Say ‘the South of France’ and a dozen images spring to mind: glitz, glamour, history, sunshine, celebrity. One could recall Cézanne in Aix, Picasso in Antibes, or Matisse in Nice. Modern day movers and shakers are also synonymous with this fabled stretch of shore: Carla Bruni near Canadel, Brad and Angelina near St Tropez, and Scarlett Johansson on the red carpet in Cannes. What’s truly astonishing is that such heady culture is packed into a region just 242km (150 miles) across.
And what an easy region it is to explore. Local taxes may be high, but it affords the South of France one of the finest public transport and road networks in the world. High-speed TGV trains zip between its main cities of Avignon, Marseille, and Nice, and then connect the region to Paris, London, and beyond. Buses, boats, and new electric share-cars run to even the tiniest town. Drivers may follow in the tire tracks of Cary Grant (in To Catch a Thief), Robert De Niro (in Ronin), or Sebastien Vettel (around the Monaco Grand Prix circuit). Passengers of any persuasion may stop off and gaze at paradise anywhere they wish.
This guide is meant to help you decide where to go in Provence and the French Riviera. But ultimately the most gratifying experience will be your own serendipitous discoveries—sunflowers in the Luberon, a picnic on a Mediterranean island, an hour spent chatting with a small winemaker—whatever it is that stays in your memory for years to come.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.