What could be better than spending a road trip vacation through the South of France?
Here is a complete road trip guide to the South of France, including how to get around, when to visit and an incredible 1-week itinerary that ensures you see the best attractions and sights Provence and the French Riviera offer. From Nice to Marseille and Avignon, this travel guide is perfect for first-timers and will allow you to get to know the country and locals on a deeper level.
The South of France offers plenty of opportunities for an epic road trip. Through Provence and the French Riviera or the Côte d’Azur, you will discover a part of France with its own culture, heritage and way of life. Venture into small picturesque villages, sample local wine on your journey and unwind at pristine beaches – a summer you will never forget.
Even though France is my homeland, I am constantly discovering something new. My trip to Provence was one of those moments when I felt like I was in another country! It is a unique and authentic region where time slows down, a place that will truly leave you speechless.
In this article, I give you the tools you need to have a memorable experience in Southern France. Plus, do not forget to check out the sustainable tips at the end. Enjoy!
My South of France experience: Duration 17 Days Dates visited Jul 20 - Aug 05 Season Summer
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- Overview: 1-week South of France itinerary
- How to get around South of France
- South of France road trip: map
- Detailed South of France 1-week itinerary
- Day 1 – Welcome to Provence
- Day 2 – A Journey Through Senses
- Day 3 – Glitz & Glam
- Day 4 – From Islands to Epic Cliffs
- Day 5 – Art, Culture & Heritage
- Day 6 – The Most Idyllic Provence
- Day 7 – Finale Day
- Best time to visit the South of France
- Sustainable travel in Southern France
- France travel planning guide
- South of France road trip – FAQ
Overview: 1-week South of France itinerary
- Day 1: Nice
- Day 2: Saint Paul de Vence, Grasse & Antibes
- Day 3: Cannes, Port Grimaud & Saint-Tropez
- Day 4: Hyères, Cassis & Marseille
- Day 5: Aix-en-Provence, Arles & Avignon
- Day 6: Lourmarin, Valensole & Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
- Day 7: Nice
South of France itinerary
Planning your road trip in France and not sure where to start? Here is an outline of an epic 1-week itinerary in the South of France. Enjoy! 🇫🇷
How to get around South of France
There are several ways to explore and get around the South of France. Here are some of your options:
- Rent a car: one of the best ways to explore the South of France is by car. It will allow you to move freely and discover this unique region full of hidden treasures. I recommend using rentalcar.com to search and compare which car is best for you. From affordable to luxury, they make it easy to choose and have a great selection of rental agents. Eco-tips: try to rent the smallest vehicle possible, or go electric!
- Hop on public transport: if driving is not your thing or you would prefer to discover France from a different perspective, you can travel across the south of the country by public transport, with buses and trains. The area and major cities are well-connected to make things easier for you. And to reach remote places, look at the local buses.
- Explore by bike: biking is an incredible way to discover the South of France. It will allow you to slow travel and immerse yourself in unique culture and scenery and is perfect for reaching secluded areas. You will find many great cycle paths in the region. Plus, you will do our planet a favour!
Looking for the top things to do in Paris? Check out this article: 10 Eco-Friendly & Fun Things to Do in Paris
South of France road trip: map
Click on the top left of the map to display the list of stops and locations.
Detailed South of France 1-week itinerary
This South of France road trip is excellent for a 1-week vacation. From picturesque villages to lavender fields and pristine beaches, it offers a perfect taste of the unique French culture across the French Riviera and Provence.
On the other hand, this self-drive itinerary is only a guide with recommendations. You are more than welcome to spend more days in one area or add other stops on your way. France has a lot to offer: you will not run out of things to do and see!
Here is my suggestion for where to stop on a road trip across the South of France with an itinerary idea for 7 days.
Fancy a green city break in Paris? Check out this article: Sustainable Travel Guide to Paris, France
Day 1 – Welcome to Provence
Your adventure in the South of France begins with the bustling city of Nice.
With an international airport connecting most big cities, Nice is the perfect getaway to the French Riviera or the Côte d’Azur and an excellent starting point for your road trip.
