Wondering where the best small towns in Provence, France are? Now that the French borders have opened up to American tourists, you may wish to take a scenic drive through the many beautiful small cities in Provence, the southeastern region I love.
Small Towns in Provence
Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is a large region in the southeast of France, located on the Mediterranean Sea. Towards the north, you have the southern Alps mountains, and to the south, you have the sparkling Côte d’Azur – aka the French Riviera! The countryside is full of lush olive groves and rolling lavender fields.
During the tourism peak season of June, July, and August, the famous sights in the regions of Nice, Aix-en-Provence, Toulon, Marseille, and Avignon are quite crowded. That is exactly why you should consider visiting some small towns in Provence instead. By visiting off-season or choosing small cities in Provence, you will get a slightly better experience than the tourist who decides to visit the popular sites without worrying about the crowd. You’ll also get a taste of local life by visiting these smaller cities in Provence.
Here is our ultimate list of small towns to visit in Provence, France!
Make a stop at a magical town in the hills, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, simply known as Saint Paul. From a distance, the town looks like a nest. The town has preserved many middle-aged buildings, which include the walls that surround it.
Saint Paul is also the home to some charming little galleries, shops, art studios, and restaurants that will keep you busy. Wander around and always bring your camera with you to take pictures!
Antibes is a lovely and picturesque coastal city on the Mediterranean coast of France. It’s in the Alpes-Maritimes region and offers miles of sparkling water walkways and some small sandy beaches to relax on.
Antibes is one of the most under-appreciated towns in Provence. This is one of the best getaways for people seeking the Provence lifestyle and still want a quiet time to relax and rejuvenate. Antibes is a stunning Rivera town and is known to be one of the chateaus to Pablo Picasso. Tourists get to enjoy some of the best artwork in the city.
It is also home to some of the most beautiful floral gardens, yacht spotting, and you also get to visit Port Vauban. You can be sure that this town will help in making your holiday memorable.
The fact that Grasse is the center of the French perfume industry is enough reason to hop on a train for me! Given the fact that France is known for great perfumes, it means that when you visit Grasse, you will get some of the best aromas in the world. Grasse is among the small towns in Provence known for producing some of the finest food flavorings.
If you enjoy deep history, you can visit the Cathedral Notre-Dame-du-pay. This is one of the old buildings in Grasse that dates back to the 11th century. You will also get some of the best furniture ceramics and assorted artifacts.
Imagine visiting France and getting a taste of Italy? That is what you will get when you visit one of the small towns in Provence known as Menton. The charming town is found between mountains and seas, and it is the last stop along the Cote d’Azur before arriving in Italy. If you love the sun, this town is famous for having 300 days of sunshine each year – quite a lot for France!
It is also the home of some of the best and finest restaurants including Michelin-starred Mirazur. If you are visiting France to enjoy a great meal of French-Italian fare, I highly recommend a visit.
Be sure to visit during the annual Lemon Festival, if citrus is your thing!
Another hilltop stunner is Gordes. Gordes is a town that is considered to be one of the most charming in all of France. For those who enjoy looking at sunrise or sunset, Gordes will offer you the best view. During the summer months, the city is known to be the home base for lavender field exploration. Be sure to visit the famous Sénanque Abbey for some of the most beautiful lavender rows you’ll ever see – peak season is July!
Gordes is also an ideal destination for people who enjoy outdoor activities and making friends. Though the city is not big, it is known for having very friendly French people. It also offers great hiking opportunities for those who love to wander.
For those who enjoy the deep history of the French people and their culture, Arles is one of the best destinations for you to visit. It is among the best small towns in Provence for Roman history buffs. Arles is the home of the Roman Amphitheatre, which was used as a sports arena after it was constructed in the early 1st century. Now the theater is where bull runs and bullfights are held.
Arles is also the home of most of the Van Gogh paintings. For those who enjoy art, you will enjoy taking pictures of the art collection at the Van Gogh museum in Arles.
L’isle-Sur-la-Sorgue has been named the third-largest center of antiques in Europe. The town is famous for antiques and bric-a-brac stores galore. In addition, you will find a local market that is held each Sunday.
The town is also popular for the canals that flow throughout the town. It also has moss-covered whiter wheels that flow through the villages. These are the remnants of what was once a booming textile industry in the area.
Cassis is a Mediterranean gem that is found between Marseille and Toulon. If you enjoy seaside marinas and the French coastal lifestyle, then this is the town for you to visit. The town a stunning, privileged location along French Riviera. It also has several gorgeous French beaches that dot the town’s coastline.
Cassis is among the best small towns in Provence for people who like taking hikes. Cassis is known for its many Calanques – steep and narrow inlets along the coast which offer small sandy beaches to those who know how to navigate the region’s landscape. Be sure to bring a lunch – you’ll be in the depths of nature!
If you prefer, you can take it easy with plenty of shade when you get to the local Provencal market. Here you can pick up lavender-scented souvenirs. Cassis is a great French destination for those who enjoy swimming, kayaking, and other water activities in France!
If you are looking for a glamorous destination that has parties and nightlife in Provence, then you must visit Saint-Tropez. The town is famous for its exclusive beaches and clubs once frequented by the French elite like Brigitte Bardot. You will also find beautiful public beaches and lots of great shopping. You can also get to learn how to sail or book a private yacht for your vacation in the luxurious Saint-Tropez.
Imagine living in a Disney movie scene… That’s the kind of magical feeling you get when you visit the town of Èze. The city is perched upon a high cliff and has an expansive view of seas and medieval French streets. Though the town is small, it has one of the best Riviera lookout spots. It also has some of the most intriguing exotic gardens in France.
If you are planning to travel with your kids, Èze is one of the best towns for you to visit. The town has some of the best gardens, restaurants, and activities for the whole family!
If you are planning your next vacation abroad, France should be at the top of your list. France is known to be an excellent destination for families, friends, and lovers. One of nature’s most vibrant works of art is in Provence. There are numerous sites to visit and endless activities you can do in Provence, making it one of the best European destinations.