I have been to Paris twice, which is in the northern part of France. I have not seen any places in the south of France yet and I know that France has a lot more to offer than just Paris. So, I asked some other travel bloggers where they think are some unique places to visit in France, especially in the South. In no specific order & by their recommendation, here are the best places to visit in the south of France.
Roman Ruins of Arles
Written by Joel Baldwin – Follow Joel on YouTube.
Normally when you think of Roman ruins, you immediately think of Italy. But surprisingly, southern France is home to some incredible ruins from the Roman Empire, and some of the best-preserved ruins are found in the modern city of Arles. They were added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 1981 and are well-preserved and one of the most beautiful places in France.
The highlight is definitely the Roman Amphitheatre, a similar design to Rome’s Colosseum but on a slightly smaller scale. It was used for the typical gladiator battles and so on, but after the collapse of the Empire the locals moved in and built houses within the arena – eventually, there were even medieval guard towers constructed to keep people safe! If you’re lucky (or planning ahead!), you can catch a play or a concert, since the arena is still in use and hosts regular events.
In addition to the massive amphitheater, there’s also the smaller remains of a theatre, a cemetery, an aqueduct, the Forum’s foundations (known these days as the Cryptoporticus), and some bathhouses as well. Arles is a lovely and relaxing place and even inspired painter Vincent Van Gogh who lived here for a couple of years.
Its proximity to the French Riviera makes it a fantastic addition to any itinerary around the Cote-d’Azur.
Read more from Joel on his website www.worldheritagejourney.com
Le Petit Train de Juane – The Little Yellow Train
Written By Cathy Travelling – Follow her on Facebook
We experience the Pyrenees in Southern France on Le Petit Train de Juane – The Little Yellow Train; traveling through twenty-two small picturesque stations from Villefranche de Confluent to Latour de Carol. The scenery is spectacular with such beauty and diversity: mountain peaks, rolling hills, valleys with produce growing, villages tucked into the sides of mountains and on the edge of the railway tracks, winding roads, dozens of tunnels, and crossing many bridges with different construction styles.
We arrive at the station in Latour de Carol. It takes around thirty minutes to walk to this small French Village. We wander the streets noticing many of the buildings are made of rock from the River Tet with the streets decorated with rock walls and steps made of this local rock. The sun shines and we enjoy this magical quiet place where we feel as though the world is still and at peace. On our return trip, we notice more detail and feel as though this is a whole new experience, not one we had earlier in the day. There is so much to be in awe of and appreciate.
Some facts: Le Petit Train de Jaune began in 1909. We stayed in Perpignan and caught a regional train to Villefranche de Confluent taking an hour. At this station, you take Le Petit Train de Jaune to Latour de Carol to the last station; taking three hours. Take warm clothes as with open-air carriages and as the train climbs higher it gets cold.
Written by Becky Angell – Follow her on Instagram
Limoges is located in the center of France. It might not be the obvious place to go on your France trip but it’s a wonderful city and has lots to offer, as well as delicious French food and wine! There are plenty of things to do in Limoges. For starters, you can explore the beautiful old historic part of the city which has amazing architecture, cute bars, and cafes. Either stop for a coffee or glass of wine and watch the world go by or get lost in the little streets and see where you end up (I promise you won’t get too lost). You can visit Limoges Cathedral and explore the colorful gardens overlooking the river around the back. There’s also a stunning 13th-century bridge called Pont Saint Etienne crossing the river, wonderful for daytime walks or in the evening the bridge is lit up and looks stunning.
Limoges might sound like your typical cute French town or city, but it is famous for one thing that makes it unique – porcelain! There are porcelain shops, museums, and factories, everywhere, you can find out about the history and how things are made. If you want to pick one museum then go to the Musee Adrien Dubouche, you can see examples of beautiful porcelain plus find out how it’s made! Limoges makes a perfect weekend break in France and also a great destination to pick up some traditional French gifts for your family or friends (or treat yourself!)
