12 Days in France

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Advisor - Jenna Traurig
Curated By

Jenna Traurig

  • France

  • Food & Wine

  • Active Travel

  • Local Food

  • Sightseeing

  • Outdoors

flower arch in a botanical garden
Curator’s statement

With my family by my side, this trip was a profound exploration of history, cuisine and art. Our 12-day summer vacation to France took us from the iconic streets of Paris, to the quaint countryside of Aix-en-Provence, and through the stunning French Riviera. We learned just how full the country of France is with lesser-known jewels.

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Day 1: Arrival in Paris

Beautiful Eiffel Tower

Arrive in Paris mid-day and check into your hotel. For first-timers, stay in the 1st or 2nd arrondissements or The Marais to experience the quintessential Parisian experience. Grab a bite to eat at a local bistro before resting off the jet lag before dinner. For a casual first dinner, check out Frenchie, Postiche or Aux Crus de Bourgogne.

Day 2: Paris sightseeing

With only two full days in Paris, seeing the sights means lots of walking, so wear comfortable shoes! Start the morning off with a croissant and hot chocolate at Carette in the Marais. After breakfast, stroll through Place des Vosges and then walk towards the Place de la Bastille. If you find yourself there on a Thursday or Sunday, bring some euros for the weekly market!

From the Bastille, walk along the Seine to the Notre Dame. If you're a reader, check out the Shakespeare and Company bookstore on your way to lunch in St Germain. After exploring St. Germain, finish the day strolling through the Luxembourg Gardens.

For an aperitif, make a reservation in advance at The Little Red Door, voted one of the world's 50 best bars. For dinner, head down the street to La Collier de la Reine, Dessance or Terra.

Day 3: Montmartre

Montmartre, Landmarks

On the second full day in Paris, you'll start the morning off in Montmartre to visit the Sacré-Cœur and Place du Tertre. From there, catch a taxi or metro to Galeries Lafayette to shop and see the rooftop views. Then head across the street to see the Opera. In the afternoon, grab lunch near the Champs-Élysées and then walk over to the Eiffel Tower. Catch a taxi to the Louvre and pass through Palais Royal.

Day 4: Aix-en-Provence exploration

Blue Water

Take a morning train from Paris to Aix-en-Provence and pick up a rental car from the train station. Driving in France seemed a little intimidating to me at first, but things are so spread out in the Provence region that I got used to it in no time! Check into your Provence hotel, and then head to Aix-en-Provence to wander before dinner at La Bouchee or Cote Cour.

Tip: Driving within cities like Aix-en-Provence can get tricky because maps don't highlight restricted streets. To avoid too much chaos, navigate yourself to a parking garage located just outside of the old town and then walk to your destination.

Day 5: Provence wine tasting

Wine tasting

A trip to Provence is not complete without a wine tasting. Book a winery tour and tasting at one of the many Provence châteaus in the morning (such as Château de Berne or Château de Saint Martin). Relax by the pool for the afternoon before eating at one of the region's many Michelin-star restaurants.

Day 6: Aix-en-Provence & Lourmarin

Beautiful Colorful provence

Spend the morning in Aix-en-Provence, at one of the markets on Cours Mirabeau (a little of everything), Place Richelme (fruits and vegetables) or Place de l'Hotel de Ville (flowers). In the afternoon and evening, head to the beautiful village of Lourmarin to explore and grab dinner at Bouchon, La Récréation or La Louche à Beurre.

Day 7: Cassis & arrival in Nice

Cassis blue water

Take off from Provence in the morning and head to Cassis. At the Cassis port, board a boat tour to view the crystal clear water and natural beauty of the Calanques National Park. If the water's warm enough, the boat operator will give you a chance to swim into the natural caves. You'll return to the Cassis port by lunchtime. Chez Gilbert, Chez Laurent and Le Grand Bleu are all praised by locals! Spend an hour or two walking around the charming town of Cassis before hopping back in the car and heading to a hotel in Nice. Rest up for an hour or two before heading out to dinner in old town Nice. Mediterranean restaurant Bocca has unmatched vibes and food!

Day 8: French Riviera relaxation

French Riviera food

After over a week of moving around from hotel to hotel, make some time to relax in the French Riviera. In the morning, tour the historic and stunning Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild before heading to one of the region's only sandy beaches in Beaulieu-sur-Mer. Make a reservation in advance at Baia Bella for front-row beach chairs. On the way back to Nice, stop for an aperitif or dinner and stroll through beautiful Villefranche-sur-Mer.

Day 9: Antibes sunset

Blue water of Antibes

In the morning, head to Antibes to explore the old town and visit the Picasso Museum. Consider heading to one of Antibes' many beach clubs, such as Plage Keller or La Plage Belles Rives, before making your way back to Nice. As the sun sets, walk up to Castle Hill to see the sunset over Nice. Head back to old town for Italian food at family-owned restaurants La Voglia or La Favola. The lines are always long, but they move quickly!

Day 10: Menton & Monaco exploration

Beautiful Monaco

Menton and Monaco day! Spend the first half of the day exploring Menton, the lemon capital of France. The picturesque town is filled with narrow streets and walkways, shops and bistros. Take a quick dip at the beach before changing into some comfortable walking shoes and heading to Monaco. Start your afternoon in Monaco at the Casino de Monte Carlo. Going into the actual casino requires a passport, so be sure to bring one along if you want to gamble! From the casino, take a taxi over to Aquarium and walk to the Prince's Castle for the best views of Monte Carlo. For dinner, head to one of the many restaurants lining Larvotto beach.

Day 11-12: Nice & departure

Plaza in Nice.

On the last day, start the day with breakfast at the delicious Edmond Cafe before walking to the Cours Saleya market in Old Town Nice. Wander through the shops in Old Town before heading to the beach club for one last time. Castel Plage and Ruhl Plage are two of many beachfront clubs with excellent service and food! Round out the trip with dinner at Oscar or Boccaccio followed by gelato at Fenocchios.

Day 12

Head to the Nice airport to catch a flight home!

Advisor - Jenna Traurig

Travel Advisor

Jenna Traurig

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This itinerary is part of our ongoing series on travel to France. For more travel tips, check out Fora Advisor Artemis Koutsogiorgas's guide, Foodie's Guide to Paris, France.