The quintessential region of the south of France, the Provence is the location of the famous French Riviera – a picture perfect destination of glittering coastline meets luxury, jet-set living. The coastal towns of this area – also called the Cote d’Azur – have long been known for their charming appeal and association with elegant lodgings and moneyed visitors.
But look further back in time and this region has a positively ancient history. Many of the towns along the Provence coast were founded by Ancient Greek colonists well over 2,500 years ago; after which, many became part of the Roman Empire. Today, there are examples of this ancient history in the form of amphitheaters, aqueducts, and uncovered amphorae in archeological sites that make it a history lover’s dream.
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Map of the Provence
Head inland, and there’s still more history. Hilltop villages full of rustic lifestyles hide medieval lanes and monuments, as well as some of France’s most famous vineyards; Roussillon, for example, is well known throughout the world. Combine all this with natural, rugged scenery, and the Provence seems more and more like a storybook than a real destination.
But it is real, and you can stay there. There are so many incredible towns, villages and cities to visit in the Provence, or why not stop off at a few different destinations and make it a road trip? Either way, the prestige of the Provence is waiting for you.
Set on the sparkling coast of the French Riviera, Nice has gone from Ancient Greek colony to a getaway for the well-heeled of Europe. Follow in the footsteps of the elite of yesteryear and stroll along the Promenade des Anglais, or get cultural and check out some of the artwork of famous resident Henri Matisse at the Musée Matisse, great for fans of impressionism.
Nice comes with a couple of tram lines, a central train station, and even its own airport – the third busiest in France! When it comes to accommodation in Nice, stay somewhere high-end and historic or book yourself into a budget apartment; it’s all here.
Where to Stay in Nice
- Hotel Negresco – Established in the early 20th century, Hotel Negresco is an ideal accommodation choice for art and history lovers. Sporting exquisite masterpieces from the last five centuries, the glamorous beachfront 5-star offering has a well-maintained fitness center and two fine dining restaurants, one of which is Michelin starred. Another features a live cooking station. The individually decorated rooms and suites feature period furniture with a four-poster bed and an ensuite bathroom.
- Hotel 66 Nice – Located a few steps away from the Basilique Notre-Dame de Nice, the remarkable Hotel 66 Nice offers a range of well-furnished units for your upcoming vacation. Set in an edifice that goes back to 1910, the family-run 4-star hotel has been recently refurbished in a contemporary décor to match with the new-age trends. Its convenient access to a tram and train station makes it a perfect accommodation choice for the explorer in you.
Famous for its world-renowned film festival, Cannes is situated along the French Riviera west of Nice. This city is equally well known for its high-end living, with everything from designer boutiques and chic restaurants to elegant, upscale hotels.
Mid-range offerings are available here, however, so everyone can enjoy the luxe ambiance of this coastal city – complete with grand villas dating to the 19th century and millionaires’ yachts bobbing in the harbor. Getting in and out of Cannes is easy, thanks to its ferry services, railway stations, and multiple airports.
Where to Stay in Cannes
- Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes – If you have ever dreamt of walking on the red carpet as those luminous celebrities do, Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic Cannes is your golden ticket to not only feel like them but also stay where they do. Welcoming smiling faces since 1926, this epitome of legendary hospitality reflects both the traditional as well as voguish charms of Cannes.
- Hotel Club Maintenon – Boasting a prime location within the heart of Cannes, this astonishing 4-star hotel is a short distance from the ever-buzzing Plage du Palais des Festivals. Located close to a train station, Hotel Club Maintenon makes it super straightforward for you to travel around the city and visit notable sights. Don’t miss the sunset here; the view of the ocean and the sun setting beyond the city skyline from the rooftop sun terrace is to die for!
Marseille is at the western end of the French Riviera and is known not only as France’s second-biggest city but also as the capital of the Provence. It has long been an important fixture for everyone from Ancient Greek colonists to the Roman Empire.
Expect a lot of history, from its Vieux Port (Old Port) area to the cobbled streets that twist throughout. Elsewhere, witness the elegance of the 19th century Palais du Pharo, catch a performance at the Opéra de Marseille, or try the famed bouillabaisse – the specialty fish stew of the city. Transport connections and a whole range of hotels – this city has it all.
