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.
See the accommodation in Nice France currently advertised on Go South France
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.
See the Provence holiday rentals near Arles currently advertised on Go South France
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.
See the St Tropez villas and apartments on Go South France
The old University town of Aix is a wonderful place to spend time in. Perhaps the most recognisable part of Aix is the Cours Mirabeau, the wide avenue with rows of plane-trees that follows the line of the old city wall and divides the town into two halves. Along this avenue, you will find plenty of cafés, including the Deux Garçons, which has been frequented by the likes of Paul Cézanne, Émile Zola and Ernest Hemingway. Aix has a lovely old Cathedral and the impressive looking Hôtel de Ville, which looks onto a picturesque square (place de l'Hôtel de Ville). Aix is often referred to as the city of a thousand fountains and they are everywhere. The most prominent is Fontaine des Quatre Dauphins (Fountain of the Four Dolphins) in the Quartier Mazarin. Aix hosts an important opera festival, the Festival international d'Art Lyrique, founded in 1948 (which ranks alongside Salzburg and Glyndebourne in terms of importance). The festival takes place in late June and July each year. The main venues are the outdoor Théâtre de l'Archévêché in the former garden of the archbishop's palace, the recently restored 18th-century Théâtre du Jeu de Paume, and the newly built Grand Théâtre de Provence. Aix also holds a week long music festival, featuring Jazz, Classical and Rock music. Concerts are held in different street venues and courtyards in the city, hence the name of the festival "Musique dans la Rue". The festival takes place each year in June to coincide with the national 'Fête de la Musique' (21 June). Visit our article on Aix-en-Provence tourism for more information.
Saint-Remy-de-Provence is a pretty little town in the South of France. It is often regarded as the heart of Provence. The centre of the town has lots of mazy streets and it has a large market which takes over the town every Saturday morning. Saint-Remy-de-Provence was the birthplace of Nostradamus, a 16th-century author famous for his prophecies. The brother of Vincent van Gogh lived in St Remy and the painter was treated here in the psychiatric center after he had cut his ear off. He painted Starry Night whilst he was in Saint Remy. Saint-Remy-de-Provence is a very pleasant place to spend a week or so on vacation. There are lots of small restaurants and pavement cafes, as well as interesting little shops. Nearby to Saint Remy, you will find the Baux de Provence, a picturesque village perched on the edge of a rocky outcrop. The village is no longer inhabited full time, but there is still plenty to see as you wander the old streets inside and around the castle. You will also find the Cathedral des Images, a huge old quarry, the walls of which are used to project images of famous paintings. It is quite something and well worth the visit. Just a word of warning, be careful visiting Saint Remy outside of May-September. The Mistral wind just rips through the town and surrounding areas. On a bad day it can knock you sideways.
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 du Verdon is a permanent fixture on any tour of the South of France.
>> see 10 Best picnic spots in the South of France
See our selection of gites near the Gorges du Verdon on Go South France
Uzes, South France is a very pretty town. We recently spent a weekend there and we had a great time. Together with Aix en Provence, St Remy. Aigues Mortes, Avignon, Sommieres and Pezenas; Uzes really ought to be up there on your list of places to visit if you are planning a tour of the South of France. In the centre of Uzes, South France there are lots of narrow streets with little boutiques arranged around the old Duchy. In the centre you will find a big square (Place aux Herbes), laid out with fountains and plenty of decent restaurants. Whilst we were visiting, there was a big Arts Fair going on - which really sums up Uzes - it is a big art loving town. The Saturday market in Uzes takes over most of the town and it is supposed to be very good (as well as busy). Uzes and region have a bit of a reputation as a foodies paradise. The other reason for coming to Uzes, France (especially if you have kids - or a sweet tooth) is to visit the Haribo sweet museum. I took my three little monkeys there and they absolutely loved. It was like Willy Wonkas Chocolate factory! There were plenty of free sweets, some boring exhibits of old sweet manufacture and more interesting intreactive displays about how they make the sweets today. The shop on the way out is something to behold. It cost me a small fortune.
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.
See our range of houses for rent in Avignon and Provence on Go South France
Saintes-maries-de-la-mer, South France, is situated on the Camargue coast (see Petite Camargue). Although the place is tiny, it is absolutely heaving in the summer. The town itself is a fairly non-descript sort of place, but you can imagine that for centuries fishermen have dragged their boats and their catch up onto the beach - just as they do now. What makes Les Saintes-maries-de-la-mer standout however has been the succession of pilgrims that have visited it for centuries. A huge gypsy fair is held in Saintes-maries-de-la-mer, South France, every year towards the end of May.
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.
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.
