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Thursday, 14 August 2014

Explore the real hidden gems of Provence

Enjoy the calm and remote beaches, explore the Mediterranean fjords and untouched mountain scenery and experience the unique atmosphere Provence has to offer. We have many Luxury Holiday Villas with private pool in Provence from where you can explore this popular and famous area!

Getting to Provence could not be easier – many airline companies fly to Marseille, Avignon or Toulon-Hyeres. You can also get the high-speed train, TGV, which only takes approximately 3h 15 minutes from Paris to Marseille. All the major car-hire companies are situated at the airports so why not hire a car for your holiday in Provence.

Summers are busy in Provence but if you want to visit the area when it’s less crowded, try April/May or September/October. The weather is lovely during those months and you get to experience more since there are less people and less traffic. We have a choice of Holiday villas in Provence with availability in spring/autumn – have a look at our Provencal holiday property selection.

Here are the top 5 hidden gems in Provence you can visit during your stay in the area:

Les Calanques
Known as the ‘Mediterranean fjords’, les Calanques are only a short drive away from Marseille. These limestone cliffs are 12 000 years old and they plunge into the Mediterranean sea. Starting from the coast of Marseille and ending to Cassis, there are 24 calanques, or inlets, on this 20-kilometre stretch of coast. The most popular inlets are the ones closest to Marseille and Cassis since it is easy to access them. However, if you want peacefulness and solitude, try the inlets that are a bit further away. Some of the calanques can only be accessed by foot or a boat so make sure you’re wearing some good hiking boots! Have a look at our Luxury Holiday Villas with private pool close to the Calanques, namely the Vacation Villa in Cassis.

Calanques ocean villa rental
Les Calanques

Les Dentelles de Montmirail
The Dentelles de Montmirail are a small chain of mountains in the Vaucluse department and this traditional and peaceful corner of the region is perfect for a few days of relaxation. The foot of the Dentelles is surrounded by vineyards and there are multiple wine domaines in the area to visit and do wine tasting. It is a spectacular area offering climbing and biking and feels ‘untouched’ even if it is close enough to big towns. Book your Holiday Villa in the Vaucluse, South of France, and explore the beautiful Dentelles de Montmirail! Have a look at Le Ventoux - it sleeps 6-7, has a private swimming pool and is only a short drive away from the Dentelles. If you are looking for a bigger villa, try Mas Colombiere which sleeps 10 people and is located in the heart of Provence. 

Views over the mountains Dentelles du Montmirail
Les Dentelles du Montmirail

Les Alpilles
One of Van Gogh’s favourite places in the world, the Chaîne des Alpilles is a small range of mountains situated 20km from Avignon. The beautiful traditional Provencal villages in the area are the perfect location for a relaxing day, or if you are the sporty type you can climb up the mountains and admire the stunning view from the top. Our beautiful Mas Olives sleeps up to 10 people and has superb views of the Alpilles mountains!

Villa rental close to the Alpilles
Les Alpilles

Best known for its white horses, black bulls and flamingos, it is also the area where Provence has it's own 'cowboys'. It is considered to be the largest river delta in Western Europe and covers parts of the territory of the commune of Arles. The landscapes in the Camargue are very unique and different compared to rest of the South of France – discover Camargue yourself and stay in the luxurious Villa Nadege, situated close to the Camargue. It sleeps 12 people, has a heated private pool and stunning views. Have a look at Artists House too - a large family villa close to the Camargue with a swimming pool, sauna, small gym and a snooker table. 
Infamous white horses Camargue France
The white horses of Camarque

Le Panier, Marseille

Marseille’s Old Town, Le Panier, is a charismatic part of the city. Surging up from the Vieux Port, it was once condemned as an overpopulated underworld but has now some of Marseille’s brightest artists, designers and craftspeople. The best way to explore this part of the city is by foot – there are excellent crafts and designer shops as well as some great art galleries for you to visit. There are many restaurants and French bistros to enjoy lunch or experience the beautiful evening light when the sun comes straight down the street making this part of the city look absolutely magical. Le Charité Café is a great place to visit – it has a peaceful terrace and is the perfect little bistro if you want simple lunch.  If you are looking for a place for dinner, try La Virgule – one of the best restaurants along the Northern edge of the Vieux Port. It has an outdoor terrace and it offers amazing views of the Old Port and Notre Dame de la Garde. Our Villa du Jardin is situated close to the beautiful Aix-en-Provence, only about 25 minutes from Marseille! It sleeps 8 and is the most charming Provencal villa.