Where to Stay in Marseille
- Sofitel Marseille Vieux-Port – One of Sofitel’s finest, this ravishing 5-star hotel is located on the historic Old Port. Offering you a rejuvenating retreat, Sofitel Marseille Vieux-Port treats you with personalized services, the most exquisite French gourmet delicacies, cocktails with a view of the harbor, and unperturbed relaxation at the top-notch spa with a plunge pool, sauna, and hammam.
- NH Collection Marseille – Set in a historic edifice that was reportedly inaugurated in 1864 by Napoleon III, the beautifully preserved NH Collection Marseille offers a range of lavish accommodation units. A personal favorite of art and history lovers, the splendid hotel is ideally located for exploring the nearby attractions in the city. Aside from its business facilities and proximity to major shopping hotspots, the hotel offers a collection of 176 elegantly decorated rooms.
Located along the banks of the River Rhone, Avignon is a city in the Provence that was once famous for being the home of the Catholic Pope. For a time, this was the seat of the Catholic Church, and there remains the enormous 14th century Papal Palace, the medieval Pont d’Avignon, and the 12the century Avignon Cathedral.
The entrancing city is full of history, but bubbles with modern life too; theatres, shops, restaurants, and bars now occupy the old streets. Hotels in Avignon are usually situated in charming old buildings in the oldest parts of the city, but more modern options are available a little further out, too.
Where to Stay in Avignon
- Hotel d’Europe – Tucked in a historic 16th-century structure which was completely refurbished in the 18th century, Hotel d’Europe is one of the oldest standing hotels in the country. While entering this timeless place, the plane tree that is known to be as old as the building itself shadows over the courtyard and is hard to miss – as are the charming French balconies and the grand staircase; both are adorned with oil paintings and 17th-century Flemish tapestries.
- Avignon Grand Hotel – This beautiful 4-star hotel is situated right outside the city’s Middle Age Walls – literally across the street from them. Constructed in early 2000, Avignon Grand Hotel sports a grand Provencal-style décor with a modern tiered layout. While the front of the hotel is a simple chain-hotel beige tone, the bright yellow backyard against the well-manicured courtyard garden makes the place warm and welcoming. The IKEA-esque couches in the lobby are a great place to relax.
Founded by Roman consul Sextius Calvinus in 123 BC, Aix-en-Provence is a university town located to the southeast of Avignon, slightly north of Marseille. This is the hometown of impressionist painter Paul Cezanne, and features Cezanne’s Studio – the artist’s former studio now turned museum.
For more art, head to the Musee Granet, featuring works from Cezanne – of course – all the way to Rembrandt. The street of Cours Mirabeau runs along where the old city walls used to be and divides the old town, to the north, from the new town. Hotels here range from grand residences to casual lodgings housed in old buildings.
Where to Stay in Aix-en-Provence
- Renaissance Aix-en-Provence Hotel – Renaissance Aix-en-Provence Hotel sits perfectly on the rim of Aix’s “Cultural Forum,” an ensemble of prominent, ‘starchitect’-designed event spaces – a perfect abode for ballet and opera aficionados. The interiors of this gorgeous 5-star hotel reflect a hint of Southern Provencal décor, with guestrooms and public areas flaunting the work of local artists. The massive business area, with its high-ceiling reception area and direct access to the garden, is a tempting place for meetings and conferences.
- Aquabella Hôtel & Spa – Tucked away within an incredible garden, the remarkable Aquabella Hôtel & Spa boasts distinctive Provencal style furnishings throughout its guestrooms and common spaces. While the 4-star hotel has a fantastic restaurant specializing in Mediterranean cuisine and a summertime outdoor grill by the pool, you must come here to enjoy the out-of-the-world revitalization experience at the Sensoriel Spa – a world-class wellness facility with a hot bath, sauna, steam bath, and wait for it – an ice fountain!
