The Best South of France Towns and Villages

This is your guide to the best South of France towns from the French Riviera to the charming Provence area. Southern France is one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited. It has everything from amazing food to sunny beaches and quaint hilltop towns. Those chasing flowers will love visiting in June and July when the lavender season is in bloom. The South of France is a treasure trove of hidden gems waiting to be explored!

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Quick links:
🚙 Use Discover Cars to rent a car. Really essential to explore all the cute villages in the South of France!
🎫 Best Tour Option is 6 hour Hilltop villages tour which takes you to Lourmarin, Bonnieux, Roussillon, and Gordes!
🧷 Travel Insurance with SafetyWing in case of any accidents. Better safe than sorry!
📱Mobile E-sim card to stay connected while traveling without the hassle of changing out your sim card!

How to Get Around

While you can use public transport for the major cities like Nice and Marseille, you’ll really need a car if you want to see many of the charming villages and towns in the South of France as mentioned in this post. It will give you the freedom to venture off the beaten path. You will be able to stop and go as you please. Seeing the countryside in the South of France is a must and having a car will be essential.

That’s why I recommend using Discover Cars. I personally used them for my last trip around Provence and it was an easy stress-free experience. I was able to book a car with their user-friendly platform and find the cheapest deals. It offers a wide selection of vehicles from trusted rental companies like Hertz or Enterprise while ensuring competitive prices. Their customer service was great – they personally answered my million questions efficiently!

The roads around Provence in particular are pretty easy to navigate. The streets are a bit smaller but there was little traffic around the countryside. If you’re a confident driver, you will have no problem driving around the area. If you aren’t from Europe, you will just need to get used to all the numerous roundabouts!

Best Towns in the French Riviera

Nice, France

Nice is the largest city along the French Riviera and therefore super accessible by train unlike many of the smaller towns. It is a great base if you want to explore some of the surrounding areas nonetheless. In Nice, don’t miss going to the top of Castle Hill for an incredible view. The best sunrises and sunsets can be seen at the top of this hill. There’s also a waterfall if you keep venturing up. It is one of the best things to do in Nice. For dinner, venture to the Old Port. Here you’ll find a lot of places to eat and watch time pass. It’s a great place to have a walk and see all the colorful buildings around. There’s also a popular market called Cours Saleya Market where you can try local foods and cheeses.

🏨 Top Hotel Pick: Hotel Le Negresco is a stunning iconic hotel in Nice overlooking the beach and the Promenade des Anglais.

Menton

This is as close to Italy as you can get – only 30 minutes from Italy, you will find Menton, France a pretty coastline town. Don’t miss the perfect insta-worthy shot at Quai Napoleon III and the cemetery of the Old Chateau tucked within narrow passageways of the Old Town, boasting incredible views of the city from above.

Eze

Eze is an enchanting village perched on the French Riviera, offering breathtaking views of the Mediterranean coastline. One of the best things to do in Eze is to wander through its cobblestone streets, lined with medieval buildings and artisan shops. The Jardin Exotique, a stunning cliffside garden, is the best spot to enjoy panoramic vistas of the sea and surrounding landscapes. Be sure to visit the Eze Castle Ruins which offer a glimpse into the village’s past and a chance to soak in more stunning views. Eze’s undeniable charm makes it an idyllic destination for travelers seeking a taste of Provence’s beauty and culture.

Villefranche Sur Mer

Neighboring Nice, you can easily reach Villefranche Sur Mer, an under-the-radar town on the French Riviera. This charming small village is stunning with colorful buildings cascading down the hills towards the Mediterranean Sea. One of the best things to do in Villefranche-sur-Mer is to explore its Old Town, where narrow cobbled streets lead to quaint cafes, art galleries, and local markets. Relaxing on the town’s beautiful sandy beach or swimming in

crystal-clear waters is a must-do activity. Additionally, visiting the impressive Saint Elme Citadel offers breathtaking panoramic views of the bay. For a touch of culture, wander through the Jean Cocteau Chapel, adorned with artistic murals. Villefranche-sur-Mer’s ambiance and scenic views make it the perfect destination if you’re traveling to the South of France.

Best Towns in Provence

Gordes

Nestled within the picturesque region of Provence, Gordes stands out as one of the most beautiful towns in the South of France. Full of stone houses, perched dramatically on a hillside, Gordes is a must for your Provence road trip. As you wander through its winding cobblestone streets, you’ll find many nice shops and cafes. Gordes truly has a warm and inviting ambiance.

