While it’s hard to know the exact date we may be able to travel again, it actually might not be too far off. With countries announcing future plans for reopening their borders, many of us have already started to plan the best places to visit. Holidays give us something to look forward to, so it’s never the wrong time to get your travel wheels turning.
The number of countries we’ll be able to visit when the borders open might be limited, but we have our fingers crossed that France will be one of the countries we can start to visit soon.
If you’re looking for an escape from the cloudy skies, look no further than the French Riviera in Provence. Located in the South of France along the Mediterranean coast, this majestic region has been a popular destination for holidaymakers and one of the best places to visit in France since before the Victorian Era. With lively beaches and the quaint countryside, temperatures in this scenic region are mild, with average highs ranging from around 21°C to 27°C during the spring and summer months.
Your main gateways to Provence and the French Riviera are Nice Côte d'Azur Airport (NCE) and Marseille Provence Airport (MRS).
Pre-COVID, Nice Airport had heavy traffic from the UK, with direct flights from cities including London, Liverpool, Southampton, and Leeds. There were also direct flights between Marseille and many cities in the UK including Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Manchester.
While some of these flights aren’t currently operating, the majority of them are expected to resume during the months of May and June.
If you’re looking to book flights direct from the UK to Nice or Marseille, it’s time to start checking flight schedules. The trend lately has been for airlines to announce route reopenings around several months in advance.
With unrivaled coastal views, a rich history, and a wide selection of accommodations, Nice is one of the, well, nicest and best places to visit in Provence and France.
For starters, you’ll definitely want to visit the Promenade des Anglais, the stunning beachfront coastline that’s been featured on countless postcards. While you’ve likely seen the views in pictures, there’s truly nothing like taking in the fresh air and sunshine as you stroll along the Mediterranean.
Break away from the crowds and hop on a bus towards Mont Boron. Interestingly, this is the location of dozens of luxury villas and celebrity homes. There’s a slight hike to the top, but when you get there, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the port and old city.
A port city located within close proximity to Italy, local recipes in Nice have long been influenced by foreign flavours. There are a couple things you definitely can’t miss during your trip.
For one, pissaladière, a thick pizza-like dough topped with caramelised onions, anchovies, and olives. The combination seem a bit odd, but this delicious snack is an intricate balance of sweet and savoury complexities.
For a sweet treat, go for a classic vanilla ice cream or tourte de blettes, a sweet tart made cheese and Swiss chard.
Around two and a half hours by train west of Nice lies Marseille, a city celebrated for its diversity in culture and architecture.
When you reach the city centre, the first thing you’ll probably notice is Notre Dame de la Garde, a striking basilica that looks over the city. For a bird’s eye view of the coast and port, visitors can scale the steps to the top.
For a dose of culture, head to La Friche, a former tobacco factory converted into a rooftop venue that’s the site of a farmer’s market, bookshop, and skate park.
The Vieux Port (Old Port) is also a sight not to be missed. A fish market by morning and boardwalk by day, the surrounding area port tends to get quite crowded. Stop by at dusk for a stunning view.
The Provence Countryside
If you prefer to avoid the crowds or the beaten path while travelling, there’s Provence is still a great option. Luckily, it’s easy to explore the beauty of Provence without confining yourself to the big cities.
Located just a bus ride away from Nice is Èze, a seaside village with a medieval centre that’s perfect for exploring on foot. While local residents are few, there are some private houses and also hotels in Èze available for lodging.
Further inland is L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, a charming village known for canals and fresh flowers. Here, you’ll find winding, walkable streets and bustling antique markets held on Tuesdays and Sundays. Many art galleries and cafés have also popped up throughout the village. Nature is also very much in reach, and activities like hiking and horseback riding can be easily found.
The beauty of the South of France stands out especially during the spring and summer months. While you’ll probably want to hit the major attractions, some of the best places to visit in Provence are the ones less travelled. Don’t be afraid to be your own guide—you’re sure to discover some hidden gems.
Your trip to France might be your first time abroad in a while. It’ll be easy to get carried away with the excitement of post-lockdown adventures, but remember to protect yourself (bring masks & hand sanitiser) so you’ll be able to enjoy your trip to the fullest.
Be sure to keep an eye on the latest exit and entry policies because they tend to change without notice. In some cases, proof of a negative COVID test might be needed for international travel. Consider booking flights or hotels with flexible policies in case of any changes in plans.