This is the place where, arguably, the coastal resort city was born. Saint-Tropez played host to the first jet set tourists of the world and has retained its status as a place to see – and be seen. With that in mind, the hotels here are traditionally mid-century wonders of luxury and retro design, which don’t come at budget-friendly prices – and neither do the more modern boutiques found here.
Connected by ferry and road only, this is the place to come to stroll along the beach, watch the yachts, enjoy sumptuous meals, and wander its narrow lanes.
Where to Stay in St. Tropez
- Hôtel de Paris Saint-Tropez – Inspired by 1960s and 70s style décor, this vibrant yet extremely sophisticated 5-star hotel offers luxurious accommodation a few steps away from the harbor. Amenities and services at the Hôtel de Paris Saint-Tropez include a spacious rooftop pool with a sun terrace, a notable spa facility, a nail salon, and two international restaurants specializing in Mediterranean cuisine. The guestrooms here are decorated in bright hues and sport contemporary facilities such as a home automation system and an ensuite bathroom.
- Le Mouillage – Set on a captivating beachfront a short walk from the town center, Le Mouillage offers you the chance to enjoy a classy tropical vacation at an attractive price. Surrounded by a plethora of fine dining restaurants, this magnificent 4-star hotel features a peach façade lined by well-maintained evergreen plants. Flaunting a feminine touch to its design with ornamental corals, white wicker chairs, and turquoise furnishings, this is where you should head to for a ‘girls weekend’ in the Riviera.
Sainte-Maxime looks south across the bay to Saint-Tropez; hotels here still don’t come cheap, but they’re mid-range – often boasting pools – and are much more affordable than its neighbor across the water. Plus, you get the same sort of views! Sainte-Maxime boasts several Blue Flag-certified beaches, where you can jet-ski, water-ski, or just soak up the sun until it goes down.
There are no less than eight golf courses within a radius of around a half hour drive, too. Visitors will also find a host of shops, boutiques, cafes, bars and eateries in Sainte-Maxime’s old town, situated opposite the harbor.
Where to Stay in Sainte-Maxime
- La Belle Aurore – Surrounded by the entrancing blues of the Mediterranean Sea, the La Belle Aurore is an impeccable abode in town, away from the bustling city yet in proximity to all the popular sightseeing places. Delivering the best of Sainte-Maxime to your doorstep, this captivating 4-star hotel presents you with a range of suites and guestrooms decorated in warm provincial tones. The onsite restaurant spoils you with the finest local delicacies and unprecedented views of the Gulf of Saint Tropez.
Along the coast to the east of Marseille, on the banks of the River Rhone, lies the historic city of Arles. This place is famous for its well preserved Roman amphitheater – a triumph of engineering that dates all the way back to 90AD.
Also famous for being a place of great inspiration to none other than Vincent van Gogh, Arles neighbors the tranquil wetlands that comprise the Camargue Natural Regional Park, an excellent place for bird spotting. With hotels in this city ranging from affordable to luxurious, and boasting an intercity railway station, Arles is a convenient place to stay.
Where to Stay in Arles
- Hôtel Arles Plaza – Situated within a short distance of the noteworthy Arles Roman Amphitheater, Hôtel Arles Plaza is an artistic 4-star hotel featuring LED-lit ceilings, bright and unique furnishing in the rooms and shared spaces, and a bunch of quirky art pieces and paintings scattered casually around the vicinity. The solarium-style café is a great place to relax and opens out to the pool in case you want to dip your toes in.
Antibes is set to the east of Cannes along the coast and was named by ancient Greek colonists around 400 BC. Taken over by the Romans in 43 BC, Antibes has few relics left of Roman rule, save a few aqueducts.
Head to the Archaeology Museum, however, and you will find many ancient artifacts from the city’s past. There’s also a Picasso Museum, a theme park, plus 48 beaches in the surrounding area where you can simply sit back and relax. Hotels in Antibes run from modest, affordable 2-star affairs to seafront luxury.
