The Cloitre St Louis is a very affordable four-star hotel located in a former 16th-century monastery.
The rooms are quiet, spacious and very well decorated in a modern minimalist style and the breakfasts keep you going all day.
The hotel was an ideal location for non-car users, being a stone's throw from Avignon Centre railway station (not Avignon TGV).
Hotel Cloitre St Louis
20 Rue Du Portail Boquier
Avignon, FR 84000
I challenge anyone not to relax in Collioure, an historic coastal town just south of Perpignan and sandwiched between the foothills of the Pyrenees and the Mediterranean.
You can wander the narrow streets, ponder the meaning of life in a seafront café or march into the rugged hills and vineyards behind, where you’ll get a great panoramic view of the town below.
Seafood lovers should sample the famous Collioure anchovies. For foodies generally, Café le Vauban serves a never-ending platter of regional delicacies that redefines the term "bargain".
Collioure can be a great base to explore up and down the coast too. A train line runs through several towns, but be aware that all trains cease between around 1pm and 3pm, as is the Mediterranean way.
Where to stay: a good value hotel is Le Triton. Breakfast by the sea …
30mins on train from Perpignan.
A laid back, small town in the Roya valley hard up against the border with Italy.
Easily accessible by train from Nice and surrounded by beautiful hills perfect for exploring by foot or cycle.
Great entry point to the Mercantour National Park.
The town has its share of interesting buildings including an ancient bridge and the baroque Saint Michel cathedral set in an impressive town square.
With plenty of places to eat well Sospel is a peaceful haven away from the hectic coastal area.
Having been to many Michelin restaurants, I've never met an English-speaking sommalier so passionate or with such incredible depth of knowledge.
Further, she was delighted to recommend superb wines for €25/bottle.
Food was also first class.
Book in advance.
A 16th-century chateau set in beautiful grounds with a wonderful restaurant.
In the summer you eat on the terrace beneath linden trees.
Elegant without being pompous.
Set behind the shopping/commercial estate of les Milles just outside Aix off the Marseilles road. You go through the grand gates and into another century.
This gem of a car park is about five or six layers deep, with piped music. See the racks of gorgeous mobiles, incarcerated beneath the surface. Travel in the glass lift and emerge into a scented garden. It really is by far the best bit of the appalling cesspit that is St Tropez. In fact don't bother leaving the car park, you might be disappointed. The rest of Tropez is a vacuous, fake hell on earth, populated by desperate people who are all on show, all of the time.
On the main road into this souped up horror of a fishing "village".
Many places are prettier. Almost anywhere is less crowded and a lot cheaper, but St Tropez has to be the ultimate south of France.
Blag your way into one of the town’s big three beach clubs — La Voile Rouge, Club 55 or Nikki Beach — or as a last resort pay.
This is the jetset at play — Russian millionaires swigging Crystal and tons of beautiful, famous people you haven’t quite heard of.
Le Brulot is a fantastic French restaurant in Antibes. It does amazing steak cooked in a traditional wood fired oven (a brulot). They also cook wonderful fish, mussels and other seafood.
This isn't a particularly posh restaurant, it would probably be best described as rustic. However, the food speaks for itself and I always visit whenever I am in the area.
Le Brulot 3, rue Frédéric Isnard 06600 ANTIBES
Tél. 04 93 34 17 76 - Fax 04 93 74 83 94
Right opposite the station. You can leave luggage there as long as you have a drink or a meal.
Today I had the plat du jour: two lamb chops, ratatouille, potatoes and salad, all wonderfully fresh and €10.
Delicious French cooking at its best.
Restaurant in the centre of "Le Panier", the oldest quarter of Marseille.
Always packed, this is a restaurant without menus or, perhaps worryingly, fixed prices.
Expect delicious traditional food: lamb with rosemary, beef, squid, pizza au feu de bois and fresh fish.
For tourists, prices tend to come out at about €25 a head for two courses and wine.
The atmosphere is warm and noisy: go on a Saturday night for maximum fun.
43, Rue de Lorette , 13002 Marseille
Metro: Vieux Port
Tramway: Sadi Carnot
Take the train from Marseille heading West through the coastal villages of Niolon, Carry le Rouet, Sausset les Pins.
