Provence–Côte d'Azur has a huge and varied range of accommodation, from cosy rural cottages to swish pamper pads. It's wise to book well ahead everywhere in summer (online is easiest); prices are at their highest in July and August.
- Hotels Range from basic one-star village inns right up to five-star luxury hotels. Breakfast is generally not included; many older buildings don't have lifts.
- Chambres d'hôtes The French version of a B&B; in terms of luxury, can range from rustic to regal. Breakfast is nearly always included; sometimes a tables d'hôtes dinner is available on request.
- Mas The Provençal word for farmhouse. These properties tend to be rural and secluded, but standards vary widely.
- Camping French campsites tend to be more like holiday parks, usually with pools, playgrounds, activities and so on. Wild camping (including on the beach) is illegal.
- Gîtes Simple hostels geared towards walkers.
- Le Cloître 'The Cloister' offers colourful rooms in central Arles.
- Hôtel la Pérouse Stunning sea views in the heart of old Nice.
- Les Rosées Pamper yourself in a quintessential Provençal retreat.
- Sous les Figuiers Country chic in smart St-Rémy de Provence.
- Les Remparts Plush B&B built into Beaumes de Venise's medieval walls.
- Le Mas de Peint Elegant hotel in the Camargue owned by a gardian family.
- Hôtel des Deux Rocs Handsome rooms in a bastide in Seillans.
- Les Cabanes d’Orion Sleep in a treehouse at this eco-friendly B&B.
- Hotel du Clos Elegance aplenty in perfume-central Grasse.
- Maison Valvert Designer Luberon digs in lovely Bonnieux.
- Le Jas du Boeuf A rural farmhouse deep in the countryside near Forcalquier.
- Le Mas Julien The Provençal retreat you've been yearning for.
- Exedra Belle-époque beauty near Nice's Promenade des Anglais.
- Hotel Victoria Enjoy classic Côte d'Azur style in Roquebrune-Cap Martin.
- La Colombe d’Or Sleep amid world-class art in St-Paul de Vence.
- Couvent des Minimes Serious luxury courtesy of this L'Occitane-owned former convent.
- La Fabrique Industrial chic at this former factory in Moustiers Ste-Marie.
- Methamis A fine architectural conversion with a swanky pool overlooking the Nesque Valley.
- Lonely Planet (lonelyplanet.com/france/hotels) Our accommodation picks for the entire region.
- Provence–Alpes–Côte d'Azur Tourisme (www.decouverte-paca.fr) The main tourist portal has extensive listings.
- Côte d'Azur Tourisme (www.cotedazur-tourisme.com) Specific advice for the Riviera.
- Logis de France Reliable umbrella organisation for small hotels.
- iGuide Offbeat places to stay.
- Guide de Charme Hand-picked hotels and B&Bs.
- Avignon & Provence Hotels, B&Bs and self-catering across the region.
- Joie de Vivre Premium villas across Provence, the Côte d'Azur and the Alps.
Advance reservations are essential in July and August. Booking online is easiest.
Out of season, many hotels and B&Bs close for a few weeks for their congé annuel (annual closure). From Easter onwards, things get busier, making advance booking essential. In July and August don’t even contemplate the coast unless you have a reservation or are prepared to pay a fortune for the few rooms still available.
Tourist offices can invariably tell you where rooms are available; some run accommodation-reservation services.
Prices vary by season:
- Low season (October/November to February/March)
- Mid-season (March to May and September/October)
- High season (June to September)
Quoted rates don't include the daily taxe de séjour (tourist tax; €0.20 to €1.50).
Staying outside July and August or ideally in the shoulder months of spring and autumn is often a good way to get a bargain; sometimes, even top hotels offer discounts of 20% or more on their high season rates.
All but the smallest hotels take credit cards; Visa and MasterCard are universally accepted, but only larger establishments take American Express.
In addition to the usual online portals and booking sites, most local tourist offices keep lists of hotels, B&Bs and holiday homes in their local area, and can often arrange last-minute accommodation if you find yourself stuck.
Big-ticket events such as the Monaco Grand Prix, Festival d’Avignon, Cannes film festival or Nîmes férias bump up prices beyond belief. Rooms also get booked up fast, so try to work around these dates – unless, of course, you're attending, in which case you should book as soon as you have tickets.