Written by Nicole Fiorante – Follow her on Instagram
Biarritz is a clash of surf town chill and high-end glitz in the French Basque region. A seaside town that has made a name for itself on the surfer’s circuit as a must-visit. The casino, shopping, and boutique hotels provide an elegant escape for visitors to relax. It’s a place where you can feel as though you might be a French local strolling down the shopping streets slowly eating your ice cream and beignet. Spend the morning at the local market getting fresh produce, fish, bread, meat, and cheese for the day. Then have an extra-long lunch enjoying all the delicious food and wine from the region.
The beaches have stunning views along the pathway that lines the coast. Sandy beaches in the coves to spend the day relaxing on the beach and watching the surfers catch their waves is the perfect way to spend the afternoon.
Many restaurants are scattered around the town with a variety of delicious food to sample from some amazing local chefs. The evening brings in an electric vibe for late-night dinner, music, and drinks on outdoor patios during the summer months.
Biarritz is a place to truly understand the essence of how the French people like to relax in the Basque region. Good weather, good food, and good wine.
You can read more about Biarritz on Nicole’s Website
Written by Priyanko Sarkar – Follow Priyanko on Instagram
Visiting Nimes is definitely one of the must-see places to visit in south France for anyone interested in Roman history. In fact, the small French city has a huge Roman Coliseum that is second only to the one in Rome. Called Les Arenes, the well-preserved arena today hosts musical performances and bullfighting (usually in September). Travelers who visit the city today can also visit the Musee de la Rmanite opposite Les Arenes to truly indulge their Roman side. The place was under construction when I visited but I’ve heard great reviews of the museum from other travelers since it opened early this year.
Maison Carre is another important Roman stop that I think would interest even the least curious traveler. The white temple from the first century has been preserved remarkably and warrants an hour or two of exploring. Don’t miss the informational AV playing inside and let me know if the temple reminds you of the White House in any way.
Once you’ve satisfied your Roman urges (no pun intended), it’s time to sit with the locals at Jardin de la Fontaine nearby. Here, you can still find scattered pieces of Roman architecture as well as the Temple of Diane but more importantly, you can relax and watch this beautiful little hidden city make you fall for its charm as it changes colors from day to night.
If you’re feeling adventurous, don’t forget to try brandade, a local dish made with cod, garlic, milk, and potatoes that is surprisingly tasteful. Of course, once you’ve had your fill, just take yourself 25 kilometers further to Le Pont du Gard, France’s most famous Roman aqueduct.
Written by Natasha Welch – Follow her on Instagram
Auvergne-Rhône-Alps is the French region to visit if you’re looking for a variety of exquisite landscapes, incredible cities, and cozy towns.
The capital of the region is Lyon, where I was lucky enough to live for an entire year. Lyon is one of the biggest cities in France, however, when roaming Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon) it’s easy to think you’re in the middle of a medieval village! Lyon is a great base for visiting the Auvergne-Rhône-Alps region, with great transport links to various nearby sites.
A short bus ride from Lyon is Annecy, an alpine town famous for its medieval cobbled streets, brightly colored houses, and pretty canals that are flanked all year round by vibrant flower boxes. Annecy sits right on top of Lake Annecy, a stunning turquoise-blue, freshwater lake surrounded by mountains.
When visiting the region, make sure to visit Clermont-Ferrand. It is home to the large dormant volcanos, Puy de Dôme and Grenoble. It is called the ‘capital of the Alps’ due to its proximity to the mountains and contains an amazing network of hiking trails.
If you’d like to get even closer to the mountains, take a trip to Chamonix, situated close to the summit of Mont Blanc. In winter, Chamonix is a popular ski resort town, one of the oldest ski resorts in the world, and home to the highest vertical ascent cable car across the globe. As the closest French region to the Alps mountain range, the Auvergne-Rhône-Alps is famous for its stunning landscapes, a must-see spot for all nature and adrenaline lovers!
Read more from Natasha on her website
Carnival In Nice, France
Written by Auston Mata – Follow Auston on Instagram
Nice, France is unquestionably a place with fantastic architecture and natural beauty and its position on the Mediterranean makes for pleasant weather almost year-round. Taking a walk through the shaded and winding streets of Old Nice is one of the first things to do while visiting the city. You’ll find brightly colored façades that reflect the colors and style of Sardinian architecture.
