Dreamy South of France Itinerary: 7 Days in Provence and the French Riviera
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Sparkling waters, towns dressed in vibrant florals, and lush lavender fields are just a few things that deem the south of France as a magical destination. With so much to explore throughout the Provence and French Riviera regions, this 7 day south of France itinerary will help create the trip of your dreams. Find out which towns are must-sees, where to eat, what to do, and how to maximize visiting one of the most marvelous places in the world.
South of France Itinerary for 7 Days
At a glance, here is what this south of France itinerary entails. If you only have seven days, below is how I recommend spending your time to discover tons but still relax (after all, you’re on vacation!). At the end of this blog post, I’ve also listed a few alternative ideas to consider if you have more time.
Days 1-2: Provence (Aix-en-Provence, day trip to the lavender fields, Bonnieux, and Lourmarin)
Days 3-5: Nice (day trips to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, Èze, and Cap-d’Ail)
Days 6-7: Cannes (day trip to Île Sainte-Marguerite)
How Many Days Do You Need in the South of France?
The amount of beauty spanning the South of France is immeasurable; to experience it all with ample time would take weeks. I would recommend spending at least five days in the South of France, but between seven and fourteen days would be ideal.
What is the Best Time of Year to Visit the South of France?
The best time of year to visit the south of France is May, June, July, and September. The region comes alive during these warm months and is buzzing with energy, fresh blooms, and ideal temperatures. Plus, the lavender fields in Provence are in bloom from late June to early July. It’s also worth noting that the month of August will be quiet since the majority of Europeans take their summer holiday during this time.
What is the Best Way to See the South of France?
The best way to see the south of France is by car. If you can, I’d recommend flying into the Marseille or Nice airport and then renting a car. Per this 7 day south of France itinerary, it’s best to fly into Marseille, drive to Provence, and then onto Nice. Since Nice is very central, you can consider taking trains or Uber from there to save on costs and avoid parking.
Day 1: Aix-en-Provence
Arrive in the beautiful south of France, pick up your rental car, and head to Aix-en-Provence. If you’re coming from Marseille, you can expect about a 30-minute drive to the city center which is full of great cafes, restaurants, and shops.
What to Do in Aix-en-Provence
Explore the city center of Aix-en-Provence, a charming town with countless options for great food and shopping. The markets happen three times a week on Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday, and feature dozens of vendors offering clothing, accessories, and home goods. I highly recommend shopping here and saving room in your luggage beforehand for everything you’ll want to buy!
There are also several great food and wine tours in the area which I highly recommend doing while in town!
Where to Eat in Aix-en-Provence
MANA-Aix: Lovely cafe with healthy food, great coffee, and tasty matcha
Le Forbin: Cute street-side cafe near the markets
Hat’s Boulangerie: Delicious pastries including truffle-infused treats
De L’une A L’Autre: Charming restaurant for dinner that makes you feel like you’re in a garden, despite being right in the city center. I also drank the best white wine I’ve ever had here (called Domaine Vitori, thank me later!).
Where to Stay in Aix-en-Provence
We stayed at an Airbnb in the town of Éguilles, which is one of my favorite places I’ve ever stayed. Éguilles is a beautiful town just 15 minutes outside of the city center that’s nestled in the hills of Provence. Staying here will also place you closer to the lavender fields.
Great hotels I recommend:
Aquabella Hôtel & Spa (budget)
Villa Amara (mid-range)
Villa Gallici Hôtel & Spa (luxury)
Day 2: Lavender Fields, Bonnieux, and Lourmarin
Where to Find Lavender Fields
We went to the Plateau des Claparedes as recommended by our Airbnb hosts, right outside of Buox. We had the entire fields to ourselves which was amazing! I think these are much less known about but still so beautiful.
The Valensole Plateau is another great area to find them and is definitely one of the more popular and well known sites to visit. This site is about one hour away from Éguilles.
What to Do in Bonnieux
Head to Le Rooftop de Bonnieux for stunning views overlooking hill-top villages. Go for a drink or a light bite. Walk around the small town that’s filled with rustic charm and picturesque surroundings.
