The South of France is one of my favourite places in the world and I would happily retire there. The slower pace of life combined with the weather, people, blue skies and amazing scenery makes a very idyllic picture.
I loved it so much that eight days were simply not enough. I had a taste of heaven and I cannot wait to go back.
Today I will share my itinerary, in case you are floundering to narrow down your options.
DAY 1 – Aix en Provence
The first stop was in the town of Aix en Provence where I promptly succumbed to a cold. Aix en Provence was my first taste of the Provence life and I was hooked. It was simply beautiful with the market in the square, small laneways with shops and a convivial feeling.
We never did make it to the Paul Cezanne Atelier, but I have heard great things about it and will definitely go visit on my next trip, and hopefully I won’t be sick.
Fun Fact: Scott went to ask the receptionist of our hotel where he could go get some drugs for my cold, and the hotel person pointed him to the police station. Drugs have a different meaning in France, make sure to ask for medicines or “medicaments”
DAY 2 and DAY 3 – Avignon
Avignon was a dream come true. If you read my best villages in Provence articles, then you will know that for me Avignon is forever associated with the famous “Pont D’Avignon” song.
The landscape and scenery in Avignon is breathtaking with the vineyard and gorgeous buildings.
DAY 4 and DAY 5 – Moustier Sainte Marie
Moustier Sainte Marie is one of my favorite villages in France. It is one of those places that I will always remember because of the sheer joy that I experienced there. I was truly happy. I felt so free and filled with hope and energy and that is mainly down to the scenery and feel in that little village. It felt magical in ways that you might not understand unless you visit it.
This is one of my must see destinations on any road trip through Provence.
DAY 6 – Frejus
If you want to be on the Côte D’Azur without paying a premium to be in Nice or Cannes, then Frejus will fit the bill. This is a gorgeous coastal town with some nice beaches and plenty of accommodation. My only regret is that we did not spend as much time in Frejus.
DAY 7 and DAY 8 – Nice
Of all the places we stayed at in the south of France, Nice was probably my least favorite as it had that big city feel. It was quite busy with lots of tourists and shops galore. It is however still a beautiful place with the blue waters and scenery.
Nice is the perfect place to finish this particular road trip as it has a major international airport, from which we flew to London.
Find a base
The one thing that I would do differently is that I would pick somewhere central to the places that I want to visit and spend a minimum of 4 days in one location. I found that we ended up moving around too much which cuts into precious sightseeing time.
Checking in and checking out always takes more time than I think and then it invariably makes us grumpy to have to pack and unpack every couple of days.
So on reflection, choosing a base is key to a successful trip in the South of France.
When I was daydreaming and planning of our road trip in France, I would conjure images of us driving on small roads with beautiful scenery and stopping at villages along the way. The reality is that a lot of the time is spent on AutoRoutes, with not much to see except big ugly roads and other cars.
We did drive on some local roads but the majority of the time was on autoroutes and the reason being is that using the autoroute cut down on travel time by nearly half.
Expect to pay tolls and lots of it on your road trip through France. Make sure to carry some coins with you in case there are issues with the card machines or no way to pay by cards.
The Michelin website is a great tool to have for any road trip through Europe. It gives you the best route options, the amount you are going to pay on tolls as well as fuel.
In summer months, the roads can get very congested. It is very important that you plan your route ahead of time. But more importantly, it is very important to book accommodations and/or activities in advance, as they are all in limited supply as everyone descends onto the beach and sunny Provence.
We booked accommodation for the first and last leg of our trip but left the middle up in the air, deciding to let the journey unfold. The only reason it ended up working for us, was because we travelled during early spring before the peak season.
Our Road trip through the France was over before I was ready for it. I cannot wait to do a longer road trip and spend more time exploring all the little villages and beautiful beaches.
What is your favorite place in the south of France? If you are doing a road trip in the south of France, let us know where you are planning to go?