Starting our planning for 4 women to south of France for next Mid -late May providing the virus abates. We like to stay in Abbeys and B&B’s. We like to do a cooking class thats more than just teaching, its eating and enjoying great food. We will have 14 full days on the ground. Hopefully the weather will be nice that time of year.. Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated and things that you loved to see and do. Jeanne
What is southern France for you?
We have experienced very mixed weather at that time of year in southern France, from heatwaves to heavy rain. We find that the weather around La Rochelle on the west coast is often better than the Dordogne.
Exactly where, what area are you thinking of visiting? Provence? Côte d’Azur?
Do you have a few guidebooks? I recommend MIchelin Green Guide, Rough Guides and/or Lonely Planet.
We have been to southern France several times in May, and we have always had nice weather. But obviously, you never know from year to year.
Where in southern France do you want to go? Provence is known for markets, small villages, and lavender fields (in the summer). The Luberon villages are lovely, such as Gordes, Roussillon, and Menerbes. St. Remy is lovely with the asylum where Van Gogh lived for a year, nice restaurants & gift shops, and a weekly market. Les Baux has the sound and light show in a quarry and the fortress ruins at the top of the village. You can visit Pont Du Gard, and Palais du Papes in Avignon, and a Roman theater in Arles.
NIce is wonderful for 4 or 5 nights, and a good base to visit some beautiful coastal villages. Nice has art museums, a pebbly beach, beautiful architecture, and markets. There are markets everywhere in southern France.
Dordogne is know for its prehistoric caves, castles, gardens, and canoeing/boating on the Dordogne River. This is also duck country.
It’s better to have a rental car in Provence and the Dordogne. A car is a nuisance in Nice and along the French Riviera. Many people use trains or buses to go up and down Riviera.
Well, it's not exactly south, but near Annecy on Lake Annecy l'Abbaye in Talloires is ideal.
I happen to love the city of Albi; but I can't recommend a place to stay nearby.
Near Cahors in the Lot is the Chateau de Mercuès.
If you are interested in the southeast, RS Provence and the Cote d'Azur is the guide book. If you do stop in Nice, Rosa Jackson's Petits Farcis is a well known market tour and cooking class. There are several similar in Western Provence, including some affiliated with the Bastides and Domaines. If you settle on some areas, maybe others can be more specific.
We loved both the Provence area and the Dordogne. We stayed in a wonderful old farm house B and B - just two rooms built over the old barn - in L’Isle sur la Sorgue called Pont des Aubes. It was right on the river, half a mile from town. We stayed at Le Petit Versailles B and B in Beynac, on the Dordogne River. Lovely hosts and river views. You definitely need a car in the Dordogne, and it’s easier To reach smaller villages in Provence as well. Enjoy your planning in this difficult time!
Rick Steves has an excellent guidebook that focuses on south of France. https://store.ricksteves.com/shop/p/provence-guidebook
I used this guidebook extensively for both my trips to Provence and, also, for my trip to the French Riviera. Highly recommend!