A guide to southern France

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Photo by Jeanne Menjoulet

Whether looking for a cycling adventure, cellars filled with great wine, spectacular cuisine, romantic cities or famous beach spots. Southern France is a place that offers most of the perks of visiting this country. Let me take you through one of the routes of Southern discovery.

Let’s start in Marseille. This famous city is easily accessible from England by low-cost flights. Marseille is a bustling city where you can enjoy French culture and sightseeing. The highlights include The Old Port, Notre-Dame de la Garde or Cours Julien – the art quarter of the city including various museums. Beaches in Marseille are, in general, not of the best quality- it’s better to find other places to swim. However, if you like slightly adventurous swimming, visit the nice small rocky beaches of Calanques (local miniature fjords) nearby.

It’s time to move to another beautiful town that you can’t miss – Aix-en-Provence. This typically Provençal town shows examples of the architecture predominantly found in Southern France. Here, you can stroll along Course Mirabeau – an avenue going through the center where you can shop and enjoy a short rest by various fountains. For those interested in art, other sights to visit include the atelier of the famous French painter Cezanne or museum Granet showing works of other famous artists.

Now we are heading to Avignon, but before that, we shouldn’t miss Les Baux-de-Provence. This small, beautiful village is situated on the top of rocky Alpilles Mountains and has a population of twenty-two people. Beneath it lies the Carrières de Lumières a complex of caves, where you can enjoy a unique atmosphere created by art projections all around you. On your way from this special gallery, try to also visit Saint-Remy-de-Provence, a nice stop for those who enjoy exploring ancient Roman ruins. Our Provençal journey would not be complete without seeing a beautiful framework created by Lavender fields that remain a symbol of various paintings. They are worth visiting during June-August time, when the lavenders blossom.

Moving on to Avignon, this city offers other great sights hidden behind the original walls, which surround almost the whole city centre. Here, definitely focus on the famous Papal palace or the Avignon bridge ending in the middle of the river Rhone. The next stop would be two similarly beautiful cities, therefore I recommend visiting only one of them, especially if you are short of time. It’s Orange in the north of Avignon and Nimes in the South. Both offer, apart from others, ancient Roman Amphitheaters and nice historic centres with typical Southern layout.

Let’s move back to he South and back to the costs of the Mediterranean Sea. On our way, we can visit the amazing Pont du Gard, the huge ancient Roman aqueduct in the middle of nowhere. Arriving at the coasts of Languedoc Roussillon, we can enjoy beautiful sandy public beaches and the city of Montpellier. However, be sure you have booked your accommodation a long time in advance, since this is one of the busiest holiday regions in the world.

After you’ve enjoyed sun, sea, culture and great cuisine, visit the spectacular city and castle of Carcassonne. This is a must-see situated on your way to Toulouse. From here you can take your flight back home, after you’ve explored Basilique Saint Sernin, the town hall and the theatre of the Capitole, Le Couvent des Jacobins.

This was just a hint of all the things you can enjoy in the unforgettable region. Whether you prefer more sightseeing, time on the beach, shopping, eating, or just strolling around, the South of France is the place for you.