10 Things To Do In The South Of France

There is no place like the South of France; and if you've ever dreamed of visiting then you have landed at the right place. While La Fermière launched in the U.S. two years ago, our origins date back to 1952 in Marseille, located in the South of France. Needless to say, we consider our team to be experts when it comes to the region.

The South of France is known for its sunny days; Marseille being the sunniest city. It is known for the warmth and kindness of its inhabitants, its lavender fields and landscapes that are sure to take your breath away. If you speak French and have had the opportunity to travel around France, you may have noticed that different regions have different accents, and the South of France is no exception with a strong "accent du Sud" (southern accent). 

We have asked Lucas, a member of our team and true Marseillais, to give us his top 10 places to explore when in the south.

 

1. Visit Calanques de Cassis

La Fermiere Calaques

Location: Provence, France

The Calanques de Cassis are a unique set of rocky limestone cliffs that meet with the breathtaking blue waters of the Mediterranean sea. The set consists of three beautiful Calanques: Calanque De Port-Miou, Calanque De Port-Pin and Calanque D'En-Vau. Calanque De Port-Miou is the perfect starting point. As suggested by Lucas, parking in the early morning and continuing with a hike or by renting a kayak or a boat for a balade on the clear blue Mediterranean water is the best way to go.

From the starting point, we suggest heading for a good hour hike (or via water) to Calanque D'En Vau. The place is a true paradise, and the prettiest of the three as pictured above. It is also the furthest Calanque from the starting point, you will enjoy the longer hike in the morning while the sun and heat are not at their peak. Taking into account that this Calanque gets very busy in the afternoon, arriving early allows you to enjoy the place before the busy hours. Enjoy the rest of the morning at Calanque D'En-Vau, have your picnic on the beach, a swim and don't forget to bring a mask and a scuba to explore what the sea has to offer. 

Next stop is Calanque De Port-Pin. Situated half way between the two Calanques, expect a 30-35 minute walk from Calanque D'En Vau. The water is so clear that you will not resist another scuba diving session and its thin white sand will make it the perfect spot for a nap! Once you have taken advantage of all it has to offer, it is time for the last bit of hiking. It will take you another 35 minutes to get back to Calanque De Port-Miou, your starting point. 

Fun fact: Summer days in France are longer than that of America. Top of the summer, expect the sunset to be around 9:30PM, but it will not get dark until 10 - 10:30PM. 

  

2. Visit the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde and Admire the Full City View

La Fermiere Basilique

Location: Marseille, France

Notre-Dame de la Garde is an architecturally beautiful Catholic basilica that is known to be a symbol of Marseille. For more than a century, the basilica has stood tall overlooking the city and its beauty, earning itself the nickname of "La Bonne Mere".  Its admirable structure is composed of incredible murals, colored marble and Byzantine-style mosaic. 

Start your journey to the Notre-Dame de la Garde from the Old Port, by using the small charming roads by feet, by renting a bike (you can select an electric one if this helps) or by taking the Dotto Train. Once you've reached the top of the hill, stop to admire the scenic view. The church is free to visit - be ready to be amazed by it's rich culture and beauty.  

After your visit, head back down to the Vieux Port and enjoy an "aperot" Marseillais style, with a glass of Pastis, the signature drink of the area. 

  

3. Attend a soccer game at Stade Vélodrome

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Location: Marseille, France

If you enjoy football, or simply want to learn about one of France's national sports, a visit to the State Vélodrome is a must. As you may know, we are the proud winners of the 2018 FIFA World Cup! - Allez les bleus! -. Home to the Olympique de Marseille or "L'OM" as we call them, the Vélodrome is emblematic to the city. It was built in 1937 and served as the host venue for the 1998 FIFA world Cup - France's first World Champion title. Today, the State Vélodrome remains the largest stadium in the country, with a capacity of 67,344 spectators. 

L'OM is one of the biggest pride of any Marseillais, and the proof is right there in the stadium. While the architecture of the stadium is already worth the detour, going to a football game emerged in the OM fan section will be an unforgettable experience! Don't forget your Jersey, you can buy it in the Vélodrome, or on the official OM shop (you can even customize your jersey online!). 

Hungry from all the action? Head to one of Lucas' favorite local food places; Chez Paul, a great spot for fresh seafood!

 

4. Admire the Lavender Fields in Provence

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Location: Provence, France

Here at La Fermière, lavender fields hold a special place in our hearts. The color of our iconic blue-lavender terracotta pot was inspired by the fields themselves. The spectacular rows of soft purple that compose the lavender fields of Provence and the gentle aroma that hugs the air, is an experience that will take your breath away.

There are many ways to experience these beautiful lavender fields. Le Musée de la Lavande or "The Museum of Lavender", located in the village of Cabrieres d'Avignon, is the ideal first stop if you are looking to learn about the history and industry of Lavender in Provence. If you are simply intrigued by a beautiful sight, we recommend visiting Notre-Dame de Sénanque during lavender season; however, beware that this is a fully functioning monastery and not considered a tourist site. 