Where to Stay in Antibes
- Royal Antibes – With its private beachfront location and spectacular views over an adorable cove dotted with sailing boats, this 4-star hotel is a great choice for groups and families wanting to stay long-term in one of their fully-equipped self-catering units. Overlooking the stunning Golfe-Juan coastline, Royal Antibes treats you with complimentary access to Les Cinq Mondes Spa, where you can enjoy their steam bath, sauna, and fitness center. The Royal Suite, with its private rooftop hot tub, is the ultimate steal though!
Thanks to the Romans who once called this town home, Frejus – set between Sainte-Maxime and Cannes – is rich in history. Much of it is still visible too, including the ruins of an aqueduct, an amphitheater, baths, a Roman lighthouse, a bridge, and some of the old city walls and gates which used to lead into town.
Away from all the history, families can have a fun day out at the waterpark of Aqualand Frejus or simply splash around on one of its beaches. Though not crawling with accommodation, a few casual hotels and more upscale options mean there is something for everyone here.
Where to Stay in Frejus
- Atoll Hotel – A stone’s throw away from the beach and not too far from some of the most popular attractions in the area, this charming 3-star hotel is the ideal combination of value and comfort. Sporting an overall family-friendly vibe, the hotel offers express check-in and check out and a complimentary parking space. La Bella Trattoria, the in-house restaurant, offers a half board option as well as fun evening entertainment on the odd occasion.
Next door to Frejus is another of the Cote d’Azur’s resort towns – Saint-Raphaël. Complete with nearby history and the fun of the waterpark, there’s enough to keep everyone entertained in this town. Head up to Bonaparte Gardens for some stunning views of the sparkling blue Mediterranean Sea, complete with beaches. Those very beaches were used during World War II, when in 1944, the Allied forces landed here for Operation Dragoon – the invasion of southern France.
As well as being well connected by boat to St Tropez and Cannes, Saint-Raphaël features a number of seafront lodgings, with a few high-end options, too.
Where to Stay in Saint-Raphael
- Hotel Continental – Set on a wide promenade that leads you straight to the enthralling Veillat Beach, Hotel Continental is a glamorous accommodation. Featuring a variety of spacious rooms and suites, including family rooms, this premium 4-star hotel is especially popular for the grand breakfast buffet served every morning. Numerous beachfront restaurants and cafes can be found right outside the hotel.
Nicknamed the perle de la France (meaning the “Pearl of France”), Menton is a picturesque town located just to the east of Nice. This lovely town is famous for its gardens, including the tropical feeling Jardin Botanique Exotique de Menton and the walled garden of Fontana Rosa.
Its architecture is also impressive, particularly the Basilica of Saint-Michel-Archange, an ornate baroque building dating back to 1619.
There’s even a museum dedicated to its most renowned resident, French artist Jean Cocteau. Ranging from the modern and contemporary to the low-key and relaxed, you’ll find a variety of places to stay in this pretty town.
Where to Stay in Menton
- Quality Hotel Menton Méditerranée – A hop, skip, and jump away from some of the most frequented beaches in the area, Quality Hotel Menton Méditerranée offers you a variety of 89 stylish, budget-friendly accommodation options within the heart of the town. Staying here, you are truly rewarded with some of the loveliest views of the surroundings from the hotel’s sun terrace. Relax at one of the many sun loungers with a delicious cocktail and make the most of the French Riviera sun setting in front of you.
Toulon is the fourth largest city on the Mediterranean coast of France (after Marseille, Nice, and Montpellier). A stone’s throw from Marseille to the west, Toulon has a beautiful old town to stroll around, with many squares and narrow lanes and, famously, quite a lot of fountains to admire.
Here is where you will find Toulon Cathedral, which was under construction from the 11th to 18th century! The city created a series of sandy beaches in the 1970s at nearby Le Mourillon, making it a popular destination for Toulon’s residents. Looking for accommodation? You’ll find a handful of mid-range hotels around the station and a few seafront options to choose from.
Where to Stay in Toulon
- Hôtel Amirauté – Located near the fascinating Place de la Liberté, this superb pet-friendly 3-star hotel is ideal for leisure or business travelers. Completely remodeled in 2015, Hôtel Amirauté now features a bright décor complimented by designer furniture. You can choose from one of the 58 neatly-decorated and brilliantly-styled guestrooms here; they also have family rooms for up to six members. Set in an exquisite Haussmann-era building, the hotel is only a short walk from the port, as well as the train station.
