A week in the South of France

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
7
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
8
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
7
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
6
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
7
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
8
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
72 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Europe
country
France / Monaco
Length of time
Around a week
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 1,250
Time of year visited
May
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
98th/334 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 30% SUMMARY RATING: Superb

Summary

The South of France in summer is the quintessential advert for all things great about the French way of living.  Hilltop villages straight from a fairytale; a tradition of superb wines grown locally; dry Mediterranean climate that fits so well with the elegantly treelined streets of the towns and wandering routes of the countryside; some of the best preserved ancient Roman ruins; and, of course, the wonderful French cuisine with local produce proudly sitting at the heart of all that goes on here

 

A week is just about the right amount of time to see some of the traditional sites such as the hilltop villages of Gordes, the Corniches of the French Riviera, the Pont du Gare and a slight detour for Carcassonne.  But also the right amount of time to settle into that wonderful southern French way of life.  It really seems to grab you and it is unusual to leave without some half-hatched plan in your head for returning one day for retirement

 

Frustratingly I lost many of my photos of the trip, but I’ve listed below my key highlights and tips

highlights

#1 Enjoying the relaxed South of France way of life in some of the countryside villages

#2 The hilltop villages of Provence and their beautiful views, in this case Gourdes

#3 Seeing the echoes of the Romans in sites such as the Pont du Gard, the tallest aqueduct in the Roman Empire

#4 Driving along the French Riviera from St Tropez to Monaco and seeing the famous Corniches

#5 Dusk at the incredible old medieval castle of Carcassonne, with its witch-hat turrets and medieval charm

#6 The casinos, but also hidden beaches of Monaco

Travel Tips

  1. The villages and way of life – give yourself enough time to stay for a couple of days in one of the wonderful peaceful villages to enjoy the relaxed, yet rich, way of life.  There is something just so wonderful about walking the daily pilgrimage down the tree lined streets to the boulangerie and finding yourself sitting in the nearby cafe eating delicacies while watching the oh-so-perfectly-set village life go by.  We stayed in a place just outside of Beau de Provence, which was magical
  2. The hilltop villages – Gourdes, Beau de Provence and Roussillion were the highlights.  Be sure for each to wander through the beautiful alleyways, but also find the viewing points over the villages which are just as impressive
  3. Roman ruins – the Pont du Gard, the tallest aqueduct in the Roman Empire, and the Arles, one of the best preserved Roman amphitheaters, are must visits even if you’re not a Roman history fan.  They are still in superb condition, which brings them far more to life compared to some other crumbling Roman ruins you may see
  4. The French Riviera – it has to be done.  Driving the route from St Tropez to Monaco feels about as sophisticated, fancy, luxurious, posh, decadent as it gets anywhere in the world.  Be sure to drive it and to stay for a day in Monaco itself to enjoy its nearby beaches, super yachts and, of course, the famous casino
  5. Carcassonne – the quite incredible old medieval castle with its witch-hat turrets is well worth the day trip.  Be sure to go at dusk when the tourist numbers have dropped and you can truly appreciate its medieval charm
  6. Driving – be sure to rent a car for this trip.  Yes you could do it with public transport, but having the car will just make it so much easier to visit the small villages and allow to enjoy the French Riviera drive

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone