This text particulars each step of a ten-day South of France street journey that takes you to all the most important sights of the area, together with the primary stops and sights, issues to see at every cease, and the place to eat, together with just a few intriguing backstories.
Arising with south of France street journey concepts is not simple – the area is big, wonderful, and you would spend a yr exploring its corners with out seeing all of it.
What follows is however ONE of the numerous France street journey concepts you will discover on this web site. Right here, we go to a range of areas: the Camargue wetlands, the historic cities of Avignon and Nîmes, the hilltop villages of the Lubéron, and the French Riviera.
The locations on this south of France itinerary are all a part of the area known as Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur,
Who is that this south of France street journey for?
If you happen to choose the liberty of driving within the south of France, stopping alongside impossibly scenic routes, when you’re looking for the purest French essence and its southern allure (to not point out nice meals), that is among the many greatest street journeys France and can take you ten days.
That is an eclectic France itinerary, that takes in Roman ruins, seaside and coastal surroundings, wild nature, and cosmopolitan luxurious – one thing for everybody, or a little bit of all the pieces when you merely can not resolve and wish to see all of it.
The most effective time to take a Provence street journey
Summer season may be sizzling and crowded on this area, particularly in late July and August.
Nevertheless, if you wish to see lavender fields in full bloom and vineyards shiny and perky, then there is not any avoiding summer season – you will have to go to in late June and early July.
After that, although, keep away till September due to the warmth and the crowds.
One other season to keep away from in France is the varsity vacation – there are various, and may be as crowded (although much less sizzling) than the excessive summer season season. (Here’s a record of vacation dates to keep away from when you can.)
Day-by-day South of France street journey itinerary
Day 5: Les Baux de Provence
South of France street journeys map
Your southern France street journey itinerary: Essential stops and sights
Whereas this south France itinerary is designed for driving, sure elements may very well be accomplished by prepare. For instance, moderately than driving from Avignon to Nîmes, you would take the prepare between the 2 cities and begin your street journey to the south of France in Nîmes. (If you happen to’re taken with discovering out extra about trains, take a look at itineraries and costs right here.)
However make no mistake: this southern France itinerary is road-heavy itinerary, a street journey within the truest sense.
It is not a calming amble by means of the pleasant South (I’ve different itineraries for that). However when you’re pressed for time, do not thoughts driving, and wish to see as a lot as you possibly can in as brief a short while as doable, that is the right street journey within the south of France.
Issues to see in Avignon
Avignon is for historical past lovers, its UNESCO World Heritage Web site an ideal introduction to medieval France. That is the place the French popes lived through the 14th-century schism when French popes break up with Rome. The palace of the popes is the most important gothic construction of its sort on the earth, and the bridge (now partly gone) has main cultural significance as the topic of a kids’s music all of us study on the youngest age. On the similar time, Avignon is compact sufficient in an effort to go to most highlights even when you solely have in the future.
Avignon metropolis ramparts
Avignon is likely one of the few French cities that also has defensive partitions, which have been constructed through the Avignon papacy – they’re a formidable 4.3 km (2.7 mi) lengthy.
Palais des Papes
This fortress cum palace is likely one of the greatest gothic constructions of the Center Ages in Europe and for many years served as the guts of the papacy in Avignon, when the popes left Rome and moved to France. The doorway ticket features a pill which recreates what elements of the palace would have appeared like again when the popes lived right here. Or, mix your Papal Palace go to with a strolling tour of Avignon.
THE UNUSUAL STORY OF THE POPES OF AVIGNON
Rome hasn’t all the time been the seat of the Roman Catholic popes.
At one level, through the 14th century (from 1309-1378), the papacy moved to Avignon, inspired by the King of France, Philip IV, who resented Rome’s rising spiritual stronghold on temporal affairs. Six popes would reign right here, all of them French.
It wasn’t precisely an disagreeable time for the French popes, who seem to have blossomed removed from the strictures of Rome. Avignon boasted some 11 bordellos throughout this time, in contrast with solely two in Rome, and life was a bit of extra relaxed than in stricter Rome.
The time in Avignon got here to be referred to as the Babylonian Captivity, in reference to the Jewish exodus from Babylon within the sixth century BC.
