town’s many bars and clubs come alive, offering a nightlife experience like no other.

For travelers seeking a mix of relaxation, luxury, and culture, St. Tropez is a destination that promises memories that will last a lifetime. It’s undoubtedly one of the coolest destinations in the South of France.

7. Gorges du Verdon

Dramatic, breathtaking, and awe-inspiring – these words only begin to describe the Gorges du Verdon. It is often hailed as Europe’s answer to the Grand Canyon. This natural wonder is one of the best things to do in the South of France for adventure seekers and nature enthusiasts alike.

Carved by the Verdon River, the gorge boasts turquoise waters set against limestone cliffs that rise up to 700 meters. The views from the canyon’s rim are nothing short of spectacular. This offers panoramas of the winding river below and the verdant forests surrounding it. For those who love outdoor activities, the Gorges du Verdon offers opportunities for hiking, rock climbing, and white-water rafting.

The Gorges du Verdon, a natural marvel, is a top activity in the South of France for adventure and nature lovers.
The Gorges du Verdon, a natural marvel, is a top activity in the South of France for adventure and nature lovers.

The nearby Lac de Sainte-Croix is a perfect spot for a leisurely paddle or a refreshing swim. Its azure waters are a stark contrast to the rugged beauty of the gorge. This makes it a popular spot for both locals and tourists.

In a region known for its coastal towns and beaches, the Gorges du Verdon stands out as a testament to nature’s grandeur. It’s a must-see in the South of France, offering an experience that’s both thrilling and serene.

8. Luberon

The Luberon region is filled with picturesque hilltop villages, sprawling vineyards, and fragrant lavender fields. This is a dreamy escape that captures the essence of Provence. It’s one of those places in the South of France where time seems to slow down, allowing you to savor every moment.

Each village in Luberon has its own unique charm. From the stone houses of Gordes to the colorful facades of Roussillon, there’s a story waiting to be discovered around every corner.

Luberon is a must-visit destination in the South of France for travelers seeking an authentic countryside experience.
Luberon is a must-visit destination in the South of France for travelers seeking an authentic countryside experience.

The region is also a haven for food and wine enthusiasts. Local markets brim with fresh produce, cheeses, and olives, while the vineyards invite you to taste some of the finest wines of Provence. And let’s not forget the lavender fields, which come alive in a burst of purple every summer, offering a sensory experience that’s hard to match.

For travelers seeking a genuine taste of the French countryside, Luberon is the place to be, with its offering of a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. It’s one of the coolest destinations in the South of France that is sure to be a highlight of your trip.

9. Aix-en-Provence

Looking for more things to do in the French Riviera? Don’t miss this incredible destination!

Aix-en-Provence, often referred to as the city of a thousand fountains, is a vibrant blend of history, culture, and art. As you wander through its narrow streets, you’ll be captivated by the elegant architecture, lively markets, and the gentle sound of water flowing from its many fountains. For those seeking unique places in the South of France, Aix is a treasure trove of experiences.

The Cours Mirabeau, lined with plane trees and dotted with cafes, is the heart of the city. Here, locals and tourists alike gather to enjoy the Provençal way of life. The Saint-Sauveur Cathedral, with its mix of Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque styles, is a testament to the city’s rich history.

Aix-en-Provence is a renowned for its artistic heritage and elegant architecture.
Aix-en-Provence is a renowned for its artistic heritage and elegant architecture.

Art enthusiasts will find their haven in Aix. The Atelier Cézanne offers a glimpse into the life and work of the famous artist, while the Musée Granet boasts an impressive collection of European art.

With its thermal spas, vibrant festivals, and delectable cuisine, it’s a city that promises both relaxation and excitement. Truly, Aix is one of the best places in the South of France to immerse yourself in the Provençal charm.

10. Marseille

Marseille, France’s oldest city, is a melting pot of cultures, flavors, and histories. As you explore its bustling ports, historic districts, and vibrant markets, you’ll discover a city that’s both ancient and modern. For those wondering what to do in the South of France, Marseille offers a rich tapestry of experiences.

The Old Port, or Vieux-Port, has been the trading center of Marseille for over 2,600 years. Today, it’s a lively hub where fishermen sell their catch alongside luxury yachts. Overlooking the port is the majestic Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde, offering panoramic views of the city and the Mediterranean.

Marseille is a vibrant port city in the South of France, known for its diverse culture and Mediterranean charm.
Marseille is a vibrant port city in the South of France, known for its diverse culture and Mediterranean charm.

