The Ultimate 4 Day South of France Itinerary
The South of France is many people’s idea of a dream vacation and I couldn’t agree more. Especially in mid-Summer when the lavender fields are in bloom and you can take a dip in the Mediterranean Sea. The lifestyle is so relaxed and I can’t wait to return. Read on for trips and the ultimate South of France itinerary!
What should I know?
You can arrive by train or plane into Nice or Marseille. You can also take the train into Avignon. Wherever you land, I’d highly recommend renting a car so you can go at your own pace. Driving here is not very stressful so it shouldn’t take away from your holiday bliss.
I’d recommend visiting in early July when the lavender fields are likely to be in full bloom and the weather is warm enough to swim in the sea. If lavender isn’t a top priority, September would also be a great time once the summer holidays are over and the towns are a bit quieter (i.e. rates are lower).
Day One: Nice to Provence
Day one assumes your south of France itinerary begins in Nice. You can either fly here or take the train from various cities in Europe. Pick up your rental car from the terminal and hit the road!
You’re first heading towards L’Isle sur la Sorgue which has a truly spectacular Sunday market that starts at 6am and starts to wrap up mid-afternoon (although officially it goes until 6pm). The drive will take about 2.5 hours and remember you will be paying tolls along the way which can add up. Parking can be tough close to the market but there is plenty of free parking a little further outside of the city. We parked along the Route de Cavaillon very easily.
Plan to spend a few hours walking around the market, perhaps purchasing some lavender (this is the cheapest and freshest lavender I saw available anywhere so I’d recommend scooping up those bags if you’re at all interested). There is also lots of great linen, soap, etc. to purchase. We had a roast chicken with potatoes from one of the vendors for lunch alongside the river which seemed to be a popular option. We also purchased the sweetest strawberries and flat peaches plus almond cookies from les Secrets de Lola. I’d recommend stocking up on some snacks.
Once you’re content from your French market experience, consider checking out Avignon for an hour or two. It will take you about 45 minutes to drive here from L’Isle sur la Sorgue. Avignon is a fun city walk around but felt a bit touristy to us. We stayed for about an hour (1/2 of which was spent driving in the narrow streets of the city center by accident! Try to park outside the city center and just walk in to save yourself a minor headache.)
From here, head to Pont du Gard. I would highly recommend visiting Pont du Gard. It’s an incredible aqueduct commissioned by the Romans and is the highest of all the Roman aqueducts. It’s in really good shape so it’s worthwhile to see a piece of accessible history up close. You will need to pay to enter the park and pay to park as well. If interested, you could plan to spend time alongside the river soaking in the turquoise waters.
From here, head to your accommodation. I’d recommend staying in a B&B somewhere around Gordes. We had a wonderful experience with Les chambres de’Adeline, although it was a little further out in Murs as we were trying to save some money. Adeline’s breakfast was the best start to our day – she had a side pastry table because our regular breakfast table was so full of other goodies! Her lavender honey for the pastries is something I swear I can still taste. For dinner, grab something in Gordes or enjoy snacks you purchased at the market on the patio of your B&B and overlook the valleys.
Day Two: Provence to Nice
After a delicious French breakfast at your B&B, head to Sénanque Abbey to see a beautiful monastery with lavender in the front. You don’t need to spend much time here but it is a lovely setting and great way to start your day.
Then, drive about 20 minutes to Rousillion. En route, you may feel the need to pull off to see some of the lavender fields or stop at a farmer’s stand for some fresh strawberries, as we did. While the town itself is a bit small and can feel a bit touristy, we enjoyed the quick walk at the Rousillon Ochre Trail. The color of the soil is bright orange and feels a little out of this world.
After a big breakfast and snacks from the farmer’s stand, we were good for the afternoon and didn’t stop for lunch but you certainly could along the way. Then, head to Plateau de Valensole to see more gorgeous lavender fields before driving south to the lovely turquoise Lac de Sainte-Croix, where you can kayak the Verdon Gorge. You can rent a kayak just south from the Pont du Galetas at a reasonable rate.
Start your drive back to Nice now which should take about 2 hours. The longer you stay off the main roads, the less you’ll pay in tolls but if you’re in a hurry, you can take the A8 earlier on to save about 15 minutes.
I’d recommend turning the car back in now as you don’t need a vehicle in Nice itself. From the airport, you can take the city bus into Nice for €1.50. There is a tourist bus (98 and 99) you can take but it’s more expensive and really doesn’t save you much time. Plus, I’d rather not take something that makes me stand out as a tourist. Apparently, there is now an airport tram option as well into the city so check that out.
Check into your accommodation (we stayed at an Airbnb in the eastern part of Nice on Rue Neuve which was a great location) and then head out for dinner.
We went to a local butcher (Chez Francis) to get a roast chicken and then grabbed some sides from the nearby grocery store (Monoprix) which worked out really well so we could have a low-key dinner at home.
If you still have some energy after this long day, walk the streets at night which are a gorgeous golden color in the night lights and stop for a gelato at Fenocchio. This was one of my favorite nights of this south of France itinerary!
Day Three: Exploring Nice
Find a local bakery for some breakfast pastries. We enjoyed Boulangerie Blanc. Perhaps stroll through the flower market (Cours Saleya) and stock up on lavender if you didn’t get enough in Provence.
From the market, head up the stairs to the top of Castle Hill. En route you’ll have great views back over Nice and the sea.
Consider this a great afternoon to just relax by the beach. Note that it’s a pebble beach which I actually love because you don’t get sand stuck to everything, it can feel really good on your back and the sound of rocks knocking against each other as they come up to shore is the most tranquil sound.
We love our time at the seaside reading books so we just grabbed a pizza from Al Taglio with a refreshing Coca-Cola and a San Pellegrino for our dinner and headed back to the beach. We also had a piece of pecan pie we bought after our breakfast at Boulangerie Blanc that we enjoyed for dessert 🙂
Day Four: Day trip to Monaco
Consider checking out another bakery for some pastries before heading to the bus to Monaco for the easiest and cheapest day trip to another country ever.
To get to Monaco, you can take pubic bus #100 for just €1.50. Don’t take the express bus, as it won’t go along the water the whole way which is part of the fun of this bus ride.
Monaco is fun to walk around and there are beautiful parks. Of course, check out the Casino. Walk up to the Prince’s Palace of Monaco as well and you’ll have great views of the port along the way.
If you’re interested in fine dining, there are plenty of options for you. Most of the middle-range fare options I found felt a bit touristy or at least like nothing special. Therefore, we decided to head back to Nice and eat there.
On your way back to Nice, you could consider stopping to see the beautiful Botanical Garden and walk Nietzche’s Footpath. To get to Eze, you’ll take a different bus (I believe it’s Bus #112 you’ll catch from Monaco). There also appear to be more quaint restaurant options here if you’d like to eat before heading back to Nice (on bus #112 or 82 I think – check out bestofniceblog.com for more information).
Once back in Nice, consider walking alongside the Promenade des Anglais this evening before dinner. For dinner, try the local food Socca. We went to Chez Theresa in the old part of town for socca and pizza slices which were delicious. From here, we went back to Fenocchio for one more delicious gelato.
Of course, there are many options for post dinner drinks to toast a wonderful time in the South of France!
Are you ready to plan this ultimate South of France itinerary?! For more global trip inspiration, read my articles here!
If you have more time, consider adding on a day in Marseilles, stopping by Cannes or plan for some time at the smaller, more local beaches between Nice and Monaco which you can get to on Bus #100.