Everyone heads to St. Tropez, one of the most iconic villages on the French Riviera. And while it’s a lovely place, Ramatuelle, the village that borders St. Tropez, is just as worthy in its own right. It won’t be any cheaper, but some amazing vineyards and the second tallest lighthouse in France, Cap Camarat, can be found. One of the nicest coastal walks is along the Ramatuelle beaches, and it’s where one the most iconic beaches in the region, Pampelonne—made famous by Brigitte Bardot in the 1950s—is located.
The island of Porquerolles is often overlooked. Off the coast of Hyères, it can be challenging to organise a trip here as the island doesn’t allow cars and it doesn’t have a lot of shops. But that’s what makes it a wonderful escape. It still gets busy with locals in the summer, but without cars, the pace is gentle. The island was settled in the 1800s by fishing communities. Since the 1970s, wine has been produced in the many vineyards and was recently made a national park. Be sure to book hotels or camping options in advance.
The Frioul Archipelago contains four islands off the coast of Marseille. One is very tiny while another is the island fortress of Château d’If, where Alexandre Dumas set his novel, The Count of Monte Cristo. The other two are joined by a bridge and now, a national park. There are places to stay, port-side restaurants, but more importantly, several places to swim off the rocks, beautiful birds, and a very slow pace of life. It’s normally overlooked for the more well-known (and easily accessible) landmarks and sites, but it’s well worth a visit to take it easy for a while. Boats leave from Marseille’s Old Port (“le vieux port”) and take about 30 minutes.