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14 day Travel to the south of France

My wife and I are traveling to France during the last week in August and the first week in September, total of 14 days.
We are flying in and out of Paris.
We want to experience the best of the south of France and are looking for recommendations on the must see cities and towns that we should visit in the 2 weeks that we have for vacation.
We are thinking of taking the train to and from Paris to key hub cities and then explore nearby cities on day trips by car.
Here are some of the cities that we have heard about or read about:
Aix, St Rémy de Provence, Arles, Carcassonne, Nîmes, Provence, Cannes, Bandol, Eze, Nice, Monaco.
We like cities where we can walk and explore, we like good places to eat and good wine.
We enjoy going on local guided walking tours.
We also like historic Ruins and great museums.
I like to take a lot of pictures, we really like very scenic cities.

Can anyone suggest an itinerary for 14 days, that starts and ends in Paris.

Thanks
Tom

Posted by
3936 posts

I love taking photos - and really enjoyed St Paul de Vence, Roussillon and one spot we visited last year - Moustiers Sainte Marie (but we were in Provence during lavender season and it was part of our 'lavender trail' day, and might just be too out of the way for a first visit). Aix was another fav spot for taking pics - disclaimer - I love old doors, so that was a lot of my focus.

We enjoyed our visit to Carcassonne a few years back, but with only two weeks, that may be too much of an outlier for you, especially if this is a first visit to south of France.

Pont du Gard is a nice visit for 1-2 hrs. Les Baux (and toss in Glanum, with some Roman ruins, about 45 min to visit, and close to Les Baux) is pretty neat for historic ruins. You could pick either Arles or Nimes for the Roman arenas - I liked Arles better as it was smaller - but we also did both arenas in one day, Nimes was bigger, and I was just ready to leave after about 20 min.

Have you been to Paris before? That could determine suggestions for an itinerary, as if you haven't been there, you'd prob want 4 nights minimum...

Posted by
33 posts

Nicole
Thank you very much for your response, very helpful tips.
Aix sounds great!
This really helps us narrow down where the best places are to go and gives a much better idea of how much time to allow for each city.
We have been to Paris before, we intend to spend 2 nights there out of our 14 days.
Thanks again for your comments and recommendations!
Tom

Posted by
11973 posts

There are a few regions that make up southern France. When people refer to the "South of France" they typically are thinking of Provence and the French Riviera.

I think you can spend five days in each area and another four days in Paris and be reasonably happy.

I'd suggest flying into Paris, staying two nights (one full day for sightseeing).

From there fly to Provence and rent a car (I liked Arles as a base). I visited Aix, St. Remy, Arles, Avignon, Nimes, Les Baux in five days. I felt like there was more to see but I saw quite a bit.

Afterward drive into the Riviera, drop the car and use the train to get around. In four days, I visited Nice, Cannes, Monaco, Merton, Villefranche sur Mer, Juan les Pins and Antibes using the train up and down the coast. My favorite by far in the area is Antibes. It has white sand beaches, a nice marina, a walled medieval center, restaurant area and art gallery all within walking distance. I stayed in Juan les Pins which shares the same small peninsula (about a 20-30 minute walk from the restaurant area of Antibes).

Afterward, catch a flight from Nice back to Paris until you have to fly home. I took Air France; it typically takes just over an hour and costs about $50 (much faster and cheaper than a train). You will likely fly into Orly rather than CDG. I took the Orlyval into town (it connects to the RER, buy a ticket all the way into town).

I agree that seeing Carcassonne, Languedoc, the Pyrenees and Basque regions of southern France would be too ambitious for a 14 day trip. I love the Languedoc area but plan it as a trip of it's own, maybe combined with the Dordogne and Lot River valleys.

Posted by
847 posts

I would split the time between "Provence" and Cote d'Azure. Take the high speed train to Avignon and rent a car there. I like to base in St Remy which is a smaller town (easier to drive in/out of) and central to see Avignon, Arles, Uzes, Pond du Gard, Gordes and other hill towns, etc. Maybe five nights for that portion. Then head towards the Cote d'Azure, stopping for one or two nights in Aix (maybe two or three so you could also do a day trip to Marseille (by train). The coastal Cote d'Azure will still be pretty busy at that time of year so maybe base in one of the hilltowns. I love Vence, and there are several day trips from there. Or a few days in Vence while you still have the car, then on to Nice (drop off the car) and do Nice and some coastal towns by public transportation. Back to Paris from Nice by train.

You will probably get some ideas from my trip report - https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/photo-safari-to-the-south-of-france-the-italian-rivera-and-the-swiss-alps-990300/page2/ Probably want to start around post #31.

My Photos - Provence - https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p233500526
Cote d'Azure hilltowns - https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p43619107
Cote d'Azure Nice - https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/p763350981

Posted by
2685 posts

Since you will be in Languedoc anyway to see Carcassonne, here are some other potential sites in Languedoc I also found enjoyable:

Narbonnaise en Méditerranée Natural Park: Diverse protected landscape with good hiking trails through beaches, lagoons, and vineyards.

Abbaye de Fontfroide: Wine-producing (AOC Corbières) former Cistercian monastery with historic vaulted cloisters, a nice restaurant, and regular concerts.

Béziers: A city that was a major flash-point during the Albigensian Crusade. Its historical center, built on a hilltop, is a great place for a stroll. Some of the sites include a cathedral (with a sinister past), great squares connected with picturesque streets.

Montpellier: A university town with an interesting contrast of new and old. With elegant buildings, grand mansions and boulevards.