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France, Nice

Where are the best places to visit and stay in the south of France?

Would love to see the countryside and have some authentic experiences - would also like to be by the beach for some of the time.

6 Answers

top answer by
Courtney from Los Angeles

You're going to my most favorite part of the world, Jason--so jealous!

Here are my favorite spots there in no particular order:

Saint-Tropez - this might be one of the best people-watching towns in the world. It's a giant pain in the neck to get in and out of (be prepared for traffic) but well worth it. Lots of incredible shops and restaurants and one beautiful street after another. Don't miss it!
Aix-en-Provence - They call this the Paris of the South and it's easy to see why. It's a very sophisticated town with just enough of a sleepy vibe to give it a small town feeling. Great markets here if you're into that. Great spas here, too!

Monaco - Again, the people watching here is like nothing else you've ever experienced and reason enough to go. Aside from that, though, it's a stunner of a place and while there isn't even really that much to do, it's such a lovely place to see that you should try your best to make it there. 

L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue - If you don't like antiques this place isn't for you but if you do, you're going to be in heaven. This town is to antiques what cheese is to Wisconsin--it's full of little antiques stores and has constant festivals (especially in the summer).  

Le Castellet - this is one of my all-time most favorite towns in France. It's essentially a village of artisans on the top of a hill that overlooks the French countryside. It's a lovely, really special place that very few foreign tourists know about. You'll need a car to get there, though. 

Avignon - My French friends hate that I like Avignon (no idea why) but I stand by my assertion that it's a great, fun, interesting place that has a great cafe culture. A little touristy, no doubt, but still worth seeing for its history and its liveliness. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie - this town is a little like Isle Sur-la-Sorgue in that it specifically focuses on one thing--in this case faience ceramics--so if you're not into that you may not be a bit fan of the place. That said I can't stand faience and yet this town is one of my favorites because it's so beautiful and lively. Check it out if you can!Saint-Remy-de-Provence - I don't know about you, but when I'm on vacation I always seem to have a day when I just need to refuel and St. Remy is a great place to do just that. It's a sleepy little picturesque town where you can just have a nice quiet day in a pretty place. Not a lot goes on here, but that's what I like about it.  

Arles - In the interest of full disclosure I should say that I've never liked this town. I've always found it depressing, overrated, unnecessarily expensive and unexciting. That said, if you have even the slightest interest in Van Gogh, a visit here is a must. You'll see his work in a whole new light. 

Cassis - Cassis certainly isn't the most exciting place on this list from a social standpoint, but it's a lovely, pleasant seaside town that has some great restaurants and a couple of fabulous art galleries. I usually come here to or from my way to other places--it's a great stopping point to have some lunch by the water, buy some espadrilles and people-watch the locals. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Saint-Tropez (attraction)
  2. Aix-en-Provence (city)
  3. Monaco (country)
  4. L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (city)
  5. Le Castellet (city)
  6. Avignon (city)
  7. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie (city)
  8. Saint-Remy-de-Provence (city)
  9. Arles (city)
  10. Cassis (city)
8 thanks

answered by
Rlee from Toronto

You just can't go wrong in the south of France! We went a few years ago and stayed near Nice for a week, which is convenient for Monaco, Antibes and beautiful hilltop villages like Eze and Saint-Paul-de-Vence. We also loved Villefranche-sur-Mer, a gorgeous seaside town with lovely waterside restaurants. You can walk along the coastal path to Beaulieu-sur-Mer as well - stunning.

We also stayed near Saint-Tropez for a week. The beaches there are unparalleled and we would recommend a day at one of the beach clubs at Pampelone. We stayed near Sainte-Maxime and took the boat to Saint-Tropez which was very romantic. We loved Ramatuelle which is a perfect lunch spot And Grimaud for its castle.

This summer we are spending 10 days in Provence. We are staying in the Luberon near Avignon which has an abundance of beautiful hill towns like RoussillonBonnieux and Gordes. We will also visit Saint-Remy-de-ProvenceAix-en-Provence and Chateauneuf-du-Pape, all within 1 hour of Avignon. 

