The South of France
I absolutely adore the south of France and so do my girls. It’s divided up into 2 areas Provence and Riviera.
We spent a week in Provence last spring and it was even better than I expected. Our home base was the intercontinental Marseille and we couldn’t have been happier with this hotel. Their staff was amazing and always willing to help with anything with the girls. They had a great kids menu and gave the girls a gift on arrival. I highly suggest staying here if you are in the Provence area. Marseille is a bit of a drive to the villages of Provence but we didn’t mind because we also spent a bit of time exploring Marseille as well. A lot of people go to Provence to see the lavender. If you want to see the lavender its best to go in July or August, depending on how warm the spring has been. This year it was quite cold so we weren’t able to see it.
1.Casis: Casis is a fishing village in the heart of Calanques National Park. Though the main areas of Calanques are best seen by boat. Casis is a completely charming village with pastel-colored houses lining the beautiful harbor. The village has wonderful shops and great restaurants for all to enjoy. The pace in Casis is definitely slower but that’s what we loved about it. There are also several beaches that are quite nice just off of the harbor.
2.Marseille: I was pleasantly surprised with Marseille. We loved the city! There is an amazing cathedral Notre Dame de la Garde Basilica on the hill. It actually turned out to be one of my favorite cathedrals so far in Europe. It has a nautical theme, which was quite different and interesting. Other points to visit in Marseille: St Jean fortress and Museum and Palais Longchamps. Another fun place to visit is the Château d’If, which is a short ferry ride from Marseille to the Île d’If. Here you can visit François I's 16th-century island castle & former prison, setting for The Count of Monte Cristo.
3.Calanques National Park. We didn’t explore the National Park because it’s mainly accessible by boat and I wasn’t sure how our baby would do on a 4 hour boat trip in the heat, but if you are looking for beautiful rugged coastline and magnificent scenery with hidden coves around every corner Calanques is the place to be. You can take a boat from Casis or Marseille to the park and spend either a day or half a day exploring, snorkeling, hiking the cliffs and relaxing on hidden beaches. When our girls are a bit older we will for sure be back to this area.
4. Gordes: Gordes has been listed as one of “the most beautiful villages in France”. It’s absolutely stunning and completely charming. There are many sights to see including a Chateau, Senenque Abby, St. Firmin Church as well as just the village itself. There are also lots of lavender fields near Gordes in the summer. Gordes and the village des Bories is classed as a historical monument and provides wonderful information about the Provence way of life, from ancient times to the present day.
5. Avignon, is and interesting city on the Rhône River. From 1309 to 1377, it was the seat of the Catholic popes, and remained under papal rule until becoming part of France in 1791. Its center, surrounded by medieval stone ramparts. Highlights are the massive Palais des Papes and remains of the Saint-Bénezet bridge, also known as Pont d’Avignon.
6.Aix en Provence is a historical village and is the hometown of Paul Cézanne and Émile Zola. The old town of Aix is packed with shops, markets, museums, religious and architectural sites and historical sites
We love visiting the Riviera. The weather is always beautiful and sunny, the food is perfect and the people are sweet. We have stayed in several different places in the Riviera and loved them all! It’s best to book in advanced as in the summer it is really busy. We have always gone in the spring and fall and it wonderful as the crowds have gone home but the weather is still warm.
1. Monaco is a fun place to visit. We especially loved going to the Prince’s Palace of Monaco and walking through old town. The Oceanographic Museum in old town is perfect for kids. It’s also an interesting building as it’s built against the rock of Monaco. The Casino is also worth seeing but not super kid-friendly.
2. Eze is a medieval village just above Monaco. It’s one of my favorite villages in France. It’s totally picturesque and in my opinion the definition of charming. There is a Fragonard perfume museum in the village if you want to take a quick tour. Eze is a fun place to stay on the Riviera as Nice, Monaco, and other fun locations are a quick, easy drive from Eze. Not to mention the views are amazing!
4. Fragonard Perfume Workshop in Grasse. Fragonad perfume is dreamy! They hold a workshop for groups showing how to make perfume along with a tour of their factory. At the end of the workshop you are able to make a small bottle of your own personalized perfume. This is a perfect mother/daughter activity or fun for a girl’s trip.
5. Cimiez, Nice Cimiez is one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Nice. It also features an amazing park with Roman ruins, the Matisse museum and the Archaeological Museum. The Matisse museum was features some of his art and artifacts from his nearby studio. Cimiez is a bit off the beaten path but well worth the visit.
6. La Croisette Beach. In Cannes, La Croisette Beach stretches out along part of the old town and is the perfect place to lounge with the kids, take a stroll or play in the water and relax. There is also a carnival that includes a carousel, small rides and games along La Croisett.
7. Biot is a village famous for blowing glass. Biot is a short drive north of Cannes, but fun for families as you can tour the glass blowing facilities. The city is also another very cute village among the hills.