22 December, 2022
Where the Mediterannean’s azure waters meet picture-postcard resort towns: Our French Riviera travel guide
26 January, 2023
24 February, 2023
When you think of southern France, what first springs to mind? The picturesque city of Nice and its yacht-lined harbour, the glamorous streets of Cannes, or the historic ramparts of Avignon? Wander just a little further outside of these iconic destinations and you’ll discover a whole host of gorgeous little towns and villages - each with its own unique charm.
If you’re looking for a little inspiration for your next French adventure in the spectacular surroundings of Provence, the Côte d'Azur, and beyond, here are five of the most beautiful towns and villages in the south of France.
Set on a clifftop and towering above the bucolic scenery of the Dordogne Valley’s verdant fields and forests, Rocamadour is a quaint medieval village with its origins dating all the way back to the Old Stone Age. While the Paleolithic residents made their homes in the sheltered caves of the cliff, it wasn’t until the 12th century that the village became what it is today.
Carved into the rock are the village’s three successive levels, lined with ancient chapels, beautifully preserved stone houses, and a mighty fortress at its summit. Not only is the village a recognised UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s also been an important pilgrim destination for over 1,000 years.
Ascend the Grand Escalier staircase and you’ll find the Cité Réligieuse complex, which is home to the village’s most famed attractions, including the Chapelle Notre-Dame and the Romanesque St Sauveur Basilica.
Nestled atop a verdant hillside and over 400 metres above sea level, Èze commands the most spectacular views across the Mediterranean; its sparkling surface seemingly blends right into the deep blues of the sky itself. While the coastal vistas are enough to wow you, it’s the charming medieval streets of the village that will capture your heart.
Lined with vibrant wildflowers, tiny cobbled paths and stone stairways winding their way through a delightful collection of art galleries, perfumeries, and cafes, the village is a sight to behold.
At the highest point of the village is Le Jardin Exotique d'Eze. Home to over 400 different species of succulents and cacti, this blossoming botanical garden is set high up on the site of an ancient fortress.
One of the most scenic routes up to the village is along the Nietzsche Path, starting from Èze’s train station. This supposedly once-daily route of the famed German philosopher is a steep and somewhat challenging ascent, but the feeling of satisfaction once you reach the top is truly unbeatable.
Yet another one of France's pretty hilltop villages, life takes a pleasantly slower pace in Goult. A little further inland than the likes of Mougins and Cagnes-sur-Mer, this peaceful commune remains somewhat of a secret.
The village's narrow streets are framed by historic homes and charming local cafes, many of them bestrewn with the lush leaves and colourful flowers of trailing wisteria and ivy plants. At the top of the hill is a plateau, opening out to panoramas of the surrounding hills and valleys. It's here that you'll also find the Moulin de Jerusalem - a 17th-century windmill which was once used to supply flour to the residents of Goult.
If you have time, try and make a short detour to the Sanctuaire Notre-Dame de Lumières. Set just a mile away at the foot of the village, this historic Catholic church is a famed place of pilgrimage, renowned for the miraculous healing events that purportedly took place here during the 17th century.
Perched around a steep hillside, the medieval town of Mougins sits overlooking the town of Cannes. In the distance is the sparkling azure-hued coastline of the French Riviera, its bustling beach resorts less than five miles away, yet somehow managing to feel much further from the rustic charms of this delightful French village.
A haven for art lovers, Mougins is home to 30 art galleries and workshops, featuring the works of local artists who likely find their inspiration in the unparalleled beauty of Provence. It is, after all, the idyllic village where Pablo Picasso spent the last 12 years of his life.
Foodies have plenty to fawn over, too - from the fine dining experiences of L'amandier De Mougins and La Place de Mougins to the trendy Basile with its sunny dining courtyard, you’ll be spoiled for choice while dining out on your travels through southern France.
Just a 20-minute drive from Saint-Tropez, the little village of Grimaud feels a world away from the buzzing beach clubs and bustling promenades of its neighbouring towns in Southern France.
Nestled among the trees on a steep hilltop, a glass elevator takes visitors all the way to the top of the village. From here, you can explore the ruins of Le Chateau Grimaud - an 11th-century castle boasting the most stunning views across the Gulf of Saint-Tropez and the Massif des Maures mountain range.
Beneath the imposing fortress, quaint cobbled streets wind through beautifully restored period homes and village squares. Stop by in August - or any of the summer months - and you’ll find every street awash with the vibrant hues of Mediterranean flowers, from flourishing bougainvilleas to pastel-toned hydrangeas.
Here at onefinestay, we offer more than just a carefully-curated collection of handpicked villas along the Côte d'Azur. To ensure our guests enjoy an unforgettable experience throughout their stay, we offer a fabulous selection of exclusive concierge services. From private chefs and in-house spa treatments to planning all your exciting activities and adventures, just let us take care of everything on your behalf. With all of these lovely extras arranged well before your arrival, you can make the most of your well-deserved time away.
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