This huge advanced is one among Europe’s largest gothic buildings and is effectively value a go to. Get a skip-the-line ticket and discover what was as soon as a fortress.
Throughout of the Palace of Popes is one among France’s most well-known bridges. Each French baby is aware of the music of the identical identify so though a part of it has been washed away by the mighty Rhône River, a go to to the bridge will imply paying respect to one among France’s most recognizable symbols.
The place to eat in Avignon
You will discover loads of locations close to the Palace of Popes and within the previous city For some actual delicacies provençale, go to the meals market (open day-after-day besides Mondays) or strive Les Halles (18 Place Pie)For an actual deal with, Pollen is a Michelin one-star restaurant within the coronary heart of city
Issues to see in Nîmes
Generally known as the “French Rome”, Nîmes grew quickly in Roman occasions, located because it was alongside the By way of Domitia, the street that led from Rome to what was then known as Hispania. It is a metropolis with an unimaginable Roman heritage and a few beautiful monuments that stay standing regardless of the centuries.
Pont du Gard
Driving from Avignon, about 20 km from Nîmes, you will come throughout the Pont du Gard, the tallest Roman aqueduct on the earth. I keep in mind as a toddler, we may climb to the very high, and I do not imagine there was even a railing again then.
You possibly can go to on a guided tour, or hike alongside the aqueduct, and even kayak previous it on a sizzling summer season day. The aqueduct can get crowded in excessive season so be sure you get your ticket forward of time.
Arènes de Nîmes
It is a excellent instance of Rome’s spectacular structure. It is extra of an amphitheater, although, top-of-the-line preserved on the earth.
It was in-built 70 CE, proper after its Roman counterpart was completed and, like different arenas, it was constructed for reveals of every kind, like gladiator combats.
THE TRANSFORMATION OF THE NÎMES ARENA
With the waning of the Roman Empire and the arrival of the “Barbarians”, the Nîmes Area misplaced its function as an leisure middle and was became a fortress to defend town. It was partly closed off and its archways sealed.
Over time, individuals moved inside the sector, placing up homes and church buildings. It took the sixteenth century and French King François I, builder extraordinaire, to start rehabilitating the construction.
He started by clearing the buildings from the primary flooring, however the floor flooring was nonetheless dwelling to lots of of individuals. Correct restoration must wait till the 18th century.
In the present day, the sector has quite a few totally different makes use of: live performance venue, movie location, a part of a biking route… and, sadly, bullfights: Nîmes is taken into account the bullfighting capital of France. In most of France, bulls are usually not killed throughout a bullfight – except it may be confirmed that the city has a historic declare to the practices. Each Arles and Nîmes declare this and therefore, bulls listed here are killed. In recent times, the anti-bullfight motion has been gaining steam, with extra individuals unwilling to see animals submitted to any sort of torture.
The statue out entrance, by the best way, commemorates Nimeño II, a well-known bullfighter.
La Maison Carrée
That is in all probability the best-preserved Roman temple on the earth and intriguingly, it has an odd variety of steps. Monks would have positioned their proper foot on step one, ending with the fitting foot on the high. On this approach, they neither began nor ended on the left foot, deemed unfortunate.
Musée de la Romanité
This contemporary interactive museum proper throughout from the Amphitheater is a spotlight of Nîmes. They excavated deeply throughout constructing and located the foundations of a powerful Roman villa, together with a formidable and fantastically preserved mosaic. The museum traces the historical past of Nîmes proper by means of to the Center Ages. Get your tickets right here.
The place to eat in Nîmes
You will discover loads of locations close to Arèns de Nîmes and within the previous townLes Halles, the Nineteenth-century meals market (5 Rue des Halles) gives a variety of native merchandise amongst which Halles Auberge is unquestionably the most effective of all of them
Issues to see within the Camargue
The Camargue is an space of untamed magnificence, totally different from different elements of France. As a wetland, its salt marshes are paradise for bird-lovers, however that is additionally the place lots of the south’s bulls are raised – you possibly can go to a farm and experience among the famed Camargue horses, if you would like.
If you happen to’re not within the temper to drive, you possibly can take a half-day tour from Avignon to the Camargue and simply go alongside for the experience.
