We have packed for you the best things to do in a Provence itinerary to the south of France. We had just a week off and wanted to get out on little trip. Since the search for cheap flights was not really successful we decided to make a road trip to Provence or the Côte d’Azur. We love France and always like to spend our time there. A quick search on Google Maps revealed that it’s a 12 hour drive to Monaco. Not really worth it for just 1 week. Or is it???

For us it was worth it, even if it is crazy to drive 12 hours through the night, to have only 6 days on site and to spend the last day with the return trip. But we didn’t regret it. These few days in the Provence were just breathtaking and beautiful. For us this should be on every France bucket list. Since there are so many things to do you should plan at least one week for your Provence road trip. Anything else will make a road trip in the south of France really tight and hectic. We have therefore packed our experiences for you into a 7-day itinerary through the south of France.

Day 1 – No Sleep, No Coffee… but finally in Monaco

Before we could spend the first day in Monaco, 12 long, really really long hours waited for us in the car. We left the night before and took turns driving throughout the night. However, we didn’t really sleep and so it came about that we were really bitching at each other on the last few meters before Monaco. Overtiredness, too little sleep and too little coffee are not a good combination. But the bad mood was immediately blown away when we were finally on the coastal road and had the first magnificent view of Monaco under a bright blue sky.

Monaco - Provence Roadtrip
Monaco seen from the north

Formula 1 Track in Monaco

Monaco had a special surprise for Andreas, which we had not considered in our planning. The Formula 1 race was to take place there this weekend, which is why everything was already prepared for the race along the streets in Monaco. Grandstands were set up and Formula 1 banners were hung above the streets … and so Andreas first drove along the race track in my little Ford Fiesta (please don’t laugh).

You couldn’t drive really fast in the city traffic anyway, but for Andreas it was already an experience, because he knows the track from TV and video games in and out. After that, we went to an expensive parking garage and from there continued to explore the city on foot.

Provence Itinerary | Everything You Need To Know

Monte Carlo Casino

Yacht in Monaco- Roadtrip Provence
Yacht in Monaco

Our first stop was Port Hercule, Monte Carlo’s harbor with the almost pompous looking yachts. From there we went on to the Monte Carlo Casino, which you should definitely see from the inside (the entrance hall is free and can be visited even without evening dress).

The Monte Carlo Casino has already served as a backdrop for Hollywood films such as Oceans Twelve or Casino Royale and reflects pure luxury both inside and out. The imposing halls and the palm-lined terrace are also open to guests free of charge between 10 am and 1 pm. From 2 pm, the games begin in the casino, which also requires the appropriate evening dress for the rest of the visit.

Monaco-Ville – The Old Town

The old town of Monaco is located on the approximately 60 meter high rock “Le Rocher”, which towers above the sea. The old town has several sights to offer, so you can spend half a day or even a whole day here. The most popular route through the old town takes you past the following highlights: Start at the, with red bricks paved, La Rampe Major et Porte Neuve, to continue to the castle square.

Here the ceremony of the changing of the guard takes place daily at 11:55 am. From there, you can next visit the Grand Apartments in the Palace of the Prince of Monaco. After visiting the magnificent rooms, you can continue walking through the narrow streets towards the Palace of Justice and further to the Cathedral of Monaco.

Built of white stone, Monaco Cathedral houses the tombs of several deceased nobles, including Grace Kelley, who became famous for both her life and her tragic death. The next place of interest in Monaco is the Saint Martin Gardens. The gardens offer repeated resting places along the winding avenues with a great view of the sea.

Right next to the gardens is the Monaco Oceanographic Museum. This is always counted among the best sights in Monaco. Since we ourselves are very concerned about animal welfare and therefore refrain from any attractions that involve animals, we did not visit the Oceanographic Museum. For detailed information on each attraction, as well as a map showing the route through Monaco’s old town, visit visitmonaco.com.

Hotel Recommendation in Monaco

Provence Itinerary | Everything You Need To KnowIn the heart of Monaco and only 12 minutes from the beach is the Novotel Monte-Carlo*. Here you have a great price-performance ratio and in addition to a night in a cozy and spacious room, you also get a delicious breakfast. After a stroll through the city, you can relax by the beautiful pool or enjoy a delicious meal in the in-house restaurant.

