• Promenade des Anglais - Nice
  • Cours Saleya Market - Nice

Open seven days a week in the mornings. Every day offers a different type of goods for sale. When I was there in April, the Market had farm goods (vegetables, cheeses, salt), flowers, and other goods. Almost everything here is produced locally. Check the calendar so you can decide which type of products interest you. Another perk is the opportunity to meet locals shopping for their families and avoiding obvious tourist traps. If you still in the market at noon, the cannon will be shot off!

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YOUR PERFECT SOUTH OF FRANCE ITINERARY WITH COST-CUTTING TIPS July 12, 2019 by Steve Leave a Comment

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This post may contain affliate links. Please see my disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases (if applicable). Having taken my first trip to Europe over four decades ago, in numerous trips since, I have learned that many famous destinations are overpriced, or disappointing. The South of France (Provence) exceeds all expectations for its Joie de vivre (joy of living), beauty, food, people, and sites. After two trips in the past two years, I am counting the minutes until my next trip to this magical place. This guide to the South of France includes practical tips for visiting the South of France with an itinerary based on multiple trips and budget tips within each city!

Even if you don’t have time for two weeks in the South of France, you can still cut the itinerary to see Nice, Aix-en-Provence, and Arles. This itinerary is a bit faster paced than some other South of France itineraries, so if you want to relax, I recommend spending more time in one city, such as Aix-en-Provence.

OUR ITINERARY FOR TWO WEEKS IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE Nice (2-3 days; ideally 4-5 days) Aix-en-Provence (2 days) Arles (2 days + 1 during festival season) Avignon (3 days) Nimes (2 days)5 DAYS IN THE SOUTH OF FRANCE ITINERARY Nice (2 days) Day trip from Nice to villages (1 day) Aix-en-Provence (2 days) NICE (2-3 DAYS) Beautiful views of Nice port with flowers in background

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Nice is a great starting point for seeing the South of France due to its good connections with other parts of France by bus, train, and plane. Nice is world-famous for its beauty, many tourist destinations, food and its joie de vivre.

How to travel more with a full time job Pause Unmute Remaining Time -0:16 Fullscreen Essential stops include the Promenade des Anglais and the beaches. The Promenade has a very long boardwalk with many great restaurants and cafes which all have a great view of the Mediterranean Sea. (These cafes aren’t exactly cheap.) The beaches are very rocky so if you want to go for a swim, be sure to bring sandals and a mat as the rocks can be uncomfortable.

We stayed at the affordable and charming Hotel Mercure Nice Centre Notre Dame. It is within a 10-minute walk from the central train station or a tram ride to the seaport. Generally, staying in the city center is lower than staying by the beach during peak season. Close to the Promenade is Vieux Nice where there are many historic buildings on dating back 300 years ago. There are many stores in this district where the Opera House is also located. Tickets for performances are reasonably priced and you will also see the interior of the building while catching a show.

One important landmark is the Cours Saleya Market that is open seven days a week in the mornings. Every day offers a different type of goods for sale. When I was there in April, the Market had farm goods (vegetables, cheeses, salt), flowers, and other goods. Almost everything here is produced locally. Check the calendar so you can decide which type of products interest you. Another perk is the opportunity to meet locals shopping for their families and avoiding obvious tourist traps. If you still in the market at noon, the cannon will be shot off!

  • Castle Hill (Colline du Château) - Nice

One of the must-see places in all of Southern France. It offers an incredible view of Nice from 300 feet above the city. The first use of this site dates back to Ancient Greece in the 4th century B.C. The Romans later occupied it. Much of the buildings and the castle were destroyed over the centuries but the archaeological dig dates back to the Roman era. The elevator ride to the top is free, but to avoid a long wait arrive early in the morning. There are a nice cafe and a children’s playground on top of Castle Hill where you can enjoy the views for free.

  • Nice Port - Nice

Offers views of the many yachts in the harbor. Since I did not arrive by my personal yacht, I booked a harbor tour by boat. The tour took us around the port for one hour. Another great option is to use boats as transports to other cities. The boat cruises offer many spectacular spots in the Mediterranean. In the summertime, there are ferries going to Monaco and other destinations.

  • Place Garibaldi - Nice

One of the main squares in the city. There are many restaurants and famous gelato places in the square. In the evenings, there are many street performers including musicians in the square. I encourage travelers to spend time here.

  • Albert 1er Garden - Nice

A lovely park close to the beach close on Place Messan. The park dates back to one century. It is a great place to eat lunch, read a book, look at art exhibits among other activities. It is free and worth visiting

  • Le Cenac - Nice

The plat du jour specials were fantastic.

  • Musee Granet - Aix-En-Provence

A world-class museum with two different separate buildings. Each building has different collections. The main building has archaeological relics and classical paintings from Rembrandt and other masters. The second building Granet XXE, Jean Planque Collection, has numerous works painted by modern artists including Renoir, Gauguin, Van Gogh, and Picasso. I particularly loved the Granet XXE as a lover of modern art. Since you will be issued two tickets and the two buildings are separated, safeguard the entrance tickets. There is a short walk between the buildings.

