The Côte Bleu is the stretch of coastline that runs from Marseille along to the town of Martigues. It’s often overlooked in favour of the Côte d’Azur (the French Riviera) which runs in the other direction to St Tropez and Nice. Along the Côte Bleu (“the blue coast”), the towns are often less touristy and the beaches less packed.
The Luberon is the inland area of Provence, north of Aix-en-Provence. Drive through the Gorges de Verdon, France’s answer to the Grand Canyon, swim in the Lake Sainte-Croix and then check out the hillside villages of Gordes, Bonnieux and Rousillon, stopping at numerous vineyards along the way.
The coastal road from the small fishing village of Cassis is a must-see on any itinerary in the south of France. Head along past the island of Porquerolles (a car-free haven) and the rugged coast around Hyères to finish in St Tropez, the chicest resort and a great place to stop for a couple of days. In summer, this road is very busy so allow twice as long to get anywhere. If you have the time, check out the local vineyards too.
The route from Nice to Gap takes you through the foothills of the Alps through the Mercantour National Park and the small village of Saint-Vincent-Les-Forts (main picture) just before you arrive in Gap. The landscape changes dramatically from the famous beach resort to the snow-capped mountains and alpine villages.