The Novotel Monte-Carlo on Booking.com*

Day 2 – The Picturesque Coastal Village of Èze and Nice

After our visit to Monaco, we continued on to the gorgeous little coastal village of Eze. The small community consists of two parts that could not be more different. On the one hand, Eze consists of the gloomy coastal town on the Mediterranean Sea with its restaurants, hotels, the sea and the possibility for water sports. On the other hand, at an altitude of about 430 meters on the cliffs, there is the district of Eze-Village, which captivates with its dreamy alleys, cobblestone streets, ancient fountains, castle ruins and stone houses covered with colorful flowers. Eze-Village perfectly reflects the idea of a small coastal village in Provence.

Provence Itinerary – Eze-Village

We left the coastal village of Eze Sur Mer to the left and hiked directly up the rocky path to Eze-Village. Through the gate with the two lookout towers you enter the one of Eze-Village and can stroll through the small alleys and admire the handmade goods in the small stores of the village. Here you can also always find various souvenirs made from one of the most famous flowers of Provence… the lavender.

The brick-paved paths run in a circle around the castle ruins and the adjacent exotic garden. The botanical garden, Jardin d’Eze, is home to a variety of cacti and succulents and also offers spectacular views of the Provence coastline.

Hotel Recommendation in Eze

Provence Itinerary | Everything You Need To KnowIf you want to treat yourself to a little luxury and wellness, we can recommend a stay at Les Terrasses d’Eze – Hôtel & Spa*. The view from the terrace and the pool is simply gigantic. You look directly onto the coast of the Côte D’azur. Here you just want to spend the day relaxing by the pool and enjoying the incredibly beautiful view.

The Hôtel de France on Booking.com*

Provence Road Trip – Stopover in Nice

We spent the last hours of the second day on our Provence road trip in Nice, the largest city on the Côte d’Azur. Since we had limited time, we settled for a stroll along the promenade and a visit to the beach. Nice, however, has a few more to offer.

Nice’s Beach Promenade – Promenade de Anglais

We walked only a few hundred meters along the promenade. Thereby, the complete promenade covers a distance of 7 km in total and leads from the airport to the castle hill. Along this waterfront stretch expensive luxury hotels, restaurants, bars and lots of shopping. So here you can spend some time strolling among the rich and beautiful or rent a bike to enjoy the impressive stretch on your bike.

Castle Hill – Colliene du Château

The castle hill is especially known for the great view. Especially at sunset, the view of the sea and Nice is breathtaking. To enjoy it, you can either walk or take the elevator. If you take the stairs, you will pass the viewpoint Bellanda Tower from which you have a beautiful view of the bay Baie des Anges. There is also an enchanting park on the castle hill above the old town of Nice.

Nice Old Town

The old town of Nice contrasts with the long promenade with its modern hotels. The old town impresses with its narrow streets and the colorful facades of the individual houses. If you are out early in the morning, you should visit the market on Cours Saleya . Next to the market, the many small stores invite you to browse and stroll. The old town of Nice offers with the Place Rosetti and the Place du Palais de Justice additional historic buildings that inspire by their architecture.

Hotel Recommendation in Nice

Finding a hotel in Provence, which is centrally located and not completely overpriced, is not so easy. In Monaco or Eze it is almost impossible. So if you have to watch your travel budget, you should at least drive through to Nice, even if you might have to drive back a bit to experience all the sights of Provence. We have picked out two recommended hotels in Nice.

Cheap Option in the Heart of Nice

Provence Itinerary | Everything You Need To KnowThe Trocadero Hotel* is centrally located in Nice and is perfect for exploring the sights on foot. You are in the old town as well as on the beach within about 20 minutes walking. The staff of the hotel is super nice and for a small extra charge you also get a delicious breakfast. One night you get here from 40 €.

The recommendable Trocadero Hotel in Nice*

Wake up with a View of the SeaProvence Itinerary | Everything You Need To Know

If you want to treat yourself to a little more during your stay in Nice, you can stay from just under €100 per night at the Hotel Le Saint Paul*. Modern rooms with a great view await you here. In addition to the wonderful view, the beautiful hotel also has a large garden where you can relax after a day full of sightseeing.