Marseille le Panier
Le Panier, Marseille

If you would like to find out more about any of the featured properties above, or any of our other holiday villas in the South of France, Corsica or Morocco, please don't hesitate to get in touch!

UK: +44 (0)20 70 60 64 14
France: +33 (0)4 67 36 05 54

Friday, 25 July 2014

Top 10 Beaches in the Languedoc

Whether you want to enjoy the peacefulness of the remote beaches or top up your tan in the livelier ones, Languedoc has something for everyone’s taste. We offer a wide selection of luxury holiday villas in Languedoc, South of France.This is a guide to some of the best beaches in the Languedoc region and they are only a short drive away from your French holiday villa! 

La Corniche
The North side of the beach has a parking lot that is very big and free of charge. There are few nice restaurants, night clubs and cafes so it is the perfect spot for everyone. The South side of La Corniche is thinner and has a wilder feeling since there are no buildings close by. Have a look at our luxury holiday villas in Sète, in the Languedoc - they are all close to La Corniche and other stunning beaches in the Languedoc.

Luxury Villas in La Corniche
La Corniche

Situated in Cap d’Agde, this lovely beach with fine sand is a great spot for a day at the beach – it is situated approximately 3km from the centre of Cap d’Agde making it easy to get there if you are renting one of our French holiday homes on the beach. It is one of the best and most popular beaches in Cap d’Agde so make sure to get there early in the morning to get a parking spot. Check out our villa rentals with pool in Cap d'Agde in the Languedoc.

Villa rentals with private pool on the beach

In between Cap d’Agde and Valras Plage, Vias is a sheltered beach with a line of grassy sand banks. The water is shallow and the beach is calm making it the perfect location for families with little children. There are restaurants, cafes and bars behind the beach where you can sit in the shade with a cold drink during the hottest hours of the day. The beach is easily accessible and is approximately a 25-minute drive away from Béziers.

South of France Family Holidays in Vias
Vias Beach 

Situated right next to Sérignan, the Portiragnes beach is family oriented and relatively quiet. With fine sand and a dog-friendly area, it is the perfect choice if you want to spend the day on a beach that is not massive. There are few bars and restaurants but they are separated from the beach by a car park. Have a look at our holiday beachfront villa for rent in Portiragnes plage.

Languedoc luxury villas on the Portiragnes beach
The 3.2km Sérignan beach is the perfect spot for everyone – it offers plenty of space to spread out. The sand dunes at the back protect the beach and give it a wild and remote feeling. There are few restaurants and beach bars behind the sand bank – enjoy a drink or two after a day at the beach! There is a naturist section at the far left of Sérignan.

Languedoc Serignan Beach, family villas in the South of France
Valras is a good option if you’re looking for a beach that is a bit livelier. It has many shops, bars and restaurants where you can enjoy lunch or have some drinks. It is one of the big town beaches and not as calm as Sérignan and Portiragnes but offers a lot to do. Have a look at our beachfront villas in Valras in the South of France.

Valras Plage in Languedoc, great beachfront villas
Valras Plage
Port Leucate
Situated in the South of Narbonne, it is a very popular beach amongst the wind and kite surfers.  The sand is gritty and the beach is separated by a promenade where you can roller skate. Perfect for families since there are nice bars, restaurants and cafes as well as plenty of parking space. We have many holiday villas for rent on the beach, near Narbonne, Languedoc.

Holiday villa rentals close to Narbonne
Port Leucate
Argèles North
A massive beach with gorgeous views of the Pyrenees. This beach is often described as one of the best ones in France and it has plenty of space to spread out. Holiday homes and campsites are situated right next to the beach but they are separated by trees and flowers. There are plenty of cafes, bars and restaurants to enjoy lunch or drinks. If you’re feeling adventurous or have had enough of sun bathing, try one of the sea-related activities! We have a selection of luxury holiday villas in Collioure with private pools and within walking distance of the beach.

