The South of France: 30 Top Towns & Best Places to Visit

The region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is considered as one of the most beautiful French regions. It’s hard to argue the fact for a person who has ever seen the pictures of blooming lavender fields, delicious local cuisine of Provence and the sun-drenched Côte d’Azur.

Here are 30 towns of the South of France, which you should definitely visit if you’re planning a trip for this destination.

Nice

Nice is one of the jewels of the Côte d’Azur and is without doubt one of the most famous resort towns, which attracts tourists from all over the world. Today, Nice is the largest city of the French Riviera, but was once the part of County of Savoy and went into the possession of France in 1680.

Tourists coming here will be delighted by the historical past of Nice, which is captured in its eclectic architecture, and by its actual present with all shopping opportunities and beautiful beaches.

The South of France Towns: Nice

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Cannes

Along with Nice, Cannes is the largest resort town of the Cote d’Azur, but mostly it is known as the home to the main world film festival, which takes place here in mid-may since the late 40s.

The South of France Towns: Cannes

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Aix-en-Provence

Aix-en-Provence is an interesting fusion of history and modernity. Here you will find a lot of flea markets with antiques, cobbled streets with houses with slatted shutters.  Aix-en-Provence city hosts many creative art festivals, it also attracts food lovers, especially those who adore sweets and different variations of dishes from fresh vegetables and fruits.

The South of France Towns: Aix-en-Provence

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Antibes

French Antibes looks like a perfect postcard image. It is located just in the middle between Cannes and Nice. Coming here you will walk along ancient cobbled streets, visit flower and vegetable market and the old port. The town grew from an ancient Greek port Antipolis, and later was a refuge and a favorite escape for artists and writers, Pablo Picasso, Nicolas de Staël, Max Ernst, Graham Greene are among them.

The South of France Towns: Antibes

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Fréjus

Now French, and once the ancient Roman city and the oldest military port Fréjus rises above the plains at an equal distance between Cannes and Saint-Tropez. Today, Frejus is a cosy harbour town with sandy beaches and mooring luxury yachts, fragments of ancient structures that are scattered throughout the place.

The South of France Towns: Frejus

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Avignon

Avignon, without doubt, one of the most attractive and interesting towns in France, because the annual theatre festival takes place here. Avignon attracts not only art amateurs, but also history enthusiasts, because it still having many architectural testimonies of the Middle Ages in the form of Gothic cathedrals, churches, castles.

The South of France Towns: Avignon

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Marseille

The most important French port, one of the centers of Resistance during the Second World war, in 2013 Marseille was selected the cultural capital of Europe. Here is the famous Dumas Chateau d’if, Garden of Ruins, consisting of the ruins of the ancient city and the many museums.

The South of France Towns: Marseille

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Monte Carlo

The capital of Monaco, which attracts the wealthiest people by its casino, beaches and luxury yachts. To get to Monte Carlo you should go to Nice first and take the train there.

The South of France Towns: Monte Carlo

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Saint-Tropez

Saint-Tropez is often called the center of social life of the Côte d’Azur. Before the city was insignificant French settlement where flocked fishermen, winemakers and artists who were attracted by the beautiful views. In the 50s Roger Vadim made the town the set for his movie “And God created woman” with Brigitte Bardot. From this moment Saint-Tropez instantly gained immense popularity among tourists all over the world and hold it up to now.

The South of France Towns: Saint-Tropez

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Saint-Raphael

Saint-Raphaël is not so famous as Saint-Tropez, Nice or Cannes, but it has something to boast about. The town has not only beautiful beaches and attractive architecture, it draws the fans of rock climbing, cycling and hiking.

The South of France Towns: Saint Raphael

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Toulon

Another beautiful port of France, which earlier days served as an Ancient Greek colony. Eighteen fountains, among which the famous “Three dolphins” – some of the important attractions of the city.

The South of France Towns: Toulon

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Gap

Gap is the town with the picturesque mountain scenery. Gap is situated on the Luye River and on “Napoleon road”, which connects the Cote d’Azur with Grenoble.

The South of France Towns: Gap

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Briançon

Briançon is the highest French town, which attracts the skiing, climbing, hiking and cycling enthusiasts with its amazing views of the mountains, ascents and descents along its steep streets. Briançon is located in the Upper Alps, near the France-Italy border.

The South of France Towns: Briançon

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Menton

Menton is 30 km from Nice, on the French-Italian border in the Maritime Alps. The town was once the part of the Principality of Monaco. Menton is called the capital of lemons, it has a mild climate and bright colors in architectural buildings that will remind you of Italy.

The South of France Towns: Menton

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Digne-Les-Bains

This Provencal town is one of the oldest French resorts thanks to its many thermal springs. Like Gap, Digne-Les-Bains is located on the “Napoleon road”.

The South of France Towns: Digne-Les-Bains

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Sisteron

A small town in Provence, known for its fragrant lavender fields and spectacular views of the cliffs and fortress of the same name, built at the dawn of the Middle Ages. Sisteron is called the “gateway to Provence” because of its location on the geographical separation of Northern and Southern Provence.