To the Hotel Le Saint Paul in Nice at Booking.com*

Since the hotels in Provence, especially on the coast, were quite expensive and we wanted to go towards Gorge du Verdon the next day anyway, we chose a hotel away from the big coastal towns and thus drove another 30 minutes or so towards the mountains.

Day 3 – Gorges and Small Villages

For the next day of our Provence road trip, we had planned an early morning visit to the Florian Confectionery in Gourdon. This is a small confectionery factory where sugary, handmade treats are made. And they do it in a pretty traditional way, too.

You can even see the production process on a guided tour of the small confectionery and always taste the jams and special sweets. The small factory fits perfectly into the picturesque village with the hilly landscape around it. You almost feel like you’re in Charlie’s chocolate factory here.

Konfiserie Florian In Gourdon
Florian confectionery in Gourdon

We were actually so early in the morning that the confiserie wasn’t really open yet. They let us in anyway and we were able to enjoy the little tour alone and taste a lot of sugary sweets and way too sweet jams. We found the tour interesting in any case and can only recommend it. The tour is free and at the end you can buy all the things whose production process we could observe. With prices of about 20 to 40 Euro for a bag of candy (!!!), we rather held back and left it to “try”. Sugar is not so healthy anyway 😀

Provence Roadtrip -Confiserie florian
Candy factory Florian in Provence

Gorge du Verdon

From the Florian Confectionery, we actually wanted to head straight for the Gorge du Verdon… however, the beautiful nature along the way stopped us. The gorges, waterfalls and spectacular views in this area are just too beautiful to just drive by. On the way to the Gorge du Verdon, we therefore constantly stopped at the side of the road… if this was possible.

Unfortunately, the roads through the gorges are sometimes so narrow that you simply can not stop. On the way, however, you always pass beautiful little villages and great viewpoints and can take lots of great photos.

Provence Itinerary | Everything You Need To Know

So it happened that we frittered away the whole day with the drive and all the stops and were only in the late afternoon at the Gorge du Verdon. The photos you see on the internet don’t lie. The water is actually so brilliantly bright blue and we couldn’t wait to canoe there… but unfortunately, canoe rental also has its opening hours and we were too late. So we used the time for a few more photos and postponed the canoe trip to the next day. At least that was our plan.

Day 4 – Gorge du Verdon: uphill, downhill… and then the canoe trip?

Day 4 of our road trip through Provence started very early for us. For this day we had picked a hike through the Gorge of Verdon. The Verdon Gorge in the middle of the French Provence is certainly not the largest canyon in Europe, but probably one of the most beautiful and spectacular. Since the hike is not a round trip, there is a shuttle bus in the morning and afternoon to the start of the hike or back from the finish of the hike.

Since we didn’t want to wait for or miss the bus in the afternoon, we decided to take the bus to the starting point in the morning and then walk the hike back to the car. If you are going by car to the starting point, be sure to leave very early…. you will not be the only ones there and parking is limited. Also, be sure to reserve a good spot at the bus stop… because even the bus will fill up quickly.

The bus connection to the Gorge du Verdon

It makes most sense to drive to the parking lot of the hostel at Point Sublime. Leave your car there and get on the bus. It leaves around 9am and takes you back to the start of the hike at Chale de la Maline for €8pp. Now you have all the time in the world and can go on the hike without having to worry about missing the bus for the return trip.

Because your car is already waiting for you at the destination. On this website you can see a (somewhat outdated) bus schedule with more departure points and information about the bus trip. Alternatively, you can take a cab for 30 €, which we would not recommend for cost reasons.

The hike at the Gorge du Verdon

The most popular are the 14 km Sentier Martel hike and the 6 km Rentier des Pêcheurs loop.

Sentier Martel

Length: 14 km
Duration: 6-7 hours
Circular trail: ✘

The most famous hiking trail at the Gorge du Verdon is the Sentier Martel. Despite a length of 14 km with always steep ascent and descent, this hike is very well visited, especially in the high season. Since this is not a circular route, you must take into account that you will have to take a cab or shuttle bus to the Couloir Samson parking lot at the beginning or end of the hike.