Whether you like exploring, shopping, relaxing or sampling delicious food, Nice has it all. From world-class museums to gorgeous beaches and renowned restaurants, you will have no shortage of ideas for things to do and see. Plus, the buzzing city is an ideal place for families with children or couples on a romantic holiday.
Things to do and see in Nice
- Stroll along the Promenade Des Anglais
- Explore by bike with Vélo Bleu
- Wander the Old Town (Vieille Ville)
- Visit the flower market (Marché aux Fleurs)
- Relax at the Jardin Albert I
- Admire Square (Place) Massena
- Enjoy the view from Castle Hill (La Colline Du Château)
- Walk along the harbour
- Go to the beach
In addition, if you have time, go for a venture around the city and stop at the hilltop village of Èze, located 8.5 km northeast of Nice. Famous for its spectacular views and impressive architecture, this charming village dates back to the Middle Ages and hangs impressively to the mountainside above the Mediterranean Sea.
Unforgettable experiences I recommend
Day 2 – A Journey Through Senses
Saint-Paul de Vence
Nice – Saint-Paul de Vence: 40 minutes / 21 km
Here you go – your road trip in the South of France begins!
Your first stop will be the hilltop village of Saint-Paul de Vence, a hotspot for artists and art lovers since the 1920s. The town is easily accessible by car from Nice and is an ideal place to discover Provence, especially if it is your first time in the area.
Saint-Paul de Vence is not favoured for its endless tourist attractions but is an attraction in itself. Wander through the village, take in the views and pass by charming galleries, shops, restaurants and art studios – let time slow down and enjoy a one-of-a-kind French experience.
Things to do and see in Saint-Paul de Vence
- Walk along the ramparts
- Admire the views
- Watch the locals play Pétanque
- Stop at the cemetery
- Visit the Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs
Saint-Paul de Vence – Grasse: 40 minutes / 22 km
If you have time, stop at Gourdon (an impressive village perched on a cliff) on your way to Grasse.
Your road trip continues with the gorgeous town of Grasse, well-known for its long-established perfume industry, with a heritage celebrated at the Musée International de la Parfumerie in the town centre.
Today, the town is still home to about 30 makers, including Fragonard, Molinard and Galimard, and a few offer guided tours of their factories, with the chance to sharpen your skills and develop your senses.
Enjoy the unique atmosphere of this small medieval town, get lost in its quaint streets and make your own perfume – there is a vast choice of things to do and see for a stopover in Grasse.
Things to do and see in Grasse
- Visit the Musée International de la Parfumerie
- Tour the Fragonard factory
- Learn & make your own perfume – book your tour
- Get lost in the Old Town
- See Notre Dame De Puy
- Explore the Domaine de la Royrie
- Admire Jean-Honoré Fragonard paintings
Grasse – Antibes: 35 minutes / 27 km
You will end your second day of touring the South of France with the seaside town of Antibes, known for its old centre surrounded by 16th-century ramparts with the star-shaped Fort Carré.
With a rich history and an active harbour, Antibes has a lot to offer and is a perfect way to end your day. The coastal town is a vibrant blend of quaint cobbled old streets and a beach resort that makes for one fascinating and well-earned stopover.
Things to do and see in Antibes
- Wander the Old Town
- Relax at the beach
- Walk along the harbour
- Explore Fort Carré
- Hike up the Garoupe Lighthouse
- Visit the Musée Picasso
Day 3 – Glitz & Glam
Antibes – Cannes: 30 minutes / 12 km
It is glitter time! Your third day begins in the luxurious city of Cannes, famous for its international film festival, golden beaches, exclusive boutiques and exquisite hotels. It is also home to the Palais des Festivals et des Congrès, a modern building with red carpet and Allée des Étoiles – the Walk of Fame.
A trip through the French Riviera would not be complete without visiting Cannes. Whether you decide on a short stopover or a day out, there is plenty to do and see in this resort town. Stroll through the old quarter of Le Suquet, enjoy the view from Notre-Dame d’Esperance church or treat yourself to a shopping spree on Rue d’Antibes.
