Southern France is known for its beautiful scenery and delicious cuisine. With so many attractions to see during your European cruise, you may not know where to start. For those who want to get out of the ports of Marseille or Toulon to experience historic French villages, consider a trip to one of these three popular spots.
The city of Avignon in southern France is a popular destination in the region thanks to the Palais des Papes (Palace of the Popes), the castle that was inhabited, restored, and expanded by the nine popes who lived in Avignon during the fourteenth century after Pope Clement V left Rome to avoid the chaos of the time.
Although the papacy eventually moved back to Rome, the palace was occupied by the church for several hundred years. In the early twentieth century it was opened to the public as a museum and given the restoration needed to survive the test of time.
On a Discovery Recommended excursion to Avignon, you will pass through Salon de Provence, where you'll see the vineyards, orchards, and other aspects of the breathtaking landscape that makes Provence one of France's premier regions for visitors.
Aix-en-Provence was the capital of Provence, and its location just north of Marseille makes it a wonderful day trip for visitors to the south of France.
Provence itself has an incredible history with rulers such as the Romans, Franks, and many others until it came under the rule of the kingdom of France around 1481. As a result of this long and sometimes tumultuous history, Aix-en-Provence is home to many historical relics worth visiting including the Cathédrale St-Sauveur (Holy Savior Cathedral), a Merovingian baptistery, and an archbishop's palace.
For those who are visiting Toulon and would prefer staying near the beaches of the French Riviera, Hyères is the French village to visit.
Hyères is surrounded by innumerable palm trees. Nearby are miles of sandy beaches and the Giens peninsula — which connects to the mainland via two sand bars and is home to many birds including pink flamingos, herons, and cormorants. With a lush ecosystem and intriguing history, Hyères is truly a destination that can't be topped.
Interested in a cruise to Europe? It's the perfect way to explore French villages and so much more.