written by
Joe Boone

Second only to Paris as the country’s most visited region, the South of France is paradise for those wanting to get behind the wheel and hit the road. Here France’s famed terrior not only makes for some of the world’s greatest wines but for many equally memorable road-trips too.  
From castles and medieval cities to the Champagne region, and sparkling turquoise coastline of the French Riviera, the South of France is one of the most luxurious places on earth. Beautiful beaches, 300 days of sunshine per year, amazing cuisine, and a plethora of cute French villages to pop into only serve to add more appeal to this amazing part of France. Sprawling vineyards, lush lavender fields, the southern French Alps, and historic monuments dot the landscape in between.? 
May through October is an ideal time of year for a road trip through the South of France thanks to long, bright sunny days. And while you could easily spend weeks crisscrossing the country, a five-day road trip to the cities of Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Saint-Tropez, Nice, and Monaco make for a truly enjoyable travel experience as each city is easily accessible to each other on the same stretch of highways. Buckle up, you won’t be disappointed! 
Steeped in rich religious history, the ancient city of Avignon sits on the Rhône River and was once the center of western Christendom. Its stunningly massive Palais des Papes (Popes’ Palace), built in the 14th century and once home to seven French Popes, is the largest Gothic palace in the world and one of the most beloved monuments in France. Avignon’s historical center has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage list and is encircled by the Remparts d’Avignon. At over two-and-a-half miles long, this well preserved medieval wall was also built in the 14th century to protect the Papal Palace. Nearby, magnificent ruins of the famous bridge, Pont d’Avignon, still jut out across the Rhône as it did in the 12th century. A short drive west of Avignon is the Pont du Gard, a 1st-century Roman Aqueduct with three arched tiers, which is a definite must see.?? 
After a day of sightseeing in Avignon, head an hour east to Aix-en-Provence, known as “the City of 1,000 Fountains.” The birthplace of Post-Impressionist painter Paul Cézanne, Aix-en-Provence is gorgeous with its colorful streets lined with elegant private mansions that lead to numerous town squares and some of the region’s best markets. Granted a royal university charter in 1409, this vibrant college town’s wonderful fountains, peaceful gardens, numerous art galleries, quaint shops, and friendly cafes offer a relaxing respite. Don’t forget to visit the area’s famous lavender fields! 
Nestled on the Mediterranean coast, about two hours east of Aix-en-Provence, Saint-Tropez is one of the most famous and lively towns of the French Riviera. A haven for artists and world-renowned for its glitz, glamour, sexy beaches, and vibrant nightlife, this small town swells in the summer when the rich and famous descend upon it with their yachts lining its Old Port harbor. Feel the vibe of laidback luxury as you browse open-air markets and meander along the cobblestone streets of this once sleepy fishing village.?? 
Two hours up the coast from Saint-Tropez, on the shores of the Baie des Anges, lies the grand cosmopolitan city of Nice, capital of the French Riviera. Founded by the Greeks in 350 B.C. and later a retreat for the 19th-century European elite, this elegant city has long attracted artists, most famously Henri Matisse and Marc Chagall. Stroll the famous Promenade des Anglais, a four-mile seaside promenade where the beaches of Nice and the turquoise-blue Mediterranean stretch as far as the eye can see. Attracting 10 million tourists each year, you can literally eat your way through this town and its Provençal cuisine and then go clubbing till dawn.? 
The final stop on this grand road trip takes you just a short drive to Monaco. While the Principality of Monaco is technically a sovereign city-state and microstate on the French Riviera, its border is surrounded by France. Just a 20-minute drive from Nice and 10 minutes from the Italian border, Monaco is the world’s second smallest country, only half the size of Manhattan’s Central Park. Called the “Billionaires’ Playground,” it’s the world’s richest country by GDP and one of its most expensive. Fabled American actress Grace Kelly became Princess of Monaco after marrying Prince Rainier III in 1956 and her fairy tale story still attracts a large audience to her gravesite at The Cathedral of St. Nicholas. Main attractions also include the 13th-century Prince’s Palace, Monte Carlo Casino, Port Hercules, the Oceanographic Museum, the F1 Monaco Grand Prix, and the Monaco Yacht Show.  

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