There’s nowhere better than the balmy South of France! Wondering where to stay? Or maybe you’d like to know what sights you need to add to your bucket list? We caught up with our Product Manager and French flair expert, Alex, so she could give us the lowdown on all things South of France.
1. Can you sum up the appeal of the South of France for us?
“Its biggest appeal would have to be its picturesque landscape and vibrant culture for me! You’ve also got the best of both worlds, with glamorous cities like Nice and charming seaside towns like Antibes, meaning you can enjoy a mixture of relaxation and sophistication.
And whether you’re a couple, solo traveller or a family, there’s just so much culture here and plenty to do thanks to the coast. Another highlight has to be the food and drink — especially the amazing wine!”
2. What’s your favourite spot on the coast?
“I’d say it’s a toss-up between Antibes and Menton. Antibes is best for beaches because there are quite a few to choose from, whereas I love Menton for the fine dining. There’s even a Michelin-starred restaurant here if you’re a bit of a foodie.”
3. What sights does everyone have to tick off?
“There’s so much to see in the South of France, but my top five must-sees would have to be Nice’s Promenade des Anglais, The Picasso Museum in Antibes and Menton’s Old Town. Monaco Grand Prix is a bucket-list must if you can bag tickets. And if you don’t mind travelling slightly away from the coastline, Provence’s lavender fields are well worth checking out. They’re scattered across the region and are normally in full bloom at the end of June.”
4. And can you tell us about any hidden gems?
“I love Rue Longue, a colourful street in Menton – it’s so quintessentially French, with lots of little boutiques, cafés and galleries dotted along it. It’s perfect for just soaking up the local atmosphere. Just a short walk from here is another gem, Sablettes Beach. It’s a little quieter than other beaches in the area and has shallow waters, which are ideal if you’re visiting with kids.
If you’re in Antibes, make sure you visit Fort Carré. It’s a historic fortress and is usually less crowded than some of the other attractions. Plus, it offers some of the best panoramic views in the town!”
5. What’s the best way to get out and about around this area?
“I’d say that the train is probably one of the best ways to get around, as they’re really easy to navigate. However, it doesn’t beat hiring a car. A hire car makes visiting all the different resorts so much easier and means you can discover places at your own pace. You can bag a hire car from Jet2Carhire, then pick it up from the airport.”
6. What’s the best time of year to holiday in the South of France?
“If you’re wanting to catch some of the most famous events in France, you’re best off visiting in May, when both Cannes Film Festival and Monaco’s Grand Prix take place. If you go between June and September, you can make the most of the summer months and enjoy what the region is best known for. “
7. Where do you recommend staying?
“For those on a budget, Ibis Styles Menton Centre is great because it’s slap-bang in the middle of Menton, as the name suggests. And if you’re wanting to splash out, Royal Antibes is a four-star stunner with a beach club and private beach.”
8. Where’s the best place to people-watch?
“Probably Saint Raphael’s harbour. It’s lined with canopy-covered cafés where you can just spend the whole day sipping on frothy coffee, admiring the boats in the harbour and watching the world go by. It’s bliss!”
9. Where’s the best place to eat?
“Les Garçons in Villefranche sur Mer is a lovely little spot. The restaurant is set in a really quaint, apricot-coloured courtyard and serves amazing food like fresh fish and risotto.”
10. Where’s the best place to grab a cocktail?
“Definitely Achill's Restaurant Bar Rooftop, again, in Villefrance sur Mer. It’s a lovely place to go both in the day and in the evening as it’s got amazing views over the harbour. There’s a great spritz menu too, so you can really branch out from your usual types of spritz like Aperol.”
11. Where’s the best place to go shopping?
“Cannes is known for its glamour, so it’s no surprise that it’s got basically every luxury brand you can think of — it’s the perfect place if you’re looking to purchase something high-end. Antibes has more unique boutiques and artisanal shops, where you can pick up souvenirs and local products like lavender and local herbs. There are also plenty of markets like Marche Provencale, which is a great local produce market that sells everything from fruit to flowers.”
12. What food and drink is this region known for?
“Given its coastal location, seafood plays a really important role in the cuisine across all the resorts. There’s an abundance of seafood restaurants, so make sure you try bouillabaisse, a classic French fish soup. You might also find socca on many menus. It’s another French delicacy made with chickpea flour and is best served straight from the oven while it’s still piping hot.
When it comes to wine, the rosé is a real winner. Thanks to the region’s sunny climate and proximity to the Mediterranean Sea, the Côte d'Azur has ideal conditions for growing grapes, resulting in this flavoursome rosé wine.”
12. What’s your ultimate top tip for a holiday to the South of France?
“Adopting a ‘laissez-faire’ attitude is key! Embrace your adventurous side, explore hidden corners and be bold with your food choices. This slice of France has so much to offer, so make the most of it!”
Posted: 29th Aug 2023.