Hotspots and Hidden Gems: 14 Days of Southern Provence Itinerary

It’s a breeze to discover places in southern France, but picking the perfect spots for our 14-day Southern Provence itinerary can be a bit tricky. This time around, we decided to concentrate on exploring the mountain villages south of Provence. Our trip took place in August 2020, with temperatures soaring above 35°C most days. Thankfully, the mountainous regions offered a more agreeable climate, making it a joy to wander through the charming hilltop villages of southern Provence.

To make the most of our journey, we opted for a small rental car, ensuring easy access to these elevated villages. Our itinerary was thoughtfully split into two weeks for a more relaxed pace, minimizing driving time and avoiding the hassle of frequent check-ins and check-outs. For the initial week, we settled into a well-appointed apartment near a golf course, featuring two bedrooms and two terraces, along with access to several pools. The second week brought us to Appartement Vieux Port in La Ciotat, a beach town along the picturesque coastline.

Riveria Golf in Mandelieu-La Napoule

14 Days Southern Provence Itinerary

Despite the 11-hour voyage from Frankfurt to Mandelieu-La Napoule, we hit the road on a Friday and spent a night at IBIS in Alixan. On the following day, en route to the first apartment, we took a detour along the Van Gogh trail in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.

1st week of the Southern Provence Itinerary

  • Sunday (Day 1): Seillans and Fayence
  • Monday (Day 2): Saint-Paul-De-Vence, Cap de Antibes, and Antibes
  • Tuesday (Day 3): Mandelieu-La Napoule, Mougins
  • Wednesday (Day 4): Grasse, Chateauneuf-Grasse, and Gourdon
  • Thursday (Day 5): Eze Village, La Turbie
  • Friday (Day 6): Cap du Dramont
  • Saturday (Day 7): Port Grimaud, Ayguade of Hyere, Saint Mandrier sur Mer

2nd week of the Southern Provence Itinerary

La Ciotat, France; Southern Provence Itinerary

Seillans and Fayence (Day 1)


The distance separating the mountain villages of Seillans and Fayence is approximately six kilometres. Seillans, steeped in history, is sheltered within protective walls, featuring a medieval appearance with its winding cobblestone streets, shady courtyards, fountains, and the Saracen door.


As we wandered through the streets of Fayence, they began to zig-zag, guiding us towards the heart of the village. Our attention was captured by the Baroque style of an octagonal bell tower covered with enameled roof tiles. Therefore, we ascended the Bell Tower, treating ourselves to a stunning 360° view overlooking the village rooftops and the landscapes of the Fayence region.

Chateau Eza, 5-Star Hotel in Ez Village

Saint-Paul-De-Vence, Cap de Antibes, and Antibes (Day 2)


The hilltop village Saint-Paul-de-Vence features typical elements such as narrow cobbled alleys, historic buildings, picturesque squares, arched passageways, and ancient fountains. However, what truly distinguishes it is the artistic ambiance that infuses the village.

Cap d’Antibes

Returning to the coastal area, we relaxed in a secluded bay and enjoyed a leisurely lunch along the shores of Cap d’Antibes. Later, we strolled along the shoreline and came across the world’s most expensive and cutting-edge yacht.


The old town of Antibes teemed with crowds, prompting us to choose the beachside near the harbour for a leisurely stroll along the coastline.

Saint-Paul-de-Vence; Southern Provence Itinerary

Mandelieu-La Napoule and Mougins (Day 3)

Mandelieu-La Napule

On a scorching day with temperatures already reaching 38°C, swimming during the daytime was out of the question. Our aquatic adventures were reserved for the early morning and evening. On this particular day, after our morning swim, we took a walk along Mandelieu-la-Napoule beach.


The village highlights a spiral road leading to its heart, connecting numerous galleries within superb ancient houses. Mougins is renowned for its gastronomic atmosphere, housing a myriad of restaurants. Some even have Michelin stars. Although we had hoped for a late lunch, to our disappointment, all of them were closed in the afternoon.

Mougins; Southern Provence Itinerary

Grasse, Chateauneuf-Grasse, and Gourdon (Day 4)


A decade ago, during my initial visit to Grasse, I took a factory tour at Galimard, a perfumery with roots dating back to 1747, and purchased some exquisite Galimard perfumes. Every time I wear them, the fragrance transports me back to that sunny day in the picturesque Grasse, filled with the tempting scents of Provence, and evokes memories of my first delightful trip to Provence with my beloved husband.