Villa rentals on Argeles Beach in Languedoc
Argeles North
Lake Salagou
If you want to explore a different type of a beach, try Salagou, Languedoc’s best-known lake. The lake is clean but the water can appear a bit dark because of the nature of the local earth. There are lots of trees around the lake providing shade so you can spend the whole day there. 

Holiday rentals close to the Lake Salagou in the South of France
Lake Salagou

One of the most beautiful villages in France, the Orb river in Roquebrun offers clean and clear water. Flip flops are necessary since the beach and the river bed are stony. Roquebrun is a popular place for canoeing and you can rent them for a few hours or for a couple of days.  The village is small but stunning and it has a couple of very nice restaurants where you can enjoy the view over the river. Have a look at our private holiday villas with pool in Roquebrun, in the Languedoc. 

Roquebrun holiday properties in Languedoc

Book your French holiday villa in the South of France with us!
We have a wide selection of beautiful luxury villas close to all the stunning beaches in the Languedoc region:

If you want to stay close to La Corniche beach, have a look at Villa Setoise [HE063A], a stunning beach front villa with an infinity pool. It is now on special offer with 20% off the weekly prices in August and September! 
The sister property [HE065A] Villa St Clair has amazing views, a gorgeous glass fronted pool and is on special offer as well! 

If you prefer to stay in Cap d'Agde or nearby, we have a wide selection of villas in the area. Check out the beautiful beachfront villa Rochelongue [HE005A] - it has gorgeous sea views and is ideal for families. 
Another stunning villa that is perfect for families is La Bagatelle [HE061A]. Situated on the Rochelongue beach, this contemporary villa has breathtaking sea views and the most enviable position on the white sandy beach. 
Les Rocailles [HE044A] is a stunning beachfront villa with heated pool and a large garden making it a perfect family villa. All the local amenities are nearby or right on the beach.
If you are looking for a smaller property, have a look at the charming Cap Camarine [HE052A] - it is on the beautiful Rochelongue beach!

If you're looking to stay in Valras, Villa Fabienne [HE004A] is directly on the beautiful sandy beach. The pool is completely fenced and the restaurants, bars and cafes are all within a walking distance. It is ideal for a family holiday in the South of France!
If you have many people coming on a holiday in the Languedoc, you can also book the whole property - click on Villa Fabienne [HE004B] for more information. 
Have a look at Villa St Pierre [HE067A] as well - it is right on the Valras beach and sleeps 8. 

If you're interested in staying close to the Port Leucate check out the stunning Laguna Beach Chalet [AU024A] - it is on the beach and has been renovated recently. It is the perfect location for your holiday in the South of France!

For those wanting to stay in the stunning village of Roquebrun, La Grange [HE083A] is a lovely Provencal style farmhouse only a few steps from the River Orb. It is spacious and has breathtaking views over the river. 
When you're looking for a bigger villa in Roquebrun, Maison Mimosa [HE074A] is the perfect choice - it sleeps 14, has a sauna and a heated indoor pool and the river beach is right next to this Languedoc house!

If you would like to find out more about any of the featured properties above, or any of our other holiday villas in the South of France, Corsica or Morocco, please don't hesitate to get in touch!

UK: +44 (0)20 70 60 64 14
France: +33 (0)4 67 36 05 54

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Exploring Sommieres, Uzes and the Foothills of the Cevennes

Nestled between the Camargue and the Cévennes National Parks, this part of France is truly beautiful, with a landscape of vineyards, olive groves, lavender fields and is dotted with ancient stone ruins.You will be enchanted by the rustic perfectness, and will be thrilled you chose to holiday here.

Provence Holiday Villas near the Cévennes
The Cévennes National Park
The ancient roman road; the Via Luteva, leads into the charming town of Sommières, crossing the ancient roman bridge over the river Vidourle. It is best to park just outside the town and walk across the bridge. At the town end of the bridge you will see the gothic town gate, known as the “Tour de l’Horloge” due to its large clock face. Once inside the town, relax and take your time exploring the many independent artisan boutiques and restaurants. The narrow cobbled streets lead to a series of squares lined with street cafés. Artists take their place here to paint the Provençal scene. Walking along the tree-lined river will bring you to the town centre.
Rent a Villa in Sommieres
Sommieres from the Bridge and the Tour de l'Horloge

There are many activities to enjoy in or close to Sommières; Canoeing on the river Vidourle, Cycling along one of the many cycle routes in the area such as the circuit from nearby Calvisson to Sommières, Fishing – you can buy a pass from the local tourist office. The colourful Saturday Market is not to be missed!


