5 reasons to spend your summer in southern France

St Tropez, photo by Michael Gwyther-Jones

There is still time until summer, but many travelers who don’t winter or the cold (especially if you live in a temperate region) are proebably already dreaming of their summer getaways. Since a lot of people who don’t have much time on their hands during the year take time off work in summer, many of the more popular tourist destinations in France tend to be extremely crowded in summer. People from the city flock to the countryside and to the Azure Coast, and at the peak of the summer holiday period, in August, you might have a hard time simply finding a spot for your towel on the beach. Given that some of the most popular holiday spots in France are located in the south, it is wise to visit it in summer? Here are 5 reasons to spend your summer in southern France.

Roman Heritage and Van Gogh

While most summer tourists in the south gather at Nice and other glamorous beach cities, you can avoid the crowds by going to an equally exciting place that gets less visitors and is somewhat quieter. For a holiday filled with art and culture, Arles is the perfect destination. Arles is far from the madding crowd, and it can boast of some great Roman ruins, the best preserved of which is an amphitheater in the center of the city. Besides, Van Gogh spend quite some time in Arles and some of his best known masterpieces were created here – visit the Pont Van Gogh, the bridge in his painting.

Faded glam in St Tropez

Arles, photo by Wolfgang Staudt

If you want a beach city that is reasonably glitzy but not too glitzy and popular, you can head to St Tropez, a beach city that still retains some of its former hype. The rich own homes in St Tropez, but a regular tourist can also afford it too. The town was made famous by French actress Brigitte Bardot and by the Le gendarme film series from the sixties. The cafes and restaurants on the waterfront might be a bit pricey, but the alleys and streets further in have something for everyone.

Hiking and canyoneering

Not only beach addicts can enjoy a summer in the south of France – active holidaymakers will have their work cut out for them at the Gorges of Verdon, one of the most dramatic canyons in Europe. The gorges are a famous destination for canyoneering, but they also offer plenty of opportunities for hiking along the edges.

Medieval towns

Verdon Canyon, photo by Cyklista Danibor

You can easily find glamor and luxury in the south of France, but for those looking for a more authentic cultural experience there are more than enough small medieval towns where you can spend a lazy summer. Aigues Mortes is a phenomenal walled town with many medieval buildings, and the village of St Guilhem-le-Desert is acknowledged to be the prettiest village in France.

The cuisine

Provencal cuisine is famous, and of course the best way to enjoy it as much as possible is to visit Provence. But southern French cuisine in general is quite amazing, especially in summer when there is plenty of fresh produce and herbs. Olives, lavender, thyme, rosemary and garlic are used in many dishes, and seafood is a popular ingredient.

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