As Lucas recommends, the best time of the year to witness the beauty of the fields is from June until the end of July. You can enjoy the seemingly infinite acres of lavender fields by car, bike, or simply by talking a walk.

 

 

5. Visit the Beautiful Village of Les Baux-de-Provence

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Location: Provence, France

Located between Arles and St Remy-de-Provence in the South of France, Les Baux-de-Provence is a Medieval village inhabited by 400 permanent residents that adorns and sits on the rocky Alpilles mountains. Overlooking the plains, Lucas describes it as one of the most beautiful places to visit in the South - The village has also been recognized as such on a national level.

There is plenty to experience at Les Baux-de-Provence! Within the village, there are 22 architectural pieces of art considered to be Historic Monuments; including chapels, doorways, and collections of paintings. Les Baux is a village rich in history and views that you will most definitely remember for a lifetime. 

As it attracts thousands of visitors during the summer, we recommend visiting off-season to get a genuine experience and a nice hike up the hill without too many tourists. In a year, Les Baux-de-Provence attracts more than one and a half million tourists!

 

6. Enjoy a Day of Shopping at Aix-en-Provence

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Location: Provence, France

With a population of approximately 143,000, Aix-en-Provance is a lively college town located in Provence, South of France. Adorned with colorful buildings, museums, markets and cafes, Aix-en-Provence is the perfect place for a scenic stroll. Aix is famous for being the birth place and home to the famous Paul Cézanne. As you wander through the city, you'll be able to spot his paintings at certain buildings and museums! In this beautiful city, you will also find hundreds of picturesque fountains all throughout; for such, this city is known as "The City of a Thousand Fountains". 

There is no doubt you wont run out of things to do in this city; however, shopping at Le Grand Marché in Aix is a must! With colorful markets that adorn the squares with fresh vegetables, fruits, flowers and many other handcrafts and antiques; you wont want to leave empty handed. 

The streets of Aix are filled with luxurious boutiques and a style you won't be able to find anywhere else. Take advantage while you are here!

 

7. Hike Montagne Sainte-Victoire

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Location: Provence, France

Recognized as one of Cézanne's favorite places and one of his major sources of inspiration, Montagne Sainte-Victoire in Provence is most definitely worth a stop as you explore the South of France. This limestone mountain ridge is a popular destination for hikers, with an average of 700,000 walkers every year. Filled with religious heritage, such a the Saint-Ser Hermitage Chapel, this hiking destination is much more than just a stop for the scenic views. Although you will witness beautiful landscapes as you walk through the dry stone wall paths. 

Aside from hiking, if you consider yourself to be more adventurous and seeking the thrill; Montagne Sainte-Victorie is also the place for paragliding, rock-climbing and mountain bike riding! For tours, you can contact the Aix tourist office

 

8. Kayak through Gorge du Verdon

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Location: Provence, France

Continuing with the adventures and beauties of nature, the Verdon Gorge is a breathtaking river canyon. Known as the world's second biggest canyon after the Grand Canyon in the U.S., Verdon Gorge stretches for 25 kilometers in length and an impressive depth of 700 meters. You can explore the canyon by driving around its rim, hiking its trails and climbing its gorgeous limestone walls. 

Gorge du Verdon which directly translates to "Gorge of green", gets its name from its beautiful turquoise waters. You would be happy to know that the best way to explore the canyon, and of course one of the most popular routes taken by visitors, is via kayak! You can absorb the pretty colors of the water and the surrounding views.

 

9. Visit the Fish Market at Vieux Port 

 

Location: Marseille, France

Vieux Port also known as the Old Port of Marseille is filled with 2000 years of history and heritage! As the oldest in the city, when you walk through Vieux Port, you will be walking through history along with the many local Marseilles and visitors that go here to get together and enjoy a refreshing day. If you happen to take our suggestion above and you go watch an OM soccer game at State Vélodrome, the Old Port of Marseille is where you will end up celebrating after a victory!

The Fish Market at Vieux Port is something you can not miss. Most mornings, specially on Fridays, fisherman gather to sell the freshest of fish. After a night out at sea, they come back bearing what they have caught, ready to sell and trade at the post. Everything displayed in plain sight and composing a colorful scene. 

 

10.See Pink Flamingos and Beautiful White Horses in Camargue

Location: Camargue, France

The Camargue is a region in the south of France located between the Mediterranean Sea and the Rhône delta. It is considered to be Europe's largest river delta. One third of the Camargue is composed of lakes and marshland/wetland, but this doesn't stop Camargue's residents from making a living in the region for many years. In fact, man has been a great contributor to shaping and preserving the land and making it a place abundant with unique breeds such as the beautiful camargue horses and over 400 bird species including the pink flamingo. This as well as a land where rice is cultivated in large quantities, alongside other vegetation and a large salt production.Through the founding of the Camargue regional park and nature reserve, man has been able to protect the environment in this region. 

There are different ways you can explore the Camargue! Perhaps by foot, biking, horseback riding, or even by helicopter if you wish. But of course, there's no better way to experience the unique land than experiencing it like a local.    

 

*Marie France: Quelles sont les villes les plus ensoleilées de France?

 

 

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