The South of France has many famous ports of call — not least of which is Cannes. Home to some of the world’s hottest celebrities for just less than two weeks every year, Cannes and its illustrious film festival are arguably the most famous destination in the region. From big cities to small towns, the South of France is the country’s second biggest tourist draw, after Paris.
Food and lavender-lovers will know Provence, boat enthusiasts will be familiar with Marseille, and anyone who has traveled to Monaco will know Nice as its resort-town neighbor. But even the region’s smaller towns have much to offer travelers not invited to the festival (or for those who've tired of it). (Photo courtesy of Flickr/~d~)
Take a moment (or a few) to breathe in the natural smells of Grasse. A town perched high on a hill looking toward enviable views of the Côte d’Azur, Grasse is known as the world's capital of perfume. Home to iconic perfumer Fragonard, which offers tours to curious travelers, Grasse is rooted in its medieval history. The place to stay is undoubtedly Bastide Saint-Mathieu, which is a 17-room villa on a stunning, idyllic property. Splurge for a cinq étoiles meal at La Bastide Saint-Antoine or dine casually al fresco at La Grignote. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/cathy257)
Villefrance-sur-mer is a quaint beach town with the sounds of the ocean lapping onto docked boats and the emanating elegance of nearby Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. Rest your head in the same hotel as Jean Cocteau, the Welcome Hotel, and enjoy a warm evening on their wine pier. Pick one of the many lauded cafés along the water to try the local fare (think bouillabaisse), stop to see the sculptures at the Musée Volti, and sip on a drink at the Cosmo Bar.
Provence is widely known for its sweeping landscapes of vineyards, lavender fields, and distinct cuisine. Aix-en-Provence, the former capital of this most charming region, is still one of the most picturesque and worthwhile parts of Provence to visit. Book a room at 28 à Aix, an old-world style home with only four suites, each perfectly outfitted and very French. Then, shock your senses by dining on roasted John Dory in the effortlessly modern Pierre Reboul or head out during the day to one of the many food markets. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/Kris *V*)
Monaco’s most glamorous city is a cinematic center of luxury that’s only an hour by train from Cannes. Come equipped with your finest duds and a flashy budget — your wallet will not thank you by the end of your stay. Get your beauty rest at the famed Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo or try the more modern Hôtel Metropole. Relax over dinner of Mediterranean tapas at the Sea Lounge before it turns into an all-night dance party, stop at the modern Monkey for dinner, or head to the opulent, old-world Grand Casino de Monte-Carlo. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/gizzypooh)
Cap d’Antibes is not only home to the region’s most famous beach, La Garoupe, it is also a city known for its multiple literary references (like F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender is the Night) and its sumptuous resorts and homes. Visit the gardens of the grand Villa Eilenroc before you find a table at Les Pêcheurs, which has been a fashionable address since 1954 or take a stroll to the simpler (and hipper) Taverne du Safranier for delicious mussels. For a gorgeous hotel suite (and an unabashed splurge), book a room at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden or if you prefer a more unique and charming hotel, book a room at the Hôtel La Jabotte guesthouse.