The track runs along the side of the mountain looking over the bay of Marseille.
Get off when you want for a swim and a drink and be back in Marseille for the evening. Or you could continue to Montpellier to see a totally different side of the south of France.
Marseille St. Charles to Carry/Sausset. For trains to Montpellier/Toulouse check the routes as they do not always take the coastal line.
Map: tinyurl.com/yt7ex7 (Marseille St Charles)
A square on top of a hill full of people, cafés, bookshops and a big fountain. Come here to get away from the crowds on the vieux port and see beautiful Marseille.
The atmosphere is relaxed: think Schanzenviertel, Hamburg or Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin in July/August.
Enjoy the view over the Cathedral of Notre Dame de la Garde at the end of 'Cours Ju' with a pression and some olives or browse the markets and boutiques during the day.
It's calm, yet cool, and a different side of Provence for those who want to experience the buzz in France's second city.
Metro: Notre Dame du Mont/Cours Julien.
This hilltop town above Menton claims to be the highest coastal town in Europe at 780m above sea level, although even with a catapult you'd struggle to dive into the ocean from here.
The views over Menton, Monaco and the surrounding valleys are truly fabulous and there are at least a couple of restaurants to admire them from.
The town is only 20 minutes drive from Menton, or less from the corniche roads and motorway, but feels off the beaten track.
For the adventurous, try climing to the old XII fort and medieval garden at the top of the town which are in a shambolic state of disrepair.
The town contains numerous vaulted passageways and you can admire beautiful houses dating back to the XV century, with their magnificently restored doorways.
For those looking for more recent history, the town is the entry point for a tour into what remains of the Maginot Line fortress.
The restaurant with the best views in town is Le Righi, 1 place du fort, 06500 Sainte-Agnès. Reservations are recommended and can be made on: 04 92 10 90 88.
Sainte Agnes is 10km north of Menton. Menton is near the French-Italian border.
I've fallen in love with the Pyrenees mountains since starting to walk the GR10 long-distance path from the Atlantic to the Med four years ago.
From the rolling Basque hills in the west up into the Haute Pyrenees, there are some absolutely stunning views along this trail.
You can do the lot in one go (500 miles) if you have the time, or do as I'm doing and do a little bit each year: I'm hoping to dip my toe in the Mediterranean in 2010...
Alternatively, pick one of the many towns near the route as a base and discover some of the circular walks.
You'll get to see some views that you'd never see from a car.
My girlfriend and I just came from a wonderful trip to the south of France. Our recommendation: get away from the coast and drive from Cannes to Avignon.
You will encounter the Gorges du Verdon and end up in a little village of Moustiers Sainte Marie. Try the Restaurant Les Santons. It has the most wonderful food, a chef who cares about what he cooks and is very romantic. It is much better than Alain Ducasse's La Bastide.
Take a day trip to Gigondas from Avignon. Everyone raves about Chateauneuf du Pape. This is much better. They have a tasting room in the village. Try their wines from 1999 to 2003 for the best. You will not resist taking a few bottles back.
A beautifully kept and secluded campsite overlooking the valleys of the Dordogne.
Particularly recommended for off-peak camping, the site also hires out "mini-chateaux". Very warm staff, great location with nearby watersports, medieval villages and superb local cuisine.
Camping les Hauts de Ratebout,
Fabulous and reasonably priced B&B (about £40 a room in June) in a small village (excellent restaurant and church, but that's it). Very pretty garden and pool.
The B&B is separate from the owner's house and has own lounge(s), spa, and use of a kitchen, which helps cut costs if you're on a budget.
Easy to get to Avignon, Pont du Gard etc.
24km from Nîmes.
Fly to Nimes airport, and either hire a car or get the bus into Nimes, then a bus to Uzes (bus station at back of the train station - this is the first stop for the airport bus).
At Uzes get a bus heading for Avignon which drops you at Argilliers on the main road. It's about 1 mile walk head for the church spire!
The French have no idea how to prepare a pizza. Once you've been confronted with a tartiflette topping you'll agree. There is, however, a notable exception to the rule. Chez Mimmo, tucked away in the backstreets of Avignon near Les Halles, is superb and cheap - but then it is owned and run by Italians.
19, Rue du Chapeau Rouge , 84000 Avignon
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