The South of France, French Riviera - the coastal resorts of the Cote d'Azur and the stunning countryside of Provence.
South of France
THE CASINO Make sure you pack your DJ and posh frock for a night you cannot miss as you try you court lady luck on the green baize tables. at the king of Casinos in Monte Carlo You don't need to wager the family fortune, just dress to the nines and enjoy the experience.
BOUILLABAISSE IN MARSEILLES Marseille epitomises the south of France, a melting pot of cultures from Southern Europe and North Africa, it's the birthplace of the Mediterranean diet. Explore the old port with its bustling markets, Provencal and Souk-like stall as well as the ancient fish market, this is where the classic Bouillabaisse fish stew is best experienced.
GORGE DU VERDON Visit the largest and deepest gorge in Europe, it ranges from 250m to a staggering 750m deep and between 90m and just 8m wide, if you're fit there's an exciting trail you can walk or do it Top Gear style and enjoy driving the winding roads.
AIR SHOW BAY OF ST TROPEZ If you're lucky enough to be in the South of France on the 15th August, try your hardest to be on one of the lovely sandy beaches in the Bay. You'll be treated to one off the best free air shows you'll ever see playing over the backdrop of azure sea and sky and the hills of the Var.
A GAME OF PETANQUE Find yourself a sleepy town square on a balmy early evening anywhere in Provence, the Var or Cote d'Azur, find the sandy area, normally shaded by spreading plane trees where the mature chaps gather for a game of petanque (boules). Sit back and enjoy the game whilst sipping a cool pastis, how French is that?
What we would do
ST TROPEZ BEACH AND SHOPPING Full Day Head down to one the fashionable beach clubs of Pampelonne, be prepared to pay for entrance but you'll be chilling on one of the world's most trendy day and night spots, not just sand and sea. Alternatively head for one of the freely accessible beaches in the bay between St Trop and Beauvallon approaching Ste Maxime. In the evening head towards the port, browse the boutiques and marvel at the extravagance of the yachts, then choose a waterside eatery for the perfect end to the day.
THE CAMARGUE Full Day Take a drive down to the protected wetland, marshes and rice fields of the Camargue, standing in stark contrast to the bright and colourful lands of Provence, visitors come here to see the native white horses, black bulls and pink flamingoes and enjoy fresh fish in relaxed restaurants.
HIKING IN VERDON GORGE OR GRANDE RANDONNEE Full Day The Gorge du Verdon is a staggeringly beautiful place that can be experienced by car but best explored on foot to truly experience the deepest and largest gorge in Europe. Alternatively the Grande Randonnee is a hiking trail along the balcony of the Cote d'Azur giving you front line access to what may be the Mediterranean's most beautiful stretch of coastline.
WINE TASTING Morning Pull into any vineyard you might happen to pass, you'll be invited to sample a glass or two and in most cases you won't be disappointed. After you've chosen a case of your favourite tipple, stop at the next market and stock up with cured meats, cheese or fresh fish and a warm baguette for an unparalleled picnic.
ANTIQUITIES 2 hours/Full DayThe beautiful lands of the South of France are the cradle of modern society and there are antiquities scattered throughout it's sun kissed hills and vales. The Papal Palace of Avignon and the famous bridge; the Roman ruins of St Remy; the ancient village of Baux; the Pont du Gard; so much to see, so little time.
STROLL THE PROMENADE IN NICE 2 hours The Promenade des Anglais is the place to see and be seen beside the sea and lovely sandy beach in the cosmopolitan city of NIce. With places to sit beneath wonderful palms, lively cafes and restaurants all bathed in the sun, frequent markets and events but watch out for the skateboarders.
FROM THE AIRPORT
Transfer by car, Nice is convenient 20 minutes. Grasse and surrounding villages are approx 40 minutes. St Tropez and Ste Maxime 90 minutes.
EAT AND DRINK
La Collombe d'Or in St Paul de Vence is as famous for the clientele as it is for the food with stars on show both inside and out.
Le Moulin in the pretty town of Mougins serves nouvelle cuisine, it's smart and reassuringly expensive.
La Brocherie is a great fish restaurant right in the port in Mandelieu
La Vignette Haute is a gastronomic restaurant with a medieval atmosphere in the charming village of Auribeau.
Le Grande Balcon is our choice for NIce, beside the flower market it has a fun Can Can style, if you see what I mean.
CHEAP AND CHEERFUL
In most locations you'll find an everyday eatery, where the service, food and prices will make you happy. Whether it's a pizza and moules restaurant like the Mini Grill in Cabris (bad name but a lovely little restaurant) or one of the beach bars along the Prom in NIce, what better setting for a delicious sandwich and a cool drink, you'll find a favourite near you.
5 BEST BEACHES
Cassis Nowhere near as some of its neighbours, Cassis has a beautiful town with a postcard pretty harbour and beautiful wide sandy beach as well as numerous coves sheltered by limestone cliffs, known as calanques.
