My boyfriend and I just came back from a wonderful road trip in the South of France. It has so much to offer all within driving distance that it’s the ideal region for a road trip.
Although we realized we’ve been on many road trips lately; it’s just a really nice way to see much of a country. You just fly to a city, rent a car there and you’re ready to explore!
We went on a road trip in Mexico and Belize last December, in Montenegro last October and in Croatia last August.
And now we discovered the South of France. We flew to Marseille, rented a car on Marseille airport and went to cities like Nice, Cannes and St Tropez. We even went to another country: Monaco.
On this blog post I’ll tell you about everything we did and, as always, where we ate!
You can also scroll down to see our 2 minute travel video of our road trip in the South of France.
Renting a Car
I used to be a bit sceptic about renting a car. They often try to sell you all kinds of extra insurances and if you ever make a scratch you still end up paying a lot. If this is also your image of rental car companies, read on because I’ve got good news for you!
I discovered that Sunny Cars has Rent-a-smile Service. This means that you’ve got a great insurance on the car. No need to add an extra insurance when you pick-up the car (something other companies almost always do) and if you do make a scratch Sunny Cars will pay for it. You don’t even have to pay your own risk, Sunny Cars will take care of that as well. Great news, as this is often 1.200 euros! You also have unlimited mileage which is very handy if you don’t know yet where the road will take you!
And if you’re also going to France: you can load up all the bottles of wine you buy!
We love the freedom a rental car gives you. You can go wherever you want to go at whatever time you want to do it. That’s exactly what we did in the South of France!
Our first stop of our road trip was Marseille. We could get really cheap flights from Eindhoven Airport so it’s a great starting point for our trip.
Marseille is the second biggest city in France and mostly known for its port. It’s has an old harbor in the city center and you can find the new harbor just outside the town. Most of Marseilles top things to do and to see are around the old port. You have a fort on both sides of the entrance of the port. Most of it is free to visit, so you there’s no need to buy tickets at the desk unless you plan on visiting the museum inside.
There are also two beautiful churches in Marseille. On the Northern side of the port you’ll find Cathedrale La Major and on the Southern end, on the hill, you’ll find the Church of the Notre Dame de la Garde.
Most of the restaurants are also located near the port. Most of them offering practically the same menu with a lot of seafood and pasta for vegetarians. Finding a sandwich for lunch might be a bit difficult but I’ve got two recommendations for you.
One is Oscar’s Bagels, this place at the South East corner of the port has great bagels to go so you can enjoy them outside in the sun. They have 3 vegetarian options and a whole wheat bagel for a more healthy option.
Another healthier (and more affordable) lunch option in Marseille is Damdy’s, they have a delicious panini with pesto, tomato and mozzarella, several (vegetarian) quiches and delicious desserts (you’re lucky when they have their cheesecake!)
We stayed at Golden Tulip Hotel Marseille Euromed. This hotel is completely new and is designed with a new philosophy of Golden Tulip. You can read all about it in this post.
About an hour West of Marseille, in the direction of Montpellier, you’ll find Parc Naturel regional de Camargue, known for its pink salt lakes, wild white horses and flamingo’s. You can find the salt lakes south of Aigues-Mortes, a little town surrounded with medieval city walls. From here you can buy a train ticket for the ‘salt train’ that will take you across the area. In the summer, you can also rent bikes to discover the area on your own. If you’ve seen pictures of bright pink lakes, you might be a bit disappointed. Most of them are very well timed or photoshopped.
Now the flamingo pictures that you might have seen aren’t photoshopped! They’re taken at Parc Ornithologique du Pont De Gau. Read more about it (and see more flamingo pics) on this page.
About an hour East of Marseille you’ll find Saint Tropez, a coastal town that attracts many celebrities. This is where the ‘jetset’ hangs out and you’ll notice that straight away. The pretty little harbor is filled with enormous yachts and at some bars you’ll pay 9 euros for a glass of water. That being said, it is a nice town to spend a day and evening in. And if you have dinner at restaurant La Pesquiere it doesn’t have to cost much. This affordable family owned restaurant has good food for a very reasonable price. I had a warm goat cheese salad and my boyfriend went for the salmon. Big plus: the fries are perfect!
Going to the St Tropez area with kids, or are you a couple looking for some more quiet and spacious accommodation? Go glamping at Les Castels 5 star camping Domaine de la Bergerie! You can read all about it on this page.
Cannes is mostly known for the filmfestival taking place each year in May. But it’s a beautiful beachside town any day of the year! Most of the action happens near the waterfront at the palmtree lined boulevard. If you enter Cannes from the South West like we did, you can just drive along the boulevard to soak up the atmosphere in Cannes.
You can find small vending stalls every couple of meters on the boulevard. They make a great pit-stop when you’re walking all the way up and down the boulevard, but they’re also a very affordable lunch option. We went for grilled paninis and sat down for a lunch with seaside views!
It’s very difficult not to make this joke every other sentence, but Nice is very nice. Nice is quite a big city on the French Riviera and has attracted many artists like Chagall and Matisse. Nice has a big shopping area, an old part and a lively boulevard. The latter really comes alive late afternoon / early evening when you’ll find rollerskaters and skateboarders doing tricks.
Sit down at one of the bars close to the boulevard for some great people (and Porsches) watching.
Right behind the boulevard you’ll find the old part of Nice. It’s also in this area where you’ll find many restaurants, most of them serving Italian food. We went to La Voglia where the service is very fast, the waiters are very friendly and the plates are very big!
We stayed at a wonderful hotel, very centrally located near the shopping street called Grand Hotel La Florence. You can read all about this eco-friendly hotel on this page.
Monaco is actually another country, but it’s only a 30 minute drive from Nice and there’s no border crossing. So it’s perfectly doable to add Monaco to your South-of-France-road-trip! Monaco is mostly known for it’s Formula1 racing circuit. As you walk through the town, especially in the Monte Carlo part, you’ll see several aspects that show you there’s some serious racing going on sometimes!
One of the most impressive buildings in Monaco is the Oceanographic Museum. If you’re parked in the Palace/Museum parking garage you’ll see how the backside of the museum is build directly above a cliff.
Right next to the Oceanographic museum you’ll find Saint-Martin gardens for a beautiful stroll with seaside views. Continue to the end of the park and you’ll see the Cathedral of Monaco called the Saint Nicholas Cathedral.
After our stay in Monaco it was time to drive back to Marseille to end our wonderful road trip. In 4 or 5 days you can already see everything that we saw, but of course you can extend your stay to make even more out of your trip!
Click here for all my travel blogs on Europe.
Anne Travel Foodie is an independent platform, parts of my trips might have been sponsored but all opinions are always my own.