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The South of France is simply perfection. It is a destination that truly entices your senses. Hints of lavender and handmade soap fill the air, tastes of cheeses and jams at the market delight the tastebuds, and even the views of hilltop villages and sun-drenched beaches will leave you breathless. And the best way to experience it is with a South of France road trip itinerary!
If you’re currently planning a trip to the South of France, you’ve probably realized by now that this area of the world has SO much to offer. This definitely makes creating a plan for 7 days in Provence tricky.
However, after countless hours of research and dreaming, I have created a perfect 7-day South of France itinerary including stops in Avignon, the villages of the Luberon, Aix-en-Provence, Cassis, Cannes, and Nice that you’re 100% going to love. How do I know that?
Well, I was just there and enjoyed the heck out of it. And yes, it is all super doable in just 7 days. So sit back, relax, dream of sunny days and rosé, and let’s get into it.
- What is Provence?
- Summary of the Ultimate South of France Itinerary in 7 Days
- Only 7-Day South of France Road Trip Itinerary You’ll Ever Need
- Days 1-2: Avignon and Châteauneuf-du-Pape
- Day 3 of Your Provence Itinerary in 7 Days: Driving the Villages of the Luberon
- Day 4: Aix-en-Provence & Cassis
- Days 5-6 of Your South of France Road Trip Itinerary: Cannes
- Day 7 of the South of France Road Trip in a Week: Nice
What is Provence?
You’ve likely noticed above that I have used both “South of France” and “Provence” interchangeably. Well, Provence, or Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur, is a region in the southeast of France well-known for its Mediterranean beaches and lavender fields.
It is also referred to as the South of France, especially among English speakers, even though it is not the only region that is in the south.
Now, to break it down further, Provence is made up of 6 departments, which are administrative departments. These include Alpes-de-Haute-Provence, Hautes-Alpes, Alpes-Maritimes, Bouches-du-Rhône, Var, and Vaucluse.
In this Southern France itinerary, we’ll be visiting Vaucluse, Bouches-du-Rhône, and Alpes-Maritimes departments.
Summary of the Ultimate South of France Itinerary in 7 Days
For a quick reference guide, here is a breakdown of where to go during a south of France road trip!
- Days 1-2: Avignon & Chateaunuef-du-Pape
- Day 3: Drive the Villages of the Luberon to Aix-en-Provence
- Day 4: Aix-en-Provence and Cassis
- Days 5-6: Cannes
- Day 7: Nice
For more details of all the things to do in the best Provence itinerary, keep reading below!
Only 7-Day South of France Road Trip Itinerary You’ll Ever Need
From charming villages to a chilled-out beach day, let’s talk about how to have the best South of France Itinerary in 7 days!
Days 1-2: Avignon and Châteauneuf-du-Pape
To start your Southern France itinerary, Avignon is always a great idea. Steeped in history, this city is a lovely spot to base yourself for exploring the town and nearby area.
Then, because you’re in the Southern Rhône wine region, you’ve got to visit Chateauneuf-du-Pape!
Day 1: Avignon & Pont du Gard
For your first day, arrive in Avignon. Now, the easiest way to get to Avignon is via train. So, depending on where you’re coming from, you can easily take the train from Marseille or Paris. We spent 2 days in Paris beforehand, so we took the 2.5-hour train to Avignon.
PS- Avignon is a great weekend trip from Paris too!
FYI- There are 2 main train stations in Avignon. The Avignon Centre Railway Station is just outside the city center. The Avignon TGV Railway Station is an 11-minute drive southwest of the city.
This is super important to know because you’ll be renting a car in Avignon for your South of France road trip itinerary, so choosing the right station is key. Most car rental companies are located at the TGV Railway Station.
Trust me, I made this mistake and had to Uber over to the correct station to get my car.
Alright, once you’ve picked up your rental car, it is time to head into Avignon!
On your first day in Avignon, the best thing to do is to wander around the old city. Have lunch at Cafe Saint-Jean with views of the square and the lovely Saint-Jean Tower.
Pop into shops around the old city, including Autrefois, with local treats like nougat and callisons, and explore squares like the Place de l’Horloge, before hopping back into your car to visit Pont du Gard.
Pont du Gard is about a 30-minute drive from Avignon and is a must-see. This is an ancient Roman aqueduct that crosses the Gardon River. Step back through time at this first-century bridge that was used to carry water to Nîmes.
This is a stunning area where you could spend a couple of hours walking down by the river, watching the kayakers float by, or you can even cross the bridge!
Okay, you aren’t actually walking on the ancient structure, but rather on another bridge next to it. But you certainly get close!
There are also ample hiking trails in the area and even a prehistoric cave. It is well worth spending the rest of the afternoon here before driving back to Avignon for dinner and drinks.
