South of France Itinerary: 7-Day Provence & French Riviera Road Trip

February 26, 2024

Provence is a region in southeastern France, bordered by the French Riviera and the Alps. It has a rich historical and cultural heritage dating from the ancient Roman Empire, through the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, to the modern era.

The landscapes of Provence are extremely varied and offer stunning natural beauty. The countryside is characterized by rolling hills, purple lavender fields, olive groves and picturesque vineyards.

The French Riviera is dotted with charming towns with colorful houses and turquoise coasts. Then there is the region’s largest city, Marseille, which offers a wealth of cultural and leisure opportunities. Nearby is the locally popular Calanques National Park, with some of the most magnificent scenery in Europe, exciting hiking trails and breathtaking beaches.

Southern France is an ideal destination where nature, history and culture come together and where visitors can enjoy the beauty of French lifestyle. The diversity of the region and its rich cultural heritage make it an ideal destination for those who want to discover a truly vibrant French region.

Because it is a popular destination for many tourists, we have created a 7-day itinerary to this world-famous area. Having visited the South of France several times ourselves, we would like to share our own experiences and tips in this itinerary.

This 7 day Provence itinerary shows you the most interesting cities in the South of France, the countryside including the lavender fields, the old villages of the Luberon region, and the Verdon Gorge and the main attractions of the French Riviera. Our 7-day South of France itinerary has been created to show you the best of what Provence and the French Riviera has to offer.

Before we go through the attractions in the South of France that are worth visiting during the 7 days, here are some general information about Southern France and the itinerary.

Frequently asked questions about a trip to the South of France

How to get to the South of France

If you travel to the South of France by car, then you have it easy. There are many highways leading to the South of France from neighboring countries, the region is easily accessible from Spain, Italy and Switzerland. Just note that the French highway network is a bit expensive. To calculate the toll, ViaMichelin can help you.

If you travel to the South of France by plane, the absolute best option is to arrive in Marseille and then rent a car to reach the rural destinations.

Public transport is a good option only in certain places, and Google Maps can help with this. But basically, we find it very difficult to get around the South of France without a car.

Although parking is not easy in some places, it is manageable and rural locations are very difficult to reach otherwise. If you don’t want to rent a car, the best option is to book group bus tours to attractions, for which the best platform is GetYourGuide.

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Weather in Southern France

Southern France has a typical Mediterranean climate, with mild winters and hot, dry summers. So in principle, it is pleasant to visit at any time of the year, in winter a jacket is enough, and in summer the weather is ideal for a beach holiday.

The best time to visit the South of France

The weather in Provence is great almost all year round, and if we were to recommend the best time to travel based on temperature, we would recommend spring or autumn.

However, there is a special, short time of the year when traveling to Provence is the perfect choice: the lavender season.

Lavender season in Provence

This is a fact: the absolute best time to visit Provence is during the lavender season, which lasts from the end of June to the end of July.

This 7 day itinerary has also been created with a special focus on the lavender fields of Provence.

During these few weeks of the year you have the chance to explore the most beautiful landscapes of Provence, and the good weather also makes beach holidays possible. Although it can be a little hot for sightseeing, it is the ideal time for all the other attractions.

Is it worth visiting the South of France in winter?

We think it’s definitely worth it in February, when there’s a lemon festival in Menton. But be prepared that the landscapes are not as stunning as in summer.
Basically, we do not recommend winter as the best time to visit.

What to wear in Provence

For sightseeing, casual clothes are recommended. In winter, spring and autumn you may need a jacket, in summer a simple summer outfit is sufficient. On the hottest summer days, pay particular attention to choosing light, airy clothing.

For hiking in the mountains, specifically thinking about hiking in the Calanques National Park, we recommend comfortable hiking clothes, thinking about the strong sunshine most of the year. If you travel in the recommended summer season, plan to hike with the least amount of clothing. However, don’t leave your hiking boots and hiking poles at home, as some hiking trails are quite difficult and slippery.

Beaching is also very popular in the summer on the French Riviera and in some of the famous French lakes. If you plan a beach holiday, make sure you bring a swimsuit.

Wherever you go, make sure you have sun protection in summer, as the sun shines particularly strong in the South of France. Nowhere else have we seen so many sunburned people.

How many days to spend in the South of France?

We have created this 7-day itinerary especially because we think it is the right amount of time to see the best places in the South of France.

If there is no lavender season or if you are not interested in lavender fields, 5 days might be enough.

If you are only interested in visiting the French Riviera, we recommend a minimum of 4 days.