The South of France Towns: Sisteron

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Draguignan

Draguignan carefully preserves its traditions and participates in modern life. Its green landscapes, olive groves and vineyards make the city a worthy and typical representative of the French South, and modern musical and other festivals and master classes make it attractive point for the tourists, coming to Provence.

The South of France Towns: Draguignan

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La Ciotat

La Ciotat is a paradise for lovers of scuba diving and other water sports and for those who like to rest in small bays. La Ciotat is considered as one of the world centers of sailing.

The South of France Towns: la Ciotat

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Arles

Ancient largest trading port, today Arles retains many buildings and other priceless works of ancient art. In 1981, the ruins of the old town were listed as a world heritage site by UNESCO. In Arles was born and lived all her life Jeanne Calment, the oldest ever lived people who died at the age of 122.

The South of France Towns: Arles

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Orange

Orange is another town of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, whose buildings included in the list of world heritage of humanity. Orange possesses one of the best preserved amphitheatres and the triumphal arch to commemorate the victories of Julius Caesar.

The South of France Towns: Orange

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Montpellier

Montpellier is one of France’s largest cities, but since it does not belong to the Côte d’Azur region, tourists often pass it by, and it is in vain. Montpellier is famous for its beautiful architectural buildings reminiscent of Paris and the towns of the Southern France. In Montpellier takes place the annual wine fair, and the France’s oldest Botanical garden, running from the middle of XVI century, is also located here.

The South of France Towns: Montpellier

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Perpignan

Perpignan is located 13 km from the Mediterranean sea and 31 km from the France-Spain border. Perpighan has long been considered the capital of the local wine industry, and the fort of Castille from the middle of the fourteenth century is the face and main attraction of the city. If you are a connoisseur of art, you should visit the Perpignan railway station, which was decorated by Salvador Dalí.

The South of France Towns: Perpignan

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Pau

French writer Alphonse de Lamartine said hat Pau has the most beautiful views on earth, and it is difficult to argue. The town lies at the foot of the Pyrenees, and if you don’t imagine your journey without breathtaking mountain views, then go there! Amazing views open right from the main street of the town. In addition to natural beauty, there is something to admire in terms of architecture, because Pau is full of Gothic cathedrals, chapels, palaces and castles, which served as the monarch residences.

The South of France Towns: Pau

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Biarritz

Biarritz has a reputation of one of the largest and most luxurious resorts in Europe, and for good reason. The city is not mentioned in one row with Nice and Cannes, because it is not included in the region Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, but its value as a resort cannot be overstated.

Biarritz is located on the “Silver coast” of France, allowing its visitors to swim in the Atlantic Ocean, to improve their health at balneological institutions and to engage the surfers with its high Atlantic waves.

The South of France Towns: Biarritz

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Bayonne

There was a time when Bayonne was a small fishing village and today it is one of the largest French ports. In addition, this is where you can buy and try the famous Bayonne ham (a name protected by the special certificate), and on Thursday, Friday and Saturday ham fairs take place in the town.

The South of France Towns: Bayonne

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Narbonne

If you like to explore the antiquity and it really attracts you, don’t miss the opportunity to visit Narbonne. Here you will find stunning and the earliest specimens of French Gothic in high cathedrals and other architectural structures with beautiful towers. One of the main attractions of the city – Narbonne Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Just-et-Saint-Pasteur de Narbonne) and the Basilica of Saint-Paul-Serge.

The South of France Towns: Narbonne

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Agde

Another ancient city of the Southern France, which is not very familiar to tourists, although it is located on the Mediterranean coast. In the XVII century cardinal Richelieu had the idea to make it a major resort, but he failed to implement his plan in full. Currently, however, Agde is a famous resort, including even the nudist beaches.

The South of France Towns: Agde

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Nîmes

It is an ancient French city that has no equal in quantity of preserved ancient architecture buildings and monuments, among which is one of the most memorable ancient Roman amphitheatre and the temple Maison Carrée. The Pont du Gard over the river Gardon is 22 rm from the town. This aqueduct is listed as the UNESCO world heritage site.

The South of France Towns: Nîmes

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Toulouse

Toulouse is a major and important French city in many ways. First, it is fourth by population. Toulouse is situated on the banks of the Garonne River and connects the Mediterranean sea with the Atlantic Ocean.

During the Middle Ages Toulouse was the religious center of the South of France, and today the city holds the title of the student’s second capital after Paris.

The South of France Towns: Toulouse

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Carcassonne

Carcassonne is a true monument of medieval architecture. The town stands on the Aude River, and since ancient times Carcassonne, associated one waterway with the largest French cities, Toulouse and Montpellier, was the major trading point in the South of France.

The town is divided into old and new parts, and old town, including the magnificent architectural ensemble, listed as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.

The South of France Towns: Carcassonne

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