Parc Ornithologique du Pont de Gau
I may have spent most of my day right here, watching flamingos on the top of the breeding season, which runs from December to March. This fowl park is an ideal introduction to a day journey in Camargue, area of salt marches and residential to all kinds of birds. It is a simple strolling circuit, extra of a stroll, actually, with loads of bushes and inlets.
On the fringe of the Camargue, the place it meets the Mediterranean, the small city of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer is the realm’s capital, fabled for its folklore. Its church of the identical identify is a spot of pilgrimage for Europe’s Roma populations and was constructed to guard holy relics, particularly their patron saint, the “Black Virgin” Saint Sara, whose statue situated within the downstairs space of the church.
Annually, in direction of the tip of Could and October, Saint Sarah is widely known and a mess of pilgrims converge right here. You could wish to witness this, however beware that these are crowded occasions in Saintes Maries and never essentially the most effective to go to.
LEGENDS OF SAINT SARA
Annually (besides throughout Covid), on 24 Could, Saint Sara – patron saint of gypsies – is faraway from her crypt within the church of Notre-Dame-de-la-Mer (Our Girl of the Sea) and carried to the ocean, the place she will likely be submerged.
Ceremonies, companies, vigils, all happen through the subsequent few days as hundreds of pilgrims from Europe’s varied nomadic tribes converge right here for per week of festivities, prayer and household gatherings. Guitars, candles and prayer strengthen the zeal of these for whom the “Black Virgin” is a religious beacon.
Her identify is Kali, a resemblance to the Hindu goddess Kali (“she who’s black”), reinforcing the idea that the Roms and different nomadic Europeans got here from India through the ninth century.
You could be conversant in the “Three Marys”, Christian ladies who adopted Jesus and witnessed his crucifixion and resurrection. In line with one legend (of many), Sara traveled with them as a maid as they went to France from the Holy Land, touchdown and settling close to Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. The church was constructed to carry her relics.
Go to a manade
Breeding bulls and horses is a centuries-old custom within the Camargue, and takes place in manades – or giant open areas – the place they’re left to breed in freedom. You possibly can go to a manade for just a few hours throughout your Camargue journey and discover out extra concerning the custom. The vacationer workplace will help you manage your manade go to.
The place to eat within the Camargue
Le Chante Clair for imaginative native delicacies with a twist, proper on the Place des RampartsCasa Romana (6 Rue Joseph Roumanille) for native foodLa Playa…en Camargue (on the easterm a part of the seaside) for seafood and contemporary fish served on the seaside
Issues to see in Arles
Your south of France tour should embrace Arles! The center of previous Arles is comparatively giant, however not too giant to discover on foot. Every little thing is inside strolling distance and the format of the city makes mapping a route simple. You will want in the future to see Arles and even so, you will not see all of it – however probably sufficient to make you wish to return.
Vincent Van Gogh
A lot on this metropolis is devoted to the artist Vincent van Gogh, from the muse that bears his identify to the locations he lived and labored to the 187 scenes he painted whereas he lived right here. Comply with in van Gogh’s footsteps in Arles and uncover what impressed him so.
Arles was as soon as a provincial capital of the Roman Empire and is doted with Roman ruins. The Amphitheater is a surprising venue and at the moment hosts performs, live shows or corridas, in addition to the occasional trend or gentle present. However the metropolis has lots extra, together with a powerful area and historic theater. Take a look at Arles’ super roman heritage.
Designed by Frank Gehry, this newest addition to the Arles artwork scene is kind of the construction, out and in. Stroll round and admire the outside earlier than taking within the everlasting and short-term exhibitions. The latest must-see.
The shores of the Rhone River are an ideal ending to the day – and a part of the rationale for Van Gogh’s enchantment with this metropolis will likely be made clear by the riverside, the place he typically painted.
The place to eat in Arles
Get pleasure from conventional meals beneath the wood beams and stones of Le Criquet (21 Rue Porte de Laure)Typical regional fare at L’antonelle le Bistrot, a gap within the wall not removed from the Fondation van GoghL’Entrevue for Moroccan meals in an eclectic setting – at the back of a bookstore and subsequent to a hammam, or steam tub. Make a night of it!