And for dinner and drinks, definitely head to La Mirande. This 5-star luxury hotel is like stepping right into the Downtown Abbey drawing room. At least that is what it feels like when you have a seat at the salon with a handcrafted cocktail.
Start with some dinner here at La Salle à Manger. Yes, you could eat at their Michelin-starred restaurant instead for their tasting menu, but if you don’t want to spend too much money, you can enjoy eating à la carte from La Salle à Manger. Trust me, it is just as delicious.
Enjoy onion soup and delicious mackerel before heading to the bar post-dinner.
The bar is the coziest spot for a drink with paintings on the wall, plush, 19th-century couches, and even a little fireplace. It is a delightful place for a martini and to wrap up the first day of your 1 week in the South of France.
Day 2: Avignon & Châteauneuf-du-Pape
Fun fact: did you know that the popes used to live in Avignon? From 1309-1376 the popes lived in Avignon instead of Rome due to civil unrest.
So, as you can imagine, they needed a place to stay. That is when the Pope’s Palace came to be. Construction began in 1335 and today you can visit this magnificent palace.
I actually recommend purchasing a pass that includes the Pont de Benezet (or the Pont d’Avignon), Pope’s Palace, and the gardens. Then you can spend a few hours exploring these places. We purchased our passes at the Pont de Benezet.
After that, head to Les Halles to pick up provisions for dinner or some lunch. This massive indoor market has everything from meats and cheeses to fresh produce and wine.
Then, in the afternoon, it is time to get picked up for your wine tour of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.
We loved this tour as it visits 2 wineries and you learn a lot about the making of this wine, the wine of this region, and more.
Plus, Chateauneuf-du-Pape literally translates to the New Castle of the Pope. It is named after the castle built for the second of the popes in Avignon: Pope John XII.
During the tour, you’ll visit a couple of wineries as well as visit the ruins of the castle. It wraps up that evening, and then I recommend winding down your day with some cheese and wine that you picked up at the market earlier.
Where to Stay in Avignon:
There are so many great places to stay in Avignon. We stayed in this Airbnb complete with its own kitchen, comfortable bedroom, and a washer/dryer. However, if you wish to stay at a hotel, these are great options:
Budget: Regina Hotel
Mid-Range: Aux Augustins
Luxury: Hotel La Mirande
Day 3 of Your Provence Itinerary in 7 Days: Driving the Villages of the Luberon
Today is a transition day from Avignon to Aix-en-Provence. And while you could just drive straight to the next destination, now is the perfect time to really take in the villages of the Luberon during your 7-day Provence road trip!
So grab a quick coffee and croissant before driving through the Luberon Regional Natural Park to see some of the most beautiful villages in France. Seriously, there is even an award called “Les Plus Beaux Villages de France.” A couple of towns that you’re visiting today have this award.
Of course, this area is also well-known for its lavender fields that bloom from mid-June through mid-July. So if you come during this period, expect some more crowds but also stunning lavender.
But, even outside of the lavender season, this area is gorgeous. We visited in early October and had a great time driving through dreamy villages and enjoying a local market.
Now there are plenty of stunning villages to drive through here, but, a must-see spot has to be Senanque Abbey. This abbey was founded in 1148 AD by Cistercian monks and is still a working abbey.
It is gorgeous to visit on its own, but again, during the lavender season, this place really shines. It is surrounded by lavender.
After the abbey, definitely check out Gordes. There is a lovely lookout spot for taking photos, but pass through the village or even stop at their market if you’re driving there on a Tuesday. This place was awarded one of the most beautiful villages in France, so it is worth a stop!
Then, as it was a Saturday when we were driving the Luberon, we went to Apt specifically for their Saturday farmers market. Honestly, we were so impressed. It was so much fun to walk around, sampling jams, chutneys, cheeses, and sausages.
We purchased so much just from this market including cheese, nougat, jam, handmade lavender soap, and more. Take some time here to grab essentials for a picnic lunch or just fill up at the market itself.
FYI- Check out market days ahead of time while planning your itinerary. We chose to visit Apt for the market on Saturday, but there are markets all over the Luberon villages open on different days of the week.
Also, many of these markets close up shop around 12:30 pm or so, meaning you’ll want to get there by at least 11:30 am to really take it all in.
After Apt, it is time to hop back into the car and drive to another awarded beautiful village in France: Roussillon. Unlike other villages with limestone architecture, this place is red, orange, and yellow thanks to the ochre-rich cliffs.
Wander in the village before walking along the Ochre Path to see the mineral-rich soil up close. There is a hiking path that is both 35 and 50 minutes long.
Up next is Bonnieux, where you’ll stop in to try some rosé at a local winery: Chateau la Canorgue. This estate has free wine tastings and is just stunning.
Then, definitely head to Lourmarin (another Plus Beaux Village winner) to see the Chateau de Lourmarin before stopping at Chateau Constantin for another tasting (drink responsibly, of course!).
