Spectacular South of France in 3 Days
Where to go in France for a weekend? Hit the South of France. From the French Riviera to Provence wine tasting, this South of France in 3 days is a full, yet relaxing, travel itinerary – no car required – perfect for an easy, long weekend in France for the over 40 traveler.
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Before starting my solo itinerary, don’t forget to check out my great travel information on France, my suggested travel resources, and my Guide to Budget European Accommodations for helpful accommodation-planning.
South of France
Ahhh… the South of France. Long white beaches of the French Riviera, high reaching rocky cliffs, Provence vineyards and Roman ruins, charming villages, and blue, blue waters. Its dreamy outdoor getaway location luxurious to the eyes.
When I hear “French Riviera” I always think of To Catch a Thief. What can I say? I’m an Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant fan.
French Riviera is known for glamour. It’s long been considered the playground for the rich. It’s got culture going back centuries and is full of outdoor splendor offering for a variety of ways to relax. Without a doubt, the French Riviera is worth visiting.
Best Time to Visit South of France
Visit in the spring or fall, when the weather is still warm, but not too hot or touristy. I went in late April, which allowed for plenty of sunshine and dressing in thin layers with no bulky clothing.
You may need an umbrella, but the weather should still be very pleasant while you’re popping through different French Riviera locations.
Where to Stay in the French Riviera
Where did I base myself in South of France? Being on the eastern end of the French Riviera, I made Nice, France, one of the top South of France destinations, my home base.
Nice is the largest city along the French Riviera and an ideal place to stay during your long weekend in France.
Nice is known for its eclectic mix of café’s, bars, restaurants, outdoor markets, and white beaches all squeezed cozily within provincial, rustic architecture and mountains.
Where to Stay in Nice
If you are staying south of the Nice Ville train station, and within walking distance of Avenue Jean Médecin, you are centrally located to cover a lot within Nice, either by foot or by Nice public transportation.
The Nice Ville train station makes it highly convenient for venturing outside the city to other French Riviera towns.
Many day trip tours will leave from central or Old Town Nice.
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Things to Do in South of France in 3 Days
What can you see in France in 3 days? Check out what I did in the South of France solo over 40, without a car, and had a fabulous time.
Day 1 – Nice & Antibes
Catch the bus 17 from the Nice Ville station stop to the Les Arènes / Musée Matisse stop. The Musée Matisse is located on the hill of Cimiez close to the Franciscan monastery with Italianate gardens and the Hotel Regina where Matisse used to live.
The museum opens at 10am, so there is time to walk across the way to explore the ruins of a Gallo-Roman amphitheater at Parc des Arènes de Cimiez, free to enter.
Catch the #15 bus back to Nice Ville station stop for a day trip to Antibes.
From the train station leisurely stroll towards Old Town and the water. Grab lunch in an outdoor café or just some nibbles at the Marché Provencal.
Just blocks away from Marché Provencal is the Picasso Museum, located in an old castle on the water and hosts many of Picasso’s works spanning his career, along with other artists’ works. It’s a beautiful setting for beautiful art, indoors and out.
After the Picasso Museum, explore more of Antibes and stay for dinner, or head back to Nice for dinner.
Day 2 – Provence Wine Tasting
Get ready to get up fairly early on day 2 and get out of town on a French Riviera wine tour. This was another must on my list. I was eager to taste those Provence rosés.
I chose an all-day tour through Grape Tours. I liked the personal feeling with a small group tour and experienced wine tour guide. My tour included transportation, red, white and rosé tastings and tours at three well-respected wineries, and a gourmet lunch at a local, Provence bistro.
The particular tour I took is no longer available, however, the Elite Rock ‘n Rose wine tour looks very similar. I do recommend this company. You’ll be back in Nice by 5pm in plenty of time to explore and dine out.
If this doesn’t appeal to you, I would try one of these French Riviera wine tours.
Day 3 – Nice & Monaco
Your last day of the long weekend in France is perfect for grabbing a café and croissant and nibbling as you go through Nice’s outdoor shops and spaces.
Free Things to Do in Nice
Avenue Jean Médecin
Start at the top of the hill towards the train station and meander down this central street of Nice. It may be a good place to pick up a travel essential while you’re here as has the Etoile shopping mall with retail shops and international chain stores.
Keep strolling, or ride the tram, downhill towards the water and Place Masséna, a great area for people watching, soaking up the sun, and heading towards more free things to do in Nice.
Le Vieux Nice (Old Town)
If you’re up to it, go up Colline du Chateau (Castle Hill) for a scenic view.
Promenade des Anglais (English Walk)
Of course a stay in Nice wouldn’t be complete without walking along the 4.5 mile Promenade des Anglais. You won’t be able to keep your eyes off the bright blue Mediterranean (or sleek sunbathers).
Sunbathe yourself on the lovely beaches of Nice or sip cocktails on the waterfront and watch the world go by. There’s absolutely no rush.
After a luxuriously lazy day in Nice, freshen up because it’s time for a night out in Monaco, the 2nd smallest country, and only a 24-minute train ride away.
Monaco is known for royalty, wealth, glamor, gambling, and ridiculously large yachts.
Less than 2-miles in length, Monaco is surrounded by France on three sides. Monaco is walkable, but prepared to walk up some hills.
If you get there in time you could take in the Oceanography Museum.
What did I do? Well, where else could I get to play my favorite games of chance while sipping free Taittinger in one of the most beautiful casinos in the world? Yep, I went to the Casino of Monte-Carlo. How could I resist?
And it is beautiful inside. Make sure you dress appropriately. There is no dress code, per se, but you must have on proper attire.
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