When planning a trip to France, it’s easy to end up going to Paris. It’s obviously not a bad choice, because Paris is one of those super romantic cities that is, in fact, as lovely as you’ve been told. And Europe has the whole train thing down pat, so hitting up some other destinations while in Paris is simple. Nice frequently pops up on lists as well, because it’s gorgeous and warm and seaside, obvi, but hitting up these main cities — while brilliant — means you will miss out on the most delightful part of France.*
(*This said by a non-French person who can barely order coffee in French without getting “I will hit you with this baguette” looks. There’s probably a secret French-speaking club of people who know the really amazing places. So, y’know. Grain of salt.)
Paris and Nice and Cannes are lovely, but the lesser-visited gems of the south of France are definitely the small medieval towns that dot the coast and countryside. There are dozens of towns in France that will make you feel like you’re strolling through a peaceful, floral version of Game of Thrones, and they are not to be missed. Belle may have wanted something more, but tbh, you could do a whole lot worse than tiny towns in France. So to get you into that provincial life state of mind, here are five small towns in the South of France that will make you want to marry the Beast for French citizenship ASAP.
Nestled spitting distance from Nice and conveniently close to Monaco, Éze is the small French town of your dreams. Offering both views of the Mediterranean and the Alps, the city is swoon-worthy. On top of that, it’s a medieval town, which means the whole time you’re there, you basically feel like you’re in a castle. Literally, from the moment you walk up the hill, it’s magic.
♫ There goes the baker with his bread like always… ♫
While it’s definitely a tourist destination filled with pricey drinks and the requisite souvenir shops, it’s also got a bunch of small art galleries. As you casually stroll past storefronts, you see stuff like this chilling in the windows. Honestly, it’s ridiculous.
Plus, the seaside views don’t hurt at all.
BRB, moving to France.
Antibes is roughly in the same area as Éze, only instead of just a medieval town, it’s also been expanded into a more modern resort town. But really, walking through the medieval part is the fun bit.
Seriously, people’s doors just look like this. It’s like living in a lifestyle blogger’s Instagram feed.
And the streets are lined with flowers. Whatever.
Actually, not whatever — let’s keep talking about the flowers that spill over every stone-walled street. FAIRY TALE MATERIAL, GUYS.
Added bonus of adorable, adorable Antibes: You can check out the Absinthe Bar. You can taste the drink that inspired (or maybe just, y’know, inebriated) great artists and literary minds. (Spoilers: if you don’t like licorice…share this with a friend or twenty, because yikes.)
Even if you’re not into Absinthe, seeing the medieval town jutting out over the Mediterranean alone is worth the trip.
3Saint Paul de Vence
Okay, so admittedly, we’re biased and a little obsessed with Saint Paul de Vence. But not only does it have the best collection of priceless art you’ve never heard of secreted away in the Colombe d’Or, it’s just outrageously beautiful.
Every street makes you want to sing the Game of Thrones theme song.
Even the crumbling, but still gorgeous, medieval wall that surrounds the city has some surprise beauty. LIKE MORE FLOWERS.
In fact, you might not want to visit Saint Paul de Vence, because it will ruin every other town on earth for you, tbh.
Like most of these small coastal towns, if you find a good lookout point, you get three things. (1) An incredible view of the town itself. (2) A view of the Mediterranean. (3) A view of the Alps. Honestly, what more could you ask for?
Whatever, another day, another small town in the south of France that makes you feel like a princess.
Instagrammers beware, you might never want to leave.
And like most of the south of France, it’s all blue skies, all the time.
Seriously, though. Who wants to marry us for French citizenship?
If Carcasonne sounds familiar, that’s because it’s also a super fun board game. We’re definitely fans, but this time we’re fangirling over the actual city. Because WOW.
Pretty much expecting to run into a talking tea cup on every street corner.
Also, castle. Americans, let’s all have a moment of silence for the castles that we don’t have in our baby country. Sigh.
So, like… who’s up for a road trip?