Bon vacances!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Nice (city)
  2. Monaco (country)
  3. Antibes (attraction)
  4. Eze (city)
  5. Saint-Paul-de-Vence (city)
  6. Villefranche-sur-Mer (city)
  7. Saint-Tropez (attraction)
  8. Sainte-Maxime (city)
  9. Ramatuelle (city)
  10. Grimaud (city)
  11. Provence (attraction)
  12. Avignon (city)
  13. Roussillon (city)
  14. Bonnieux (city)
  15. Gordes (region)
  16. Saint-Remy-de-Provence (city)
  17. Aix-en-Provence (city)
  18. Chateauneuf-du-Pape (city)
  19. Beaulieu-sur-Mer (city)
5 thanks

answered by
Christopher from Nashville

IF you like (a) small old villages, (b) driving a car, (c) beaches only a short hike away, (d) a waterfront room with incredible views and (e) lots and lots of fascinating places nearby, stay at the Hotel Welcome in lovely Villefranche-sur-Mer. There's a parking lot across the street and you're right there next to the Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat and Beaulieu-sur-Mer. It's a short drive to Monaco, Eze, Nice, and a dozen other phenomenal places to see. You could even take day trips further afield to places like Cannes, St-Tropez, or Menton. Just driving on the famous corniches between Nice and Monaco is a thrill in itself ... if you like to drive. And it's not terribly expensive.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Villefranche-sur-Mer (city)
  2. Monaco (country)
  3. Eze (city)
  4. Nice (city)
  5. Cannes (attraction)
  6. Menton (attraction)
  7. Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat (city)
  8. Beaulieu-sur-Mer (city)
4 thanks

answered by
Diana from Varenna

Hi Jason, I just saw your question.  I did a masters program in Nice and have some friends who still live in the area-- Will you have a car?  How long would you like to stay?  I know of a private house (owned my a friends parents) that is for rent in Carros.  I've stayed there a few time, and if you have a car, it's great.  (If you don't have a car- I wouldn't bother.  It's too hard to rely on the public transportation).  Authentic experience, in the country with views of the sea.  Hope this helps!  As for beaches: my favorite two are: Juan les Pins (great town) or more hidden is Paloma Beach on Cap Ferrat.

Here is the contact info for the house, if you want to check it out:

T: +45 28 86 21 54
More about Villa Romarine:

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Carros (city)
  2. Juan les Pins (attraction)
  3. Paloma Beach (attraction)
3 thankscomments (1)

answered by
Jillian from Los Angeles

I was in the south of France last May, and I highly recommend the charming little town Juan les Pins located right next to Antibes. It's a very walkable town, with a variety of eats and drinks. If you are looking to spend a few days on the beach, this is a great place to do so.We stayed at the Garden Beach Hotel Juan-les-Pinswhich was nice and perfect location right on the beach. I recommend renting a few beach chairs on the private hotel dock, where they serve you cocktails as you listen to the sound of the waves and soak up the sun. Yep.For the best crepes, walk a short ways up the beach to La Terrasse. Sit outside and try this nutella on. Warning, you might want seconds. 

Also, if you make it to Cannes, you *must* eat dinner at Bistrot les Canailles. Seriously some of the best authentic french food I've ever had. 
Hope this helps, and enjoy your trip!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Juan les Pins (attraction)
  2. Antibes (attraction)
  3. Garden Beach Hotel Juan-les-Pins (attraction)
  4. La Terrasse (restaurant)
  5. Cannes (attraction)
  6. Bistrot les Canailles (restaurant)
3 thanks

answered first by
Jacey & Scott from Fort Collins

I based in Cannes a few years back.  Rented a car.  Spent one morning (woke up early) and drove along the coast to Monte Carlo.  It's a perfect day trip.  Stop anywhere along the way you want and have breakfast and lunch.  I adored the city of Saint-Paul-de-Vence.  It is a rampart village with no vehicles allowed-wonderful little places to grab a bite or drink and gorgeous artist studios/shops.  The views are spectacular.  I also loved the little town of Biot  It is known for their glass blowing.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Saint-Paul-de-Vence (city)
  2. Biot (city)
3 thanks

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