Grasse is world renowned for its perfume industry and is quite often known as the perfume capital of the world, with many perfumers trained in this historic city. Thanks to its location with an abundance of water and plenty of natural scents – like jasmine, brought to this region by the Moors in the 16th century – it’s the perfect place to make perfume.
There are some 27 tons of jasmine harvested here annually! Located north of Cannes, and with its own train station, Grasse features just a few hotels, including some out of town villas and high-end country retreats.
Where to Stay in Grasse
- Best Western PLUS Elixir Grasse – From the outside, Best Western PLUS Elixir Grasse looks like a typical 4-star business hotel with plain beige exteriors and minimalist features. But step inside, and you are in for a treat at this brilliant accommodation located a short distance from the center of Grasse.
Practically situated in the rugged stretch of coastline that is the Parc national des Calanques, Cassis is located just to the east of Marseille and is all about its natural scenery. The Cap Canaille, in particular, offers some stunning hiking opportunities just out of town.
Once you’re back in Cassis, you can sit at a terrace cafe on the pastel-colored street and watch the world go by. Nearby are vineyards where you can sample the famous Cassis white wine. While there isn’t a huge selection of hotels, Cassis boasts a few low key lodgings and high-end cottages.
Where to Stay in Cassis
- Hotel Les Roches Blanches – Recently renovated head-to-toe a couple of years ago, the glamorous Hotel Les Roches Blanches is named after the limestone rocks that line the coast between this gem of a fishing village and intrepid-yet-traditional Marseille. A look at the interiors rewards you with a glimpse of the finest French poise and an Art Deco-inspired décor. A private mansion during the 19th century, the edifice was transformed into a hotel in the 1920s. Winston Churchill and Edith Piaf stayed here – there are rooms named after them!
Around 12 miles south of Avignon, Saint-Remy-de-Provence is set within the rolling hills and majestic nature of Alpilles Natural Regional Park. This is a popular holiday destination, thanks not only to its pretty old town, with streets featuring terrace cafes and colorful florists, but also huge historic Roman ruins of Glanum, which is a mere one kilometer south of Saint-Remy-de-Provence.
As another claim to fame, this town is where Vincent van Gogh spent the last year of his life. If you want to stay in Saint-Remy-de-Provence, this place is all about its refined farmhouse and boutique style local hotels.
Where to Stay in Saint-Remy-de-Provence
- Hotel du Soleil et Spa – Set on the foothills of the Alpilles, this admirable 3-star hotel has a certain rustic charm to it. Once an old thistle factory, the Hotel du Soleil now offers 24 well-decorated guestrooms, as well as three fully-furnished apartments tucked away at the end of a quiet street. Plus, they have a nice spa and a spacious pool. The town center is a short walk from here for whenever you wanted an evening of fun and entertainment.
Far to the east of Avignon lies the beautiful town of Roussillon. This place is situated in the borders of the Natural Regional Park of Luberon, a stunning slice of nature with gorgeous, wild, mountainous terrain – perfect for those who enjoy the outdoors.
In the vicinity are many deposits of ochre, which is why some of the hills nearby are red. You can actually visit one by following the Sentier des Ocres – or “Ochre Trail” – to one of the former quarries. Roussillon is also famous for its wine, with many vineyards in the area. Staying here means upscale hotels and rustic country retreats.
Where to Stay in Roussillon
- La Maison des Ocres – Set amidst the ochre hills in one of the most delightful villages in the country, La Maison des Ocres offers pet-friendly accommodation surrounded by a scenic southern French landscape. The 18 well-decorated guestrooms have been recently renovated and equipped with all the necessary amenities. If you are planning to beat the jetlag and unwind a bit before you paint the town red, the pool and the enclosing gardens are a great spot for that.
