If you are planning your summer holidays and you are looking for information on where to go in the South of France, then just follow our handy guide of the very best places to visit. We have grouped these South France tourist attractions into distinct regions of the South of France, but to be honest getting around is quite simple. There is an excellent road network and the trains are superb. The South of France is a great place to visit. It has a wonderful climate with long warm summer days stretching through to September and October. There is a really super coast, with many fantastic beaches. You also find a rich variety of places to visit, from chic resorts, sleepy old villages and astonishing historical monuments dating back to Roman times (and before. One thing which is often not mentioned in the guide books however, is how beautiful the scenery is. Well obviously everyone knows about the Pyrenees, but how many people explore the Cevennes, the Corbieres hills, the Plateau du Larzac and the Lozere region. It really is the perfect French holiday destination.
Best time to visit the South of France
In terms of the best time to visit the South of France, avoid late November through to January because it is absolutely freezing. My favourite time is April and May and then September and October.Basically from May through to September you can usually guarantee good weather.June is usually very pleasant up in the late 70F's/mid 20C's. In July and August you can expect to get many days around 90F/30C. A peculiar thing happens in mid-august. You sometimes get some summer showers that last a few days - it is something to do with the warm air from the South and the Sea.
Anyway, here are our favourite places to visit in the South of France.This should provide you with a decent idea of where to go in South France:
Where to go in South France: Cote d'Azur, Provence and the Camargue
Think of the South of France and Nice comes squarely into mind. With its broad avenues, wide sweeping bay and golden beach it is not difficult to see why some 3 million people flock to Nice every year. Only Paris rivals it as a tourist attraction. With the famous Promenade des Anglais, the Matisse museum, the Russian Cathedral and Vieux Nice, there is so much to do and see.
Arles - Van Gogh & Roman heritage
Arles is definitely my favourite city in the South of France. With its Roman heritage - complete with Amphitheatre, Forum and Theatre; beautiful 17th Century mansions, mazy streets, modern Museums and wide rolling river; Arles has it all. Arles was also the base for Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin, during their ill-fated but successful partnership in the 'Studio of the South'. Here van Gogh painted some of his most famous masterpieces. Arles is also convenient for exploring the natural beauty of the Camargue region. For more information on Arles please see our articles on Historic Arles and Van Gogh in Arles.
St Tropez, South of France
Glitzy, chic, relaxed, rich, sunny, beautiful. Whatever adjective you use to describe St Tropez, it still does not satisfactorily sum up this top South of France resort. Commencing with Bridget Bardot and continuing with present day celebrities, St Tropez in the South of France continues to be the summer home of the rich, famous and beautiful.St Tropez's beaches are among the best in the world and its harbour only loses out to Monaco for the impressive array of yachts on show.
Gorges du Verdon
France's equivalent to the Grand Canyon, with a dramatic 700m drop to the river floor, this is an excellent day trip. Set amongst beautiful Provence countryside, the Gorge is permanent fixture on any tour of the South of France.
>> see 10 Best picnic spots
Avignon - Le Palais des Papes
Set in the heart of Provence, thePope's Palace is the biggest Gothic palace in Europe. Once home of the Sovereign Pontiffs, this Palace with its ceremonial rooms, chapels and private papal apartments, became a symbol of the power of the Christian world in the 14th Century. Avignon is a wonderful mix of history and culture, set on the banks of the River Rhone. Avignon arrived on the World's stage when in 1303 the Vatican decided to move away from the anarchic violence of Rome to the peaceful pastures of Provence. Although they only stayed for 70 years their legacy can still be seen on the beautiful streets of Avignon.
Where to go, South of France: around Nimes and Montpellier
Pont Du Gard - Roman Aqueduct
The Pont du Gard, South of France, is an extraordinary Roman aqueduct located just north of Nimes.The Pont du Gard isone of 4UNESCO World Heritage Site located in the South of France. Complete with excellent visitors centre and Mediterranean garden, the Pont du Gard, South of France is a special place to visit. One of my favourite days out with the kids is to swim under the arches of the Pont du Gard or take a canoe up the river. For more information see Pont du Gard, South of France. The Pont du Gard is also featured in our article 10 Best South France picnic spots.