  • Atelier Cezanne (Cezanne’s studio) - Aix-En-Provence

Just outside of town and easily reachable via bus and open for tours. Unfortunately, there are no sketches in the studio. Visitors can see Cezanne’s workspace and see his inspiration for many of his paintings. The tours are offered throughout the day and provided in English and French at different times. Make a reservation as the studio is very small and due to the popularity, it sells out early. Save time to work around the grounds since they are beautiful.

  • The Outdoor Market - Aix-En-Provence

Very popular with locals. The Market is located next to La Rotonde where clothing, fruits, vegetables, and records are for sale. Check the calendar since each day since the Market specializes different merchants and products for sale during the week.

  • Cours Mirabeau - Aix-En-Provence

The main avenue in the center of town. I spent time strolling around this famous street with its many trees and stores. It offers a wide selection of cafes. There are many museums in this district. I particularly enjoyed the wide boulevard and should be experienced while in Aix.

  • Old Aix - Aix-En-Provence

Dates back more than 300 years ago with many historic buildings. I spent time strolling around these famous streets with its many trees and stores. It offers a wide selection of cafes. Spend time looking at the architectural wonders from an earlier age. Calisson is the local pastry that is sold everywhere in Aix. You can find it everywhere. Caisson is a mixture of almonds, melons, oranges and other ingredients. Sample one at the numerous stores throughout Aix.

  • Aix is La Brocherie - Aix-En-Provence

The restaurant offers tremendous value in a casual setting. La Brocherie is next to Granet XXE. The luncheon menu has an open salad bar with various types of seafood and many fresh vegetables at a low price. Skip breakfast if you are going there for lunch since the selection is amazing. The hot meals are also very reasonably priced. The restaurant was formerly the horse barn for royalty and the building shows its historic past. (Be warned the chefs stop cooking before 2 pm.)

  • Camargue National Park - Arles

This stunning marsh preserve is home to wild bulls, horses, flamingos, and other birds. If you love nature, we highly recommend spending at least a day exploring this stunning national park. There are many ways of seeing the Camargue including using a tour guide. (Click to book a tour to the Camargue with a guide.) For more information about bird watching in Camargue National Park on your own, I recommend this independent travel guide to Camargue National Park.

  • La Maison Carree - Nimes

Over 2,000 years old and considered one of the excellent landmarks in France from the Roman era. It was dedicated to the grandsons of Caesar and has been restored by numerous parties to the current state. Thomas Jefferson wrote that this building exceeds anything in Rome, Greece, or Palmyra. He used the design for designing buildings in the United States.

  • Temple of Diana - Nimes

(next to Jardin de la Fontaine) is a former Roman temple dating back to the 2nd century. It is free to explore the building’s architecture. It has not been restored, but admission is free and it’s worth it to imagine this building in its glory. Next to the Temple is the Jardin de la Fontaine. It was the first public European garden in the 1800s. It is very large and has a beautiful garden with Mediterranean plants. Great place to picnic or simply enjoy a coffee or tea from the cart vendors.

  • Les Halles - Nimes

A terrific market that has great local vegetables, cheeses, bread, seafood, meat and other locally produced foods with low prices. Everything is fresh and has tables to enjoy your food. It is cheaper than a conventional restaurant.

  • Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes.) - Avignon

It dates back to the 14th century. Although very few objects remain today, the virtual reality tablet provided upon your entrance, which shows what the Palace looked like in the 14th century when occupied by the Pope. It is an amazing and unforgettable place. Buy tickets early to avoid lines.

  • Pont Saint Benezet (Pont d’ Avignon) - Avignon

It was originally built in the 12th century and has been destroyed many times and rebuilt on numerous occasions. You will need a ticket to cross the Bridge. You can buy this at the Palace. We liked the audio tour! It has a great view of the Palace.

  • Les Halles (Market) - Avignon

Many locals regularly shop for produce, bread, fish, meats, and chickens although it closes at 2 PM. I enjoyed the omelets and cheeses. I particularly loved the olives and fresh sardines.

  • Cotignac

The closest town to the Verdon area. Cotignac is a beautiful medieval town with a number of cafés, shops and outdoor markets. It’s around 35 minutes from the Gorges du Verdon. We stayed in this 2 bedroom Airbnb, a couple minutes’ walk from Cotignac’s restaurant area.

  • Gorges du Verdon
  • La Mère Germaine - Villefranche-Sur-Mer

Dinner on the water at La Mère Germaine. Reservations are recommended but the tables in front are first come first serve, so I suggest going right when it opens (around 7pm).

  • Les Garcons - Villefranche-Sur-Mer
  • Soléa Gelateria – Villefranche-Sur-Mer

The mango sorbet was my favorite.

  • Coffee at Welcome Hotel - Villefranche-Sur-Mer

Each morning, so we could watch the boats come in and the town wake up.

  • Ville Ephrussi de Rothschild - Villefranche-Sur-Mer

A beautiful villa with picturesque gardens overlooking the ocean.

  • Buying local fruit, ham and cheese from local grocer and having a picnic on the beach - Menton
  • Papayou - Nice

A French-Vietnamese bistro with outdoor seating

  • Local Market - Antibes

The local market, which is located in the center of Antibes and runs daily until 1pm.

jul 17 2019 ∞
aug 8 2019 +