France is the most visited country in the world and it is not difficult to see why. From the obvious attraction of Paris, to the rolling valleys of the Dordogne, there is so much to explore in this beautiful country. Yet is it the Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur (PACA) region of the South of France which remains a favourite among locals and tourists alike during the warm summer months of July and August. The region boasts a clement weather which draws people in their droves to visit the beaches, the hinterland and the vast array of beautiful architecture served up in towns such as Grasse and cities like Nice.
Whilst most visitors to the region begin their journey either in the Nice airport or train station, very few remain in the city for the entire duration of their stay. We have therefore decided upon a list of six fantastic areas to visit on your trip to PACA. It is a large region covering a variety of different landscapes, so you may wish to strap yourself in with a nice car rental service to access these great day trips in the South of France ideas…
This charming town does tend to fill up in the summer months, but is still more bearable than some other locations in the region. Grasse is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic including some of the famous local produce, as it offers fantastic sweeping views of the countryside below, and on a clear day, the view stretches as far as the Mediterranean Sea. One for families and historians alike, Grasse is the capital of perfume and has classes where you can create your own scent whilst learning of the origins of the industry in the town.
Gorges du Verdon & Lac de Sainte-Croix
Perhaps one of the best examples of outstanding natural beauty in the area is the Gorges du Verdon. Located around an hour and a half away from Grasse in what has to be one of the most spectacular drives in Europe, is the gorge which has become a huge hit with thrill seekers. Rock climbers are thrilled by the sheer limestone cliff faces and kayakers enjoy the waters of the lac de Sainte-Croix, which have a striking turquoise colour, a result of glacial meltwater and rock minerals. Anyone seeking a real adrenaline rush can take advantage of the paragliding on offer, which gives a view of the entire gorge, while those who would prefer to keep their feet firmly on the ground have plenty of routes to hike or picnic areas to enjoy
Lac de Saint Cassien
Slightly closer to the beaches of the Riviera is another beautiful lake, the Lac de Saint Cassien, which is located between the ‘perched villages’ of Provence and is just a short drive from Grasse. The lake is again quite significant in size and is a great place to spend a day of relaxation. Kayaks and canoes can be rented for the reasonable price of €10 per hour and it is famous in the region as being the best place for carp fishing. There is plenty of parking around the lake and if you have not brought along your own picnic, the villages of Montauroux and Fayence are just a short distance away
The infamous Saint Tropez is still one of the most popular towns in the Riviera for visitors. While a little distance down the A8 from Nice and Cannes, this glamorous seaside resort of has several interesting things which make it a worthwhile day trip. The port and old town are full of restaurants and really come alive during the summer months. Alternatively come on a day of a polo match and you can view the famous glitz and glamour of Saint Tropez first hand.
Agay flies very much under the radar when we think of Riviera towns, yet its beach is among the best in the region, particularly as it is large enough not to get too packed. The beach has the stunning backdrop of the Esterel Mountain range, which have a special red clay-like colour to them. Driving back from Agay towards Nice is sure to take your breath away, as the mountains have a sheer craggy look and extend down directly into the sea in many places. If you are looking to spend a day on a naturally sandy beach, Agay has to be one of your best choices in the region.
What list of day trips in PACA could not include Nice? From the beauty of its old town architecture, to the huge number of museums to visit there is so much that can be seen in here. The food is amazing and the Italian influence is clear in Nice, with hundreds of small shops serving the best ice cream this side of the border. Take a stroll down the Promenade des Anglais to see the instantly recognisable site of the Hotel Negresco and admire those out at sea on their luxury yachts. If you would like to add a touch of culture to your holiday, Nice has a wide range of art museums including the Matisse museum which is found in the beautiful Cimiez district which is also home to ancient Roman ruins.
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