Sentier des Pêcheurs

Length: 6 km
Duration: 3 hours
Circular route: ✔

The alternative circular trail that is only almost half as long is the Sentier des Pêcheurs. This beautiful trail takes you past the Cascades de Saint-Maurin waterfalls to the Verdon River. In the gorge there is always the possibility to cool down in the ice cold water.

Road trip South of France: Our experience at Sentier Martel

After the bus ride to the starting point of the hike, we set off with a whole group of people. Since we belong rather to the slow hikers, this was not so bad for us. In a short time, everyone was much further than we were and we finally had our peace on the hiking trail. This hike is really unique, because where can you hike such a long distance in a canyon and still be enchanted by such a breathtaking landscape?

It’s always uphill, downhill and uphill again and downhill again, but even for rather inexperienced hikers (like us) this is quite doable. We even saw some dogs along the way. We managed the 14 km hike in the allotted time of about 6.5 hours (without taking any major breaks)… however, we also had a bit of time pressure. After all, we wanted to catch up on the previous day’s canoe trip after the hike. Otherwise, we would have taken more time and also made a break at the river.

Most people take a break after the hike at the café next to the parking lot… but for us it went directly on. In order not to be late again, we went without a break into the car and again in the direction of the bridge Pont du Galetas and the canoe rental located there. Andreas was already happy that he had a plausible explanation for racing through the serpentines much too fast… and we had actually arrived early enough at the canoe rental.

But now the canoe tour?!

However, we were the only ones there. The beach, the canoe rental and the entrance to the gorge were deserted. As we found out, everything was closed because it was quite stormy that day. So again it didn’t work out with the canoe trip. Unfortunately, we could not make up for it in the remaining days of our southern France road trip.

So we have to go there again sometime in any case to finally make the canoe trip. I hope you have more luck than us and can enjoy this little adventure there. You can canoe not only out to the lake, but also a bit into the gorge and have a completely different perspective on the mountains.

Day 5 – Canoeing and exploring nature at Gorge du Verdon

Next time we would definitely plan another day at the Gorge du Verdon. The surroundings are simply beautiful, so another day here can be put to good use. This way you can approach the hike a bit more relaxed than we did and also take more breaks. In addition, you will have enough time for the canoe tour in the bright blue waters that flow through the narrow rocky gorge.

Hotel recommendation at the Gorge du Verdon

The best place to stay is Castellane. The small town is located directly at the Gorge du Verdon and is therefore the perfect starting point for further excursions into Europe’s most beautiful canyon. We have selected the following recommended hotels in Castellane.

Camping for nature lovers

Provence Itinerary | Everything You Need To KnowDirectly on the river bank and less than 5 minutes drive from the Gorge du Verdon you will find the camping site La Ferme de Castellane*. On the one hand, there are pitches and tent sites if you are already on the road with camping equipment. Alternatively, you can rent a small cabin to enjoy this little idyll in the middle of nature.

La Ferme de Castellane at Booking.com*

Sleeping in the castle

Provence Itinerary | Everything You Need To KnowYes, you read that right. You can sleep in a real castle at Château de Trigance* and you don’t get an opportunity like this every day. Not only the exterior looks like a castle. Also the rooms are kept in a medieval style. From the roof terrace you can perfectly look at the surrounding village or just enjoy the sunset. Sleeping here is really something special.

Château de Trigance at Booking.com*

Day 6 – Our favorite coastal town Cassis

The sixth day of our Provence road trip started with Marseille. We parked in a parking garage at the harbor, because from there you can easily explore the surrounding area on foot… if you want to. For us it was quite quickly clear that Marseilles is again much too big and noisy for our taste. Therefore, we have not wasted much time there and went after 2-3 hours further to Cassis. In retrospect, we would have preferred to spend the entire day in Cassis.

Cassis, Provence RoadtripIn Cassis, you can stroll through the small streets, stroll through the many small stores and have an excellent meal at the harbor. Cassis was an absolute highlight for us, along with Éze. If you also like these small, dreamy villages, you should definitely plan a longer stopover there.

