visit south france

The 7 Best Places to Visit in the South of France

The south of France is full of magnificent destinations to visit. Whether you’re looking for natural beauty, historical ruins, world-class vineyards, golden beaches or fascinating museums, there is the perfect location for you.

With so many wonderful places to see, the question is, where to go in the south of France? We have compiled a list of the 7 best places to visit in the south of France. However, we couldn’t include everywhere so we’ve had to leave some amazing towns and cities out.

If you’re planning to visit the south of France, read this essential France travel information to help you prepare and find out more about French public transport if you’re not planning on going by car.

1) Avignon

Avignon is set in the heart of the Provence and on the Rhone River. It’s a stunning city which steeped in religious history as well as exquisite architecture. It was one of the most important places in Europe in the middle ages and the 14th-century Palace of the Popes (a UNESCO World Heritage site) is one of the main attractions. Its gothic frescoes are truly inspiring.

The magnificent ruins of Pont Saint-Benezet (another UNESCO site), are also a must-see. The city is also renowned for its annual arts festival in July, which is the largest in France and lasts several weeks.

2) Carcassonne

Carcassonne is famous for its magical medieval citadel, La Cite. Its numerous watchtowers, double-walled fortifications which look like a scene from Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. Most parts of the castle were built between the 12th and 14th centuries.

The citadel was given a full restoration in the 19th century and it’s in fantastic condition. Within the walls you can navigate the narrow streets and passageways which captures the imagination of both children and adults. The nearby vineyards are also a big draw.

3) Nice

Nice is always one of the first destinations that springs to mind when you think of the south of France. It’s the 5th largest city in the country and it’s famed for its grand, spacious squares, golden beaches, and charming medieval old town.

The city was originally founded by the Greeks and later became a retreat for the 19th century French elite. It was also a popular hangout for French artists and there are numerous fantastic museums such as Musee Matisse and Musee Marc Chagall whose namesakes spend much of their lives in the city.

4) Biarritz

Biarritz has been a popular holiday resort since the 19th century. Sandy beaches, rolling waves, surf schools, and breathtaking views of the Basque coast are just a few of the main draws which Biarritz offers. Surfing has deep routes in Biarritz, supposedly surfing actually began on the town’s beaches in 1957.

The town is comprised mainly of grand summer houses though there are some famous landmarks to see such as the Casino Barriere, the Hotel du Palais (Empress Eugenia’s summer palace), Port Vieux and the Grand Plage. However, most visitors go to Biarritz just to soak up the atmosphere.

5) Bordeaux

Located in the south western France, Bordeaux is the wine capital of France which makes it one of the best places in Southern France alone. If you want to experience world-class wine-tasting, there isn’t a better place to go. The city is full of wine bars as well as incredible restaurants, especially Rue Parlement Saint-Pierre.

Visitors can also see the Gothic Cathedrale Saint-Andre, some incredible 18th and 19th-century mansions, and some notable art museums such as the Musee des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux. The public gardens which line the the River Garonne are a spectacular sight.

6) Marseille

Marseille is located on the Mediterranean coast and it’s France’s second biggest city after Paris. The port city has been a crossroads of trade and immigration ever since the times of the ancient Greeks and it continues to be multicultural, cosmopolitan city.

Like most larger European cities, there is an abundance of things to see. Just wandering around you can see street performers, musicians, and dance performances. There are numerous fascinating museums and if you need a break from the city you can escape to the nearby beaches and valleys.

7) Nimes

Nimes is renowned for its well-preserved Roman monuments. The most famous is the Arena of Nimes (which was the first ever amphitheater) and it’s still used for concerts and sports events. The Pont du Gard tri-level aqueduct is also a marvellous sight.

Aside from the Roman landmarks, Nimes offers a picturesque old town and some beautiful gardens. The city is located close to the Cevennes National Park and the camargue wetlands lie to the south.

If you’re planning to visit the south of France after 2022, you may need an ETIAS visa waiver to be able to enter the country. Find out more about ETIAS for France.