Then, last, but not least, as the day starts to turn into evening, head to Cucuron. This gorgeous little town has a basin lined with trees with ample cafes perfect for people-watching. We also loved the Citadel Tower with views over the little village.
Once you’ve explored the Luberon, head into Aix-en-Provence for dinner and bedtime.
Day 4: Aix-en-Provence & Cassis
Wake up and grab some breakfast before exploring the lovely city of Aix-en-Provence. Some highlights here include Cezanne’s Studio and Musee Granet. However, if you’re lucky and happen to be here on a Sunday as we were, it was fun just wandering around and visiting all the markets!
There was a flower market, antique market, and food market that we visited and took in the scenery! It was also fun just to wander the streets and stop at confectionaries and other shops!
Spend the morning exploring Aix-en-Provence before driving down to Cassis.
Grab lunch by the harbor before going on a boat cruise of Calanques National Park. These Calanques are rock formations (typically from limestone) that create a deep gorge in which water from the sea flows.
There is an option from Cassis to do a boat tour from the harbor with stops at either 3, 5, 8, or 9 Calanques. We ended up doing 5 as that lasted just over an hour (the longest one is 2 hours). You can buy tickets at the ticket booth and then go on the tour.
It was really cool to glide into these Calanques and enjoy the views!
However, as we also wanted to explore more of Cassis and have dinner in Aix-en-Provence, we opted for the boat trip.
After the boat cruise, we wandered around the harbor and ended with some beach time at Plage du Bestouan.
After that, head back to Aix-en-Provence to explore during the evening before the next stop on your Southern France road trip.
Where to Stay in Aix-en-Provence:
Aix-en-Provence has so many cute places to stay, including Airbnbs. We ended up staying in this amazing Airbnb that was our favorite apartment of the trip! However, if you prefer hotels, check out these places.
Budget: Hotel des Augustins
Mid-Range: Renaissance Aix-en-Provence
Mid-Range: Maison Dauphine
Luxury: Villa Gallici
Days 5-6 of Your South of France Road Trip Itinerary: Cannes
Up next is the iconic star-studded town of Cannes! Okay, there aren’t celebrities there year-round, just mostly during the Cannes Film Festival.
Outside of that, this is a town of luxury shopping, delicious food, and beach clubs.
Day 5: Drive to Cannes & Explore
Okay, there are two ways to shape this day during your South of France road trip in a week. The first is to go straight to Cannes and explore, which is what we did.
We grabbed lunch, window-shopped at luxury stores like Chanel and Louis Vuitton, strolled along the Croisette Promenade as we took in the Mediterranean views, and then we hiked up to the Église Notre-Dame d’Espérance and wandered at a stellar sunset view over the city and sea.
Then, we wrapped up our day with dinner at Restaurant Mickaella over at the Suquet neighborhood. Honestly, this neighborhood is the place to grab dinner and drinks. The stuff along the harbor is way too crowded in the evenings. This place is such a cool vibe and the restaurants are better.
If you’re visiting during the lavender season and have the energy, you could make this another road trip day and visit the lavender fields in the Valensole Plateau and stop by Gorge du Verdon for a boat trip.
Then, you’d end up in Cannes in the evening for dinner.
Honestly, we were wiped from all the previous exploring (and we weren’t there during the lavender season) so we gave it a skip and went straight to Cannes, but it was in our original plan before having to reschedule our trip to October!
Day 6: Beach Day in Cannes
Regardless of yesterday’s choose-your-own-adventure, today is meant for resting. The main point of our journey to Cannes was for a beach day. Why?
While there are tons of great beaches along the French Riviera, Cannes is known for its sandy beaches versus pebbly ones. Plus, I always wanted to try out a beach club.
So today is the day when you’ll head to a beach club off the Croissette Promenade for the day. Many of these places open up around 10 am and stay open until the evening. We ended up booking a spot at La Plage du Festival.
And it was super adorable. You head downstairs from the promenade and are met with a colorful cocktail bar, ample seating for lunch, and several beach chairs and umbrellas. During the summertime, chairs go for €40-50+ for the day and include the chair, umbrella, and a towel.
Luckily, if you show up in the fall, it is still warm enough for a swim and it is only around €25 for the day.
So take advantage of having a beach chair all day and relax, read, go for a swim, have lunch, and get some rosé or Aperol spritzes.
Then, clean up that evening and have dinner around the Suquet area again before your last day of the best 1 week South of France trip itinerary.
Where to Stay in Cannes:
This can range wildly in prices as there are ample luxurious hotels. But, here are some based on your budget.
Budget: Novotel Suites Cannes Centre
Mid-Range: Hotel de Provence
Day 7 of the South of France Road Trip in a Week: Nice
To wrap up your South of France road trip, it is time to head to Nice.
