10 May 5 Must See Locations in South East France
France is one of the largest countries in Western Europe, with an area of just under a quarter of a million square miles and a population in excess of 67 million. France is also one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, particularly with American travelers, with Paris the number one must see location for many of them. While it’s certainly true that the capital of France has a lot to offer, it pays dividends to visit other areas of this diverse and often breathtaking country, and as these five great destinations show, the south east of France has a lot to offer tourists of all ages.
1. Cannes and the French Riviera
The French Riviera is famous across the world as a place of golden beaches, blue skies and, above all, glamor, but it can be for more affordable than you might think. The coastal city of Nice has lots of reasonably priced accommodation, and you can easily make your way from there to the legendary resort of St. Tropez or take a short ride across the border to the casinos of Monaco or the north of Italy. The jewel of the French Riviera, however, is the city of Cannes. Famous for its film festival, it will forever be associated with the likes of Brigitte Bardot, and its equitable climate and abundance of high class shops makes it a great place to visit at any time of year.
2. Skiing Paradise in Tignes and Val D’Isere
The French Riviera is an idyllic place to relax, but if you want a more active vacation then you could do no better than head north to the Alpine resorts of Tignes and Val D’Isere. These locations have become globally famous as centers of skiing and snowboarding, hosting Winter Olympic events and regular World Cup races. These resorts have everything the keen skier could wish for, but they also cater for people who are new to winter sports, and the towns themselves are full of Alpine charm as well as having plenty of bars and restaurants to enjoy your off-piste time in. Specialist travel agents also mean that you can get a superb quality chalet in Tignes or Val D’Isere at a great low price, especially outside of the main skiing season.
3. Artistic Arles
One man more than any other has helped shape our vision of the south east of France, and he wasn’t even a Frenchman at all. Vincent Van Gogh was born in Zundert in the Netherlands in 1853, but he made his home in Arles in 1888, and changed the art world forever. His two years in Arles were his most creative, with more than 200 paintings produced there including some of the world’s most acclaimed masterpieces. He was joined in the house by the great impressionist Paul Gauguin, but their relationship proved stormy and Van Gogh veered into a mental illness that saw him cut off part of his own ear. Tourists now flock to Arles on the Van Gogh trail, and they can still see the yellow house he famously painted, and the stunning fields full of flowers that inspired him so.
4. Bustling Marseilles
Marseilles is the largest city in the south east of France, and it’s a city of startling contrasts that lingers long in the mind for those who visit it. Entering its bustling docks, it’s easy to recall its central role in the famous movie ‘The French Connection’, but a short walk takes you to some of the best street cafes, bistros, and restaurants in France, and of course you simply have to try the day’s fresh and delicious seafood there. The people of Marseilles, the Marseillaise, are also passionate about soccer, about music, and about the enjoyment of life in general. Whatever you love to do in life, you can do it in Marseilles.
The region of Provence in south east France has a lot to offer tourists, which is why it’s no surprise that so many people choose to retire and make their home there. If you’re a history lover, then you’re sure to appreciate Aix-en-Provence and especially Avignon. Avignon was home to seven Popes in the fourteenth century and it still has the spectacular Palace of the Popes as well as its famous medieval bridge that inspired the song ‘Sur le Pont d’Avignon.’ Its medieval center has earned it Unesco World Heritage recognition, and on a sunny day it is simply breathtaking.
If you’ve visited Paris and think you’ve seen France, think again. The south east of France is one of the most vibrant, colorful and exciting regions in Europe, and is worthy of an extended visit. Whether you enjoy shopping in Marseilles, people watching in Cannes, skiing or snowboarding in Tignes, or stepping back in time in Provence, you certainly won’t be bored. It’s a region that people fall in love with, but then again, the French will always be associated with ‘l’amour’.