But if you want to see absolutely everything and enjoy all that the South of France can offer, plan for more than a week, up to 10–14 days. With such a long stay you will have plenty of time for beaches, casinos in Monaco, boat trips, wine tasting and taking the best photos.

Public safety in Southern France

The South of France actually has one major weakness: the public safety. Unfortunately, car break-ins are common, especially in underground garages, so it is better to leave your car in the hotel parking lot or on the street (for a short time).

A common car break-in method is to break one side window and then steal all the valuables in the car, which can ruin the whole holiday. Unfortunately, this is a persistent problem, and we see only little local action to stop it.

In addition, there are also stories of highway rest areas where gangs rob tourists, even violently. This is why we do not recommend sleeping in highway rest areas.

So, in the cities and at highway rest areas, be careful and do not leave valuables in the car.

Costs of a South of France road trip

France is one of the most expensive countries in Europe in almost every aspect. You will find high Western European prices at petrol stations, shops, restaurants and hotels. More expensive than its neighbors like Germany, Italy or Spain.

Still, if you pay attention when planning, you can manage a trip to the South of France on even an average budget.

You can find 3-star hotels for just over €100 per night for two people, campsites are available in plenty of places, and the places on our itinerary don’t charge entry fees anywhere.

Food costs

In terms of food, French hypermarkets offer one of the largest selection in Europe, so eating out can be cheap. For example, a French gratin, grilled chicken and a salad is available cheaply at popular hypermarkets such as Auchan or Carrefour.

Restaurants are a bit more expensive, with an average meal per person in a regular place between €15 and €35.

Car costs

Another big cost to be prepared for is the car. In France, everything about traveling by car is expensive: car rental, highway tolls and fuel too.


However, considering the costs above, we think you can still travel to France at a good price.

In 2023, for example, we made our one-week trip to the South of France for around €1.400 all costs included.

Now that most of the details of a road trip in the South of France are clear, let’s look at the 7-day South of France itinerary.

7 day itinerary in and around Provence

In the following paragraphs, you can read about the 7-day South of France (or Provence) itinerary that we tried out ourselves. We have gathered as much information and photos as possible about each place in the itinerary to help you plan the best Provence holiday ever.

We start the 7-day Provence itinerary in Marseille and arrive back there on the 7th day, but in fact the days are easily interchangeable as the distances between the attractions in the South of France are relatively short. You may need to swap the days if you arrive by car (in that case Avignon or Menton will be the first destination you arrive at). So please be flexible if you plan your trip to the South of France, the main thing is to enjoy your trip and have your needs met.

Pro tip: if you travel in the summer, make sure you pay attention to the day you arrive and go home. We strongly recommend that you visit Marseille on a weekend day, but for example, plan your visit to the Calanques National Park and the Verdon Canyon on a weekday. The reasons for all these are explained below.

Overall, we recommend that if you want to plan a 7-day trip to the South of France, arrive on a weekend and leave on a weekend. For example, it’s a good idea to start your itinerary on Sunday on Day 1 and return home on Saturday on Day 7.

So with all this information, here is our 7-day South of France road trip itinerary.

Day 1: Marseille

The first day of the itinerary starts in Marseille. Marseille is the capital of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region and the second most populous city in France. It is a bustling city with plenty of things to see and do for tourists.

Best places to see in Marseille

If you have a whole day in Marseille, that should be enough to see the main sights. Here are some of the most important places to visit in Marseille.

Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde

The basilica stands at the highest point of Marseille and can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. It is Marseille’s most popular attraction, not only because of the basilica itself, but also because of the fantastic views. The panoramic views of almost the entire city are stunning, a must when visiting Marseille.

You can get there by car or by sightseeing mini-train (called Les Petits Trains de Marseille). There is a car park quite close to the basilica, from where you can take a short walk up the stairs to the basilica and the lookout points.

Old Port of Marseille

The Old Port of Marseille is also worth a visit when in Marseille. From the north side of the port, you have a stunning view of the port and the hill behind it, with the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde standing on its top.

Another of our favorites is the square in front of the Eglise Saint Laurent church, which offers the most breathtaking panoramic views of the port and its surroundings. It requires climbing some stairs, as it is high up, but it is worth the effort.

Pro tip: If you travel by car in Marseille, avoid parking in underground car parks, as there are many car break-ins. Unfortunately, we have found that the competent people are not very well-prepared for these cases (few cameras, the police are also helpless…etc.). Park your car in the hotel car park or on the street (on the street only in daytime).

