One of the most popular holiday destinations in the world, the South of France is a region that is admired the world over. Referred to as ‘Le Midi’, the South of France hosts a selection of instantly recognisable tourist hotspots – from the French Riviera in the east to Languedoc in the west, visitors are spoiled for choice all across this beautiful stretch of land.
While many visitors arrive in the region searching for the beautiful blue water and crisp sands it is famous for, it is worth remembering that the South of France also boasts a wealth of cultural treasures and architectural wonders. Whether it is in the cities or further afield, there are plenty of unique structures to discover during your stay at our luxury holiday villas South of France. Here are just some of the stunning buildings to visit during your stay.
Villefranche-sur-Mer, east of Nice close to the border with Italy, was once a quiet fishing village on the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea. During the mid-1900s it was a popular summer destination for Jean Cocteau, a prolific author, poet, artist and filmmaker most famous for Les Enfants Terribles. During one visit in the 1950s, he convinced the townspeople to let him paint the small 14th-century chapel close to the sea in his own unique way, covering the structure in frescoes and painting it pastel pink and white.
Villefranche-sur-Mer is now a popular destination by the sea and welcomes many visitors. The chapel is one of the town’s most popular features and is worth the trip, especially for people visiting nearby Nice. Even in the modern day, this sparkling building is full of character and individuality.
Henri Matisse is one of France’s most famous classical artists, producing countless recognisable works during his life from 1869 to 1954. He lived in Nice on the French Riviera from 1917 until his death, and this is where a notable museum to his works sits.
Set in the beautiful neighbourhood of Cimiez, the Musée Matisse is a grand, red villa built in the Italianate style of the 19th century. Surrounded by beautiful gardens, this building has been renovated over the years but retains its classical form, making it a beautiful landmark in a quite gorgeous part of the city.
Nîmes is a city in the Occitanie region of Southern France, inland between Montpellier and Avignon. It was once a crucial part of the Roman Empire and still has a collection of incredibly preserved landmarks from this point of history. The most prominent of these is the arena – sat in the heart of the modern city, this Roman theatre was built around 70AD and remodelled in the late 1800s. What’s most remarkable about this ancient stadium is the fact that it is still widely used today for live music and other events, with a seating capacity of around 24,000.
Slightly west of Montpellier, the village of Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert may not be the first place to visit on most people’s lists. However, this village, seen as one of the prettiest in all of France, is certainly worth the trip. The medieval town sits alongside the Hérault River and boasts a wealth of beautiful sights, such as Devil’s Bridge and the natural Circus of the Infernet, a giant wall boasting incredible views of the Gellone Valley. The Abbey, otherwise known as Gellone Abbey, dates back to around 804AD and is a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site, alongside the Devil’s Bridge.
The Citadelle de Sisteron is a magnificent stone fortress perched atop the mountains above the commune of Sisteron, located deep in the Côte d’Azur region of Southern France. This formidable structure covers over ten hectares of land and contains parts that date back to the 12th century. While parts were damaged over time, much of the structure has been restored and is open to the public. Whether you are interested in the history of the citadel or not, the building itself is awe-inspiring in its scale, making this one of the best landmarks in the region.
This is just a selection of the stunning buildings you can find across the South of France – there are countless more in locations across the region for you to discover! If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out our top places to visit in the South of France.