Issues to see in les Baux de Provence
This medieval village is not actually a full-day journey (no less than not in my view) however you can not actually miss Les Baux de Provence when you’re within the space. Get there early if you wish to park wherever close to the doorway, or put together for the uphill stroll alongside the cobblestone streets. The village itself is a part of the Most Lovely Villages of France community, and rightly so. Think about coming within the night, spending the night time, and visiting within the morning earlier than the crowds have arrived.
Château de Baux
These are the stays of the chateau dominating the head of the village, an fascinating fortress, however the motive you actually come right here is the panorama over the complete area. Unsurpassed.
Carrières de Lumières
This gentle and sound present takes place inside an previous quarry, ultimate if you wish to get away from the summer season warmth. The exhibition modifications yearly to focus on a special artist – van Gogh, Michelangelo, Klimt, Chagall, Dali, Picasso… Put on a jacket. You can even bypass the driving and take a tour to Les Baux and the quarry from Avignon.
Since Les Baux is not going to take you a whole day, you would push on throughout the mountain to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, an ideal addition when you love van Gogh. After having adopted in his footsteps in Arles, you possibly can share the second half of his Provence journey right here, together with a go to to the asylum wherein he interned himself and, proper subsequent door, the fabulous Roman ruins of Glanum.
The place to eat in les Baux de Provence
within the previous village, there are many eating places. One to be beneficial: Le Bouchon Rouge (Rue du Trencat) gives genuine delicacies provençal and is situated close to the fortress
Issues to see within the Lubéron
Made (in)well-known by Peter Mayle’s unique A 12 months in Provence, the Lubéron area has develop into a obligatory cease on the best way south, a lot in an effort to discover the bus excursions hogging the small roads a bit daunting. Select less-visited villages, or do your sightseeing very early within the morning or late within the night (in summer season, it is so sizzling you’ll have no selection). I really like winter on this area, however sadly, with few vacationers round, many locations are closed, so my recommendation can be to go to through the shoulder season, or in late June when you’re headed for the close by lavender fields.
Gordes and the Village des Bories
Gordes is one among my favorite Lubéron villages and no go to is full with out it. Even a brief stroll by means of the village provides you with a way of its magnificence; simply beware, there is not a lot parking (particularly on Tuesday morning, market day).
Earlier than you get to Gordes, on the climb up, you will see an indication for the Villages des Bories, manufactured from typical mortar-free dry stone partitions of the area. The bories have been used to retailer instruments and even as dwellings, however they have been initially constructed to get rid of extra stones eliminated to clear farmland.
Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque
Not removed from Gordes, this (nonetheless energetic) Twelfth-century Cistercian monastery is likely one of the can’t-miss locations if you wish to see lavender (or you possibly can drive across the countryside on the finish of June or starting of July and see it all over the place). However at Senanque, you additionally get to go to the monastery and discover its historical past, in addition to the every day lives of the monks who reside right here. You possibly can stroll right here from Gordes when you’re within the temper (simply keep in mind, Gordes is uphill from the abbey so sooner or later you will must stroll uphill). Here is the place to get your tickets.
Ochre Path in Roussillon
This does not take lengthy and is enjoyable – simply do not put on white or delicate footwear as a result of they’re going to find yourself yellow and brown from the pure ochre of Roussillon, the world’s greatest deposit. The complete village of Roussillon is devoted to ochre: the color of the homes, the hills on the village’s edge, the path… all mined right here since Roman occasions.
LONG-LOST LEGENDS OF THE LUBERON
The Lubéron is a mystical land, one with many legends underlying its fact.
Just like the legend of lavender, initially a fairy known as Lanandula, who flitted by means of Provence in search of the right place to reside (she discovered it), or the unusual scratchings on the partitions of Lourmarin fortress, or the legend of Girl Sermonde and her horrible husband. Examine all these and different legends right here.
And there is there’s the epidemic… not Covid, however the Nice Plague of 1721. Because the sickness unfold, they constructed a wall, elements of which stay seen.
Fort du Buoux
This isn’t your on a regular basis go to and few individuals understand it, however when you resolve to swing by the beautiful village of Lourmarin, you may as effectively push on to this medieval fortress, a working army fortress till the sixteenth century – though be ready to hike, and be sure you have good footwear. You will not have the ability to beat the view!
