Points of interest

Hidden Gems in the South of France

Take a walk off the beaten path, and discover a different side to the renowned South of France.

Secluded enough for you?

The South of France is renowned around the world for its beautiful beaches, breathtaking mountains and charming vineyards, but there's also an entirely different side to the region, one that few people know about. To inspire you for your next trip, I've put together a guide to four of my favourite areas of southern France, from the calanques to the lakes and hills of the Alps. Simply take your pick, and plan your next holiday to this stunning part of the country today.

Sunbathing along Calanque d'En Vau

Hidden between the cities of Marseille and Cassis is the Calanque d'En Vau, a secluded and preserved cove that's perfect for beach lovers. Sheltered by towering limestone cliffs, this beach of bright white sand and turquoise water is only reachable via a steep path, which leads from the top right to the water's edge.

 Kayak across the turquoise water of this serene calanque
Kayak across the turquoise water of this serene calanque

Whilst there, you'll be able to relish in the peacefulness as you lie on the sand, or kayak further out into the water, to explore the neighbouring towns. If you're a fan of wildlife, make the most of the crystal clear sea by snorkelling, where you'll get to catch glimpses of local fish and their glittering scales.

Hiking from Ceillac

During the warmer summer months, the Hautes-Alpes department sees the snow melt away to reveal the bright colours of the blossoming alpine meadows and green forests. The picture-perfect place to base yourself when hiking through the Alps is the quaint town of Ceillac, a place surrounded by the department's soaring green hills. From there you can explore many beautiful sights, one of them being the stunning Lac Sainte-Anne. This glistening pool of turquoise is an absolute delight throughout the seasons, but is especially breathtaking during the summer. Make the most of the beautiful scenery and fir trees, and pack a picnic to enjoy along the lake's shore.

 The small and charming Ceillac
The small and charming Ceillac

Exploring the Provençal lavender fields

If you've always wanted to wander through Provence's fragrant lavender fields, a great place to start is at the Plateau de Valensole. Situated at an altitude of 500 metres, and close to the commune of Digne-les-Bains, this area of growing lavender covers an impressive 800 kilometres squared.

 Enjoy the fragrant scent of lavender as you stroll through the Plateau de Valensole
Enjoy the fragrant scent of lavender as you stroll through the Plateau de Valensole

Although tours are available throughout the year, the best time to enjoy the Lavender is between July and August, when pops of lilac-coloured flowers liven up the normally dust-green wheat fields. To make the most of your time there, celebrate with the nearby towns and villages at the various lavender festivals, such as Foire de la Lavande, and Fête de la Lavande, where sprigs of lavender, lavender honey and other delicious treats are available to try and buy.

Colorado Provençal

Named after the Colorado River, which runs through the red earth of America's Grand Canyon, this collection of ochres is a must-see for fans of France's desert-like southern landscape. The red and orange-streaked rock formations are an unusual sight, especially when compared to the rolling green hills that surround them.

Tours will give you the choice of walking or horse riding along the Ochre Trail, where you'll often feel as if you've been transported to the wild deserts of the US. The best time to venture towards these peaks is just after midday, when the sun is high and you can really see the colours in the earth - just remember to bring along your camera to capture the different tints and shades.

 Take photos of the many colours in the earth
Take photos of the many colours in the earth

Feeling Inspired?

If this post has inspired you to explore these hidden gems for yourself, make your way down to the South of France today. It takes just 35-minutes to cross the Channel with LeShuttle , so you'll be relaxing on beaches, and exploring the Alps in no time at all.