At only 13 kilometres from the UNESCO certified Pont du Gard, the delightful small town of Uzès certainly has the Provençal charm one is looking for whilst on holiday in the region. The skyline is dominated by the cathedrals 42 metre high Lombard-style bell tower, the Tour Fenestrelle. The chateau in the centre of town, named the Duche, has been owned by the Cressol family for the past 1000 years. Uzès is famed for its Week-End de la Truffe, a celebration of the prized elusive truffle, which takes place mid-January every year. The Uzès Museum is perfect for art lovers and also displays archaeological and pre-historic artifacts. The roman architecture coupled with the many “secret gardens” around the town make Uzès a very pretty place to be.

Holidays in the South of France
The Colourful Market on the Place des Herbes, Uzes
The Chateau is open for visitors on Saturdays. The market in Place des Herbes is on Wednesdays and Saturdays. The Pont du Gard displays an amazing light and sound show in mid-June. The Musée du Bonbon (also known at the Haribo Museum) is also nearby and is a popular choice for kids.

Vacations in Provence
The Cévennes Steam Train
Alès and the Cévennes
Moving north, the garrigue becomes greener and hillier, you come to the Cévennes National Park, and the town of Alès, also known as the second city of the Gard department and the Capital of the Cévennes. This town, perhaps described as more modern than Sommières and Uzès has an annual festival - the Estiv’Alès; a free event which takes place every July and August – with music concerts throughout the town. There is also “Cévennes Week” an event which sees costumed pageants around the town demonstrating the history of the Cévennes – it takes place in March.
Great days out in the area include - La Bambouseraie a bamboo forest, rare in Europe, which was created in 1856. With many exotic trees and plants. The Cévennes Steam Train is a lovely relaxing way to explore the countryside.

If all of this hasn’t whetted your appetite for a holiday in eastern Languedoc or Provence, here are a few more examples of things to do in the Gard department:
Family Holiday Rentals
The Beaches at La Grande Motte
The Beaches at La Grande Motte and Le Grau de Roi are not far away.
The cosmopolitan cities of Montpellier and Nîmes are ideal if you are looking for a retail fix! With plenty of restaurants, nightlife, cinemas, ice skating, museums and events throughout the year – there is always something going on, even if you visit during the winter months!
Wine Tasting – You will not have to venture far from your holiday villa to find a local wine producer who will provide you with a tour of the estate and a wine tasting!
If you enjoy the great outdoors, activities such as climbing, hiking, mountain biking and paragliding can all be done whilst visiting Pic Saint Loup, 30kms to the north of Montpellier.

Vacation Rentals near Montpellier and Nimes
The Impressive Pic Saint Loup
Getting There
It is now easier than ever to reach your self-catering holiday villa in the Languedoc or Provence. Eurostar have now extended their direct 6 hour summer service from Ashford to Avignon by two weeks and will be permanent from 2015. There are flights available from the UK to Nimes, Avignon, Marseille, Beziers and Montpellier. Or, if you are driving, the port of Calais is approximately 600 miles away.

Book Your Holiday Villa With Us!
Here are a selection of our luxury family properties in the eastern Languedoc and Provence near the towns of Sommieres, Uzes and Ales:

Vacation Rental in the South of France
Restored Stone-Built Luxury Property near Uzes - Bastide de la Soie (Ref: GR014A) Sleeps up to 12 People, has 2 Pools, Wi-Fi, Air-Conditioning and Incredible Views
A Stunning 140 Acre Estate - Domaine de Montmel (Ref: HE085A), near Sommieres, has Breathtaking Views and an Infinity Pool. The Property Sleeps up to 28 People and is Perfect for Large Events and Weddings
Watch a YouTube Video of Domaine de Montmel