Beware, although, it closes typically, each time the climate is poor: rain, fog, snow, or potential forest fires. Take a look at the openings on its official web site.
The place to eat within the Lubéron
The country La Trinquette (Rue des Tracapelles, 84220 Gordes) gives wine and tapas between Sénanque and RoussillonIn Roussillon, strive La Sirmonde (Rue Richard Casteau) or La Treille (Rue du 4)
Issues to see in Marseille
Marseille has its admirers and detractors, however there is not any denying its pure magnificence, its harmonious structure, and the cultural place it has been occupying because it was named European Capital of Tradition in 2013. Its historic neighbourhoods and sleek port make it visually enticing and traditionally necessary, however it has retained a sure grittiness from its tough and tumble days. However is it value visiting? Sure, completely, as a result of France is not solely about fairly villages and vibrant markets. That is France, too. (You possibly can go to Marseille for a day with this 24-hour day move, for limitless public transportation and entrance to the highest sights.)
Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde
This Byzantine basilica (Rue Fort du Sanctuaire) supplies the most effective aerial view of the attractive bay of Marseille. Its casual identify is “La Bonne Mère”, the Good Mom, and whenever you have a look at it you will perceive why: it appears to be watching over town.
MARSEILLE, FRANCE’S OLDEST CITY
For a metropolis claiming to be France’s oldest (that title is disputed by Béziers, in gentle of recent excavations), Marseille has valuable few ruins. Whereas Nîmes and Arles are filled with Roman remnants, Marseille can be hard-pressed to provide you with an area and even an arch.
Why is that?
Marseille, as soon as known as Massalia, was based by Greek mariners within the seventh century BCE, at a time when just a few Neolithic traces have been to be present in what’s now Paris. There are even earlier traces of inhabitants within the area, throughout Prehistory, some 30,000 years in the past.
Ruins have been found in Marseille − they simply have not been preserved. As an alternative, they have been reburied or destroyed, to make approach for town’s growth.
A lot has been buried… an vintage quarry, the previous agora, a ceramic workshop (which in all probability made the amphorae that held France’s first wine), town’s first Christian church, an amphitheater, all in a tug-of-war between city improvement and the conservation of antiquities.
It may be time for metropolis authorities to acknowledge the 2 are usually not essentially incompatible…
The Musée de la Civilisation de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée − or European and Mediterranean civilization − was in-built 2013 when Marseille was named European Capital of Tradition. It recurrently holds fascinating exhibitions that shed a lightweight on this nook of the world − and the constructing itself is extraordinary, a surprising dice of concrete lace.
The place to eat in Marseille
For Marseille’s well-known bouillabaisse, or fish soup, head for Chez Loury at 3, rue FortiaFor pizza made with natural Italian flour and baked in a wooden oven, strive the tiny La Bonne Mère (16 Rue Fort du Sanctuaire)Chez Madie (138 Quai du Port) is an efficient selection for a meal and La Caravelle (enter by means of the lodge door at 34 Quai du Port) has a surprising view on the Vieux-Port and wonderful cocktails
What to see in Cassis
Cassis may be divided into two elements, the beautiful village that winds all the way down to the port, and the calanques, or tiny rocky inlets, that you’re going to discover within the Calanques Nationwide Park between Marseille and Cassis. If you happen to’re driving from Marseille, the D559 street will take you thru the gorgeous calanques panoramas to the pleasant city of Cassis.
Parc Nationwide des Calanques
From Cassis, you may get to the calanques in a number of methods – you possibly can stroll to the primary one, Port-Miou, after which on to Port Pin and past. Climbing the calanques is a superb approach of experiencing these pure formations. You possibly can drive between the calenques however keep in mind that the realm is closely touristed and a few calanques are limiting the variety of guests. As an alternative, strive one of many brief walks to expertise the great thing about this space, or higher but, go to by boat.
Port de Cassis
This charming fishing village is ideal for a relaxation and a meal after your calanque stroll or boat experience. Calm down, have a drink, take just a few photos… after the depth of Marseille, you will want a slower day in nature.
