Where is the best place to live in South France? Read this short introduction on where to live in South France and The French Riviera
The area that makes up what the French refer to as “le Midi”, is generally speaking the most popular tourist region in France. It consists of the French Mediterranean coastline and its hinterland. That is across from the Italian to the Spanish borders.
It is made up of two French regions. These are Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA) to the east of the Rhone, and Languedoc Roussillon to the west of the Rhone.
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Where to live in the French Riviera?
The French Riviera (“la Côte d’Azur”) is a small part of the south of France, the thin coastal strip from around Cassis (east of Marseille) in the west to the Italian border in the east. It is a coastline that gets very crowded in the summer, though on account of the rocky coastline, there are still some quiet and peaceful spots to be found.
However much of the actual coast of the French Riviera is fairly heavily built up in many parts, and accommodation is expensive. Particularly in the most famous resorts like St. Tropez, Cannes or Nice.
The mountainous hinterland, on the other hand, is very attractive, with its small villages and towns. Many of them perched precariously on hillsides or beside trickling rivers that become raging torrents in the springtime.
The southern Alps are different from the northern Alps – drier, more rocky, and less crowded.
Fun fact: Briançon, capital of the High Alps department, is the highest small city in Europe. And the Gorges du Verdon are the deepest in Europe.
If you are contemplating buying a luxury property in or near the French Riveira, you are spoilt for choice. Although properties here are priced at a premium, it is hard to argue with the beautiful scenery, the gorgous sea views and the amazing experiences to be had.
Living in Provence
Those who do not want to spend their holidays being mass-grilled on a beach will prefer areas inland from the coastal strip, notably to the hills and mountains of Provence,with their dry landscapes and deep river gorges and valleys, or the valleys of the Cevennes, more wooded and rural, or the inland areas of the Languedoc.
The historic area of Provence (which used to include land to the west of the Rhone as well as the east) has a lot of historic cities, such as Avignon with its famous bridge, Arles with its Roman remains, the Camargue, and the university town of Aix en Provence.
Living in Languedoc
The Languedoc region is the area to the west of the Rhone; it is known on the one hand for its long sandy beaches, and on the other for its huge vineyards and “garrigue”, arid rocky Mediterranean hills with their vegetation of scrub, aromatic bushes and occasional fields. The most historic city is Nimes with its superb Roman remains. High Languedoc includes the southern flank of the Massif Central mountains, a dry mountainous area a bit different to upper Provence, and cut through by deep valleys such as that of the Tarn.
The Languedoc coast offers large expanses of sandy beaches, between popular modern resorts such as Cap d’Agde or Le Grau du Roi. For those looking for lots of life and restaurants and bars, the Languedoc coast has plenty to offer; but with its some 200 km of sandy coasts, Languedoc also has some fairly uncrowded beaches, even in high summer.
The southern end on the Languedoc includes the eastern end of the Pyrenees, a natural land barrier between France and Spain. The foothills of the Pyrenees are a beautiful mild part of France, famous for fruit and flowers. It is an arid part of France that was frequently fought over in the Middle Ages, and the famous “Cathar castles” stand witness today to this troubled past. the eastern Pyrenees can be discovered by taking an exciting journey on the historic Yellow train up into the mountains.