Eager to once again pursue the delightful fragrances of Grasse, we ventured into the Fragonard Factory and secured some of its newest products.

Chateauneuf de Grasse 

The village centre is just a short distance from Grasse, easily accessible by a brief drive. As we meandered through its quaint cobbled alleys, we were treated to sweeping views of the scenic countryside, with the Bay of Cannes gracing the horizon. Chateauneuf de Grasse truly stands as an undiscovered treasure in the heart of Provence.


We decided to extend our daily exploration to Gourdon, located approximately nine kilometres north of Chateauneuf de Grasse. Gourdon is a quaint small village, characterized by a single short main street and a couple of side streets. It’s more of a tourist hotspot than a bustling community.

The primary attraction of Gourdon lies in the expansive view from the Eagle’s Nest. A noteworthy historical attraction is the Chateau de Gourdon, featuring two museums and gardens designed by André Le Nôtre, the visionary behind the gardens of the Palace of Versailles.

Ez Village; Southern Provence Itinerary

Eze Village and La Turbie (Day 5)

Eze Village

The hilltop village, Eze Village on the French Riviera, is undeniably one of the most beautiful destinations that never fails to draw me in.

This postcard-perfect village, perched high above the French Riviera, is a labyrinth of narrow, winding alleyways that lead to hidden gems—a tranquil courtyard or a stunning azure view of the ocean. Besides, Eze Village has some of the most exquisite narrow alleys in all of Provence.

La Turbie

Since La Turbie is only five kilometres away from Eze Village, we decided to explore it after our visit to Eze. The village has impeccably preserved the charm of its glorious past. Its cobblestone streets, fine stone-built houses, vaulted passageways, little fountains, and the beautiful baroque church of Saint-Michel, featuring a square bell tower roofed with varnished tiles, make it a pleasant destination. Additionally, its monument from the Roman Empire adds historical significance. Unfortunately, overshadowed by the glamour of Monaco and the popularity of Nice, La Turbie remains underrated and often overlooked by many tourists.

La Turbie; Southern Provence Itinerary

Cap du Dramont (Day 6)

Our primary activity for the day was hiking the Cape du Dramont loop trail, navigating rocky terrain and forested hills. Along the way, the trail offered glimpses of a tower on the tiny island of Ile d’Or, and at certain points, it ran along cliff tops, providing magnificent coastal views.

Port Grimaud, Plage des Salins in Hyere, Saint Mandrier sur Mer (Day 7)

We departed from the initial apartment and headed towards the second one in La Ciotat. As per the schedule, key collection was only possible after 17:00, leading us to make a few stops along the way.y.

Port Grimaud

Our first stop on the way was Port Grimaud, a water town akin to Empuriabrava, the Spanish counterpart. It showcases numerous water canals at its core, with nearly every house featuring boat parking.

Plage de Salins in Hyere

Afterwards, we enjoyed a swift lunch on the beach, adorned with numerous pebble stones, ideal for engaging in kite activities.

Saint Mandrier sur Mer

Our final halt before reaching the apartment is a fishing and boating port. We took a brief stroll around, loosening up before continuing.

Cap Roux, Southern Provence Itinerary

Route des Cretes and Aix en Provence (Day 8)

Route des Cretes 

On our route to Aix-en-Provence, we drove through the picturesque Route des Cretes on the French Riviera. Spanning 13 kilometers, this scenic drive began in La Ciotat and concluded in Cassis.


Aix-en-Provence, the former capital of Provence, is now the European Capital of Culture. The city is famous for many reasons, such as leafy boulevards, 17th-century Baroque charm, and the birthplace of artist Paul Cezanne. With its vibrant atmosphere, we dedicated the remainder of the day to exploring the city’s pedestrian-friendly center, charming shops, lively cafe terraces, and the energetic ambiance fueled by universities and a vibrant student community.

Van Gogh Painting in Saint-Rémy-de-Provence

Hiking the Calanques de Cassis and Cassis (Day 9)

Calanques de Cassis

Hiking the Calanques de Cassis along the Mediterranean coast southeast of Marseille proved to be a joyful family adventure. Our journey led us to two Calanques: Calanque de Port-Miou and Calanque de Port Pin.