Things to do and see in Cannes
- Stroll along La Croisette
- Sample local produce at Forville Market
- Shop on Rue d’Antibes
- Visit the Vieux Port
- Get lost in Le Suquet (Old Town)
- Go sailing along the French Riviera
- Enjoy the view from Notre-Dame d’Espérance
Cannes – Port Grimaud: 1 hour 20 minutes / 67 km
Nicknamed the Little Venice of Provence, the coastal town of Port Grimaud, approved as a 20th Century Heritage site, is a place full of surprises and a fascinating stopover on your route across the South of France. Even though it is small in size, it is a great place to take a break and unwind.
Stroll along the canal, enjoy a boat trip, savour an ice cream or admire the colourful facade; there are many reasons why you should visit this lovely town on your way to Saint-Tropez.
Things to do and see in Grimaud
- Hire a boat and explore the canals
- Relax at Grimaud Beach
- Visit the Église Saint Michel
- Shop at the local market
- Go wine tasting at a nearby winery
- Wander the old centre of the village Grimaud
- Admire the view from Château de Grimaud
Port Grimaud – Saint-Tropez: 15 minutes / 8 km
Another unmissable stop on your journey in Provence: the sunny Saint-Tropez. Long popular with artists, the town attracted the international rich and famous in the 1960s and remains renowned for its beaches, yacht community and nightlife.
From traditional markets to peaceful coastal paths and natural sites steeped in history, Saint-Tropez has plenty to offer visitors seeking local culture, heritage and architecture – with a touch of glamour. In addition, if you are looking for a relaxed night out, you will find plenty of restaurants and bars with a welcoming atmosphere.
Things to do and see in Saint-Tropez
- Walk around the Old Port
- Explore stunning beaches and coastal trails
- Stroll through the Old Quarter of La Ponche
- Go shopping for local gifts
- Visit the Old Market Square (Place des Lices)
- Enjoy panoramic views from the Old Citadel
- Visit the Musée de l’Annonciade
Day 4 – From Islands to Epic Cliffs
This fourth day is quite busy with activities and experiences, as it includes the island of Porquerolles and the Calanques, so it is up to you to decide what you prefer to do or skip.
Hyères & Porquerolles
Saint-Tropez – Hyères: 1 hour / 51 km
On this fourth day of your road trip in the South of France, you will leave Saint-Tropez for the seaside town of Hyères, with its hillside old town housing the remains of a medieval castle and centuries-old ramparts.
Things to do and see in Hyères
- Hike the Sentier du Littoral
- Visit the Old Town
- Sunbathe at the beach
Hyères is a beautiful town to stop and stroll around, but also the perfect place to reach Porquerolles, one of the Golden Islands, a group of isles with spotless beaches, coastal paths and underwater shipwrecks.
The island of Porquerolles is only a short 10-minute boat ride from La Tour Fondue and offers many hidden treasures and exciting activities ideal for a day out with children. Moreover, the best way to discover this gorgeous island is to walk or cycle – you can rent your bike once on the island.
Things to do and see on Porquerolles
- Explore the island by bike
- Hike & immerse yourself in nature
- Enjoy a picnic with a view
- Visit the picturesque town
- Swim in the turquoise water
- Try yourself at water sports
Cassis & the Calanques
Hyères – Cassis: 57 minutes / 63 km
It is impossible not to mention Cassis and the Calanques for this road trip in Provence! Overlooked by a century-old castle, the town of Cassis is a historic fishing port known for its pebble beaches, vineyards and unmissable Calanques – narrow inlets framed by steep limestone cliffs part of a protected national park.
Once in Cassis, enjoy a well-deserved break in its lovely harbour featuring pastel-colours buildings, local cafes and restaurants. And if nature is more your thing, venture along the Calanques trails for panoramic sea views.