What to Do in Lourmarin
Next, head to Lourmarin for dinner and dessert in the village lined with magnificent trees. For dinner, we ate and loved La Louche a Beurre. For dessert, try Glaces Raví for ice cream.
Day 3: Nice
After you’ve basked in the lavender-filled region of Provence, it’s time to pick up and head to Nice. The drive will take between two to three hours, so make sure to fill up on fuel. You’ll also hit toll roads which will cost around 16 euros, so have cash ready in case their card readers aren’t working.
What to Do in Nice
There’s so much to see and do in Nice. If you’re wondering whether it’s a city worth visiting, check out this blog post to confirm that it very much is! Below are a few of must-do activities while in Nice.
Ruhl Plahge Beach
Head to the main beach for a dip in the turquoise waters of Nice. Make note that the beach is full of pebbles and not sand, so make sure you have comfortable sandals and a decent towel.
Nice (and the south of France) is known for its fantastic shopping. Walk around the Jean Medecin neighborhood to shop around and buy some lovely merchandise. Also be sure to check out the Place Massena, the city center, and the Cours Saleya Flower Market (closed on Mondays).
Explore Old Town
Old Nice is super unique and an area you don’t want to miss exploring! Browse the street vendors and enjoy the energy of this part of the city and its rustic alleyways.
If you’re looking for some great organized tours there are plenty that depart out of Nice, such as day trips across the French Riviera. Browse tours here.
Where to Eat in Nice
Le Temps d’un Ete is one of the beach club restaurants that we ate at for lunch. Order the fresh ceviche and watermelon salad.
Le Jardin du Windsor is the restaurant inside of Le Windsor Jungle Art Hotel. Typically I’m not a huge fan of eating inside a hotel, but this restaurant feels like you’re in the jungle and offers an amazing ambience.
Where to Stay in Nice
We stayed at Le Windsor, Jungle Art Hotel that I would definitely recommend. It’s reasonably priced, centrally located, and has a delicious restaurant inside.
For a complete guide on the best neighborhoods and hotels in Nice, check out this blog post of mine!
Some great hotels I recommend:
Palm Hôtel Nice (budget)
Hotel Le Saint Paul (mid-range)
Hotel Le Negresco (luxury)
Day 4: Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
One of my favorite days of our trip was exploring the breathtakingly-beautiful town of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. We took an Uber there that was roughly 25 minutes and cost 30 euro; we rode the train back which took about 50 minutes. Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat is a small town with stunning beaches, gardens, and views of the French Riviera. You can spend a full day here.
What to Do in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Villa et Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild
Do not miss visiting this garden! It is so stunning and full of incredible landscaping at every corner of the property. Pay for a ticket to tour the garden for around 13 euro and enjoy a cup of tea or gelato in their cafe.
This is one of the best beaches I’ve ever been to. The turquoise and crystal clear waters will make you want to swim all day and make you feel like you’re in a French daydream.
Where to Eat in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat
Le Saint Jean is a darling little restaurant with pizza and salads overlooking the main harbor. Plus, it’s centrally located and near the town shopping area.
Paloma Beach restaurant is situated on Paloma beach and features Mediterranean cuisine and fresh fish. It’s the perfect option if you want to lounge all day at the beach and grab some food with amazing views and vibes while you’re at it.
Le Cap is a Michelin-star restaurant inside the incredible Grand-Hôtel du Cap Ferrat. Make a reservation for dinner in advance and treat yourself to an elite experience.
Day 5: Èze and Cap-d’Ail
Kick off the day with heading to the enchanting town of Èze. Situated in the Alpes-Maritimes, this unique hilltop town offers dozens of storefronts and views of the Mediterranean Sea. Our Uber took about 25 minutes and cost 30 euro from Nice.
What to Do in Èze
Shop around the storefronts (especially the jewelry!) and be sure to visit the botanic garden at the top with incredible views. Grab a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants and sample some lemon treats for dessert.