Large Vacation Rental in the South of France
Between Nimes and Montpellier, Sleeping up to 12 People, Artists House (Ref: GR002A) is Equipped with Sauna, Snooker Table and Gym. The Villa has 6 Bedrooms, a Large Garden and Air-Conditioning, Ideal for 2 Families Holidaying Together!
Vacation Villa with a Pool for 12 People
Villa Nadege (Ref: GR008A) is a Large Country House with a Stunning Summer Kitchen, Pool, Gym and 6 Bedrooms. Situated just South of Ales.
Vacation Property Sleeps 10
A Hilltop Farmhouse in the Cevennes, Mas Sevenne (Ref: GR009A) is a Stone-Built Bastide with a Private Pool near St Hippolyte du Fort. All Rooms have Stunning Views. Sleeps 8-10 in 4 Bedrooms.
Vacation Villa Sleeps 12-14 near Sommieres
Bastide Langlade (Ref: GR011A) is a Charming Renovated 18th Century Winemakers House near Sommieres. On the Edge of a Pretty Village with Open Views to the Countryside. Sleeps 12 - 14 People in 5 Bedrooms.
Holiday for Large Groups in Provence
Domaine Fontaine du Mas, (Ref: GR010A) is a Large Farmhouse Property near Uzes which can Sleep up to 30 People. It is Perfect for Events and Wedding Celebrations.
Vacation Property Provence Sleeps 9
Le Vieux Moulin, (Ref: GR012A) is a Large 17th Century Water Mill near Sommieres Offering 3 Separate Gites Sleeping up to 27 People - Ideal for 3 Families. The Gites can also be Rented Separately for Smaller Groups (Property References: GR012B - Sleeps 9 GR012C - Sleeps 9 and GR012D - Sleeps 9)
If you would like to find out more about any of the featured properties above, or any of our other holiday villas in the South of France, Corsica or Morocco, please don't hesitate to get in touch!

UK : +44 (0)20 70 60 54 14
France: +33 (0)4 67 36 05 54
email: info@southfrancevillas.com


Friday, 27 June 2014

Why is it a Great Time to Rent a Villa in the South of France? The Sterling Surges!

Why is it a great time to rent a villa in the South of France?  Expert currency advice from our guest contributor Peter Lavelle alerts you to the pound surging in the last few weeks making your rental this summer in the Languedoc, Provence or the Riviera cheaper.

Great news for you if you plan to rent a villa in the south of France this year! It's currently less costly to do so, because the pound has hit its highest versus the euro in 20 months, or since October 1st 2012, at approximately 1.2563. So when you exchange currencies, you'll get a higher euro total!

How many more euros will you get when you rent in the south of France?
If you were to exchange £1,250 into euros to rent a villa in the south of France, you'd receive approximately +/- €150 more at present than if you'd done so when the pound was weak, back in March 2013, at around just 1.1371. So this isn't pocket change - the strong pound will add significantly to your final euro total!

Why is the pound rising against the euro now?
Sterling is strengthening against the euro for 2 reasons. The first is that the UK economy is forecast to grow 3.0% this year, more than any other major country. The second is that the Bank of England looks set to become the 1st major central bank since the recession to hike interest rates.

Will the pound continue to rise against the euro, further cutting the cost of renting  in the south of France?
The pound may just continue to rise further! This is because there is absolutely no sign that the UK's economic revival will let up any time soon. Quite the opposite, there are more people in work in the UK now than any time since records began, while prices in the UK housing market are surging.

So as the pound rises against the euro, it's a great time to rent a property in the south of France!

About the author
Peter Lavelle is a currency dealer at foreign exchange broker Pure FX. For free expert currency advice when you rent a property in the south of France, call him on +44 (0) 1494 671800 or email peter.lavelle@purefx.co.uk He'll be glad to help.

Here are 2 examples of rental properties in the South of France showing your approximate savings on booking a weeks' holiday in August now compared to March 2013: 

La Petite Bastide (HE091A) - A Languedoc Villa on a Golf Course near Beziers and the Mediterranean Beaches.The villa sleeps up to 6 people, has Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, private pool and a summer kitchen.  A week staying here in August is €2375. Paying in £ sterling in March 2013 this would have cost approximately £2088. With the current favourable exchange rate the same property costs approximately £1890 - a saving of around £200!
Holiday Home for rent with pool in the Languedoc
Benefit from getting more for your £'s! La Petite Bastide (HE091A) is approximately £200 cheaper in August when you book now compared to March 2013 due to the current great exchange rate.

