The region of the South of France is a place synonymous with glamour and extravagance, with it being a popular holiday destination for high-profile celebrities to escape from their busy lifestyles and relax on some of the finest sun-soaked beaches in Europe. However, if you’re looking to visit the region for a more traditional experience and to truly understand southern French life, these are the towns and cities that you should definitely be visiting!
If you’re struggling to decide whether you would like a relaxing beach break in the South of France or to escape the busier tourist areas for a more authentic French experience, then we’d suggest heading to Antibes. Caught somewhere between the busy streets of Cannes and the beautiful beaches of Nice, the town of Antibes welcomes visitors and rewards them with a laid-back vibe coupled with a stunning coastal location. It is perhaps best known for the old town which plays host to a number of open-air markets and a myriad of shops, cafes and restaurants. There is also the Musee Picasso located in the Chateau Grimaldi which is home to a fantastic selection of Picasso’s works and well worth a visit during your time in the town.
If you’re a regular reader of our blog, you’ll know how much we adore the town of Cannes (we love it a lot!), but somewhere we feel that doesn’t get the attention it deserves is the small hillside community of Le Cannet. Situated within walking distance of the bustling streets of Cannes, Le Cannet can offer visitors a completely different but equally charming experience. Expect a more traditional French experience, with cafes and bistros serving up beautiful French food and drink. This is complemented by the architecture of the area; authentic houses with a rustic feel line the streets and create a maze of alleys and paths that are ripe for exploring.
Perhaps overshadowed by the small and mighty neighbour of Saint-Tropez, Sainte-Maxime is a city across the water that offers visitors a low-key break from the dance-til-dawn clubs. With restaurants and bars offering some of the best value food on the French Riviera and bakers producing a constant supply of freshly baked French treats, Saint-Maxime is somewhere people will struggle not to fall in love with. There are regular ferry shuttles that run to Saint-Tropez for anyone wanting to dip their toe into the party lifestyle that inhabits the town, with the coast adorned with high-class beach clubs.
Another major port city with a truly unique location, the majority of Sète is set on a strip of land that is neighboured by the sea on one side and a large saltwater lagoon on the other. The city has numerous waterways running through, giving it an unexpected Venetian vibe. There are a number of museums in the town that are definitely worth visiting and it has also been home to many prominent artists. The saltwater lagoon is used for producing oysters and mussels which local restaurants look to take advantage of, so we’d suggest checking out the local seafood when you visit.
With a population of between 150,000 – 200,000 people, this port city is lined with beautiful sandy beaches on the coast and backed by limestone mountains inland. Unfortunately, most visitors pass through the town on the way to another destination and don’t have the chance to appreciate it fully. The dominating aspect of the city is its naval heritage that can be seen from the size and scale of the port which is lined with museums, shops and bars. When visiting Toulon, we’d thoroughly recommend getting the cable car that carries people to the top of Mont Faron.
Narbonne is a town in the South West of France that enjoys the glorious weather of the South but doesn’t necessarily conform to the typical glitz and glamour of the French Riviera towns to the east. Defined by its historic architecture, the city is also home to Abbaye de Fontfroid, a former monastery that has now opened its doors as a tourist attraction and offers visitors a chance to explore the building and surrounding gardens. There is also a bar and restaurant that serve fantastic home-cooked French dishes.
If you’re looking to mix in a bit of glamour with a traditional French experience, why not stay in one of our luxury holiday villas in South of France? Check out our selection here or get in touch to find out more!