South of France holidays

South of France holidays

Deals from £146 per person

South of France holidays have always had a glamorous reputation. Anyone who’s anyone has been seduced by its sun-drenched shores, from the British aristocracy to famous writers, including F Scott Fitzgerald, and a continuous parade of well-heeled Hollywood A-listers. But you don’t need the deep pockets of the mega-yacht-owning elite to enjoy its lures. We have plenty of cheap holidays in the South of France to satisfy your exquisite wanderlust.

Things to do

The region, often referred to as the French Riviera or Côte d'Azur, covers 400km of dreamy coastline, from Marseille to the French-Italian border. But the enduring love affair with holidays to the South of France has as much to do with the cultural ambience as its glittering waterfront. There are so many things to see and do in this classic seaside destination.

Art and history

Discover medieval villages, roman ruins, 17th-century palaces, and an art scene that rivals Paris. The region’s diverse history has left behind many beautiful buildings and monuments, from the world’s largest gothic palace Palais des Papes, to the tallest and best-preserved aqueduct bridge, Pont du Gard. While its panoramic landscapes and sunlit days have been a source of inspiration for grand painters from Monet to Matisse. Today the French Riviera is home to some of the most iconic collections in the world. 

For families 

There is plenty to do with the kids on a Côte d'Azur holiday, from blissful beach days to exploring historic fortresses. You could even make your own amateur film together in the Ephemeral Museum of Cinema in Cannes. Planning a getaway to Nice? The Promenade du Paillon is a must-visit. Little ones will delight in running through the fountains and scrambling over wooden sea creatures. And if you book a trip to Marseille, you’ve got to ride the petit train to Notre Dam to see the toy boats and planes hanging from the grand ceilings.

Beach days

While most beaches in the South of France aren’t sandy, the iconic pebbled coastline is well worth the hype. Ruhl Plage in Nice is an excellent choice for families, with a wooden platform, on-duty lifeguard, lounge area, and saltwater pool for little ones. For something more intimate, stroll to the tiny La Réserve east of Nice town. If you’re staying in Cannes, Plage du Midi is all white sand and ice cream parlours, situated close to the beautiful old quarter, Le Suquet. 

Places to stay

Wherever you choose to stay on your holiday to the South of France, you’ll be blessed with a wealth of museums, art galleries, Michelin star eateries, and pristine beaches. You could book a city break to Nice and walk the iconic Promenade des Anglais, indulge in a taste of the high life in star-studded Cannes, or try the famous Bouillabaisse in multicultural Marseille.

And South of France breaks needn’t be limited to the coast. Quaint towns like Aix-en-Provence offer a slice of the Provençal, with flower markets and sophisticated coffee spots galore. From here, you could even take a day trip to the fragrant lavender fields, vineyards, and hiking routes. Holidays to the South of France can be anything you want them to be.

Nice

A UNESCO World Heritage site decorated with Belle Époque architecture, glistening beaches, and world-class foodie hotspots, the city of Nice epitomises holidays to the South of France. Wander along the terracotta tenements in Vieux Nice (Old Town), stop for a crêpe at the pavement cafes, and browse over 90 ice cream flavours at Fenocchio (with everything from praline to cactus). And when your feet get weary, unwind under the iconic blue and white striped parasols on the Promenade des Anglais

Marseille 

With its feisty cosmopolitan energy, trendy pop-up eateries, and vibrant multicultural heritage, you won’t want to overlook Marseille on your hunt for Cote d'Azur holidays. Dubbed France’s ‘cool’ city, it’s famous for its foodie mecca on Boulevard Chave, edgy street art along Cours Julien, and summer parties at La Friche. And despite its gritty modernity and hip attitude, Marseille is the oldest metropolis in France. It’s graced with ancient sights, including Château d’If, Fort Saint-Jean and Notre Dame de la Garde.

