South of France Road Trip: Where to Go & What to Do for 2 Weeks
Are you planning a road trip through the South of France for next summer? Wondering where all the best places to visit are and what you can do while you’re passing through? No worries! We’ve got you covered in this article all about planning out your next road trip through the South of France. Keep reading if you’d like to find out more.
Planning a Road Trip for 2 Weeks in the South of France
Our travel itinerary is based on a vacation period of 2 weeks, but you can adapt it as necessary to fit your needs. In France, it’s common for many people to take off the last 2 weeks of August for their summer vacation. Consequently, if you’re heading to the South of France during this time, expect to see a lot of cars on the highway and even more people at the beach. We recommend trying to plan your travel time accordingly to avoid the crowds. 😉
We’re going to lay out a road trip map through the South of France to serve as inspiration for your journey. Next, we’ll give you an approximate itinerary so you’ll have an idea of what to do during your time. Finally, we’ll hit on a few different regions and noteworthy tourist sights that you should definitely see on your journey. Of course, these are just our suggestions. You are welcome to adapt them in the way that suits your needs the best. Grab your agendas, and let’s get to planning!
Inspiration: A Road Trip Map of the South of France
As with any region of the world, the country of France varies greatly from one area to another. The South of France is wide and vast, and you’ll discover totally different experiences from one city to another. (For reference, the entire country of France is approximately the same size as the US state of Texas.)
To help you better navigate your way through the South of France, we’ve put together this road trip map. It will take you through some interesting major cities as well as a few smaller, picturesque towns. Take a look:
Driving Through the South of France: Where to Stop
Whether you head from West to East or from East to West, it doesn’t make much of a difference. Every part of the South of France is just as beautiful as the rest of it. If you’re arriving from the UK, Belgium, or elsewhere in France, you can begin your road trip journey as soon as you land at the airport in Perpignan. If you’re arriving from anywhere else, you may prefer to fly into Nice as their airport is larger and welcomes more flights daily.
Either way, over the next two weeks you are guaranteed to enjoy yourself. You’ll be going on a scenic road trip through the following twelve cities: Perpignan, Narbonne, Sète, Montpellier, Nîmes, Avignon, Aix en Provence, Marseille, Toulon, Saint Tropez, Cannes, and Nice.
Road Trip Itinerary: Ideas for How to Spend 2 Weeks in the South of France
During your 2 week road trip in the South of France, you’ll have the chance to visit some breathtaking regions. You’ll be able to spend a day in each of these historical cities before hitting the road again to continue your trek. Below are a few ideas of what to do in each city while you’re there.
The Hôtel Pams is a 19th century mansion, which has since been transformed into a historical site in downtown Perpignan. The house was built by Pierre Bardou, a very wealthy man and one of the founders of the JOB cigarette paper company. Today, you can explore the mansion in no more than half an hour. During your tour, you’ll admire not only the beautiful architecture, but also the owner’s magnificent art collection.
The Fontfroide Abbey is a former monastery, dating back to 1093. It is located just southwest of Narbonne near the Spanish border. Today, the abbey is used to produce AOC Corbières wine. During your tour, you can walk around the interior as well as the surrounding grounds. There is now a small working farm on the property, as well as a bookstore and a restaurant. You can stay to eat after taking a tour of the abbey.
The Mont Saint-Clair is a very high lookout point over the small fishing village of Sète. From this vantage point, you’ll be able to see the entire city in a breathtaking 360° panoramic view. No worries about making the 175 meter (575 foot) trek up the mountain yourself – there is a regular bus service for that! You can visit the top of the hill via the 1, 11, and 5 bus lines.
The Musée Fabre is the main art museum in Montpellier. It boasts one of the largest French painting collections outside of Paris. The permanent collection is full of beautiful and historical pieces of work that any art lover would relish in admiring. Plus, as with all the museums in France, admission is free for everyone the first Sunday of every month. So plan your road trip accordingly!
The Amphitheatre of Nîmes is one of the best-preserved Roman amphitheatres in the entire world. Of the 400 in existence, it is among the 20 largest. It actually served as a gladiator fighting arena after it was built in 70 CE. The Amphitheatre is one of three different Roman monuments in Nîmes. Nowadays, it has been transformed into an interactive museum that tourists can visit to learn more about the Roman gladiators, the Corrida, the Nîmes feria, Camargue races, and more.
The Palace of the Popes is perhaps the most iconic monument you can visit in Avignon. The castle is the largest medieval Gothic palace in Europe. It served as the seat of Western Christianity during the 14th century, before the Popes returned to Rome in 1377. Today, you can visit the castle any time during the year, and during the Festival d’Avignon in July.
Aix en Provence:
If you’re going to take a road trip through the South of France, you have to stop at the lavender fields in Aix en Provence! Terre Ugo is an immense private terrain with vast lavender fields aplenty. It’s possible to reserve the venue for events and weddings, or you can simply stop by for a stroll through the lavender fields. There is an art center, an exhibition space, and a store on-site. You’ll also find numerous local, natural products like lavender and honey available for purchase.
If you’re looking for something magical to do in Marseille, visit The Calanques. They are a series of natural coves and inlets that stretch on for over 20 kilometers (12 miles) along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. It is impossible to do justice to the magnificent combination of mountainous rock structures immediately met by clear blue water in this natural paradise. It’s for this very reason that The Calanques are one of the most popular tourist destinations in France every year. You have the choice of numerous tour companies to explore the natural beauty by boat. Swimming is even permitted in certain areas, so don’t forget to pack your bathing suit!
There is an excellent historical museum in Toulon called the Memorial of the Landing and Liberation of Provence. It memorializes the landing of Allied troops in Provence during World War II when the South of France was still under Nazi occupation. Today, an excellent museum is located at the summit of Mont-Faron, a mountain in the northern part of the city. After you’ve made your way through the military museum, enjoy the magnificent view of the Southern French countryside from above.
French Riviera Region:
The Citadel of Saint-Tropez Maritime History Museum is a must-see while you’re in the area! Housed in a 17th century fortress, the museum recounts the long history of Saint Tropez as a marine hub in the South of France. The castle boasts a tall tower, affectionately called the « donjon ». It originally served as an outlook post for the protection of the castle. Nowadays, you can climb up it to look out over the lush greenery and the sea beyond.
This city is known throughout the world as a luxurious destination along the French Riviera, and there’s a good reason for it. If you’re in town, make time to take a stroll down the Boulevard de la Croisette. It’s the equivalent of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills or the Champs-Elysées in Paris. It’s essentially a long, very big boulevard that connects the downtown area of Cannes to the beaches along the Mediterranean Sea. Cannes being known for its affluent clientele, the Boulevard is also dotted with high-end boutiques and department stores. It sees a lot of tourists during the vacation season, but it is well-worth the walk if you have the chance to go.
You can easily spend an entire day exploring the winding cobblestone streets in the neighborhood of Old Nice. This place is what postcards from the South of France are made of! Called « Vieux Nice » in French, it’s where you’ll find the most beautiful pastel-colored buildings, outdoor restaurants serving Southern French specialties, and local markets. When you think of taking a road trip through the South of France, it is the views from this neighborhood that no doubt come to mind.