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8 of the Most Beautiful Towns to Visit in Southeast France (plus a bonus view)

Confession: When my husband and I followed the Tour de France in 2013, I was not prepared to like France as much as I did. I presumed it would be snobby and I would hate it.

I was wrong.

I was surprised to find myself being wistful for France after we returned.

In particular, the southeast part of the country was particularly appealing. Not only are the towns charming and the countryside beautiful, but flying into Nice is usually not much more expensive than Paris, and it puts you right in the heart of the French Riviera, which makes it so easy to get to any of the locations below.

Plus, doesn't feel a bit posh to tell your friends that you're flying into Nice?

With Mediterranean sunsets, fishing villages, cliff embedded towns, and a beautiful coastline that you just can’t take your eyes off of, there’s all the reason to book your flight to southeast France. But before you take off to this majestic area, see if any of these amazing places might fit into your next visit.

1. Cannes

This elegant resort city may look modernized, but it holds a ton of historical value. In fact, hundreds of years of history were made between this city’s walls. Aside from strolling along the coast of the mile-long La Croisette, dine at one of the many fabulous French restaurants and hike the Massif de l'Esterel, a coastal Mediterranean mountain range.

2. Cotignac

Nestled between cliffs and two 12th-century towers, Cotignac is full of stunning Provencal villages and vineyards. Less than 2 hours’ drive away, you’ll find the famous Gorges du Verdon. Perhaps you’ll loop through the Gorge on your way from Nice to Cotignac.

3. Menton

Near the border of Italy, the half-moon bay on the French Riviera is one of Menton’s most enjoyable sites. It is also one of the warmest resorts in the winter. As you wander through town, you may notice all of the citrus trees and giant sculptures. If you happen to be in town for it, don’t miss out on the annual Lemon Festival (Fête du citron), held at the end of winter.

4. Nice

The first thing you must do in this seaport city is head to the Cours Saleya flower market to smell and view all of the gorgeous flowers. You’ll also find local artists selling affordable paintings, which make marvelous souvenirs. Once you’ve had your fill of freshly picked flowers, make your way to view the Roman ruins on Colline du Château. Spend some time strolling along the Promenade des Anglais for some shopping and people-watching. And a little before sunset, find a spot at one of the beach bars. You’ll often find comfy armchairs and sofas, where you can sip a beer or glass of wine, listen to the waves crash on the pebble beach, and watch the sun sink into the Mediterranean.

Peillon, mountaintop village in France
Peillon, France - image courtesy of Mark Fischer (@fischerfotos) - Flickr

5. Peillon

This barricaded village sits right in the mountains of the Alpes-Maritimes. Walking through the narrow passageways might get tricky, but it’s worth it to see all of the medieval houses, vaulted alleys, and last but not least, the painted wall at Chapelle des Penitents Blancs.

6. Villefranche-sur-Mer

This alluring 14th-century Niçoise fishing village on the French Riviera is talked about for its deep harbor, charming old town, and excellent seaport overlooking the gentle Mediterranean waters. Walk down the cobblestone roads until you reach the Citadel St. Elmo and Port de la Darse.

7. Antibes

This harbor town has one of the most impressive coastlines in southern France. It is also home to the Absinthe Museum, the Exflora Museum, and the Grimaldi château, which is now a museum that contains the works of Pablo Picasso.

8. Vence

Vence is a medieval village that definitely showcases its past. While you’re here, visit the Cathedral of Nativity of Saint Mary, The Chapelle des Pénitents Blancs, and take a walk through the old town.


This cute town between Nice & Monaco is worth a stop. Climb up the tiny streets that wind through this hilltop village, and let yourself get a little lost. When you reach the Jardin Exotique, pay the €6 each, and continue up the hill to take in spectacular views of the Mediterranean. On a sunny day, your understanding of the term "Mediterranean blue" will forever change.

Are you ready to venture away from Paris, and explore the beautiful landscapes of southeast France? Let me help you plan so that you can get the most out of your trip!

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