Palais Longchamp

Located in the center of Marseille, the Palais Longchamp is a stunning green space and an architectural gem that is a popular destination for tourists. The palace is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, a monument built in the 19th century.

The centerpiece of the Palais Longchamp is the fountain, flanked by waterfalls and surrounded by two imposing rows of arcades.

Bypassing the fountain, two flights of stairs lead up to the museums, with the Museum of Fine Arts on the left and the Natural History Museum on the right.

The palace is set in eight hectares of green space, a green oasis in the center of the city. The park has benches and children’s playgrounds, which the locals enjoy using for recreation.

The outdoor areas are free of charge, while the monuments are accessible with a ticket.

Cathédrale La Major

Another famous church in Marseille is the Cathédrale La Major, built in a Neo-Byzantine style similar to the Basilica of Notre-Dame of la Garde. It is located close to the Old Port, a few minutes walk away. Worth a visit if you are in the area.

This is roughly what fits into a day in Marseille. If you find getting around the city stressful, feel free to take public transport or sightseeing services such as the small train or sightseeing bus tours. And don’t forget to enjoy the shopping and dining opportunities the city of Marseille can offer.

Day 2: Calanques

The second day of the itinerary is for exploring nature and hiking, and you can also go to the beach if you like. And the location of all this is the Calanques.

The Calanques National Park is, in our opinion, one of the most breathtaking and exciting places not only in France, but in Europe.

The Calanques or Calanques National Park is located on the Mediterranean coast, between the cities of Marseille and Cassis.

It is best known for the natural limestone gorges called calanques. These are deep and narrow bays between steep rock walls, with beautiful turquoise waters and stunning views.

The Calanques National Park has 26 calanques of various sizes, most of them only accessible by long hike or by boat. For a map, click on the link.

The Calanques offers many opportunities. You can hike the exciting hiking trails, swim in the crystal clear waters of the sea, go rock climbing or even take a boat trip along the coast to explore the bays and cliffs.

It is an absolute must to visit at least a few places in the Calanques if you travel to the South of France.

We have personally visited 10 calanques so far, and here we present the most spectacular ones.

Calanque de Morgiou

Calanque de Morgiou is accessible on foot from the Redon district of Marseille, less than 3 kilometers from the car park. However, as the terrain is gravel and there are large differences in level, it is worth preparing for a hike.

If you only want to take photos from above, we recommend the Belvédère de Sugiton lookout, also accessible from Redon on an easy 2 km hike.

Calanque de Sugiton

Calanque de Sugiton is also accessible from Redon by a 3 km hike on foot. The coast is difficult to reach and steep, so for photography we prefer the Belvédère de Sugiton lookout, from where you can see also this calanque.

Calanque de Port-Miou

Calanque de Port-Miou is a beautiful calanque with a port. On the eastern side there is a large car park where you can leave your car if you are going for a longer hike or a swim.

You can also hire a boat or kayak here, which will help you explore easily the calanques in the area. There are also organized boat tours, but they only take you around, they don’t stop at the calanques.

The Calanque de Port-Miou is a good place to start if you want to visit the next two calanques. So you can discover 3 breathtaking calanques in one tour.

Calanque de Port Pin

Calanque de Port Pin is a beautiful and popular calanque with a beach where you can enjoy a swim in the summer. It can be reached by a moderately difficult hike from Calanque de Port-Miou.

Calanque d’En-Vau

The Calanque d’En-Vau is one of the most famous and said to be the most beautiful calanque. It is difficult to reach, with a 3-4 km hike from Calanque de Port-Miou via Calanque de Port Pin. The road to Calanque d’En-Vau is difficult, so we describe in a separate post exactly how to get there.

The Calanque d’En-Vau also has a beach, so it’s a good idea to bring a swimsuit in summer.

If you like long hikes, we highly recommend the Belvédère d’En-Vau viewpoint, where you can see both the Calanque d’En-Vau and the neighboring Calanque de l’Oule from above, with absolutely breathtaking panoramic views.

As you will probably only have enough energy to do one of the hikes in a day, you should choose to visit no more than 3 of the 5. You can hike to the Calanque de Morgiou and the Calanque de Sugiton, and then drive to the Calanque de Port-Miou in Cassis. Or you can visit the Calanque de Port-Miou, the Calanque de Port Pin and the Calanque d’En-Vau on a hiking tour.

In the evening, either stay near Marseille or continue on to Avignon to start the next day there.

Day 3: Avignon, Luberon region

The third day is about Avignon and the Luberon region.