Villa Ilana (AM035A) - A beautiful villa on the Cote d'Azur, above Sainte-Maxime with views of the Mediterranean and Saint-Tropez. Sleeping up to 8 people and equipped with air-conditioning, Wi-Fi and a large, curved, heated infinity pool. 
A week in August is €4375. If you booked and paid in £ Sterling in March 2013 this would have been approximately £3847. The same week booked now would be approximately £3482 - a saving of around £365!
Riviera, Luxury Villa rental with Private Pool
A saving of approximately £365! Villa Ilana (AM035A) near Sainte-Maxime on the Cote d'Azur.

Please note; The bank rates used by South France Villas may differ slightly from the rates shown above, however they do follow the same trend. To benefit fully from the strong £ sterling rate, you may find it advisable to research all options of payment before making the transaction.

If you would like any more information about our properties and their prices and availability, please do not hesitate to get in touch with South France Villas!
UK: +44 (0)207 060 5414
France +33 (0)4 67 36 05 54

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Where are the 5 best music festivals in Languedoc, South of France this summer ?

Hottest Music Festivals & Concerts in the Languedoc for Summer 2014

Music Festival in the Languedoc

Saturday the 21st of June is officially the start of summer, however it is better known in France as the “Fete de la Musique”. Every city, town and village will be celebrating with music, locals dust off their instruments and play alongside the professionals, this is just taster before the summer festivals begin, and below we have highlighted 5 of our favourites.

1. Carcassonne Festival 19th of June to 1st of August, what do you prefer Rock or Opera?

Stay in a Carcassonne, villa whilst visiting the festival
The amazing open air theatre.
Elton John who is headlining this year was just 10 years old when this festival was created in 1957! There are a  wide range of performances, from rock groups like Status Quo, and Franz Ferdinand to the historical Don Giovanni Opera.

This festival highlights the cultural diversity available in the area of Carcassonne. The Medieval Citadel was named as a world heritage site in the late nineties, and its intimate open-air theatre provides an amazing setting for the shows along with spectacular acoustics.
There are also plenty of free concerts, street theatre, dance shows, classical music and comedy shows around the city.

Also playing this year are James Blunt, Mike and the Mechanics and Vanessa Paradis.

2. Worldwide festival Sete 30th of June to the 6th of July.

Luxury beach villas to rent in Sete, Languedoc
Sete beach party.
Created by Gilles Peterson in 2006, this festival transforms the fishing town of Sete into a mini Glastonbury! 
There are 5 venues across the town where a mix of unique live music and D J’s will play; the beach stage, the Paul Valery Museum, the Theatre de la Mer, St Christ and the contemporary art centre.
Many of the events are free of charge, however buy yourself a 4 day or week pass and you can get priority access to all the venues.

3. Les Deferlantes,  Argelès-sur-Mer,  7th, 8th and 9th of July

Apartments and villas to rent in Argeles sur mer near the festival.
Club atmosphere by the Chateau!
Les Déferlantes (the unfurling of the waves) is a 3-day summer festival set in the grounds of an old French chateau in Argelès-sur-Mer, near the Spanish border. Live music begins around 4 in the afternoon although the chateau grounds are open during the day as people picnic and drink beers in the sun. It is a child-friendly festival, especially popular among young teenagers.

Acts this year include, Vanessa Paradis, Blondie, UB40, Lilly Allen and Phoenix to name a few.

4. Nimes Festival 28th of June until 24th of July

Holiday villas to rent near Nimes, Languedoc
The Roman amphitheatre
This festival was established in 1997 and offers a great line up of concerts set in the Roman amphitheatre, built over 2000 years ago it is a prime example of Roman engineering. The historic city of  Nimes hosts many events during the year and the amphitheatre is the perfect setting in which to watch and listen to the performing artists.

Acts this year include , Arctic Monkeys , ZZ Top, Ben Miller Band and The Kills.

5. Jazz in Sete 12th to the 19th of July 

Luxury vacation accommodation in Sete, South of France
What a view!
Sete again ! Featuring twice on our list, this town has really changed in the last few years, luxury villas have been built by the sea, fantastic bars and restaurants on the beach and great music.