Nice is an iconic city on the French Riviera and for good reason. Its architecture is stunning, it has a fabulous market, and you can’t beat the relaxed atmosphere.
So after a day pampering yourself by the beach in Cannes, why not end by exploring the city of Nice?
Start off by driving toward the Nice Côte d’Azur airport to drop off your rental car. And even though it adds a bit more time, take the scenic route. There is a road that goes along the coast that you can take (I suggest using Google Maps and selecting that route).
You’ll pass Antibes, Cagnes-sur-Mer, and more as you head to the Nice airport to drop off your rental car.
Yes, you could just drop it off when you fly out the next day, but if you have an early flight this could be tricky. Plus, parking in Nice can be difficult so we just saved some money and dropped off the car this day.
From there, head into Nice to explore. Walk along the Promenade des Anglais along the sea, visit the Cours Saleya Market for last-minute souvenirs and to try socca (a chickpea flour pancake with water, olive oil, and salt), and wander up to the Colline du Château for amazing views over the town and sea.
If you want to keep wandering, there are also cool spots to check out like Massena Square with its light-up statues or the Modern Art Museum.
Obviously, there is a ton to do here, but if you only have a day, I’d keep it simple with the promenade, market, and chateau. Then, why not check out the beach before dinner?
Then, it is time to head to bed as you unwind from your amazing South of France road trip itinerary!
It is hard to leave this part of the world, but this trip will leave you with so many memories.
Where to Stay in Nice:
Being a larger city, there are plenty of places to stay. Here are a few favorites.
Budget: Arome Hotel
Mid-Range: Hotel Palais Saleya
Best Way to Get Around the South of France
While this is a South of France road trip itinerary, there are other ways to explore this area. If you want to see smaller towns on your own schedule, though, renting a car is the best idea.
But, you can also take trains to various cities like Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Cannes, Cassis, and Nice.
From there, you could stay and take day trips. Here are a few to check out!
- From Avignon: Best of Provence Tour
- From Avignon: Luberon Villages Tour
- From Avignon: Lavender Tour
- From Aix-en-Provence: Luberon Villages Tour
- From Aix-en-Provence: Cassis Half-Day Tour
- From Aix-en-Provence: Cassis Boat Ride and Wine Tour
- From Aix-en-Provence: Valensole Lavender Tour
- From Nice: Full-Day French Riviera Day Tour
When to Visit Provence For Your 7-Day Trip
The most popular time to visit Provence is the summer, particularly when the lavender is in bloom from mid-June through mid-July. That is when Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, and the Luberon villages will be full of people dreaming of a glimpse of the lavender fields.
It is also warm and sunny along the beaches, making it a perfect time to swim.
However, it is also insanely crowded at times. So while late May through August is a popular time to visit, I honestly loved our October trip.
In October, it is still warm enough to swim most of the time in the earlier part of the month. We had a beach day in Cannes and it was great! We also started to see fall foliage which was charming, especially in the villages.
Even the winter is much nicer than in northern France, especially along the Riviera. But, I’d say the best time for fewer people and great weather is September-October.
But, if you’re here for lavender (which I totally understand- we were originally supposed to go for that!), opt for the beginning of July.
Other Tips For Visiting Provence
Before you book that Provence road trip itinerary, here are some tips:
- Check dates/times of markets. Almost every city and village will have a market. Some are several days a week, while others are once a week. Most of the time they don’t stay open late. The Luberon markets typically wrap up around 12:30 pm. Markets like Les Halles in Avignon close at 2 pm.
- Enjoy a slower pace. Some days we rushed to see a lot, but on others we relaxed and wandered. Leave room to wander during this trip. Stop at roadside cafes or shops and poke inside. Head to a winery. Pull over near the beach and go for a swim if you wish! Provence is meant to be savored.
- Pack sunscreen. Provence is a sunny region, so pack sunscreen!
- Learn a little French. I’m not saying be fluent (I’m still learning too!), but know a few words/phrases like how to order at a restaurant and ask where to toilets are.
- Always say “Bonjour/Bonsoir.” This is a France travel thing in general. It is important to greet people in shops and cafes with a simple “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” depending on the time of day. I typically start saying “Bonsoir” after 5 pm.
- Try all the local products! Provence has a plethora of unique products to try including soap, lavender (sprays, candy, syrups-you name it, there is lavender for it), aioli, spices, socca, and more! You may want to leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs.
- Have fun! Provence is a stunning region full of jaw-dropping views and delightful cuisine. Enjoy every second during your 7 days in the South of France.
A 7-day South of France itinerary is enough time to really savor Provence. You’ll experience local markets, incredible cuisine, dazzling beaches, and even enchanting towns. What could be better than that?
Would you visit Provence? What would your ideal South of France itinerary look like?
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