The place to eat in Cassis
You will discover loads of locations close to the Port and within the previous city. For a gastronomic deal with, strive La Villa Madie (Avenue de Revestel-anse de Corton) which serves haute delicacies from the Mediterranean area and gives a splendid view on the ocean. For a extra relaxed ambiance, you possibly can positively strive the wooden-baked pizzas at La Stazione (39, avenue Victor Hugo).
What to see in Good
There’s lots to see and do in Good, a stunning city that may simply preserve you busy all day. However when you’d moderately escape town, there are many day journeys or half-day journeys you possibly can pattern when you’re right here – to Cannes or Saint-Paul-de-Vence, for instance.
Promenade des Anglais
This famous7km stretch of boardwalk is called after the British aristocrats who made it common as soon as they started wintering on the coast. Again within the early early Nineteenth century, however through the years it was widened and have become dwelling to luxurious palaces and villas. You possibly can drive alongside the street, stroll alongside the parallel walkway and bike path, or laze on the beachfront – you will nonetheless find yourself with some of the dazzling views on the Riviera.
The Outdated City is a delight: you will discover loads of boutiques and conventional eating places together with piles of antiques, each on the Monday brocante of the Cours Selaya (top-of-the-line flea markets in France) or among the many vintage retailers of the the Outdated Port of Good. The Sainte-Réparate Cathedral is a mixture of kinds, the preliminary chapel courting again almost 1000 years. Go to the atmospheric fish market at Place Saint François, with one among Good’s few remaining examples of baroque structure in Good (previous city corridor).
NICE AND MATISSE
It is no marvel the post-impressionist French artist Matisse fell in love with Good when he moved right here in 1917.
Good’s magnificence, wedged as it’s between sea and mountains, overwhelmed the artist with its light and heat.
Matisse spent almost 40 years in Good, overwhelmed by the light and heat of town. He got here to remedy a nasty bronchitis – he would keep almost 40 years, till his loss of life.
And to assume he nearly did not keep… when he first arrived, the climate was horrible and he had been sick. Planning to return to his household in Paris, he was about to depart when he awoke to that impossible to resist Good sunshine one morning… and the remainder is historical past.
See his work on the Musée Matisse at 164 avenue des Arènes de Cimiez.
The place to eat in Good
Les Sens (37 rue Pastorelli) serves regional meals in a comfortable ambiance Le Tire-Bouchon (19 rue de la Préfecture) serves provençal meals and is close to the Colline du Château, in the beginning of the Promenade the AnglaisEnsure you strive among the native dishes like Salade Niçoise (with potatoes, tuna and anchovies), a Farçi Niçois (often tomatoes, pink peppers, courgettes or aubergines crammed with minced beef and anchovies) or a “socca”, which is a chickpea pancakeScrumptious ice cream at Gelato Azzurro on Place Saint-François
What to see in Monaco
Monaco – or extra particularly its central city, Monte-Carlo – will likely be a whole change of tempo from the remainder of this south France street journey, ending your journey in luxurious on this tiny city-state. Luxurious yachts, gorgeous views, a touch of royalty – that is what you possibly can anticipate on this bucket record vacation spot, the right strategy to finish your France trip.
On line casino de Monte-Carlo
That is in all probability essentially the most well-known constructing within the Principality of Monaco and its Belle Epoque structure has been the backdrop of many movies, together with Ocean’s Twelve, GoldenEye, By no means Say By no means Once more… You might even see a resemblance in type with the Opera Garnier in Paris, each of which have been designed by Charles Garnier.
One other well-known view, with its sleek bay and yachts and the little retailers of Monte Carlo. Do not anticipate to see Prince Albert however do go to his giant flats and Palace, which may be visited six months a yr.
Uncover greater than 6000 aquatic species in top-of-the-line oceanographic museums on the earth.
The place to eat in Monaco
A Monaco specialty is barbagiuan, or barbajuan, a big dumpling crammed with rice, onion, parmesan and inexperienced leaves (strive U Barbagiuan at 6 Avenue des PapalinsCelebrities and locals have drinks on the Café de Paris on Place du On line casinoIl Fornaio for fabulous home-cooked Italian foodFor a drop-dead beautiful style of luxurious, the Louis XV on the Hôtel de Paris is ideal when you’re a fan of Chef Alain Ducasse
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