Culture enthusiasts will love the MuCEM, a museum dedicated to the civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean. For a taste of the local life, the Noailles market is a must-visit, brimming with spices, textiles, and the sounds of diverse languages.

Marseille’s Calanques National Park, with its limestone cliffs and azure waters, is a haven for nature lovers. The park also allows for outdoor activities and is perfect for hiking, kayaking, or simply soaking in the views.

With its blend of tradition and modernity, Marseille is a city that promises endless discoveries. It’s undoubtedly one of the best places to go in the South of France.

11. Avignon

Avignon, often referred to as the “City of Popes,” is steeped in history and charm. With its medieval walls, cobblestone streets, and the iconic Palais des Papes, Avignon is a must-see in the South of France. This is especially true for history buffs and culture enthusiasts.

The Palais des Papes was once the residence of seven consecutive popes. This stands as a testament to the city’s significance during the 14th century. Its grand halls and intricate frescoes transport visitors back in time. Just a stone’s throw away, the Pont Saint-Bénézet, or the Pont d’Avignon, stretches across the Rhône River, immortalized in the famous French song.

Avignon, with medieval walls and the iconic Palais des Papes, is a South of France must-see for history and culture lovers.
Avignon, with medieval walls and the iconic Palais des Papes, is a South of France must-see for history and culture lovers.

Avignon’s annual theater festival, Festival d’Avignon, is a cultural extravaganza. Artists and performers from around the world flock to the city, transforming its streets into a vibrant stage.

The city’s markets, like Les Halles, offer a feast for the senses, with stalls brimming with local produce, cheeses, and wines. As you wander through Avignon, the aroma of freshly baked pastries and the sound of laughter fill the air, capturing the essence of Provençal life.

In every corner, Avignon whispers tales of its glorious past, making it one of the coolest destinations in the South of France.

12. Arles

Arles, a gem on the banks of the Rhône River, is a city that effortlessly blends Roman history with the vibrancy of modern-day Provence. For art enthusiasts, Arles is one of the best things to do in the South of France.

The Roman amphitheater is once echoed with the roars of gladiatorial combat. It now serves as a venue for concerts and traditional bullfights. Nearby, the Romanesque Arles Cathedral stands as a testament to the city’s religious significance, with its intricate carvings and serene cloisters.

For those passionate about art, visiting Arles is a top attraction in the South of France.
For those passionate about art, visiting Arles is a top attraction in the South of France.

Arles was the inspiration for many of Vincent van Gogh’s masterpieces. The Fondation Vincent van Gogh pays homage to the artist, showcasing his works alongside contemporary pieces. As you stroll through the city, you can even discover the very spots that inspired his paintings.

The lively markets of Arles offer a sensory delight, with stalls laden with fresh produce, artisanal cheeses, and Provençal fabrics.

With its rich tapestry of history, art, and culture, Arles is a destination that promises a journey through time. It’s one of the unique places in the South of France that leaves an indelible mark on every traveler.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on the Best Things to Do in the South of France

Looking for more content on the top things to do in the South of France? Here are some popular questions (and answers) I get that will help you plan your trip to the South of France:

When is the best time to visit the South of France?

The ideal time to explore the South of France is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to October) when the weather is pleasant, and the tourist crowds are thinner.

How many days should I spend in the South of France?

A week to ten days is recommended to truly immerse yourself in the region’s beauty, culture, and history. However, even a short weekend trip can offer a delightful taste of what the area has to offer.

What is South of France best known for?

The South of France is known for its glamorous allure, stunning landscapes, and unique cultural heritage. Here’s what makes this region particularly special:

  1. Glamorous Beach Resorts: Cities like Nice, Cannes, and Saint-Tropez are famous for their luxurious beach resorts. They attract celebrities and jet-setters from around the world. The Cannes Film Festival is a highlight, showcasing glitz and glamour every year.
  2. Mediterranean Climate: The South of France enjoys a pleasant Mediterranean climate, with hot, dry summers and mild winters. This weather creates perfect conditions for enjoying the beautiful beaches and outdoor activities.
  3. Provence’s Countryside: Beyond the glitzy coastline, the rolling hills and lavender fields of Provence offer a more rustic charm. The region is known for its vineyards, producing some of France’s finest wines, including the famous rosé.
  4. Historical Sites: The South of France is rich in history. It includes landmarks like the Roman amphitheater in Nîmes and the Palais des Papes in Avignon. The medieval town of Carcassonne is a UNESCO World Heritage site and a must-visit.
  5. Cuisine: The culinary delights of the South of France are renowned, with a focus on fresh seafood, olive oil, herbs, and local produce. Bouillabaisse, a traditional fish stew, is a regional specialty.
  6. Luxury Shopping: The region is also known for its high-end shopping. Designer boutiques line the streets of its fashionable cities.