On our return journey, we took a quick stop at Cassis, an enchanting old fishing village. Cassis, a popular tourist destination, attracts many day-trippers from Marseille. Notable attractions include the historic Chateaux de la Maison des Baux, the narrow alleys, and the picturesque sight of little fishing boats.

Antibes, France

Loumarin, Bonnieux, Lacoste, Menerbes (Day 10)

The four villages, all within close proximity, made for a delightful day trip. For details on how to explore four villages in one day, check my post.


Lourmarin remained somewhat obscure until British author Peter Mayle, residing there and chronicling his experiences in “A Year in Provence”, introduced it to the English-speaking world. Yet, our attraction to the village stemmed from its tourist attractions—historic buildings, Château de Lourmarin, and charming narrow alleys.


While Lourmarin is at the lower level of the national park, the village of Bonnieux is high-positioned on a plateau above the valley. It has a lower church, the Eglise du Bas, the upper church, beautiful houses with earth-toned colours, and a bakery museum.


The ascent to the top is quite steep. As we followed the steps up and down through the narrow streets, it felt like passing through a charming little labyrinth, evoking a sense of centuries past. At the top, we arrived at the castle residence owned by the well-known fashion designer Pierre Cardin.


In addition to the three villages above, Menerbes exudes a peaceful atmosphere with charming corners. We savoured the views from Rue du Portail Neuf and discovered a clock tower in a small square.

Despite missing out on attractions like the House of Truffles and Wine of the Luberon and the Corkscrew Museum due to the late hour, Menerbes offered a serene and lovely experience.

Lacoste, Luberon France

La Ciotat (Day 11)

After days of driving, particularly our day trip to four Luberon villages, we wanted to relax in La Ciotat. Surprisingly, the seaside town impressed us. La Ciotat, a cinematic cradle, has an attractive old port lined with bars and restaurants along the promenade.

Les Baux de Provence, Arles (Day 12)

Les Baux de Provence

Atop an Alpilles limestone hill, Les Baux de Provence has fantastic views stretching south to the Mediterranean and the scenic Alpilles rocky landscape. The visit’s highlights include exploring the ancient village of Les Baux de Provence, Chateau des Baux, and the Quarries of Lights (Les Carrières de Lumières).


On the banks of the Rhône River, Arles, renowned for influencing Van Gogh’s paintings, invites exploration of Roman remnants and rediscovering the artist’s iconic locations. Van Gogh’s painted scenes come to life, notably at Café Van Gogh, the very spot depicted in his masterpiece, “Café Terrace at Night.”

Saint-Rémy-de-Provence, France

Bandol (Day 13)

Originally left out of our southern Provence itinerary, Bandol lured us with its exceptional wines acquired in La Ciotat. Therefore, we explored this lesser-known town before embarking on the long journey back to Frankfurt. Unlike its more famous neighbor Cassis, Bandol, synonymous with wine globally, stands as a flourishing seaside resort.

Back to Frankfurt (Day 14)

As our holiday ended, the charm of southern Provence stayed with us. After 14 days of enjoying its beauty, it was time to go back to our daily routine. The beauty of Provence always makes me sure I’ll return.

Thinking of a trip to southern France? How would you plan your own southern Provence itinerary?

Travel tips for southern Provence itinerary

During the summer in Southern Provence, the heat can be intense, so sun protection is essential. To uncover hidden gems, consider renting a car. Plan your route strategically to cover multiple places in a day, as some are close to each other. While we missed some charming farmer markets, they’re ideal for discovering local products.




  1. French cities and villages have this charm about them that is hard to define. There are so many places I want to visit on this list. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Considering I grew up in the Basque Country just an hours drive from the French border I really feel we never made the most of it, in fact, we rarely ever went to France! Missed opportunity, it looks so beautiful!

  3. Beautiful photos! I’ve always wanted to visit the village of Eze. I have been to Aix-en-Provence, Nice and Cannes, but clearly there is so much more to see!

    1. Hi Tami,

      Thanks for reading! You would love Eze definitely! Actually, there are so much nice places in France…thats why I have just been to France for another two weeks?

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