8 Things That Make The South Of France Special

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1. 5.4 Million Tourists Visit The French Riviera Every Year

Blessed with good weather, the French Riviera has been a hit spot for the international Jet Set and glamorous crowd for a very long time. The commercial airport in Nice is even France’s 2nd airport in terms of traffic after Paris. Depending on the day, between 50 000 (around mid-January) and 650 000 tourists (during the weekend of August 15) are visiting the French Riviera

Take A Tour Of The South Of France With Seasoned Travaler Rick Steves

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French Riviera: Uniquely Chic

2. There’s More To The South Of France Than Cannes And Monaco

While tourists traditionally visit the South East of France, the South West is an ideal destination for your holiday as well: more laid-back but equally sunny, this part of the country is popular with families – largely because it is less of a scene and less expensive than the Eastern part.

Hot spots include Biarritz in the Basque country, known for its endless surf beaches, Bordeaux and Toulouse, known for their decadent food and rich wine country.

Biarritz Beach At Sunset – Image Source: Pentax Forums

3. Art Is Everywhere

Artists love the South of France: Marcel Pagnol and Van Gogh, numerous artists have permanently or temporarily called the South of France home. As a result, visitors today can discover this unique cultural heritage in the many museums that abound in the South of France, including the Matisse and Chagall museums in Nice. If museums are not your thing, a stroll in the park will enable you to have direct contact with culture too, including the ancient Roman ruins at Monastery in Cimiez, Nice  or a 13th C. old castle in St Agnes.

A hotel called La Colombe d’Or, located about a 20 minute drive away from Cote D’Azur airport in Cannes, could be considered a dream for any art lover. Although it is by no means cheap, the hotel is covered in history.

La Colombe d’Or started out as a small cafe, and slowly expanded as the South Of France started to rapidly grow. The owner Paul, was an avid art lover, and would regularly exchange rooms and meals with his artistic clientel, for a piece of their work. Miro, Braque, Chagall, Calder, Cesar and Picasso were all regular guests and thier work now hangs in the hallways and suites of the beautiful boutique hotel.

Fernand Léger

Fernand Léger at La Colombe D’or


Calder at La Colombe D’or


Picasso At  La Colombe D’or

4. Local Foods Are Yummy

If you know something about French food, you know that there is not one cuisine. Each region has its own (vast) repertoire of dishes, including bouillabaisse (seafood soup), farcis nicois (small stuffed vegetebles), or fougasse (olive oil bread) in the French Riviera/Marseille area, and foie gras, sarlat potatoes (potatoes roasted in duck fat and herbs) or walnut cake in the Perigord.

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Farcis Nicois – Stuffed Vegetables From Marseille

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5. They Have Different Christmas Traditions

French people celebrate Christmas differently in Provence: celebrations traditionally start earlier on St Barbe’s Day, when families plant wheat germs for good fortune. People also shop at Christmas markets for ‘santons’, hand-painted terracotta nativity scene figurines that they will place under the Christmas tree. Christmas Eve dinner is an event of its own: known for its ’13 desserts’ feast, dishes traditionally include nougat, dates and other local delicacies.

santons de provence
Santons De Provence (Terracotta Figurines for Christmas) Image Source: Saint Pauldevence

6. They Speak A Different Language

And they are proud of it: people still read their local papers and watch the local news in their own regional dialects or patois. However, patois are not intelligible with standard French and vary from region to region. But French children have the option to learn the local dialect at their school if they haven’t learnt it from their family members.

7. It’s Not All About Food Or Tourism

The South of France may be known for its good wines, produce and olive oil and does attract many visitors every year. But other sectors drive the economy as well. In the Nice-Antibes area, for example, the Sophia Antipolis technology park welcomes 1,400 innovative companies and R&D centers, including IBM, Cap Gemini and the Toyota Development studios. I couldn’t think of a better place to unwind after a long day of coding than a south of France beach.

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A 5 minute drive to the beach from your R&D office. Image Source: Data Science Tech Institute

8. But It’s A Lot About Glamour

The Eastern part of the South of France is known for its people watching: people love to spend hours at the café to see, be seen – and gossip. In the French Riviera, it is not unusual to see the priciest exotic cars, yachts and jets – and not just during the Cannes Film Festival. Historically, the ‘Côte d’Azur’ has always attracted the Jet Set and aristocracy, including nobles looking for a sophisticated, rejuvenating retreat, Russian émigrés following the fall of the Russian Tsar in 1917 and the entertainment crowd in St Tropez since Brigitte Bardot transformed this rustic fisherman village into a hot spot.


monte carlo casino car park
Monte Carlo Casino Car Park

Additional Content: 10 French Holiday Towns That Most American’s Don’t Know About