des Arts de Vivre
The Art of Luxury Travel
Hill Top in Provence

South of France
or “Le Sud”

Luxury travel to
the South of France

From a picturesque perched village atop the cliffs of the arrière pays, beyond the fields of sunflowers bordered by cypress, you have breathtaking views of the Mediterranean.  The gentle breeze cools you, bringing subtle hints of lavender, rosemary and thyme—the smells so loved in the south of France.

From the sea, you can see the beautiful coastline flanked by plains and mountains, enchanting little villages perched atop hills here and there, the ochre tones of the Mediaeval constructions contrasting with the blue, blue sky.

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Photo of South of France expert guide

Working with AAV for nearly one decade has been a real pleasure! They always provide their guests with very special treat & unique programs, « off the beaten tracks » itineraries, where every single detail, specially the smallest one (because it is, of course, the most important one)… is anticipated and taken care !
They are deeply specialized in luxury travel and tailor made holidays. Endless inspiration and creativity combining top quality stays, the greatest journeys together with unforgettable human experiences. Get real knowledge and true understanding of the destination and the people.

Frédéric S. Expert Guide

5 things you don’t know
about the South of France

The south of France is a land of contrasts.  Geographically– the mountainous inland is cut short by long sweeps of coastline stretching all the way to Monaco and Italy.  And culturally, with the local workman and truffle hunters author Peter Mayle describes coexisting with the world’s most glamorous celebrities and nobility.
The region has a long, rich history, strong connections with artists and authors, and a wealth of local traditions.  Did you know…


The city of Arles has 2,000 years of history, existing since Roman  times.  Arles has been classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site.


Auguste Renoir, the renowned impressionist painter, spent the last seventeen years of his life in Cagnes-sur-Mer in his house “Les Collettes.”  His studio can still be visited today.


You don’t have to go to the Far West to see cowboys.  Head to the Camargue, near Marseilles, where real-life cowboys herd wild horses as well as the bulls raised for bull fighting.


Grasse, the perfume capital of the world, produces fragrance and flavorings for the perfume, cosmetics and food industries internationally.  The novel by Patrick Süsskind is set here.


Despite living in Provence for only two and a half years, Vincent van Gogh painted many of his masterpieces while living here:  Starry Night, the Cypress, and the incredible sunflower series.

South of France travel guide

Luxury holidays to the south of France are particularly lavish because the hotels in the curated collection of Académie des Arts de Vivre (AAV) in this region are so very indulgent.
In one of the best known perched villages of Provence, the idyllic Bastide de Gordes boasts breathtaking views overlooking the Luberon and the valley, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a kids club, and a Sisley spa.  The bastide is the perfect place for a luxury family vacation.
Les Baux-de-Provence is a natural setting of extraordinary beauty, the ideal location for the privately owned five star hotel the Baumanière, a treasure in its own right.  After unwinding at the hotel’s swimming pool and spa, dine at the gourmet restaurant (three Michelin stars); its menu is based on organic, locally grown produce.
An oasis of luxury, La Villa Gallici is an elegant hideaway in Aix-en-Provence.  The perfect place for a romantic getaway or simply some relaxation, the hotel feels tranquil and secluded, despite being minutes away from the Cours Mirabeau and the city center.

In the upscale village of Vence, the Chateau Saint Martin Hotel and Spa was once commandery of the Templar Knights (12th century).  It is now a 5 star hotel with palace distinction.
The Four Seasons  hotel, Grand Hotel Cap Ferrat, combines timeless elegance and glamor, with exquisite views from Nice to Monaco.  The hotel spa offers a luxury VIP suite for couples, the kind of pampering perfect during a romantic getaway.
Also on the Cap Ferrat, the Hôtel Royal Riviera is a 5-star hotel featuring a beautiful garden, private beach, outdoor swimming pool and sea views everywhere, including in the luxury rooms and suites.  Everthing at the Royal Riviera has been selected to create a hideaway that’s a little more beautiful and a little more serene than anywhere else.
These luxury hotels include guest rooms and suites – and even villas—all offer tailor-made options to make your honeymoon, family getaway, and luxury vacations unforgettable.

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Best luxury experiences in the South of France

Provençal wine tour
An unforgettable oenological panorama. Your sommelier will chauffeur you to the most prestigious wineries in the region:  les Domaines Ott, Chateau la Nerthe, Chateau de Vaudieu, Chateau Esclans, and Le Tavel, to name a few of the wonderful domains where we can open doors.  You will enjoy the privilege of private visits of the wine cellars and wine tasting with the owners of the vineyards. For more on our wine tours

entrance to private wine domaine

Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco
The roar of the engines.  The glamor of the audience, VIPs from around the world.  Watch the legendary Formula 1 Grand Prix of Monaco from one of the best seats, a bird’s eye view from a balcony overlooking one of the turns on the course, above the crowds, with full, gourmet catering.