In the morning, it is worth visiting the city of Avignon. The most important attractions are the Pont Saint-Benezet, the ruins of an old bridge over the Rhone River and the famous Palais des Papes nearby.

Luberon region

Although Avignon is an interesting city, after some major attractions, the afternoon is dedicated to the Luberon region, one of France’s most famous areas. In the Luberon region, you will find many small medieval-style villages built into the hillsides. And in summer, the many lavender fields in the area only increase the beauty of the region.

The most famous villages in Luberon are Sault, Roussillon and Gordes. If it is lavender season, one afternoon may not be enough to visit all three villages. Then stay in the area and continue exploring the next morning. If it is not lavender season, it is worth going only to Roussillon and Gordes.


Sault is a charming village in the south of France, in the Provence region. The village is located at the foot of Mont Ventoux, the famous mountain of the Eastern Alps. Sault’s surroundings are characterized by purple lavender fields and picturesque landscapes, giving it a real Provençal charm.

If you visit Sault in lavender season, spend more time driving around, as the village has plenty of lavender fields. And if you travel to Provence in the summer specifically for the lavender season, visit the neighboring village of Ferrassières, where you can also find huge lavender fields.


The village of Roussillon is characterized by its stunning orange and yellow buildings, which harmonize with the colorful tones of the red clay mines.

The main attraction of Roussillon is Le Sentier des Ocres, a beautiful area of red clay rocks. There is an entrance fee to enter, and the tour takes about 30–50 minutes.


The village of Gordes is located on a spectacular hilltop and offers an outstanding panoramic view of the surrounding area. Its narrow winding streets are full of stone houses, picturesque terraces and colorful flower gardens.

The main attraction of Gordes is the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, which is at its most beautiful during lavender season, but is also worth a visit at other times of the year.

Pro tip: If you want to take a really great photo of the village itself, look for the viewpoint “Town View Point Gordes” on Google Maps.

As we wrote, if you don’t have enough time to see all the sights, stay in the area and continue your journey the next morning.

If you have seen all the sights you wanted to see, the next day you can discover new places in Provence.

Day 4: Valensole

The fourth day of the itinerary is again about the countryside and lavender fields.

On this day it is worth visiting Valensole, the most famous French town when it comes to lavender fields.

The area around Valensole is really full of lavender fields in summer. In particular, you will find the best fields along the D6 and D8 roads. If you travel between mid-June and mid-July, make sure you plan enough time to visit the lavender fields and to take the best photos.

Pro tip: If you still have some time left or if the lavender is not in bloom, we can recommend visiting the town of Sisteron, where you can see some breathtaking landscapes.

If you want more, a short drive will take you to the breathtaking Lac d’Esparron, a wonderful reservoir with mountain views. The lake is fed by the Verdon River.

Day 5: Verdon Gorge

The Verdon Gorge is located in the Provence region and is one of the most stunning natural wonders in all of France. People often refer to the Verdon Gorge as the ‘Grand Canyon of Europe’.

The gorge was created by the river Verdon. With its turquoise-blue waters and high cliffs, the Verdon Gorge is a truly breathtaking sight.

The Verdon Gorge and the nearby Lac de Sainte-Croix are ideal for active tourists, with plenty of opportunities for kayaking, water biking, climbing and hiking.

If you want to relax in the water or on the beach, Lac de Sainte-Croix is the perfect choice. The northeastern part of the lake offers a wide range of activities. You can hire electric boats, water bikes and kayaks to explore the Verdon Gorge, and the lake is also suitable for swimming, making it a popular summer holiday destination.

If you want more and want to explore the mountains, you can also view the Verdon Gorge and the magnificent rocky mountains from the many lookouts above. To do this, drive east on the D952, and if you have time left, you can make a tour on the D23, known as the Route des Crêtes.

Additionally, around the Verdon Gorge there are also many charming villages that offer an authentic French atmosphere. Moustiers-Sainte-Marie is the most famous of these villages and is well worth a visit when you travel to the Verdon Gorge.

As it is not easy to find accommodation around the Verdon Gorge, we suggest you continue to the Riviera in the evening and stay there.

Day 6: Nice, Monaco

Day 6 of the itinerary is dedicated to the French Riviera. The French Riviera offers opportunities for sightseeing, relaxing on the beach, as well as a wealth of cultural, architectural attractions and entertaining activities.


Start the day in Nice, the second-largest city in the region. Nice surprised us personally with its beauty, its colorful houses and its less French style. Its architecture is, as a layman, more Spanish or Italian than French. But that makes it a unique place on the French Riviera where it is worth spending some time.