This small amphitheatre known locally as the Theatre de la mer, set on the Sete coastline has breath-taking views over the Mediterranean Sea. With only 1485 seats you almost feel that you are enjoying a private concert.
Jeff Beck the internationally acclaimed Grammy winner will be strumming his guitar here on the 12th of July. Also performing in July are Bettye LaVette, Nikky Yanofsky, and Gregory Porter.  

Why not rent one of South France Villas properties near to the festivals including our amazing villas in Sete directly on the beach. Please call us on 0044 207 060 5414 or visit www.southfrancevillas.com

Friday, 23 May 2014

10 Top Things to See and Do in Nice

Top 10 things to do in Nice this summer
Ideally situated close to the French border with Italy and the principality of Monaco, Nice is France’s 5
th largest city and is a fantastic base for exploring the Côte d’Azur. However, if you are flying in for a city break, you won’t be disappointed spending all your time in Nice. A cultural crossroads, Nice is an exciting place to visit to soak up the sun, lie on the beach, taste some local gastronomic specialities, take a boat trip and visit some of the famous museums, like the Picasso in Antibes. 

Nice Beaches - South France Villas
The Coast at Nice

1. Food and Gastronomy­ - What are the local specialities in Nice?

There are many local gastronomic specialities to be found in Nice, and the best way to sample them has to be in the Old Town. Here you will find "Pissaladière" – a pizza-like pastry with a sweet onion and anchovy topping. "Les Petits Farcis Niçois" – baked peppers, courgettes, and courgette flowers stuffed with mince and rice, and of course the world famous "Salade Niçoise".
The wide variety of restaurants in Nice ensures there is something for every taste and budget. Here are a few ideas for local places to eat out: 

For a Michelin experience, the majestic Restaurant Le Chantecler, located within Hotel Negresco, 37 Promenade des Anglais, is home to the two star-awarded chef Jean-Denis Rieubland. Prices €27 - €322.
For a relaxed lunch on the beach why not try Blue Beach on Promenade des Anglais, with fish, seafood and steak all on the menu, you can take one of the sun loungers after lunch for a chilled afternoon €18-€50.
A particularly family-friendly restaurant, recommended in the 2014 Petit Futé publication, is Sarao Restaurant and Bar, located at 7 Promenade des Anglais. With highchairs and kids menus and an in-expensive lunchtime set menu, this trendy restaurant-bar is near the Jardin Albert I, the perfect place to let the kids have a run around after lunch.

2. What are the best markets in Nice?
A trip to Nice would not be complete without a couple of hours spent experiencing the fragrant and colourful fruit, vegetable and flower market on the Cours Saleya. Also not to be missed is “The Marché Artisanal Nocturne”, an evening craft market that brings the Cours Saleya to life during the holiday season from mid-May to mid-September. During the refreshing summer evenings, admire the jewellery, pottery and paintings lovingly created by Nice artists. It is held every evening in summer from 6pm to midnight. For fragrance lovers, a trip to the famous perfume capital Grasse is only a short drive away.

Nice Markets - South France Villas
Nice Market on the Cours Saleya
3. What are the best beaches in Nice?
The beach in Nice starts near the airport and follows the curve of the Bay of Angels for around 5 kilometres all the way to the port just beyond the Chateau Hill. The beach is composed of smooth pebbles and so a good beach mat and "jelly shoes" are advisable. You can make the most of your stay by using one of the 15 private beaches. They are expensive (€12-€25 per day) but you will benefit from a comfortable sun lounger, parasol and table, as well as showers, toilets and a waiter service. The private beaches also have a restaurant area, and so you won't have far to go should you wish to stay for lunch.  If you are looking for soft white sand you will to need to head west to Antibes. A good compromise is the gritty soft shale beach at Villefranche, a pretty village just east of Nice.
All the private beaches are so different, here are some examples; The Castel Plage is trendy and gay-friendly, the Blue Beach has a great little pool for toddlers and Beau Rivage is the biggest private beach on the Côte d'Azur.
There are very limited services on the public areas, a few open showers and portaloos. However there are three public beaches that have good facilities for a small fee, for example the Plage Publique de Beau Rivage. For a few euros there are clean toilets, showers, changing rooms and security lockers, making a visit to the public beach much more pleasant.