Things to do and see in Cassis
- Wander along the harbour
- Take a boat trip
- Hike the Calanques National Park
- Admire the Château de Cassis (now a hotel)
- Sample local wine & cuisine
To get to the Calanques from Cassis, you can walk directly from the village to Port Miou. Or you can drive to Parking de la Presqu’île and start the hike from there.
Best Calanques near Cassis:
- Port Miou
- Port Pin
- Port d’En Vau
Cassis – Marseille: 40 minutes / 33 km
Your exciting day ends in Marseille, a port city full of cultural sites, historical landmarks and fun attractions. Being one of the largest cities and the second in population size, you will not run out of ideas for things to do and see in this lively city.
Explore the peaceful Vieux Port, admire Notre Dame de la Garde or take a stroll through the Old Town – many activities to experience for an unforgettable evening in this unique provincial city.
Things to do and see in Marseille
- Explore the Vieux Port
- Enjoy the view from Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica
- Visit Marseille Cathedral (Cathédrale Sainte-Marie-Majeure)
- Wander through the old district of Le Panier
- Visit Palais Longchamp
- Take a boat to the Château d’If
- Discover Fort Saint-Jean
Day 5 – Art, Culture & Heritage
Marseille – Aix-en-Provence: 40 minutes / 33 km
Not far from Marseille, you will find Aix-en-Provence, known for its university and being the birthplace of post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne. The provincial city is the perfect stopover for culture lovers and art enthusiasts on a road trip in the South of France.
Take the time to explore this city full of attractions and stunning architecture. Stroll through the peaceful streets, shop at local markets and attend art exhibitions – there are plenty of activities for everyone to experience the unique richness and heritage of the region. Even for a short break, Aix-en-Provence is a worthwhile detour on your route through Provence.
Things to do and see in Aix-en-Provence
- Stroll around the historic city
- Walk through Cours Mirabeau
- Admire Cathédrale Saint-Sauveur
- Visit the Atelier Cézanne
- Explore the local markets
- Wander in Musée Granet
- Hike up Sainte-Victoire
Arles & Camargue
Aix-en-Provence – Arles: 1 hour 10 minutes / 81 km
You continue your journey with a city that needs to be on your bucket list: the provincial capital of ancient Rome, Arles, famous for housing many ruins and remains of this time, including Arles Amphitheatre, which now hosts plays and concerts.
With a wealth of cultural attractions, the city is another perfect detour for art lovers, as it offers an excellent insight into the Roman heritage and boasts wonderfully preserved ruins. Moreover, between 1888 and 1889, Arles was a place of inspiration for the paintings of Vincent Van Gogh, masterpieces you can visit throughout the city.
Things to do and see in Arles
- Admire the Arles Amphitheatre
- Tour the Ancient Roman Theatre
- Explore the Vincent Van Gogh Foundation
- Walk through Place de la République
- Visit Église St-Trophime
- Wander Place du Forum
- Get inspired at L’espace Van Gogh
And if you love nature and wildlife, discover the Camargue national park, a sublime marshy region located south of Arles, populated by black bulls, white horses, cowboys, pink flamingos and migratory birds.
Things to do and see in Camargue
- Ride a white horse
- Spot the pink flamingos
- Discover the Musée de la Camargue
- Walk along the walls of a Crusader Town
- Visit a working ranch
- Explore a salt pan
Arles – Avignon: 50 minutes / 39 km
Your fifth day in the South of France ends with Avignon, home of the Catholic popes from 1309 to 1377. Located on the banks of the Rhône and surrounded by medieval stone ramparts, the city is full of cultural riches awaiting exploration.
Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway or a place to have fun with the kids, Avignon has something for everyone. It is a great city to get lost and wander through beautiful quaint streets, famous bridges and market squares.
Things to do and see in Avignon
- Walk on the Pont Saint-Bénézet
- Visit the Palais des Papes
- Wander along the ramparts
- Enjoy artworks in one of its museums
- Stroll down Rue des Teinturiers
- Take a boat trip on the Rhône
- Visit Avignon Cathedral
Day 6 – The Most Idyllic Provence
Avignon – Lourmarin: 1 hour / 70 km
Another day on the road! East of Avignon, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France, Lourmarin finds home in the middle of vineyards, olive groves and almond trees. With quaint cobbled streets, lovely terrace cafes and a Renaissance-style castle, it is a perfect provincial village with a relaxed atmosphere.