Nice also has stunning beaches, with turquoise waters stretching for many kilometers along the city. So if you want to enjoy the beach, then choose Nice.

One of Nice’s best attractions is the Colline du Château, which you shouldn’t miss if you’re in Nice. From this park, you can enjoy many wonderful views over the city, the port and the coastline.

Close by you can also find the Port of Nice, another wonderfully colorful area with lots of good restaurants.

Additionally, if you have some time left in Nice, you can visit attractions in the city such as Nice Cathedral, the Jardin Albert 1er garden, the Fontaine du Soleil and the Place Masséna. These are all within walking distance in the city center, and meanwhile you can enjoy the vibrant, Mediterranean atmosphere of Nice.


For the second half of the day, leave some time to visit Monaco. Monaco is about half an hour’s drive from Nice, so it would be a shame to miss it if you are visiting the French Riviera.

Monaco is a charming little sovereign state, the second-smallest country in the world, offering visitors a unique experience.

In Monaco, the top attraction is the Monte Carlo Casino. The iconic building’s stunning style and magnificent interiors attract both casino lovers and visitors in search of architectural wonders.

Port Hercule, in the central part of the city, is also worth a walk for its magnificent views of Monaco.

The old quarter of Monaco-Ville has a charming atmosphere too, with its narrow streets and atmospheric squares. The most popular attraction there, especially with families, is the Oceanographic Museum of Monaco. Moreover, the Prince’s Palace of Monaco offers an opportunity to learn about Monaco’s history.

The best views of the area can be enjoyed from the viewpoint “Vue panoramique sur Fontvieille”, which offers breathtaking views of Port de Fontvieille and the surrounding mountains. You can get similar views from the popular Jardins Saint-Martin garden.

Monaco’s nights are never boring either, with countless stylish clubs and bars offering entertaining programs.

Altogether, Monaco is an elegant blend of luxury and a rich cultural heritage, made all the more memorable by its stunning coastal scenery.

Day 7: Menton

The last day of our 7-day South of France itinerary is dedicated to Menton.

Menton in France is a charming seaside town located right next to the Italian border. Menton is famous for its colorful houses, its Mediterranean style, its enjoyable beaches and turquoise sea. Stroll along the promenade and enjoy the stunning panorama and discover an old quarter with a special atmosphere.

The Basilica of Saint-Michel Archange is one of the famous buildings in the center of the town, standing out among the many colorful houses.

Another popular attraction in Menton is the Jardins Biovès garden, which is also home to the annual lemon festival in February.

It is well worth spending a few hours in Menton and enjoying the views of the colorful city. As the “Pearl of France”, Menton offers visitors a memorable experience.

In the afternoon or evening, or perhaps the next morning, it’s time to head home, as our 7-day itinerary for the South of France ends here.

We hope this guide has been useful and helped you plan the best trip to the South of France.

If you have more time to spend in France, don’t miss out on the following:


Annecy is a picturesque town in France, situated directly at the foot of the Alps. The city is also known as the “Venice of the Alps” due to its beautiful canals that cross the old town. The narrow streets of Annecy’s old quarter, with their cobblestone alleys, flower-filled terraces, and famous canals, create a romantic atmosphere. The Lake Annecy, a turquoise-blue lake, is located right by the town. The natural environment around the lake and the town offers abundant outdoor activities such as cycling, boat trips, and hiking. The Château d’Annecy castle in the town center and the historic Palais de l’Isle are also impressive attractions.

French Alps

The French Alps are located in the south-east of France, bordering Switzerland and Italy. This stunning region is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations for its natural beauty and countless leisure activities. High mountain peaks, glaciers and beautiful valleys offer excellent opportunities for skiing and snowboarding in winter. And in summer, you can hike along the scenic mountain trails, climb mountains or cycle through the enchanting landscapes. The gorges, waterfalls and Lake Annecy are perfect places for nature lovers to enjoy the wildlife and vegetation. The French Alps are a magical place where nature and active holidays combine.


Paris, the French capital, is a magical city on the banks of the Seine River that attracts tourists from all over the world. The city boasts a rich historical heritage, including the Eiffel Tower, Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Louvre Museum. A stroll along the Seine and a picnic in the parks are a pleasant way to relax. For families and young people, Disneyland Paris can be a wonderful experience. The cafés and restaurants of Paris offer the pleasure of fine French cuisine. Paris is a truly romantic French destination, offering so many unforgettable experiences.

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