We love a good “best of” list or “top ten” article, and particularly when it focuses on travel and the hottest destinations. In multiple “best for 2020” travel lists, the South of France was tagged as the place to travel, particularly during the spring season. When those different articles and lists described the south of France, they generally listed spots like:
- Cannes – Spring is a good time to choose to visit Cannes because that is when the annual film festival occurs and when it is possible to star watch, enjoy all kinds of unique activities, and experience events that happen only once every year
- The entire Cote D’Azur Area (which includes Gasin, Grimaud, Port Grimaud, La Garde Freinet, Villefranche Sur Mer, St. Tropez, and Ramatuelle, among other spots)
- Paul de Vence
Most also mention Monaco. As one writer said, while “not technically part of France, Monaco is still one of the major highlights to hit while touring the south. Just a 10-minute drive from the Italian border town of Ventimiglia, the petite principality of Monaco—it measures roughly three times the size of the National Mall in Washington D.C.—offers plenty of pursuits that can be as decadent or demure as you’d like.”
And like Cannes with its annual spring festival, the spring season is also when the Grand Prix comes to Monaco, typically in the month of May, and it makes for a very entertaining and unique time to pay a visit.
What to Do
If you do opt to head to this area for a spring getaway, you want to consider the likelihood of a special event. For example, if you head to Cannes, you will find lots of luxurious villas to rent, and many have full household staff (including chefs), pools, and private terraces and gardens. They would make an ideal base from which to explore the area and savor the delights (including at least one meal at Chez Tetou, where you are sure to spot at least a few celebrities).
However, if you are not eager to experience the flood of fellow travelers, then it is to the quieter areas like Provence, where you can cycle for days along easy courses and stop to savor the changing spring landscape, the early fresh produce, and more.
Let’s take a few moments to look at some of the best things to do if you are planning to rent one of the excellent luxury rentals in the South of France, Cote D’Azur or Monaco.
The southeastern area of France spreads out to the Mediterranean and is packed with vineyards and gentle, rolling landscapes. Rent a car and set out into a fairy-tale landscape starting around Baux de Provence or the more well-known Aix en Provence or Avignon (a romantic walled city). Be sure to sip some of the cooler paler vintages at the Les Deux Garçons (in Aix en Provence), or try the season’s first foie gras in Avignon at the equally famous eatery known as L’Agape.
Head into the lavender fields as you head inland towards the Gorges du Verdon (the river valley with some of the finest springtime hiking in the world). Also known as the Grand Canyon of Europe, it is in close proximity to the famous Michelin-starred restaurant Les Gorges de Pennafort, which is well worth a visit. You must also make a point of visiting the wineries and medieval villages around Châteauneuf-du-Pape while in Provence.
If you visit one town in the Cote D’Azur, it should be Saint Tropez. The summer crowds are quite large, but during the spring, you can enjoy such destinations as Old Town almost entirely to yourself. Get out early in the morning and enjoy a cream-filled brioche and a coffee or espresso at the landmark La Tarte Tropezienne. Then visit the open-air market (if you are able to visit on a Tuesday or Saturday) and enjoy putting together a bouquet of flowers or a picnic.
You can also visit the Portalet Tower, visit one of the local beaches, such as L’Escalet Beach or the Pampelonne Beach, and savor the peace and quiet. If you want to stroll the town instead of savoring the waterfront, visit the Senequier port area and savor a bit of people watching and café sampling.
Between Cannes and Nice, it has a lot of Greek influence and a charming Old Town that is home to a Picasso Museum. You will want to visit Le Pain JPV for one of the most authentic and delicious bread you might ever sample and head to Cap d’Antibes (rather than the small and less idyllic beaches) for a seaside picnic.
If you are a fan of hiking, Chemin du Calvaire is a good path that leads to La Garoupe, which is famous for being a favorite destination of the American author, F. Scott Fitzgerald. You might also rent a bike and simply pedal your way along the waterfront and through the quiet spring season Old Town.
As the world’s tiniest country, it is still a far more familiar name than other small countries and lands. It is a good idea to consider if you want to go during or before the Grand Prix. The weather is ideal the entire time, but before the start of the Grand Prix, you’ll find that the excellent markets and food areas are much more enjoyable.
Be sure to visit Le Marché de la Condamine, and also to take some time just around dusk to enjoy a leisurely stroll along Fontvielle Harbor.
Too many travelers skip it because it is so often described as a gateway. However, you’ll love the Cours Saleya flower market, the delights of the restaurants outside of the main square, and the picturesque buildings along Promenade des Anglais. If you are feeling energetic, head towards the village of Eze and savor the walk along the amazing cliffs. You might also want to visit Chateau de la Chevre d’Or for its gardens and views.
As you can see, there is so much to see and do in this area, and you will want to find an ideal base from which to enjoy your travels. Booking a luxury villa is a wise idea as it can allow you the privacy, the coveted downtime surrounded by excellent amenities, and the convenience of being only a short distance from the best destinations in the South of France, Cote d’Azur, and Monaco.