Beach Restaurants Nice - South France Villas
The Blue Beach - Private Beach and Restaurant
4. What is Promenade des Anglais?
The well-known Promenade des Anglais, takes its name from the English holiday makers who have flocked to Nice over the centuries enjoying their strolls along the promenade. It is the place to be seen, whether it be on roller-skates (you can hire them from a shop close to the Old Town), on a bike, or simply hand-in-hand with a loved one. Adjacent to the promenade is the 6-lane road which separates the shops, hotels and restaurants from the beach.
5. What cultural experiences can be found in Nice?
The Côte d’Azur has always been popular with artists flocking from overseas. There are galleries dedicated to both Chagall and Matisse in the city as well as the Picasso Museum in nearby Antibes. The modern art museum, located halfway between the old and new town, MAMAC exhibits more contemporary works of art. Only 15 minutes’ drive away is Saint Paul de Vence where the village is like an open-air art gallery.

6. Can I take a boat trip in Nice?
There are many opportunities to take a boat trip in Nice. Among the most popular type of excursions are tours to take in celebrity homes and nature watching. If you have more time to spend, you can take a boat from Cannes to the Lerin Islands: Ile de Sainte Marguerite (where the famous Man in the Iron Mask was incarcerated), and Ile Saint-Honorat (where monks brew the alcoholic lemon liqueur “Limoncello”). Also, from Nice you could take the high-speed ferry to Calvi and Bastia in Corsica.

7. What is there to do in Monaco and beyond?
Given the tiny size of the principality of Monaco, it would be a shame not to visit whilst staying in the area. Going east from Nice it is only 30 minutes’ drive away; the best sights can be done in a day. The main attractions include the prince’s palace, the tomb of Princess Grace in the cathedral and admiring the collection of “mega yachts” to be found in the port. If you have cash to spend, trying your luck in the casino is an experience in itself. Or you could simply enjoy a coffee outside the Café de Paris opposite whilst watching the “super cars” pull up outside. Just another 30 minutes’ eastwards brings you to the closest Italian town of Ventimiglia.

8. How about Cannes and beyond?
40 minutes’ drive south-west of Nice is the world-famous town of Cannes. During May the town is absolutely inundated with visitors for the International Film Festival, making getting around pretty difficult. Even when the Cannes Film Festival has long since rolled up the red carpet, you can imagine the glitz and glamour at the site of the annual event; the Palais des Festivals et des Congres. Be sure to stop at the convention centre, which hosts many events throughout the year. Here you can see the handprints of celebrities embedded in the flagstones outside the building. Also west of Nice you will find the trendy resorts of Mandelieu-le-Napoule and Antibes with sandy beaches, restaurants and cute boutiques.

9. Theatre and Opera
What better excuse do you need to get dressed up than a night at the opera? If you book in advance, tickets can be bought for a bargain price. The Nice Opera House can be found next to the Cours Saleya market place in the Old Town – handily located with an underground car park adjacent and many restaurants close by. Theatre lovers can indulge their passion at the Theatre National de Nice on Promenade des Arts.

Gardens in Nice - South France Villas
The Jardin Botanique
 10. Gardens and stuff for kids
Phoenix Park, on the east end of Promenade des Anglais is home to one of the largest greenhouses in Europe. The greenhouse accommodates seven different tropical climates, the most spectacular and colourful scenery being yielded by the lush fern forest and by the exquisite collection of orchids. The artificial lake (which has an island) offers a splendid view buzzing with colour and life. The exotic fauna also comprises species of tropical insects and birds. Visitors should also take time to admire the Mediterranean waterfalls of the park. Other notable parks include the Jardin Botanique, Jardin Albert 1er and Parc du Chateau, located on a hill overlooking Nice. If you are holidaying with children, a day at nearby Marineland, close to Antibes, will provide fun and excitement. It is a waterpark, aquarium and adventure playground. 

Why not take a look at some of the holiday villas you can rent in the Nice area:

Villa rentals in Nice with private pool.
Overlooking Nice Villa Minou AM037A with Air-Con, Wi-Fi and a Private Salt Water Pool. Sleeps 8-9 people.

Rent a Villa with Pool in Cap Martin
Between Monaco and Nice, with Views to Die For Villa Cap Martin AM039A Sleeps 8-10 People.