South of France road trip itinerary: 7 days of glamour, food and stunning views
From the glamour and elegance of Cannes to the azure waters of Theoles sur Mer, the South of France has so many stunning spots to explore; have an opulent lunch, a glass of rosé; splurge on a designer bag or two.
Starting in the rural village of Bar Sur Loup with stunning mountain views, we slowly – and lavishly – worked our way to Cannes and along the coast to the iconic St Tropez; discovering hidden beach havens and the ‘Little Venice of Provence’ along the way. Here’s our ultimate 7-day South of France road trip itinerary.
The Provence-Aples-Côte d’Azur region in the South of France is one of the most beautiful places for a road trip in Europe. There’s everything from sandy beaches to quaint inland villages. The vast area unfurls from decadent Provence – blanketed with lavendar fields, wild mountains and olive groves – through to glizy seaside stars like St Tropez and Cannes, where you can pair Michelin-star meals with Dior pop-ups.
There are also smaller towns with plenty of history and charm to discover. Grasse is up in the hills, just north of Nice and is known as the perfume capital of the world. While the medieval village of Mougins spirals up into a pretty hillside and is home to art museums and pioneering restaurants. Don’t miss Port Grimaud – a little resort town with picturesque canals and a Venetian feel.
So, if you want to live out your provincial French fantasy in style, follow this 7-day South of France road trip and get ready to fall in love.
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Take a walk along the wide palm-lined promenade and do a little yacht-spotting.
Day 1: Cannes Old Town
Luxurious, romantic, unmissable Cannes.
If you’re flying into Nice, Cannes is the perfect first pitstop by car on your South of France road trip. Take a walk along the wide palm-lined promenade and do a little yacht-spotting as there are plenty just bobbing off the shoreline. If you love shopping, Cannes is unbeatable. From Gucci to Chanel – the city has more designer shops per square metre than anywhere else in the world. For five-star luxury, stay overnight at Hôtel Barrière Le Majestic, on the famous La Croisette Boulevard, with its own beach.
Head to Cannes’ beautiful old district, Le Suquet. An old fishing village, the atmosphere is more peaceful and romantic than the main city. Eat at Table 22 – a refined, classic restaurant with great service and an ever-changing seasonal menu. It’s headed up by former Alain Ducasse chef, Noël Mantel, who serves Mediterranean dishes with a twist, like the fois gras with mango and the fried chard ravioli. You can even hire him as a private chef for the evening.
Miles of soft sandy beaches dotted with dramatic rocks.
Day 2: Theoles Sur Mer
Soft sandy beaches and dramatic rocks.
Just 10km from Cannes, you’ll find miles of soft sandy beaches dotted with dramatic rocks.
Venture down to the harbour or you can head off hiking into the hills. There are so many choices for lunch with restaurants serving an amazing selection of fresh fish and French classics. For the most delicious bouillabase (fish stew), it has to be La Cabane du Pêcheur – a laidback spot right on the beach where you can eat with your toes in the sand. Or, for something more glamorous, try Chez Phillipe with a rooftop overlooking the Bay of Cannes and its own private beach.
Retreat to the rural, mountainous town of Bar-sur-Loup.
Day 3: Bar-sur-Loup & Gourdon
After the glitz and buzz of Cannes and the coast, retreat to the rural, mountainous town of Bar-sur-Loup for the next stop on your South of France road trip. Overlooking the Loup river, this spot used to be a fortified market town and you can still see the defensive walls and some sections of the castle today. Hotels and Airbnbs are relaxed but understatedly glamorous here – we loved Villa Aldaben with mulberry trees and a peaceful pool area. Or, L’Escale du Ciel is a boutique hotel with four stunning rooms, a pétanque court and panoramic mountain vistas.
In the evening, drive up to Gourdon – a hidden gem of a village perched on a rocky cliff edge. La Taverne Provençale was easily one of the best restaurants we ate at, partly thanks to the breathtaking mountain views but also because of the simple French menu. Sipping Champagne and breaking into the sugared shards of the perfect Creme Brulee is about as decadent as it gets.
