When deciding where to go on a girls trip, France kept coming up. After visiting Paris a few times, I knew if I ever went back to France, I had to get the heck out of the city and explore somewhere new. Our friend Ali kept mentioning Nice and Provence. Before we knew it we were booking flights and heading out to wine country. Provencal style of course. We didn’t spend a ton of time on this trip though. We packed a lot in a short period of time which ended up being fine so long as we got up early! So today I’m rounding up a few things to do in the South of France
The girls and I flew into Paris and then took regional flights to Nice where we rented a car and stayed just two nights. Initially, we thought about staying all 5 nights here, but day trips to Provence just seemed long and overwhelming to plan. I’d rather not spend 2.5 hours on a train after a day of drinking. So instead, we split it up and did three nights in Provence which was perfection
8 Things You Have To Do (& Eat) In The South Of France
The trains in Europe make getting around easy and quick. Highly recommend taking a day to explore at least one of the below. Plus, there are lots of great tours to take that are intimate and custom to your interests. These are becoming a favorite thing to do when I travel to make sure we learn something and get to hang out with locals.
1. Visit Cassis & The Calanques
We wanted to spend a day on the water this trip but with such a short amount of time, and lots of moving parts, it didn’t seem possible. Several people recommended visiting Cassis and the Calanques, these incredible limestone steep wall inlets on the water. Everything we researched said it took hours to hike, or you had to spend a full day on a boat. Which neither option was possible for us. We decided to just go to the city anyway on our trip up to Provence since it was literally on the way and would be beautiful regardless to visit. Before sitting down for lunch at the marina in Cassis, we noticed a little ticket window for boat tours. Just curious, we walked up and learned there was an hour and a half boat tour complete with three Calanques to see and a swim in the Mediterranean. It embarked in an hour. Perfect amount of time to eat a niçoise salad and put on a bathing suit. PS I was a genius and wore my one piece swimsuit as a bodysuit that day and will be forever packing one from here on out.
I REALLY wanted to see Monaco. Mostly because it’s the second smallest country in the world behind the Vatican. This would mean I could say I’ve been to the two smallest countries in the world. Silly I know, but when in Nice, you visit Monaco. We had minimal time in the South of France so we skipped this. We heard from several people that this usually takes a good full day to visit and isn’t crazy impressive. Plus it’s expensive. If we had more time, we would’ve 100% still done this.
3. Truffle Hunting
Probably one of my favorite things we did in the South of France which you can learn more about here. Absolutely loved this experience and am forever a lover of truffles now. Even if you don’t like truffles, two out of three of us weren’t sold on them, we are now obsessed. It was a really interesting and eye-opening experience and hands down one of the most unexpected fun things we did in the South of France.
4. Market Tours
Ashley of Curious Provence offers customized itineraries and market tours in Saint Remy de Provence and Eygalières. She knows her way around the market as she used to work at them for several years. Experience the market like a local with one of her tours here.
5. Lavender Fields
Clearly, this is a no-brainer. This is one of the best things to do in the South of France and you’ll have to visit when they’re in bloom which is usually the end of June to the beginning of August. The ones we visited were in Luberon, which were right down the road from L’Occitane where some of my favorite products are manufactured.
6. Visit A Rosé Vineyard
Provence is known for their rosé so be sure to visit a vineyard that offers this varietal. We headed to La Coste winery which was a great mix of old and new. The wine was delicious and we all went home with a bottle.
7. Beach Club In Nice
The beaches in Nice aren’t true beaches. There’s no sand, it’s all rocks. So the best way to experience a day on the beach in this part of town is to get a few chairs at a beach club and post up for a few hours. We chose Castel Plage and they were super lenient about bringing your own food/drinks in. I recommend doing this because the prices were outrageous. We headed a few blocks into town where there was an open-air market happening to grab some sandwiches. We bought a few varieties to bring back and eat while taking in the salty air. To have a chair to yourself and a towel was only 25 euro per person. Well worth it for several hours of relaxation and a comfortable lounge chair. Bring water shoes if you plan on hanging out in the water a bunch, the rocks make it nearly impossible to walk in and out of the water.
8. Have A Nicoise Salad
A quintessential dish in the South of France. Traditionally served up with Nicoise olives, hard boiled eggs, tomato and anchovies. It’s a salty delicious salad often topped with tuna or some sort of additional fish in the area. I paired my Nicoise salad with an Aperol spritz, of course, another standard cocktail for the area! And don’t forget to finish lunch off with gelato!
Where To Stay In Provence + Nice
La Belugue – Turns out the owner of this bed and breakfast has a good college friend who is best friends with Kristin’s (my travel partner) coworker. Who I’ve actually met before. It’s a small world and I just love that. Her B&B is in an off the beaten path town, Beaumant de Pertuis.
Another small world moment. I ended up discovering the photographer, blogger and market tour expert, Ashley, of Curious Provence. She went the same elementary school I did in Montreal. We spent the day with her in Provence for wine tasting, truffle hunting and lavender fields. She also offers market tours in Saint Remy de Provence and Eygalières where she lives which you can learn more about here.
Things To Note
Currency – Euro – I always recommend having some US dollars on hand as well as Euro’s. Visa is taken pretty much everywhere though.
Getting Around – In Nice, we just walked everywhere. Nice is a major city though, so there’s public transportation, Uber and so on. We did rent a car which we found fairly helpful if you plan to visit a few different cities.
Tipping – Usually included in the service of the bill. Leave a little extra if they were fantastic.
Learn A Few Words – Anytime I travel to a foreign country, I like to learn a few easy things like hello, thank you and goodbye. It’s nice to be able to say these things to the locals so you don’t look like an ignorant American (it’s painful to watch when you don’t try!). Hello – bonjour // Goodbye – Au Revoir // Thank You – Merci. I also like to use the Google Translate app to learn a few things and how to properly pronounce them. Highly recommend it!