Sommieres, South France is a pretty little town with a wide river flowing through it. Sommieres is situated in between Nimes and Montpellier and it is easy to spend a day here wandering around the old narrow grid streets of this ancient town. The old Roman bridge that crosses the river is still in use today and forms the centerpiece of Sommieres. The old town is situated on the east bank and this is probably where you will want to spend most of your time. After passing over the bridge you enter Sommieres through the 17th century Tour de l'Horloge, which as you would expect features a large clock face. The old town of Sommieres was laid out on a grid pattern by the Romans and much of it remains the same. There are two traditional arcaded market squares around which are congregated some excellent bars and restaurants. On Saturdays, these squares are taken over by an excellent local market (see Sommieres France tourism).
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.
>>see St Guilhem le Desert for more information. If you are traveling to the South of France with your kids or grand children, then there are a couple of great spots for canoeing nearby. See Canoeing up the ravine near St Guilhem for more information.
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!
>>see Montpellier tourist information for more information on things to do in Montpellier
See the Montpellier apartments and villas for rent on Go South France.
The busy port town of Sete is a real gem on the South France coast. Don't be put off by the industrial outskirts to the town, we love Sete and it has become one of the fastest growing property hot spots in the South France. Sete grew rapidly during the late 17th Century due to its links to the Canal du Midi and the Canal a Rhone. The town of Sete itself wraps itself around the rocky Mont St-clair promontory. The old quarter of Sete straddles the Canal Royal, the site of the famous water jousting championships in the summer and the home of lots of good restaurants and bars. You will probably want to spend most of your time in Sete wandering around the canals and the old quarter. Here you will find lots of seafood restaurants and pavement cafes. On the other side of the town you will also find some excellent beaches, including a long stretch of golden beaches (running a full 20kms down towards Marseillan). The beaches to the north of Sete (Frontignan) are not much to right home about. The other two interesteing things to do in Sete, France, are to wander around the two museums dedicated to its famous sons: Georges Brassens and Paul Valery. Perhaps the best time to visit Sete is during the early summer when the Fiesta de Sete is in full swing or during the middle to end of August during the water jousting chanpionships. When it comes to food, Sete is a seafood paradise. Amazing seafood is literally pulled straight off the boat. It is also a stones throw away from the Etang Thau with its fantastic oysters. Sete is also home of 'La Tielle' a spicy tarte made with garlic, tomatoes and squid; and 'Zezette' a sweet biscuit. See our article on Sete tourism and theFestival de Sete.
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 for more information about great walking routes around the Cirque du Navacelles.
Where to go in Southern France : around Beziers and Aude
The Canal du Midi, South France
The Canal 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.
On Go South France we feature a number of Canal du Midi houses to rent in France, situated along the banks of this famous canal.
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 France for more details about this famous French town in the South of France.
Pezenas is a great place to be based for a holiday in South of France. We have a number of great Pezenas France villas and gites to rent.
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.
Carcassonne is one of our most popular places to stay in the South of France. Here is a selection of Carcassonne vacation rentals on Go South France.
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, including Beziers Flower market held every Friday Best South France Markets.
We have a number of Beziers villas in France to rent on Go South France. With the beaches just 20 mins away, Beziers is a good location to be based in.
Where to go in the South of France: around Perpignan and the Pyrenees
I really like Perpignan. It has a real Spanish feel to it and the old narrow streets towards the Palais des Rois de Majorque are a real pleasure to walk around. Perpignan has a couple of buildings worth searching out. It is also a great town to shop in and quite pleasant to look at along the grassy esplanades of the river that runs through it. Perpignan is the capital of Roussillon. Its Spanish influence predominantly comes from the thousands of refugees that fled Catalonia at the end of the Spanish Civil War. But it has also been part of the Catalan-aragonese Crown, before it was brought under French control in 1659. The most important building here though is the Palais des Rois. The Kings of Mallorca made Perpignan their mainland capital and brought with it propsperity from cloth-making. The Palais des Rois has come to symbolise Perpignan. It is a massive palace sitting on a hill to the south of the city centre. Some of the original building still remains, but the impressive outer defences were constructed by Louis XIII and Richelieu after they successfully took Perpignan from the Catalans in 1659. In the centre of Perpignan's old town you will find the 15th century Palais de la Deputation (where the Catalan Kings once convened the Roussillon parliament); the 16th century Hotel de Ville; and the 14th Century Loge de Mer, which served as the regions stock exchange. The square outside these buildings once served as a base for executions during the 15th-16th centuries. At the end of the place de Loge, you will also find the distinctive Le Castillet, a red brick tower that was once part of the old town walls, Visit our article on Perpignan tourism for more
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.
If you want to stay in Collioure, we have a number of Collioure holiday properties to rent.
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.