However, when you think of Carnival, Nice is probably not the first place that comes to mind. Does it even come to mind at all? You probably conjure up images of elaborately dressed dancers competing in the parades of Rio de Janeiro. It is the largest and most famous Carnival in the world taking place for six days in the blistering Brazilian summer in February. But as it turns out, Nice’s Carnival is the 3rd largest in the world by the number of visitors and it takes place over 17 days.
There are several main events that take place during the Nice Carnival. The first is the Flower Parade. It dates back to 1876 when the first parade took place along the Promenade des Anglais. Later you can enjoy the Carnival Parade of Lights in the evening. Watching the carnival floats light up the heart of Nice to the rhythm of musical bands and visual entertainment. The next edition of Carnival in Nice takes place from February 16 to March 2, 2019.
Written by Maire Bonheim – Follow her on Pinterest
Avignon is a beautiful city in Provence, on the banks of the Rhone river. The historic old town is surrounded by medieval walls. It’s incredibly quaint and the entire old city is a UNESCO heritage site. In the middle ages, the Popes of the Catholic church lived in Avignon. You can visit the impressive Palace of the Popes and other medieval buildings, including the grand cathedral.
Avignon is also a fantastic destination for food lovers. You can sip an espresso in a square, sample cheese and pate in the famous Les Halles market, then visit a patisserie for a delicious French pastry for dessert.
The city is surrounded by a host of beautiful towns and winemakers. This makes it a great place to base yourself while you explore Provence. Arles, Nimes, and charming L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue are all within easy reach.
Written By Mike Meraner – Follow him on Facebook
Carcassonne is a fortified city in Southern France not far from Toulouse and Marseille. One of my favorite places in Europe. The old town is surrounded by medieval city walls. It is located on a hill that overlooks the main city of Carcassonne.
Stepping through the gate felt like traveling back in time for several centuries. We spent hours walking through the narrow alleys surrounded by massive stone walls and impressive towers. Even though the city is a major tourist attraction, walking around didn’t feel touristy at all. The souvenir shops and restaurants are integrated into the medieval infrastructure.
The town itself is free to enter. I highly recommend a visit to the paid part of the castle which includes a museum and access to the stunning towers. Even if you are not interested in the historical background. The views from the top of the towers of the medieval towns are worth the entrance fee of €9.
Also, make sure to plan some time to visit the vineyards behind the medieval town at sunset. There are no tourists at all and you will have an amazing view of the fortified city.
Read more from Mike on his website
The French Riviera
Written by Veronika Primm – Follow her on Facebook
The whole French Riviera, or Côte d’Azur as the French say, is a place to fulfill all your European travel dreams. This is one of the must-see places to visit in South France. It stretches along the shore of the Mediterranean Sea. It has plenty of little villages and towns of nearly unbearable charm. Medieval looks combine with typical Mediterranean architecture. Do you need any more reasons to visit?
Fly into Nice and get a place to stay for a couple of days. 2 – 3 days are enough to explore the city. Walk the Massena Square and all the streets leading from it. Visit the seaside Promenade des Anglais and the hilltop park Colline du Château. There’s plenty to see and do in Nice.
But – I argue the best things lie within a driving distance from Nice. So, rent a car or a scooter and discover these gems on day trips from Nice:
- Villefranche-sur–Mer: Just a stone’s throw from Nice, a lovely little seaside town with a beach and a fortress.
- Antibes and Eze: More fortresses and stunning views in Antibes. Stop on your way in Eze for some breathtaking cliff views!
- St. Paul de Vence: Old medieval village perched atop a hill.
- Cannes: Touristy but worth it! Don’t go during the Film Festival, though.
- Monaco: Lavish sailboats and stylish fun can be had in Monaco.
- Grasse: Discover the city that perfumes call their home. Also, the Perfume murderer (movie).
- Menton: Visit for a castle view and beaches. Or for the Lemon Festival.
I hope all of these wonderful places help you discover more about France. If you are considering traveling through the northern part of the country, check out our list of places to visit in Northern France here. When I was in Paris I stayed at a great Bed & Breakfast. You should stay there if you go.
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