Whether you’re drawn to the sparkling blue waters of the Mediterranean, the artistic heritage, the historical landmarks, or the delectable cuisine, the South of France offers a blend of luxury and tradition that makes it a unique and appealing destination.

Is the South of France expensive to visit?

While some areas, especially the glamorous coastal towns, can be pricier, there are plenty of affordable options for accommodation, dining, and activities. Planning in advance and exploring off-the-beaten-path destinations can help manage costs.

The South of France combines sun, history, cuisine, and culture for a diverse must-visit experience.
The South of France combines sun, history, cuisine, and culture for a diverse must-visit experience.

What are the must-try foods in the South of France?

Indulge in bouillabaisse, ratatouille, tapenade, and socca. Don’t forget to pair your meals with the region’s renowned rosé wines!

Are there any local festivals or events I should look out for?

Absolutely! From the Cannes Film Festival to the lavender festivals in Provence, there’s always something happening. Check local calendars for events during your visit.

Is the South of France worth going to?

Absolutely! The South of France offers a captivating blend of sun-drenched beaches, historic towns, gourmet cuisine, and vibrant culture, making it a must-visit destination for any traveler seeking a rich and diverse experience.

How can I spend 4 days in South of France?

Spending 4 days in the South of France offers a chance to explore some of the region’s highlights. Here’s a suggested itinerary that balances relaxation, sightseeing, and cultural experiences:

Day 1: Nice

  • Morning: Arrive in Nice and check into your hotel. Start your exploration with a leisurely stroll along the famous Promenade des Anglais.
  • Afternoon: Visit the Marc Chagall National Museum or the Matisse Museum. Explore the Old Town (Vieux Nice) with its narrow streets, markets, and cafes.
  • Evening: Enjoy dinner at a seafront restaurant, sampling local Niçoise cuisine.

Day 2: Cannes and Antibes

  • Morning: Take a short train ride to Cannes. Walk along La Croisette, visit the Palais des Festivals, and explore the old quarter, Le Suquet.
  • Afternoon: Head to Antibes, visit the Picasso Museum, and explore the charming old town.
  • Evening: Return to Nice for dinner or enjoy a meal in Antibes before heading back.

Saint-Tropez and Surroundings (Day 3)

  • Morning: Take a ferry or drive to Saint-Tropez. Explore the harbor, filled with luxurious yachts, and visit the Citadel for panoramic views.
  • Afternoon: Relax on Pampelonne Beach or explore nearby vineyards for wine tasting.
  • Evening: Enjoy a glamorous dinner in Saint-Tropez and experience the vibrant nightlife.

Day 4: Aix-en-Provence or Monaco (Choose based on interest)

  • Option A (Cultural and Countryside): Aix-en-Provence
    • Morning: Travel to Aix-en-Provence. Explore Cours Mirabeau, visit Saint-Sauveur Cathedral, and enjoy the local markets.
    • Afternoon: Visit Cézanne’s studio or take a short trip to the Luberon to see the lavender fields (seasonal).
    • Evening: Return to Nice for a farewell dinner.
  • Option B (Glamour and Casinos): Monaco
    • Morning: Travel to Monaco. Visit the Prince’s Palace, the Oceanographic Museum, and the famous Casino de Monte-Carlo.
    • Afternoon: Explore the exotic gardens and enjoy the luxury shopping.
    • Evening: Dine in style at one of Monaco’s gourmet restaurants.

This itinerary offers a taste of the South of France’s diverse attractions, from glamorous coastal cities to artistic heritage and stunning landscapes.

What is the best part of the South of France?

The best part of the South of France is its enchanting diversity, from the glittering Côte d’Azur beaches to the serene lavender fields of Provence. Every region offers a unique blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. This ensures that there’s something for every traveler to fall in love with.

Final Thoughts on Exploring the South of France

The South of France, with its sun-kissed beaches, historic towns, and aromatic lavender fields, is a dream destination for many. Every corner of this region tells a story, from ancient Roman ruins to vibrant markets and art that has inspired generations. As you plan your journey, let your heart be your guide. Whether you’re sipping rosé on a terrace in Provence, exploring the art of Van Gogh in Arles, or simply soaking in the Mediterranean sun, the South of France promises memories that will last a lifetime. Prepare your luggage and brace yourself for a journey that mirrors the diversity and richness of the Provençal scenery. The splendid South of France is ready for your exploration!

the top things to do in the South of France for all types of travelers
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