Therefore, you will not regret a stopover in beautiful Lourmarin: charming and captivating, it offers a well-deserved break for solo travellers, couples or families with children on a road trip across Southern France.
Things to do and see in Lourmarin
- Visit the Lourmarin Château
- Explore art galleries and shops
- Enjoy the vibrant Lourmarin market
- Sample local wine
Lourmarin – Valensole: 1 hour / 76 km
Set on a hill overlooking a lavender field, Valensole is a scenic medieval town on the northern edge of the Verdon Regional Nature Park and a must-see on a South of France road trip – a paradise for photographers and nature lovers.
Take a stroll through its historic centre with old colourful houses, allow yourself a peaceful pause in one of its gardens, admire the beauty of the lavender fields or relax at the terrace of a friendly café – the choice is yours! There are plenty of activities and attractions to experience on a short stay in Valensole.
Things to do and see in Valensole
- Get lost in its quiet streets
- Walk up Boulevard Frederic Mistra
- Visit a lavender field
- Tour a Valensole Lavender Distillery
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie & Verdon Gorge
Valensole – Moustiers-Sainte-Marie: 35 minutes / 32 km
Continuing east, your final stop of the day will be Moustiers-Sainte-Marie, a Provencal village set dramatically below two cliffs in the Verdon Natural Regional Park. Perched 100m high limestone ridges, the preserved medieval town offers an impressive and idyllic setting you will not encounter anywhere else.
Although Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is small, there are plenty of things to do and see for all ages. Take advantage of this well-deserved break and immerse yourself in the fascinating atmosphere of this one-of-a-kind village. Wander around the town, explore independent shops and visit the church – and do not forget to capture the moment!
Things to do and see in Moustiers-Sainte-Marie
- Wander around the town
- Visit the Musée de la Faïence
- Admire Notre Dame de l’Assomption Church
- Eat lavender ice cream
- Climb up to Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Beauvoir
And if you prefer to spend time outdoors and in nature, check out the Verdon Gorge, a stunning river canyon and a must-see natural wonder not far from Moustiers-Sainte-Marie. Whilst there is no road along the gorge, there is a breathtaking circular route around the edge and plenty of boat and kayak rental opportunities on the lower end.
Things to do and see in the Verdon Gorge
- Enjoy the view from Galetas Bridge
- Explore and go hiking
- Paddleboard or kayak the gorge
Unforgettable experiences I recommend
Day 7 – Finale Day
Moustiers-Sainte-Marie – Nice: 2 hours 35 minutes / 147 km
Finale day on the French road of Provence and back to Nice. The journey can be long, so do not hesitate to stop and take a few detours on your way.
Once in Nice, take advantage of this last day to relax, enjoy the beach or go shopping. And if you have time or did not have the chance on day one, visit Èze or Menton.
I hope you enjoyed this road trip across the South of France!
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Best time to visit the South of France
The best time for a road trip in the South of France is from May to June and from September to October.
Spring and autumn are two beautiful seasons as the roads and towns are less busy, the temperatures are pleasant, and the colours are gorgeous.
Summer is also an excellent period to visit the South of France. However, the temperatures can get extremely high during that season, and the region will be busy, leading to higher prices.
Keep in mind that Provence and the French Riviera enjoy the sunniest climate in France, with over 300 days of sunshine a year, so do not worry too much. The season you choose will mainly depend on the activity you want to do and what you want to experience.
Planning a weekend getaway in Paris? Check out this article: 3 Magical Days in Paris: Complete Itinerary + Map
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Sustainable travel in Southern France
Are you looking forward to your road trip through Southern France? I understand! Road trips are a fantastic way of travelling as they allow us to move freely and discover so many incredible places at our own pace. However, they can also have negative environmental impacts. That is why considering our carbon footprint and adopting eco-responsible habits is essential.
Here are some simple tips for creating an unforgettable adventure in the South of France with less impact.
PREPARE YOUR ROUTE
I know getting lost on a road trip can feel fun and exciting. But when trying to minimise your footprint, it is best to plan your route to avoid unnecessary travel. In addition, the shorter the distance you travel, the less fuel you will use and the less harmful emissions you will produce. Tip: Get offline maps to stay on track even if you lose signal.
PLAN YOUR MEALS
Another great way to reduce your impact on the road is to plan your meals. Throughout your journey, try to find local restaurants or eco-friendly facilities. You can try the local cuisine or wander through local markets and buy fresh produce.
MAKE YOUR TRIP PLASTIC-FREE
As you might know, plastic packaging is a significant environmental issue and causes concerns for wildlife and the preservation of natural landscapes. Therefore, avoid plastic as much as possible and bring reusable items instead. Choose eco-friendly alternatives, like reusable tote bags, cutlery, plates, etc. Tip: you can also buy filtered water bottles to refill your water anywhere.
CHECK YOUR CAR
Make sure your vehicle is in the best possible condition for the road: check the engine, oil level and tire pressure before your trip. In addition, use the available features in your car, like cruise control, to help you maintain your speed and reduce excess emissions. And even better, drive an electric vehicle if possible! (Or a bike for the most courageous).
LEAVE NO TRACE
Aim to leave a place better than you found it. For example, dispose of your litter appropriately and pick up any trash you encounter. Be respectful of the land and do not drive over protected areas. And finally, stay on the marked trails when hiking, as going off can be dangerous for flora and fauna.
Be mindful of your surroundings and adopt a responsible attitude towards wildlife, on land and in the sea. Do not come close to, feed or touch animals and corals. Remember that you are only a guest in their home.
USE REEF-SAFE SUNSCREEN
Protecting your skin from the sun during the hottest hours of the day is non-negotiable, especially during outdoor activities. But be careful about the cream you choose. Zero-waste and reef-safe sunscreens are an excellent alternative to chemical creams and are incredibly beneficial for many reasons: they protect the environment by reducing plastic waste and preserve your health by eliminating harmful components.
For more ideas of eco-friendly habits at the beach and near the coast, check out this article: Sustainable Beach Guide: 10 Easy Eco-Tips.
Want more inspiration?
- Sustainable Travel Guide: What, Why & How
- Best Travel Apps for Exploring Sustainably
- 15 Travel Books to Inspire Your Next Eco-Adventure
- Best Sustainable Backpacks for Travel & Hiking
Download your FREE sustainable travel checklist ↓
France travel planning guide
Yes, buying insurance is always valuable when travelling abroad. Enjoy your road trip across the South of France stress-free with one of my favourite providers, Nomad Insurance.
Yes, tap water is safe to drink all over France. However, I also recommend travelling with the UltraPress Purifier Bottle, a lightweight filtered water bottle perfect for reducing plastic and staying hydrated.
Yes, renting a car in France is easy and is a great way to explore the country freely. I recommend booking yours with Rentalcars.com – they offer a variety of operators for all budgets.
The best way to book your accommodation in France is with Booking.com – my favourite platform to compare and reserve places to stay each night, from affordable hotels to luxury resorts with sea views.
I recommend booking your plane with Skyscanner. It has been my favourite platform for years, as it allows me to book the cheapest flights whilst lowering my carbon emissions.
South of France road trip – FAQ
Yes, it is easy to drive in the South of France. However, keep a GPS and map nearby. Most roads are in good condition but drive carefully in remote places. And please, do not go fast!
I recommend spending at least seven days or more in the South of France, as there is so much to do and see. A week will allow you to discover the region and its hidden natural treasures whilst taking the time to relax and enjoy the sunny French weather.
The best time to visit the South of France is from May to June and from September to October. Spring and autumn are two lovely seasons as the roads and towns are less busy, the temperatures are pleasant, and the colours are gorgeous.
And you, have you ever experienced a road trip in the South of France?
Let me know in the comments below!
With love ♡