Friday, May 29, 2009

Parlez-Vous francais?

These last few days I have been doing some research for a trip to Southern France. Looking at several locations, I think I have it narrowed down to two areas, Languedoc-Roussillon, specifically the Aude Department, and Provence & Cote d'Azur. 
Languedoc offers beautiful wine country, somewhat centrally located in the southern region, and amazing medieval cities. And if you're wanting to pop up to Paris, the TGV will get you there in four hours. The town of Carcassonne is a perfect base point for seeing many other cities, but also has a lot to offer in its own right. It boasts a fully restored medieval town, sitting on the bank of the Aude River, fine dining and local bistros, as well as quite a bit of culture to explore. Just northeast of Carcassonne is the region of Minervois- perfect for the wine aficionados. You can do wine tastings and see the small, ancient towns that dot the countryside. The famed commune Chateauneuf-du-Pape is a mere two and a half hours away, if you want a truly incredible wine experience. In the Roman town of Narbonne streets are lined with cafes and patisseries, a foodie's dream come true! Narbonne is a great day trip, easy to walk the entire town, and not too far from home base. Carcassonne is also close to Montpellier, the must-see college town of Toulouse, ski resorts, the coast, and the Catalan influenced town of Perpignan. 

As for Provence, there is so much to see there as well. Just to smell the lavender fields there would be amazing. For lots of hustle and bustle, you can spend time in the city of Marseille, visit the bird sanctuary in Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer, in Arles follow Picasso's footsteps, visit the Picasso museum in Antibes, or just relax seaside. A friend recommended the town of St. Remy as a base point. Like Carcassonne it's centrally located in its region. Here, you are within driving distance of the city of Avignon, Nimes, Montpellier, and Marseille. Some of its famous residents have included Nostradamus and Van Gogh (he committed himself here after cutting off his ear). Others like Gertrude Stein have spent holidays here. And in more recent times, you'll spot a celeb or two "hiding out" in St. Remy. The Gallo-Roman architecture is absolutely stunning, bistros are abundant, and don't forget to stop in at the chocolatier Joel Durand's atelier to see how his delicous bon bons are made. There are festivals going on in town practically year round, so there is bound to be always something to do. 

St. Remy de Provence (via French Essence blog)

Of course, if you really wanted to go all out, there's St. Tropez. Where jetsetters and movie stars populate the beaches. Hang out on your yacht by day and soak up the high-voltage nightlife in the evening. Be prepared to hand over some serious cash and show off your biggest bling. And as I recall, the train running into St. Tropez was infrequent at best. You can hire a car, but you will be sitting in quite a bit of traffic during the peak travel season. However, that may give you time to explore the gorgeous towns that surround St. Tropez. 

St. Tropez (via Style Pill)

Which location would you pick? Provence or Languedoc? Carcassonne or St. Remy? Or St. Tropez? Have you booked your flight yet? :)


  1. Carcassone is definitely worthy of a visit. Have you checked out Collioure? It's probably my favorite city in the region. And of course all of Provence is just heavenly. So have you booked your trip? :)

  2. Hmm... maybe I should plan a trip.