Traveling by Color in the South of France

January 28, 2011

It seems surreal: the stretches of lavender fields and sunflowers, the idyllic villages captured in impressionistic paintings, the brilliant blue of the coast. For romantics and anyone who appreciates beautiful landscapes, your travel destination is the south of France.


For many, it's the simplicity of it. In parts of Provence, you won't feel compelled to rush to fit in major sights, maneuvering among the tour groups, trying to squeeze in a quiet moment. There's only one pace, slow.

Lavender field in Provence Pracucci
With cobblestone streets, little markets and art galleries, charming Medieval villages, too many to name them all, dot the landscape of Provence.

Lavender plants grow in abundance here. And the perfume industry, with Grasse as the center, thrives because of it.

The wine region of Chateau Neuf de Pape has historic, and dare we say it, sacred vines. The viniculture of the region owes its prominence to the popes' blessings. In fact, Pope John XXII built the town's castle and the wines become known as "Vin du Pape". Spend some of your time in the lower part of the Côtes du Rhone region touring the vineyards and wine cellars.

If you're planning a honeymoon to the south of France or a romantic vacation, get the full French country experience, by staying in a villa or bed and breakfast complete with provençal character from exposed wooden beams and brick walls to terra cotta tiles on the floor.


boats by the sea Juan Rubiano
It seems this region along the coast of southern France has staked a claim on its own shade of blue: azur. Here, the blue of the sea blends into blue sky at the horizon.

In the Côte d'Azur, the village of Eze looks out at the sea from atop a cliff.  While the famous city of Cannes with its annual film festival will put you down at the water's edge.

Museums celebrating the work of Matisse and Picasso can be found in Nice and Antibes, respectively.

Driving vs Train in South of France

By car, getting in and out of certain towns in the French Riviera can be a challenge, particularly during the summer months when all of France seems to descend on the region.

Trains run regularly between the major cities in Provence and the coast. However, driving allows you to freely visit the inland areas. Ferries will take you along the coast to the rocky inlets and secluded beaches.

The major city centers have public transportation, making in-town touring a little simpler than driving. Still, if you drive, you'll want to be sure that your hotel has ample parking.

Planning Tips

Consider starting in Nice and making your way through the region to Marseille or Aix-en-Provence. Another option is to make one town in the south of France your base and day trip outward from there.

Each area has its own character. Consider this when deciding where to go. If you like nightlife and clubbing, then opt for Marseilles or Cannes. If you prefer quiet and romantic, then head to Cassis and Eze.

Finally, unless you thive in the company of lots of tourists, avoid traveling in the late summer.

Private tours, cooking, language or perfume-making classes, custom itineraries and recommendations for your trip to the south of France can be arranged through our Europe Trip Planning Service.


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