Cannes

The Beverly Hills of France, complete with its own walk of fame, Cannes is the most glamorous destination of all French Riviera holidays. Along with its namesake film festival, the city is known for its exclusive beach clubs, couture shops, and super-sized yachts. And while you’ll find plenty of glitz and glamour, there is so much more to this coastal hotspot than poker chips and Moët. When you’re not celeb-spotting along the harbour, stop for traditional crêpes or croque monsieurs on the waterfront promenade, de la Croisette, poke your nose around the bric-a-brac on Forville Market, and get lost on the cobbled streets of Le Suquet. 

Juan-Les-Pins

Famed for its Art Deco mansions, upbeat nightlife, and legendary Jazz scene, Juan-Les-Pins embodies the Golden Age of holidays in the South of France. Over the years, this razzle-dazzle coastal resort has hosted international giants from Louis Armstrong to Duke Ellington. When you’re not stretching out on its white sandy beaches, head to the old haunt of F Scott Fitzgerald, Belles Rives. The piano bar is the place to be for live Jazz over an afternoon drink. For more Provençal vibes, stroll along the coastal walk to Antibes. This cobble-stone medieval quarter is home to gourmet food spots, charming flower markets and towering chateaus. 

Aix-en-Provence

Babbling fountains, leafy boulevards and polished cobblestone streets, Aix-en-Provence exudes a quintessential charm so unique to South of France holidays. Follow your nose around the fragrant stalls of Place Richelme, peruse the Pâtisseries along Cours Mirabeau and sip an espresso in one of the town squares. As the hometown of French painter Cézanne, the city is also a hub of art and culture. Head to his studio, Atelier de Cézanne, to learn about his life. Then grab some cheese and wine for a picnic in terre des peintres, and soak up the views that inspired his works.

Map of South of France

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4 ℃ - 32 ℃

The average temperatures range from 32°C in the height of summer, to 4°C in the cooler winter months.

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2 hours

Nice-Côte d'Azur International Airport (NCE) and Marseille-Provence Airport (MRS) are both a short drive from the major resorts in the South of France.

South of France is best for...

Foodies: The French Riviera should be on every foodie’s bucket list. From the legendary Provençal markets, where you can pick up artisan bread and cheese, to tea shops serving up beautiful macarons, it’s hard not to eat really well here. And then there’s the seafood. An endless stretch of chic bistros and Michelin star restaurants offering fresh dishes along the waterfront.

Art fans: The South of France has a thriving art scene with a long legacy. The charming villages, majestic landscapes and glistening sunlight have been a draw for modern artists over the years, from Picasso to Van Gogh. Art lovers can walk through the very streets and sights that inspired these grand masters. The region is home to many iconic collections, held in suitably grand museums.

Beach lovers: The South of France has always attracted sun worshippers and beach lovers. Whether you prefer relaxed spots like La Réserve and Coco Beach, or want to hit up family favourites on the famous Promenade des Anglais, like bustling Ruhl Plage. Most beaches in the French Riviera are pebbled, especially in Nice, but you will find plenty of luxe amenities, along with some sandy stretches over in the west, like La Bocca or Plage du Midi in Cannes.

Fast facts for France

Language: The language spoken in France is French. 

Currency: The currency used is the Euro.

Local time: France is one hour ahead of GMT/UK time. 

Fly to:

  • Nice-Côte d'Azur International Airport (NCE) is around 10 to 15 minutes from central Nice, 25 mins to Juan-Les-Pins and 30 mins to Cannes.
  • Marseille-Provence Airport (MRS) is around 15 miles from central Marseille and 25 mins to Aix-en-Provence.

 

Flight time from UK: The flight time is around 2 hours to Nice or Marseille.

Tourist Information: Further tourist information can be found at the official website for tourism in France.

Visa / health: Before you travel, please check the latest advice from the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.

Holiday destinations related to France:

Getting around the South of France

By hire car: Driving in Nice, Cannes, Marseille, Juan-Les-Pins or Aix-en-Provence can easily be avoided as getting around via public transport or on foot is far less challenging. If you do want to explore the French Riviera by car you can book your hire before you travel.

By train: SNCF trains stop at all the major coastal towns on the French Riviera, such as Cannes, Nice, Juan-Les-Pins, Marseille and Aix-en-Provence,  with plenty of beautiful views to enjoy along the way. Marseille also has a great metro for exploring the city.