What to Do in Cap-d’Ail
Next, head to the gorgeous Mala Beach in the town of Cap-d’Ail. Lounge, swim in the calm and clear water, and simply marvel at your cliffside-surroundings. There are two beach clubs that you can eat and cool off at that have great vibes and menus.
There is a bus from Èze that will get you pretty close to the beach. However, the bus doesn’t run on Sundays so we were able to take a taxi which cost about 50 euro, or you can call an Uber. You can take the train back to Nice from here.
Day 6: Cannes
Cannes is an absolutely beautiful city known for its international film festival. The shopping, the energy, and the food scene are all superb. You can get there by train from Nice which will take about 40 minutes. This city is a must for your south of France itinerary.
What to Do in Cannes
Palace of Festivals and Congresses
See where the film festival takes place! Plus, you can snap a photo on the red carpet to document your big debut.
Boulevard de la Croisette
Walk along the Boulevard de la Croisette to enjoy the sights of the many beach clubs and carousels. Pop over to the beach to sunbathe or watch the sunset.
Shop ’til you drop
The shopping in Cannes is fabulous and you will likely be lured into practically every store. Browse the designer items, the art, and the home decor.
Where to Eat in Cannes
Bobo Bistro is situated in the centre of Cannes and offers a menu featuring healthy and fresh dishes with great cocktails.
Chai Dee is a charming restaurant serving Thai food that is divine. They also have great options for vegetarians and vegans.
Where to Stay in Cannes
We stayed at Hotel Le Festival which offers a great location, fair pricing, and is quiet. It’s a three-star hotel and gave us everything we needed while sticking to a budget.
Great hotels I recommend:
B&B Villa Du Roc Fleuri (budget)
Palais Miramar Imperial Grande Terrasse (mid-range)
Five Seas Hotel Cannes (luxury)
Day 7: Île Sainte-Marguerite, Cannes
Île Sainte-Marguerite is a small island off of Cannes that is a great option for a day trip while visiting. The water is incredibly clear and calm, making it perfect for kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming.
What to Do in Île Sainte-Marguerite
Underwater Eco Museum
The island offers an underwater eco museum that you can swim to and check out different sculptures at the bottom. We did it and loved it! The water is shallow so you don’t need to worry about diving far down to see everything.
Kayak and Paddle Board
You can rent kayaks and paddle boards to take out on the island. The water is really calm so it’s ideal for these activities.
If you’re feeling bougie or want some immaculate people watching, head to La Guérite for lunch or a cocktail. Try to book ahead if you can, and expect to dine next those coming in from their yachts and looking for a good time.
How to Get There
Head to the main port in Cannes and take a ferry over to the island. You can buy your ticket there or in advance which will cost about 20 euro, and the trip should take 15 minutes. The last ferry leaves around 6 pm so be sure to head over early to maximize your time there.
More Ideas for Your South of France Itinerary
If you have more time, below are a few ideas and destinations that you can add to your south of France itinerary.
1. Antibes is a gorgeous coastal city in between Nice and Cannes. Stop through here on your way to Cannes if time permits.
2. Saint-Tropez is one of the more iconic destinations in the south of France, known for its wealth and beach clubs. Add this to your itinerary if you’re craving more glamour.
3. Monaco is another city known for its luxury and riches. Monaco is close to Cap-d’Ail, so you could consider going before or after you visit Mala Beach.
4. Menton is a colorful little town east of Monaco with vibrant beaches and laneways that make it worth a visit.
5. Toulouse is the fourth largest city in France and is lined with buildings decorated with terra cotta roofs and bright colors. As it sits close to the Spanish border, fit this into your trip if you’re heading into Spain next.
Wrap-up: South of France Itinerary for 7 Days
Without question, you’re going to love your week in Southern France! In addition to following this 7 day south of France itinerary, be sure to make reservations for restaurants, car rentals, and hotels ahead of time as things book up fast. Save room in your suitcase for souvenirs, reapply sunscreen, and have an incredible time.