Formula One Ferrari racing in Monaco Grand Prix

The Island of Porquerolles
An excursion to the Island of Porquerolles, an island just off the coast whose white sand beaches are reminiscent of Tahiti.  Tour the coast aboard your private yacht, hike in the island’s national park, snorkel (Porquerolles is said to have the best snorkeling and scuba in all of France), or simply relax on the enchanting beaches.

The island of Porquerolles just off the coast of the south of France

Art from the French Riviera
Discover the many artists inspired by the Riviera:  Picasso, Renoir, Chagall, Matisse, and Cézanne, among others.  A chauffeur will pick you up for a day trip to visit the workshops, villages and collections of these artists.  The Maeght Foundation in Saint Paul de Vence houses an unparalleled collection of contemporary art.  The garden showcases art by Giacometti, Calder, Braque and Miro. For more on our Art & History tours.

The Maeght Foundation in Saint Paul de Vence

When is the best time to visit the South of France?

What is the best thing about the south of France?  The glamour?  The countryside?  The weather.  Whatever the season, you can expect more sunshine than anywhere else in France.

The South of France in winter:
Winter here is mild and sunny, which is why so many of Europe’s aristocracy wintered here. It is the best time to appreciate the region’s museums, particularly art and ancient history. You can also ski; resorts are only an hour’s drive from Nice and 2-1/2 hours from Marseille.

The South of France in spring:
Many travel advisors consider March to May to be the best time to visit the south of France. Cooler weather, fewer tourists and all the beautiful wild flowers you won’t see at other times of the year. The region’s many gardens come to their full glory, in Eze, Monaco, Napoule, Cap Ferrat… The end of spring is marked by the celebrated film festival in Cannes.

The South of France in summer:
Since much of the region is along the coastline, summer is great for relaxing on the beautiful beaches, boating, and swimming. The long days are perfect for gourmet dinners on a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean and for concerts at one of the region’s many summer festivals. The famous piano festival La Roque d’Anthéron takes place in August, as does the floating market in Isle sur la Sorgue.

The South of France in autumn:
The crowds of tourists are gone. The water is still warm—so swimming, sailing and other boating activities are fun. Provence, especially, is famous for its light, as generations of artists have known. In the fall, the famous Provençal light has lost the harshness of summer, making this the ideal season for photographers.

Travel tips about
the South of France

Luxury travel in the south of France means seeing monuments which are off the beaten track, having local experts share their expert insight into local history and culture, and personal tour guides who have access to people and places of which others only dream.  With AAV a luxury trip is a unique experience, tailor-made for you with your dreams, your likes and dislikes all taken into account.  You will have private, exclusive encounters designed just for you.
A few tips to help you prepare:


Prepare your trip

Try to watch the movie My Father’s Glory by Marcel Pagnol, a delightful immersion into the culture and the perfect prelude to your luxury vacation to Provence.  If possible, watch in French with subtitles, to hear the lovely, lilting quality of the language, particular to this region.


The other festival in Cannes

Cannes hosts the film festival in May and also a fireworks festival in summer.  Once a week for six weeks, world-famous pyrotechnicians compete with one another to dazzle and delight you with the latest in fireworks technology choreographed to music and launched from barges near the beach.  Breathtaking!


Lose yourself in art

La Carrière des Lumières, the former quarry at Les Baux-de-Provence has two art exhibitions per season, although the words “exhibition” and “show” do not do justice to this sound-light-art projection in which you walk around within the art, completely surrounded by the oeuvres.  A powerful experience.


The Sails of Saint Tropez

This annual regatta in Saint Tropez showcases classic sailboats, some of the most beautiful ever made.  Many of the boats are over one hundred years old.  Others have competed in the America’s Cup and the Olympic Games.  The event attracts up to 300 yachts every year.


France’s Grand Canyon

At 25 km long and 700 meters deep, the Gorges du Verdon is considered to be one of Europe’s most beautiful canyons.  Visit by car, from the road on the rim above, for a panoramic view of the breathtaking canyon.  For the athletes, kayaks are available, too.

Unique family holidays
in the South of France

children having fun on paddle board

Family holidays for all to enjoy

The south of France is a great destination when travelling with your family.  The region has it all:  luxurious hotels, fabulous local cuisine, sports, shopping, kilometer after kilometer of beautiful coastline, and the best weather in all of France.
If you’re traveling with children, we will create special experiences for them, too. Depending on their ages and interests, we can arrange special outings. We will ensure that everything runs like clockwork so that you are free to create beautiful and lasting memories with your family. 

More on family holidays in the South of france

your trip

If you wish to schedule a time to speak about the trip you have in mind, please click on the “Tailor my trip” button and fill in our form. We will get back to you very shortly after reception of your request. 

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