Temperate and picturesque, Southern France is the ideal spot for a relaxing long weekend break. With its azure seas, sandy beaches and ancient sights, it’s hard not to fall under the region’s captivating spell.
Explore sites of Roman settlement in scenic Arles and Loupian, and drive on to dine in the elegant restaurants of Avignon and Montpellier, for a Mediterranean experience you’re unlikely to forget.
Arles’ impressive Roman amphitheatre is an absolute must-see. Built in 90 AD, the amphitheatre was capable of seating over 20,000 spectators for gory battles and chariot races. Today, this UNESCO World Heritage site is most popular for bullfighting during the Feria d’Arles in April and September, and for open-air concerts and plays during the summer months.
For more ancient marvels, we recommend a visit to the village of Loupian. Its Gallo-Roman villa has an exceptional mosaic display that dates from the second century and an intriguing museum. Guided tours of the site (in French) are available daily in summer and on Wednesdays and weekends outside the season. Tours in English can be arranged.
Get wild in Camargue
The Camargue Nature Park is a protected area, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a biosphere reserve – as well as a great source of local pride, for its astounding beauty. The park is home to plenty of unusual of flora and fauna, as well as animals like pink migrating flamingos, swans, water fowl, muskrats and roaming white horses. There are trails to explore across the park, with views of the wetlands, marine area and Étang de Vaccarès lagoon.
Local flavours and cuisine
From Michelin-starred dining to causal and cosy eateries, the restaurants in Montpellier, Arles and Avignon are second-to-none for authenticity and aplomb.
Here’s a selection of our top picks for the Méditéranée region:
The restaurant at Château de Flaugergues has a measured elegance that’s hard to beat. The food at this top Montpellier restaurant is chic and affordable, served in a modern and airy setting. Dishes are made with local seasonal ingredients and herbs picked in the chateau garden. The menu is updated daily with innovative cuisine featuring veal, urchins, cuttlefish and lamb.
Le Criquet, Arles
Cosy and quaint, this Arles restaurant is highly popular for its rustic appeal. We recommend booking, as it’s a very small and intimate space. The restaurant’s white-shuttered façade is a real slice of southern Gallic charm. Sit on the terrace or in the cosy interior to enjoy dishes such as octopus salad or rack of lamb.
La Coquerie, Sète
Located in the seaside town of Sète, this Michelin-starred restaurant has spectacular views over the ocean. There’s a kaleidoscopic menu of ever-changing creations, like crab-stuffed courgette flowers and smoked bonito tuna fillet. The kitchen is in the centre of the restaurant, with stools at the counter so you can watch the chefs at work.