Parc National Calanque

After an early dinner in Cassis we went on to the Parc National Calanque just in time for sunset. The national park stretches along the coast with its cliffs and offers a fantastic view over the coastal region. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset here and also hiked a bit. But here it goes uphill and downhill again and that on rugged rock. Partly it is even more climbing than hiking, but it is definitely fun, even if you should already be good on foot.

If you have some time, you can also try one of the many hiking trails and take a closer look at the snow-white limestone formations and the rugged rocky coves. You can find more information about the different hiking trails and also hiking maps in the tourist information offices or e.g. here. Pack enough to drink and also good sun protection, if you are on the road here. The sun is particularly merciless at midday and there are hardly any shady places on the hike.

Provence Itinerary | Everything You Need To KnowAfter the beautiful sunset, we drove from the national park to Avignon (a somewhat larger city with a picturesque walled old town). There we spent the evening exploring the old town and enjoying a great meal at a water-and-wine restaurant.

Overnight stay in Cassis

If you want to stay overnight in the cute little port town of Cassis – which we highly recommend – check out the following hotel in the middle of the old town:

Le Jardin d`Emile Provence Itinerary | Everything You Need To KnowThe picturesque town hotel Le Jardin d`Emile*

is built in traditional style and is located just 3 minutes from the beach. The individually and modernly furnished rooms offer you a view on the beautiful garden or directly on the sea.

Le Jardin d`Emile in Cassis*

Overnight stay in Avignon

If you prefer to continue directly and stay overnight in Avignon – as we did – then we can give you 2 hotel alternatives. Stay cheaply just outside the city walls – The Ibis Budget For budget reasons, we opted for the cheap alternative of the Ibis Budget*. The equipment is ibis-typical simple but functional. You have everything you need and for 2,50€ you can get a typical French breakfast (croissant and coffee) in the morning. You are nevertheless within a few minutes within the city walls and can explore the city. Double rooms are available from 50€.

Book the cheap ibis budget Avignon Centre*

Stay centrally in the old town – Chanteloche In this accommodation you get a whole studio apartment with balcony* and view of the city for just under 90 euros. It’s only a few minutes’ walk to the Pope’s Palace or the Pont d’Avignon. You’ll get free Wi-Fi on top of that

The Chanteloche in the old town of Avignon*

Day 7 – Road Trip South of France – Avignon and Dijon

On the last day of our Provence road trip, we took another look at the old town in daylight. Our hotel was located just outside the city walls, so we could reach the old town on foot. Here is particularly worth a visit to the Pope’s Palace and the nearby Place d’Horloge. Here you can have a good lunch break in one of the many small restaurants. But since we unfortunately did not have much time and still had a long journey home to Germany ahead of us, we only had time for a small detour.

Dijon

Dijon - Provence Roadtrip
Delicious pastries are everywhere in Provence

From Avignon, we headed to Dijon…. yes, the city where the famous mustard comes from. Accordingly, you get in Dijon in every store to buy the most diverse mustard varieties as a souvenir. This city we have actually only chosen, because it has meant a nice stopover on our otherwise much too long route home.

Since we didn’t really have much time in Dijon, we just strolled a little through the city center and looked at the Ducal Palace and the Place de la Libération. In the immediate vicinity, however, there are other sights, such as the Cathedral of Dijon or the Jardin botanique de l’Arquebuse. If possible, you should plan at least one day in Dijon.

Unfortunately, we were short on time and wanted to be home before midnight, so we didn’t have much time to visit all the highlights of Dijon. But if you have more time, which we hope you do, we found a great travel blog with more information here.

Dijon was the last stop on our road trip through southern France and along the Côte d’Azur. After that followed about 600 km of dull French highway and countless toll booths until we were finally back home. This short trip to Provence will definitely not have been our last visit there. Would we do such a super-stressful road trip to Provence again? Probably not, it was really too much driving. Was our road trip to the south of France worth it anyway? Definitely!


How did you like our article about the South of France road trip? Are you interested in a road trip through a different landscape? Then have a look at our travel report about our Norway road trip:

Norway Roadtrip | In 2 weeks through the south (with itinerary)

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