I absolutely adore the south of France and so do my girls. It’s divided up into two areas Provence and Riviera.
We spent a week in Provence this spring and it was even better than I expected. Our home base was the InterContinental Marseille. The staff was amazing and always willing to help with the girls. They had a great kids menu and gave the girls a gift on arrival. Marseille is a bit of a drive to the villages of Provence but we didn’t mind because we also spent time exploring Marseille. If you are traveling to Provence to see the lavender, July or August are the best months.
Cassis: Cassis is a fishing village in the heart of Calanques National Park. The main areas of Calanques are best seen by boat. Casis is a charming village with pastel-colored houses lining the beautiful harbor. The village is full of shops and restaurants. Pace in Casis is slower, but that’s what we loved about it. There are also several nice beaches off of the harbor.
Marseille: We loved Marseille. These are some of our favorite stops in and around the city:
- Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica is one of our favorite cathedrals. It has a nautical theme, which was quite different and interesting.
- Fort Saint-Jean
- Palais Longchamps
- Château d’If is a short ferry ride from Marseille to the Île d’If. Here you can visit François I’s 16th-century island castle and former prison, setting for The Count of Monte Cristo.
Calanques National Park: If you are looking for beautiful rugged coastline and magnificent scenery with hidden coves around every corner, Calanques is the place to be. You can take a boat from Casis or Marseille to the park and spend a day exploring, snorkeling, hiking the cliffs and relaxing on hidden beaches.
Gordes: One of the most beautiful villages in France. There are many sights to see including a Chateau, Senenque Abby, St. Firmin Church, and the village itself. There are also lavender fields near Gordes in the summer. Gordes and the village des Bories is classed as a historical monument and provides wonderful information about the Provence way of life, from ancient times to the present day.
Avignon: Avignon is a medieval city on the Rhône River. From 1309 to 1377, it was the seat of the Catholic popes, and remained under papal rule until becoming part of France in 1791. Highlights include the massive Palais des Papes and remains of the Saint-Bénezet bridge, also known as Pont d’Avignon.
Aix en Provence: This historical village is the hometown of Paul Cézanne and Émile Zola. The old town of Aix is packed with shops, markets, museums, religious and architectural sites and historical sites.
We love visiting the Riviera. The weather is always beautiful and sunny, the food is perfect and the people are sweet. We have stayed in several different places in the Riviera and loved them all. It’s best to book in advanced, especially in the summer. We go in the spring and fall because the crowds are gone, but the weather is warm.
Monaco: We especially love visiting the Prince’s Palace of Monaco and walking through old town. The Oceanographic Museum is perfect for kids. It’s also an interesting building as it’s built against the rock of Monaco. The Casino is worth seeing, but not entirely kid-friendly.
Eze: Eze is a charming, medieval village just above Monaco. It’s one of my favorite villages in France. There is a Fragonard perfume museum in the village that offers brief tours. Eze is a fun place to stay on the Riviera as Nice, Monaco, and other locations are a quick, easy drive from Eze.
Grasse: This town is considered the world’s capital of perfume. The Fragonard Perfume Workshop is dreamy! In addition to the factory tour, they hold a workshop for making perfume. At the end of the workshop you personalize your own bottle of perfume. This is a perfect mother/daughter activity or fun girls’ trip experience.
Cimiez: Cimiez is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Nice. It also features a park with Roman ruins, the Archaeological Museum and the Matisse museum features some of his art and artifacts from his nearby studio. Cimiez is a bit off-the-beaten path, but well worth the visit.
La Croisette Beach: In Cannes, La Croisette Beach stretches out along part of the old town and is the perfect place to lounge with kids, take a stroll, or play in the water and relax. There is also a carnival that includes a carousel, small rides, and games.
Biot: This village is famous for blowing glass. Biot is a short drive north of Cannes, but fun for families as you can tour the glass blowing facilities. The city is also another very cute village among the hills.