St Tropez It may get crowded with the fashionable set but the beach clubs along the 3-mile stretch of Pampelonne beach are there for a reason. Choose Nikita Beach, Pearl Beach or any of their neighbours for a decadent day on the sands.
Ste Maxime This pretty resort is right opposite St Tropez across the Bay of St Tropez. Ste Maxime is amongst a series of delightful golden sandy beaches, the wide expanse of sand beside the port is often regarded as the best family beach in the Cote d'Azur with lots of places to eat and drink close by. Have a drive along the coast road and pick your favourite spot either here or on either side of the resort.
Les Issambres Also within the Golfe du St Tropez, the very pretty stretch of coast has a number of picturesque rocky inlets and wider bays all liberally sprinkled with fine white sand, good facilities by the beaches and in the resort.
Cannes People come for the world famous film festival and the famous resort but before all of this there was the beach. From exclusive beach clubs where you'll need a credit card along with your swim suit to the more relaxed public beach areas, popular with families. Enjoy the beach the sun and sand before exploring the pretty town and finding a perfect spot for dinner.
The Holiday Villa Company in the South of France
In the south of France, holiday villas with private pools are numerous and of indeterminate quality so a visit is essential. After inspecting many properties, we have hand-picked a selection of holiday villas in the French Riviera, Cote d'Azur and Provence. These are villas that meet our high standards and offer our guests a certain 'Something Special'. So if you're looking for well-located family holiday villas in the south of France with excellent facilities, then we have holiday villas near Cannes, Fayence, Grasse, Port Grimaud and Vence.
Villa Holidays in the South of France - Region overview
Capturing the true essence of the French holiday, the south of France is the most evocative region. The French Riviera encompasses the cosmopolitan resorts of Nice and Cannes with their elegant restaurants and hotels beside well tended beaches; further south and west you'll reach the resorts of St Tropez and Ste Maxime which, strictly speaking, are in the Var area but most people associate this as being the Cote d'Azur.
Inland are timeless French villages and the stunning countryside of Provence; an area of France that gave rise to a style of living that promoted the typical cuisine, wine and encapsualates the very essence of French life.
South of France - Cote d'Azur
Revered in the late nineteenth century for its therapeutic and restorative qualities, the Cote d'Azur quickly became the playground of the rich and famous; following a trail set by British royalty - so you'll be following in aristocratic footsteps when you enjoy your Cote d'Azur villa holiday.
Towns along the French Riviera such as Nice, Cannes, Beaulieu, Cap Ferrat and Antibes became synonymous with high living and glamour. Indeed they still are, but that is only a small part of the picture. The French/Italian culture, landscape and proximity to the Mediterranean sea have all combined to create a fascinating region boasting heritage and style.
Slightly inland in the south of France lies the town of Grasse - the home of French perfume. Neighbouring French villages such as St Paul de Vence and Biot offer charm and incredible appeal.
South of France - Var
The more gentle and relaxed department of Var has the Esterel hill range running through its centre, creating an imposing landscape. Part covered with forests, the Var enjoys a more relaxed feel than the neighbouring Cote d'Azur. The south of France coastline is stunning, and in the Var it ranges from small intimate coves to large sandy beaches; gently sloping into the Mediterranean and often fringed with pines, making it an ideal choice for family bathing.
The Var holiday resorts of St Tropez and Ste Maxime offer a cosmopolitan air, whilst many other resorts such as Cavalaire, St Raphael, Bandol and Sanary portray a more laid back feeling. The perfumes of pine, laurel and eucalyptus combine to create a heady aroma that fills the air - something that becomes synonymous with beautiful memories of a villa holiday in the Var.
South of France - Provence
Provence in the south of France is timeless, almost a way of life as much as a French holiday destination. 'Provencal living' has become world renowned for embracing the truly important things in life. Whether you're in the region's enigmatic capital, Aix-en-Provence, or in a small village square, the Provencal values are evident.
Whilst enjoying your holiday villa in Provence you can visit local markets that are full of vibrancy and drama; stalls offering an abundance of fresh olives of every size and colour, cured meats, fresh cheeses, delicious fresh fruit and vegetables as well as the dried herbs that the Provence region is famed for. Glimpses of old Provence are still seen within foods such as salt cod and aioli, harking back to the days before refrigeration and freezers.
South of France - French Lifestyle
Wherever you holiday in the south of France, a regular sight is the village or town Petanque pitch. Here the locals enjoy a game of Boules whilst sipping a Pastis, the aniseed aperitif.
Early morning forays to the the local fishing village can guarantee the freshest of the day's catch; a stop on the way home to buy bread, often straight from the oven, and a quick visit to a farmers' market will provide the ingredients for a lunch equalling any top French restaurant.