By bus: Nice, Cannes, Marseille, Juan-Les-Pins and Aix-en-Provence all have an extensive bus network. We advise always having a timetable handy as services may stop at a certain time or become less frequent.

On foot: Nice, Cannes, Marseille, Juan-Les-Pins and Aix-en-Provence are all very walkable and best explored on foot.

By tram: The tram lines in Nice and Marseille offer a great way to access the top sights. There is no longer a tram in operation in Cannes, but the motorised Toy Train is a great way to see the sights.

Events in France

Jazz a Juan: Every summer, stars from all over the world grace the legendary stage in Gould pine forest. As the oldest Jazz festival in Europe, Jazz a Juan has established itself as an integral part of history, hosting big names, from Ray Charles to Carlos Santana.

Cannes Firework Festival: Every July and August, the French Riviera lights up with the most prestigious firework displays worldwide. Held on the waterfront, with pyrotechnics setting off from anchored barges, onlookers have full view of the spectacular performances along the bay.

Carnaval de Nice: Attracting roughly one million attendees every February, Nice’s world-famous glitzy festival fills the streets with grand parades, giant puppets, and lavish floats. You’ll see unparalleled displays, along with music performances and excited crowds.

South of France safety and security

For up-to-date advice on travelling to France, please visit the FCDO website.

South of France weather

Temperature: Average temperatures range from 4°C to early 27°C.

When’s the best time to go?

The South of France is generally mild throughout the year, with almost 300 days of sunshine and low rainfall compared to other French regions. This makes it a great place to visit, even in the cooler months. You can expect highs of 32°C in July and August, which drop down to a minimum of 12°C - 4°C in February. The summer months also welcome long days of sunshine, with an average of 15.6 hours of daylight per day. The hottest months are also the best time for bathing, with sea temperatures reaching a toasty 24°C in August. The sea temperatures then drop down to 17°C between June and December, reaching the lowest in March, when they dip to 13°C.


Spring is also a great time to visit the region, with fewer crowds during May and June and temperatures hovering around a pleasant 16 - 20°C. If you visit during the winter months, November to February, most of the best seafront restaurants and hotels are closed, but you can still explore the museums and many of the sights. 

Best hotels in South of France

FAQs
FAQs
What is the best time to visit the South of France?

The best time to visit the South of France is from May to October when the days are long and sunny. July and August are the height of the season, so expect these months to be the busiest. Visiting during late June and early September means you’ll still enjoy the warmer weather, with lighter crowds.

Which part of the South of France is best?

The best destination for a luxury holiday in the south of France is glitzy Cannes. For a glimpse of a working cosmopolitan city, visit Marseille. Nice is best for a classic holiday with gorgeous waterfronts and historic old towns. For a taste of laidback Parisian charm, visit Aix-en-Provence. And for quiet sandy beaches and an impressive after-dark scene, book a stay in Juan-Les-Pins.

What is considered the South of France?

A holiday to the South of France could be anywhere along the French Riviera, aka Cote d'Azur. This region runs along the coast from Marseille in the west, to the Italian border in the east.

What is the South of France known for?

Frequented by the rich and famous, the South of France is renowned for its stylish beach clubs, beautiful coastline, couture boutiques and mega-yachts. And when you’re not living it up on the glitzy shores, you have a wealth of historic towns to explore.

What is the food like in the South of France?

Credited for the Michelin Guide, you can expect to find some gourmet masterpieces along your travels. Traditional food served in the South of France typically includes olive oil, onion, garlic, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, and basil.  And when you’re not seeking out delicious cheese and macaroons, try the most famous dish in the region, the Bouillabaisse, a fish stew originating in Marseille.

Are holidays to the South of France family-friendly?

Aside from the vineyards and genteel attractions, the South of France offers plenty of things to do with the kids. From the petting zoo at Parc Phoenix in Nice, to the paddle-friendly beaches in Juan-Les-Pins. And then there are the incredible forts and castles to explore in Marseille.