The western neighbor of Roussillon is the hilltop town of Gordes. This famous village is built on the foothills of the Monts de Vaucluse and boasts many picturesque white stone buildings set into the cliffs themselves, all connected with winding lanes and cobbled streets
A famous hub for artists over the years, Gordes hosts cultural events over the summer months. There is history too, with a 10th-century chateau overlooking the village, as well as the Abbaye Notre-Dame de Sénanque, a monastery dating back to 1148. When it comes to hotels, you’ll find posh spa hotels surrounded by lavender and refined lodgings in historic buildings.
Where to Stay in Gordes
- Le Jas de Gordes – Tucked away in a 1.5-hectare wooded park that oozes the aroma of rosemary, lavender, and thyme, Hotel Le Jas de Gordes is perfect for some R&R opportunities in complete tranquillity. The hotel has been recently redecorated to blend in with its picturesque surroundings. The rooms on the ground floor open to the garden or a lush patio, while the ones above have calming vistas. Breakfast is served in a room next to a terrace with stunning views of the lush gardens.
Saint-Paul de Vence
Slightly inland from the coast, not too far west of Nice (including its handy airport), Saint-Paul de Vence is another of the Provence’s attractive hilltop towns. In fact, Saint-Paul de Vence claims to be one of the oldest cities on the French Riviera.
The medieval stone walls around the town are now home to many modern art museums, like the Fondation Maeght – founded in 1964 by famous impressionist Marguerite, and Ami Maeght. The 14th century Eglise Collegiale Saint Paul and the iconic Fontaine de Saint-Paul de Vence (1615) are a testament to the town’s history. Accommodation here includes 5-star lodgings in 16th-century buildings and homely, contemporary guesthouses.
Where to Stay in Saint-Paul de Vence
- Hotel Le Saint Paul – Surrounded by the exquisite walls of the medieval village of Saint-Paul de Vence, this dreamlike 5-star accommodation is the true reflection of French elegance and hospitality. The 16 boudoir-like bedrooms combine the flowery Provençal charm with colonial exotica. Your stay at this 16th-century aristocratic retreat is rewarded by cooing doves in the morning, intriguing walks around the cobbled alleyways during the day, and midnight musings over cocktails when all settles down.
Hyères is situated to the east of Toulon. It’s another place where you can find much of Provence’s history, with the hilltop-located old town home to a medieval castle, amongst other relics, while the 1920s modernist Villa Noailles is a masterpiece designed by Robert Mallet-Stevens.
Head out of town to the offshore island of Porquerolles for rugged terrain, beaches, a winery, and hiking trails. When it comes to finding a place to stay in Hyères, there are plenty of places – some on Porquerolles, some near the conveniently located Toulon Hyères Airport, and others in the center of town.
Where to Stay in Hyères
- Best Western Plus Hyères Côte D’Azur – A ten-minute walk from the center of Hyeres, Best Western Plus Hyères Côte D’Azur offers 48 wonderfully-decorated guestrooms set within a lush garden. Spend your day at the beaches of the Giens peninsula or exploring the town, or you could find yourself one of the many quiet and comfy couches spread throughout the garden and finally finish that book. The garden restaurant also gives you a chance to dine under the stars!
A small town situated just a few minutes from Antibes, Juan-les-Pins has its own train station, bakeries, and beaches, as well as casinos, nightclubs, bars, and restaurants, making it a popular destination for fun times by the sea.
There’s a famous jazz festival here, Jazz a Juan, and this spot has been well known for hosting celebrities and famous faces for decades. The hotel Le Provençal opened in 1926 and has even played host to Charlie Chaplin, amongst others.
If you feel like staying here, there are historic – as well as more modern – upscale options, as well as simple, more relaxed lodgings to choose from.
Where to Stay in Juan-les-Pins
- Hôtel Juana – Overlooking the pinewood park that hosts the annual Juan’s July Jazz Fest, the all-white Hotel Juana is known to be the finest personification of the 20’s jazz age, when this newly-constructed resort used to be a melting pot for American swing, Art deco, free-flowing gin, and flocks of well-dressed hedonism. Owned by the most reputed woman in the hotel world of Côte D’Azur, Marianne Estène-Chauvin, the hotel features an iron-cage lift, salon cushions, and Picasso design of pottery – Art deco on point that is!