Planning a trip to the south of France?
Spend 5 days in the south of France for a relaxing and rejuvenating adventure. Here is my South of France itinerary for five days.
Know before you go
Best Time To Go
I am a fan of travel any time of the year! But spending 5 days in the South of France has a special purpose – Lavender. The lavender season is typically from the end of June until early August. So, while summer may be the busy time to travel, it is the best if you want to catch the remarkable blooms. Summer is hot in Europe, particularly in the south, so be prepared for 80-95 degrees F (30-35 degrees C).
Where To Stay
I highly recommend staying in a vacation rental in the beautiful town of Aix En Provence.
Aix is a perfectly central location in the south, approximately one hour drive to some of the best locations in France! And just five days in the south of France will give you an opportunity to see so much, so close to Aix.
While Marseille is the famous port city in the south and the oldest city in France, it is a big city and has a reputation for a lot of crime. I suggest you stay in Aix and visit the water and port towns, but not stay in Marseille.
The food and wine in and around Provence are remarkable. Always research restaurants before you head out for dinner each night. Have reservations if necessary or a clear plan so you are not wandering around after a long day, reading menus while everyone gets cranky. The restaurants on the main boulevard in Aix are fine for dinners, but definitely touristy, so you may want to be more selective.
This is the time to rent a car. While walking in Aix is easy, you will be happy to have the car for grocery shopping if you are buying more than just your daily needs. Primarily, you will want the flexibility to take day trips at your own pace and not be reliant on train schedules. Consider finding a rental property with a parking spot when you book your stay.
You can use your credit card everywhere, just make sure you aren’t paying foreign exchange fees!
Here are my top picks for an itinerary of 5 days in the south of France!
Aix En Provence
Atelier de Cezanne,
Paul Cezanne’s house and studio, is a must while in Aix. Cezanne was born in Aix in 1839 and he always considered Aix to be his home and a place of profound inspiration.
The visit to the studio is perfect for a late afternoon excursion and doesn’t require much time at all. The Museé Granet in Aix has a vast collection of Cezanne and impressionists as well, if you have time.
is a wonderful library in Aix founded in 1810 with a facade made of giant books! The library holds a lot of interesting history and it makes for a perfect photo opp!
is the iconic tree lined boulevard in Aix with shops, restaurants, open air markets, and beautiful fountains. Bring your wallet! This is the perfect place to find those lovely table cloths in the traditional floral prints of the Provence region.
Foundation Vasarely Museum
is among the most fun you may have in Aix! Victor Vasarely was a Hungarian and French painter best known for starting the movement of Op Art. His optical illusions were often painted on extremely large surfaces and when given options of where to build the museum for his works, he chose the cultural center of Aix. He designed the structure in hexagone pods to mirror his paintings.
The foundation opened in the mid 70’s and the building stands out as an Op Art structure itself. Wander through the spaces, sit down on couches, get close, back up, and basically play while you are there. The paintings are colorful, fun, and vibrate as you look at them.
Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque…
This Abbey is a living/working farm for monks of the Cistercian order. This group of monks have lived and operated the Abbey since the 12th Century. Their lives are dedicated to prayer and labor. They actually pray seven times daily and tend to all of the lavender and olive groves. The sales from the oils and products, and use of the Abbey for monastic retreats help to support the Abbey and the monks.
Arrive early in the day to roam the fields and surroundings freely. That way you can take photos without feeling disrespectful. Take time to sit in the chapel built in the 1100’s. Busloads of visitors may arrive later, so get your pics done early! This is a must during your 5 days in the south of France.
Citadelle De Sisteron
The citadel is tucked into the rocky cliffs on the banks of the Durance river. It was used for many purposes during many wars since the 16th century. The original ramparts, parapet, and drawbridges still exist, as well as a chapel with stained glass from the 15th century.
You can walk or shuttle up to the citadel. I recommend the walk, if you can do it! The views are extraordinary because you see the rocky mountain, the river bed, and the red rooftops of the village.
The water is deliciously gorgeous. Lay on the beach, swim in the Mediterranean, and relax! Hike along the coast in the calanques, or steep cliffs, if the weather allows. It’s really a French Riviera dream!
The public parking lots fill up, so arrive early in the day.
It is a fortified, walled city on the water. The palace sits on a main square next to streets filled with a plethora of tourist shopping.
You can tour the Palais and Basilique if you have time. The Palais is the largest gothic fortress in the world!
Avignon is also known also for summer theater troupes performing in the main square, and, of course, the famous bridge – Pont D’Avignon! Originally built in the late 12th century, the bridge had 22 arches!
Parking on the street may be impossible, so plan on parking in the parking structure at the palace.
Pont Du Gard
For 7 euro, you can buy tickets to walk on top of the bridge and see the museum and exhibitions.
Bring your bathing suit! Visitors are swimming and kayaking in the water below the aqueduct. Add this to your 5 days in the south of France.
Enjoy your time driving and exploring the Provence region. Every town you pass is more charming than the one before!
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Rent a car in Paris and drive south!