Resources

  • Provence–Alpes–Côte d'Azur Tourisme (www.decouverte-paca.fr) The first port of call, with a wealth of info on what to do, where to go, where to stay and much more.
  • Côte d'Azur Tourisme (www.cotedazur-tourisme.com) General information on the Riviera.
  • Visit Provence (www.visitprovence.com) Covers Marseille, Arles and the Camargue.
  • Tourisme Alpes Haute-Provence (www.tourism-alps-provence.com) Guide to the mountains.
  • Provence Verte (www.la-provence-verte.net) Website of a new cooperative of tourist offices in the Haut Var.
  • Lonely Planet (www.lonelyplanet.com/france) Sights, activities, accommodation and much more from the world's top travel publisher.

Top Tips

  • For atmosphere, you can't beat a morning market: nearly every town and village has one at least once a week. Take a shopping bag, chat to the stallholders and taste away.
  • If you're driving, the autoroutes (motorways) are fast, but regional roads (designated D and N on maps) generally have better scenery.
  • Most shops, businesses and museums close for lunch (usually between noon and 2pm). Do as the locals do and head for the nearest restaurant.
  • Don't underestimate the heat. Temperatures of 35˚C are routine in summer. Schedule sightseeing for early morning or late afternoon.
  • Look out for passes that give discounts when you visit more than one sight or museum (eg the Pass Nîmes Romaine).
  • Note that overseas cards occasionally don't work in French chip-and-PIN readers (automated gas stations are a frequent culprit). Bring a spare.

What to Take

  • Passport and driving licence
  • Adaptor plug – France uses two-pin EU plugs
  • Sunglasses, hat and sunscreen
  • Towel, swimsuit and sandals for the beach
  • Sturdy shoes for hiking and walking
  • Corkscrew with bottle opener
  • Smart clothes for eating out
  • French phrasebook
  • An adventurous appetite

What to Wear

  • Outside Monaco, Cannes and St-Tropez, fashion is pretty relaxed. Dress up rather than down for dinner (avoid jeans, shorts or trainers in upmarket establishments).
  • Sturdy shoes are essential for walking, and a pack-down raincoat comes in handy.
  • Going topless is routine on Côte d'Azur beaches, but it's a no-no anywhere else. Save bare chests and bikinis for the beach.

Pre-Departure Checklist

  • Check passport validity and visa requirements
  • Book hotels, car-hire and big-name restaurants
  • Organise travel insurance
  • Check airline baggage restrictions and customs regulations
  • Get a chip-and-PIN credit card (magnetic strips do not work)
  • Inform your credit-card company that you will be travelling abroad