If you visit on a Tuesday, you’ll find a wonderful local market where you can sample delightful regional cuisine and see friendly locals. If you want to have an amazing lunch with a view, then head over to Airelles Gordes. It is a true dream hotel and if you can stay there even better.

Venturing slightly further from the town center you will find an Abbey with lavender fields in front called Sénanque Abbey. 

With its stunning natural beauty, cultural allure, and an abundance of quaint cafes and boutiques, Gordes undoubtedly captures the essence of the perfect South of France experience.

🏨 Top Hotel Pick: Airelles Gordes is one of the most beautiful hotels and offers amazing views of Gordes.

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie

Moustiers-Sainte-Marie was one of my favorite towns I explored in the South of France. It was very cute and had lots of character. As well as the fact that it is more off-the-beaten-track than Nice and Marseilles. It truly was a postcard-perfect village. The town is set between two towering cliffs and adorned with cascading waterfalls, earning it the nickname “The Hanging Village.” If you look closely, you will spot a little star hanging between the cliffs. It is known as the “Étoile de Moustiers” or the “Star of Moustiers.” The star serves as an iconic symbol of the village and has many different legends about what it represents.

The best things to do in Moustiers are to visit the market selling handmade goods while enjoying lavender ice cream or a French crepe. The town is known for its pottery tradition, with colorful ceramics adorning the local workshops and boutiques. Be sure to try restaurants like Étoile De Mer or Le Couvert if you have time to spend dinner there. In addition, there are many hiking trails that lead to nice viewpoints and the nearby Gorges du Verdon, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Europe.”

Lourmarin

Lourmarin, is a charming village in the heart of the Luberon region in France. It is a hidden gem and one of the prettiest villages in France. One of the top things to do is to visit Lourmarin Castle, which dates back to the 15th century. As I wandered throughout the village, I saw many lovely boutiques and art galleries lining the streets and people just lounging in the sun at one of the outdoor cafes. Don’t miss the chance to dine at Restaurant L’Auberge La Fenière known for its Provençal cuisine prepared with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. For those with a sweet tooth, Ravi has some of the most incredible ice cream in all of Southern France! I tried the lavender-flavored one but you can’t go wrong with any of them, trust me.

🎫 Best Tour Option is 6 hour Hilltop villages tour which takes you to Lourmarin, Bonnieux, Roussillon, and Gordes!

Cassis

Cassis is another beautiful town in Southern France with its dramatic cliffs and peaceful waters. You can see why it is a coastal gem that attracts travelers with its beauty and relaxed charm. This idyllic fishing village, located in the heart of the Calanques National Park, offers many fun things to do. Start your day by exploring the colorful harbor, where fishing boats bob along the water. There are many cafes lining the harbor with freshly caught seafood. Take a leisurely stroll through the narrow streets, lined with charming boutiques and art galleries. One of the highlights of my visit was taking a boat tour of the stunning Calanques. Marvel at the sheer limestone cliffs rising from the turquoise Mediterranean. Afterward, you can sit back and relax on the sandy beaches or venture on a hike to admire the panoramic views from the surrounding hills. I would recommend this tour which takes you on a boat ride and also a wine tour!

🚙 If you don’t have a car, you can take this tour from Marseille in a cute vintage car!

Valensole

Valensole is the hub for the best lavender fields in Provence! The best lavender can be found from end of June to mid-July at Plateau de Valensole. Valensole has a small town center which you can explore too. You’ll find lots of cafes to stop for a break to eat after a hot day of exploring lavender fields. The town center has many cute pathways and adorable buildings. I had the chance to dine at Comptoir de Valerie and enjoyed a fresh tomato and burrata salad.

Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence is one of the best towns in Provence and embodies a perfect blend of historical charm and modernity. This is one of the larger towns to explore in Provence so there are many things to do here. You can explore the picturesque old town, where you’ll find centuries-old fountains, medieval architecture, and lively squares. There are also many nice markets to visit where you can shop for local goods on Sunday including handmade jewelry and accessories. There are so many cafes and restaurants to choose from with a lively ambiance. Strolling past all the outdoor cafes and boutique shopping made for an unforgettable Southern France experience. I really enjoyed having brunch and coffee at MANA during my time here.

🏨 Top Hotel Pick: During my stay, I booked Hotel Cardinal and really loved the lovely decorated rooms.
🌿🌸 From Aix-en-Provence you can take a tour which takes you to the lavender fields so if you can’t rent a car this is a great option!

What were your favorite towns in the South of France? I’d love to know in the comments below!

For more reading, you may also like these:
💎Best Hidden Gems in Europe
📸 Most Beautiful Cities in Europe
♀️Best Places for Solo Female Travel

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