This city is inextricably linked to its Roman past. Its location on the Via Domitia - the main chariot route from Spain to Rome - helped make it a favourite with a series of Emperors. Today it is endowed with an outstanding collection of monuments including the Maison Carrée, the Amphitheatre and the temple of Diana. Today it is home to a bustling commercial district, with winding streets hiding a plethora of boutiques and artisanale's. It also houses two good art galleries and hosts some of the most colourful festivals in the south of France - February's Carnival and the ferias of Pentecost and September.
>>see Roman Nimes
This huge tropical garden houses the biggest collection of bamboo forests and tropical plants in Europe. Founded in 1855, La Bambouseraie has become the foremost centre of study and cultivation of exotic plants in Southern France.
>>see La Bambouseraie
Spending time in Aigues Mortes is an absolute joy. This medieval walled town is romantically set among the dunes and plain of the Camargue. A tour of Aigues-mortes' fortifications and grid pattern streets is a must on any visit to the South of France. Although popular in the height of Summer, you can easily spend a very pleasant day wandering around the shops and eating at the pavement restaurants in the centre.
Hugging the western banks of the Gorges de l'Herault, is the stunning village of St-guilhem-le-desert. This ancient village, now designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, is nestled amongst stunning scenery. St Guilhem is regarded as one of the prettiest villages in France and has been attracting visitors across the South of France for centuries.
I love going to Montpellier. It is a real treat. The place is alive with amazing energy and is a real tonic to the lazy days spent in a Southern France village. With fine museums, a charming old centre, modern tramway network and booming hi-tech business sector with extraordinary modern buildings; you really get the feeling that Montpellier is the place to be in the South of France. It even has a Mediterranean beach!
Cirque de Navacelles
A dramatic ox-bow canyon which cuts deep through the plain of the Upper Herault. On the small hillock that is left in the middle of the cirque, is huddled the ancient hamlet of Navacelles.
>>see Walking South France
Where to go in Southern France : around Beziers and Aude
The Canal du Midi, South France
ThisCanal du Midi, South France, is tree-lined canal that runs from Toulouse to the Mediterranean sea, is the largest UNESCO World heritage site on earth. It has come to symbolise the slow, relaxed life of the South of France.The Canal du Midi was the brain-child of Paul Riquet, a tax collector from Beziers, this mammoth civil engineering project was the most complex and greatest civil engineering undertaking since the time of the Romans. Passing under the walls of historic Carcassonne the quintessential South of France experience is to boat, walk or cycle along Riquet's Canal du Midi. For more information please read Canal du Midi, South France and also Cycling along the Canal du Midi, South France.
Walk the old streets of Languedoc's former capital. Once the stomping ground of Molliere and now a haven for antiques and a fabulous Saturday market. Pezenas is a wonderful old South of France town. Its beauty just grows on you the more time that you spend walking its ancient streets. Pezenas is also situated amongst some of the best vineyards in the South of France. You are close at hand to sample some excellent Picpoul de Pinet white wines, red and rose wines from Faugeres, as well as wines from the Coteaux de Pezenas. >> see Pezenas for more details
Carcassonne, South of France,is France’s most famous and evocative medieval citadel. Carcassonne is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in the South of France. It is the scale of the castle at Carcassonne that blows you away. A wonderful monument with an impressive history. If you are on holiday and you are looking for a good day out then Carcassonne must come top of your list of South of France places to visit. For more information please read our article on Carcassonne, South of France castle. Carcassonne is also featured in our article 10 Best South France picnic spots.
For 3 days in sultry August, Beziers comes alive in spectacular fashion. Fireworks, street processions, dancing, bullfights - all washed down with plenty of local wine.
Read our article on Beziers' Feria for more information Beziers' Feria, South France festival. Also see our article on the famous Beziers Flower market. For more information on festivals in the South of France please visit South of France Festivals. We also have an extensive list of the best markets in the South of France Best South France Markets.
Where to go in the South of France: around Perpignan and the Pyrenees
The picturesque beach town of Collioure is an idyllic place. It is situated in the very south of France, 26 km (approx. 15 miles) from the Spanish border. It has always attracted a host of artists because of its 'special light' and you can follow the unique art trail through the town. Its small Catalan harbour is sheltered by a quiet bay where the Pyrenees meets the Sea. You can count on having a splendid swim at one of the small coves.
Situated on the Mediterranean side of the Pyrenees and rising to a height of 2785m, Pic du Canigou has become a symbol of the Catalan nation that once spread from Northern Spain to well into modern day South of France. A traditional bonfire is lit on its summit on Midsummers Day. Torches are then carried to light other bonfires in villages across Catalonia.