Avignon & Around
For stays in July, reserve by January (if not earlier); expect minimum-stay requirements and premium rates. Ask if there's parking – it's usually extra. Most hotels close for several weeks in winter. Orange and Carpentras, both 30 minutes away, are dull by comparison, but make less-expensive bases.
St-Tropez to Toulon
Cannes & Around
Cannes is an important conference centre and hotels fill up with every event, so try to plan ahead if you want to stay in the city. Search and book accommodation online with Cannes Hôtel Booking, run by the tourist office; and check out Riviera Pebbles for apartments in Cannes and Antibes.
Marseille is a rich, pulsating port city bubbling over with history, cutting-edge creative spaces and hip multicultural urbanites. Since Greek settlers came ashore around 600 BC, waves of immigrants have made Marseille (now France's second largest city) their home.
Nice, Monaco & Menton
Cannes to Biot
Haute-Provence & the Southern Alps
Picturesque Pays d’Aix (Aix Country), within which oh-so-elegant Aix-en-Provence is ensconced, sits 25km or so north of Marseille.
Ringed by incredibly preserved 800-year-old stone ramparts, graceful Avignon's turn as the seat of papal power bestowed the city with a treasury of magnificent art and architecture, none grander than the massive medieval fortress and papal palace, Palais des Papes. In romantic counterpoint, Pont d'Avignon – of nursery-rhyme fame – spans halfway across the Rhône.
A pocket of left-bank Parisian chic deep in Provence, Aix (pronounced like the letter X) is all class: its leafy boulevards and public squares are lined with 17th- and 18th-century mansions, punctuated by gurgling moss-covered fountains.
Presqu'île de St-Tropez
Jutting out into the sea, between the Golfe de St-Tropez and the Baie de Cavalaire, is the St-Tropez peninsula. From swanky St-Tropez on the northern coast, fine-sand beaches of buttercream yellow and gold – easily the loveliest on the Côte d’Azur – ring the peninsula. Inland, the flower-dressed hilltop villages of Gassin and Ramatuelle charm the socks off millions.
Cocktails and azure seas draw flaneurs, festival-goers and gastronomes.
Arles & the Camargue
North of Avignon
The world-renowned vineyards of Châteauneuf-du-Pape extend north of Avignon to Orange, a small city famous for big Roman antiquities. Just east, Vaison-la-Romaine is also rich in ancient treasures, its narrow medieval streets an adventure to explore. Just beyond lie the compact, saw-toothed Dentelles de Montmirail mountains, with small villages known for great wines.
Tiny, maze-like principality of French glamour and gleaming casinos.