The following price ranges apply to a standard double room with private bathroom, breakfast not included.
- € less than €90
- €€ €90–190
- €€€ more than €190
Where to Stay
Provence and the Côte d'Azur region has perhaps the most varied range of accommodation anywhere in France, spanning the spectrum from super-luxury hotels with dreamy views of the coast to cosy little cottages nestled among vineyards and lavender fields. There's somewhere to suit all tastes and budgets – unfortunately, the region's charms are no secret, and in summer, prices skyrocket and rooms are scarce.
Hotels in France are rated from one to five stars: one and two stars are basic, while four and five stars offer luxury services such as pools, room service and a concierge. Elevators (ascenseurs) are generally only found in bigger hotels. Triples and quads are widely available, and good for families. Breakfast is nearly always extra, costing anything from €7 to €30 per person. Wi-fi (pronounced wee-fee) is available nearly everywhere, and generally provided for free.
Note that, in France, 'ground floor' (rez de chaussée) refers to the floor at street level; the '1st floor' is the floor above that.
Chambres d’hôtes are the French version of a B&B. Many are on farms, wineries and historic properties, and the top places now rival hotels in terms of luxury and design. Breakfast is included in the price, and many places serve dinner (known as table d’hôte).
Hostels in France vary in standard from hip to threadbare. You don't have to be young to stay in one, although rates are cheaper if you're under 26.
Sheets are provided, but sleeping bags are not allowed. In big cities, hostels are sometimes quite a long way from the city centre. Most hostels have a kitchen for guests' use.
Two other types of hostels are gîtes d'étape (basic lodges for hikers) and gîtes de refuge (high mountain huts).
The French are big on camping, but they favour sites that are more like holiday parks, with swimming pool, shop, playground for the kids and (most importantly) a decent restaurant. Most cities and large towns have a camping municipal (municipal campsite) – basic, but good for cutting costs.
Most campgrounds only open between April and October. Standard rates quoted are usually for two adults with a tent and car. Electric hook-ups are available at many sites; some also have chalets or bungalows for hire. Camping sauvage (wild camping) is illegal.
Who hasn't dreamt of living in an old Provençal farmhouse or a Côte d'Azur villa with a magnificent pool? Self-catering is a great option, particularly for families or those seeking to experience 'life as a local'. Most places come with a fully equipped kitchen, and many have a pool (sometimes shared with other guests).
Tourist offices generally keep lists of studios, apartments and villas to rent. The usual home-share sites have an increasing presence in Provence and the Côte d'Azur.
Logis de France (www.logishotels.com) An umbrella organisation for small, independent hotels, often with a decent restaurant.
iGuide (www.iguide-hotels.com) Charming, quirky hotels and B&Bs.
Relais & Châteaux (www.relaischateaux.com) Luxury and historic hotels.
Fleurs de Soleil (www.fleursdesoleil.fr) Quality chambres d’hôte.
Bienvenue à la Ferme (www.bienvenue-a-la-ferme.com) Farmstays.
The following are France's two official organisations.
Fédération Unie des Auberges de Jeunesse (www.fuaj.org)
Ligue Française pour les Auberges de la Jeunesse (www.auberges-de-jeunesse.com)
Camping en France (www.camping.fr) Pan-France campsite listings.
HPA Guide (http://camping.hpaguide.com) Good family-friendly campsite guide.
Cabanes de France (http://www.cabanes-de-france.com) Treehouses for wannabe Tarzans and Janes.
Gîtes de France (www.gites-de-france-paca.com) Authentic self-catering accommodation.
Gîtes Panda (www.gites-panda.fr) Self-catering and B&Bs near nature reserves.
Sawdays (www.sawdays.co.uk) Handpicked self-catering and B&B listings.
Joie de Vivre (www.jdvholidays.com) Premium villas.
One Off Places (www.oneoffplaces.co.uk/destinations/Europe/France/Provence-Cote-dAzur) Quirky and unusual properties, from eco-houses to windmills.
Vintage Travel (www.vintagetravel.co.uk) Villas with pools.