It feels as though you’re stepping into a Provençal postcard.
Day 4: Mougins
Picturesque culinary paradise.
Just a short drive from Bar-sur-Loup, Mougins is a truly unique place. There are no cars allowed in the centre of the old village and it feels as though you’re stepping into a Provençal postcard with colourful stone streets, ivy-covered buildings and traditional squares. Historically, the place has been a hub for artists, with Pablo Picasso living here for the last 12 years of his life. Jean Cocteau, Yves Saint Laurent and Christain Dior have also taken inspiration from the area.
Now, it also has a culinary focus – in the 1990s Mougins became the most Michelin-starred village in France. Start your foodie tour with gelato at Le Glacier de l’Amandier, then opt for lunch or sunset drinks at La Reserve, a luxury boutique hotel with a panoramic lounge terrace. Stay overnight here if you fall in love with Mougins and don’t want to leave.
For dinner, it has to be Place de Mougins – a gastronomic delight. With Chef Denis Fétisson at the helm, the tasting menus are centred around a single seasonal product and for us it was the humble tomato. However, the dishes that emerged were anything but humble and included the most decadent multicolored tomato tart, 36-hour dried tomato with veal and tomato water raviolo (with edible flower petals of course).
No trip to this area is complete without a visit to the perfumed streets of Grasse.
Day 5: Grasse
Grand mansions and stacked provencal buildings.
No trip to this area is complete without a visit to the perfumed streets of Grasse. A charming rainbow of a town with grand mansions and stacked provencal buildings dating back to the 17th century. Check out the three famous perfume houses: Fragonard, Molinard and Galimard. Or, visit the International Museum of Perfumery to learn about the ancient craft. But, make sure to book dinner on the terrace at La Bastide Saint-Antoine for elevated Provençal dishes.
A day spent wandering the pastel-hued streets is a day well spent.
Day 6: St Tropez
Iconic Riviera town.
The best way to get to this iconic Riviera town is by chartering a boat or helicopter and arriving in style. However, if that’s not an option, avoid the traffic jams and leave the car at Sainte Maxime port, before taking the ferry over to St Tropez harbour.
A day spent wandering the pastel-hued streets is a day well spent – hang out in Vieux Port with the superyachts or follow the waterside walkway to La Ponche and its mini beach. You can also hire a boat for the day and explore the three capes of St Tropez: Lardier, Taillat and Camarat.
But, this is also the best place to splurge on the finest food and designer buys. Start with breakfast at Cafe Sénéquier. This place has been going since 1887 and the coffee is excellent – arrive early to bag a table on the waterfront as it’s a great place for people- and yacht- watching.
We booked lunch at Jardin d’Arcadia – the elegant poolside restaurant at the iconic Hotel Byblos. Led by executive Chef Nicola Canuti, the hotel has its own organic kitchen garden, so plates are fresh but indulgent, including garden bowls, caviar and hand-cut beef tartare. Or, if you prefer tea time, you can nibble perfectly made macarons and browse the the latest collection at the outdoor Dior Café des Lices.
One of the most famous coastal towns in the world.
Day 7: Port Grimaud
The perfect last stop.
‘Little Venice of Provence’
One of the most famous coastal towns in the world, Port Grimaud is the perfect last stop on your South of France road trip. Known as the ‘Little Venice of Provence,’ the port was actually designed and brought to life just over 50 years ago by architect, François Spoerry.
Beyond the colourful centre, there are two pretty sandy beaches and plenty of stylish cafés (ice cream at J’aime Les Glaces is a must). Take one of the mini electric boats for a spin around the ‘canals’ or hire a boat for the day and take a private tour.
Extend your South of France road trip.
Have more time?
Loop back towards Nice.
Extend your South of France road trip and loop back towards Nice – just 2 hours from Port Grimaud. You can explore the beautiful coastal city of Antibes, follow hiking trails along the Cap d’Antibes and finish in the spa town of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat.
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