Falling in Love with the South of France: Women’s Travel Tips from Author Patricia Sands

by | Jan 24, 2021

Looking out a scenic view in southern France

Last updated on January 20th, 2023

By Patricia Sands, Author, Love in Provence Trilogy and Drawing Lessons (Sponsored)

I first fell in love with France when I was 21 backpacking through Europe after university. I became enchanted with everything … scenery, food, wine, people. But it was time spent on the Côte d’Azur that truly fueled my passion. I found the lure of the Mediterranean lifestyle simply irresistible.

The love affair continued to grow as I visited often during my busy life. After 1996, I began spending part of each year in the south of France writing stories set in villages along the Côte D’Azur and in Provence.

Patricia Sands reads a book in France
My Love in Provence novels concern a middle-aged woman from Toronto who, after a year of heartbreak, impulsively agrees to a home exchange in Provence and then another on the Cote d’Azur. Readers follow her through life-changing events, which involve many colourful characters including an intriguing cheese seller and a wealthy yacht owner.

Drawing Lessons takes readers to Arles and the surrounding countryside, including the Camargue. Arianna, the main character, has come from Canada to join an artists’ retreat and paint amongst the fields and villages of Van Gogh in the hopes of rediscovering the artist she once was. The series can be found here.

In the past few years, it’s been my pleasure to lead small groups of women on tours following in the footsteps of the beloved characters of my novels. In 2018, Deborah Bine, aka the “Barefoot Blogger” joined me leading the tours that include Uzés — a place she now calls “home.” Deborah discovered her dream-come-true life in France when she left South Carolina and a 40-year marriage. She travels and stumbles through the country, where she doesn’t speak the language, sharing her fun, adventures, and inspiration along the way. Deborah loves to show off the marketplaces and cobblestone streets she writes about living in Uzès. A list of Patricia’s novels can be found here.

Two smiling women hold wine glasses
Cobble stoned streets of Uzes
Najac, France

Absolutely Southern France

Absolutely is a fully licensed travel company based in the south of France providing small group tour design, trip planning, and tour leading to visitors seeking unique gourmet, leisure and cultural experiences in Provence, the Cote d’Azur and Occitanie regions.

Learn More Now

To make your visit to the south of France one to remember, here are a few of our favorite spots.  

    1. Meander through the cobblestone streets of Saint Paul de Vence, filled with history, galleries and charming shops. One of my favorite places for lunch is the famous Colombe d’Or where a reservation is highly recommended. Watch a game of boules from the terrace of Café de la Place on the legendary Place du Jeu de Boules, or join in! wine bottle
    2. Discover the breathtaking views of Eze and climb to the hilltop castle ruins through the tropical Exotic Garden.
    3. Tour the extravagant Villa Ephruzzi de Rothschild and roam through the gardens where an exquisite musical performance of the water fountains is a highlight.
    4. Explore the ancient harbor town of Antibes, Patricia’s home away from home. Stroll narrow lanes, visit the colorful and lively daily Provençal market, and discover the wealth of art at Musée Picasso.
    5. Walk in Cézanne’s footsteps in Aix en Provence, browse the downtown shopping district and visit the historic Cathedral. Enjoy a cup of tea or café au lait in the courtyard of the Caumont Mansion; or simply people watch on the busy Cours Mirabeau. Weekend markets in the square are a must!
    6. Stroll along the boat lined canals of Sete, the Venice of France, Enjoy the vibrant central indoor food market and sample oysters and sea delicacies from the Mediterranean fishing capital.
      Illustration of young woman wearing a beret
    7. Visit a female-owned and operated olive mill in a small provençal village in the heart of the Alpilles. Through four generations the Sourdon family has produced olive oil, preferred by countless Michelin chefs, in a traditional 12th century moulin.
    8. Relive the days of the Romans and Van Gogh in Arles, a city filled with treasures that include an actively used Roman arena and amphitheater. In sharp contrast, view the new Franck Gehry’s Luma Arles Tower, a stainless steel, 56-meter high center for multidisciplinary contemporary art.
    9. Experience a safari through the Camargue, a UNESCO biosphere reserve where you view white horses, pink flamingos, Camargue bulls, and stand atop mountains of salt from rose-colored marshes. Stop back at the walled city of Aigues-Mortes, at the entrance to the Camargue, and see where Crusaders departed on their numerous religious wars.
    10. Roam through a typically provençal weekday market in romantic St Remy de Provence. Visit St Paul de Mausole, the asylum where van Gogh painted some of his masterpieces, including “Sunflowers” and his last “Self-Portrait.” Experience the spectacular digital sound and light show, Carrières de Lumières, in a cavernous bauxite quarry near Les Baux de Provence.
    11. Peek into Uzès and be enchanted by the maze of small walkways and shaded plazas, quaint shops and cafés. Greeks, Romans, Dukes, and Bishops left remnants of their influential lives n this medieval town, including the Château de Duchè where the family of nobles still reside
    12. Travel through time as you walk across the first century roman aqueduct — Pont du Gard — the most visited ancient monument in France. The UNESCO world heritage site is a marvel of science and architecture that reveals an unparalleled view of the history of Gaul.
A beautiful church at dusk in France

Interested in learning more?

To enjoy the fun and experience these beautiful south of France sites, join me and Deborah for our third edition of the “Memories You Promised Yourself” tour in September. We will share our contagious love for the region, and guide you through our favourite places with a spontaneous sense of adventure and ‘joie de vivre.”

We’ve partnered with our good friend, tour designer Nancy McGee, founder of the locally based custom travel agency Absolutely Southern France.  We’ve planned an itinerary that includes a combination of active time and leisure. You’ll form friendships among like-minded women and return home with treasured memories to last a lifetime.  I promise you this! 

Visit our website here.

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  1. Chloe

    The cover banner looks like the final scene in the “Love, Rosie” movie. I really love this serene atmosphere, maybe I’ll save more money to travel here instead of some beaches (beach vacations are always my favorite btw).

    • Patricia

      There’s always a little “beach time” during our six days in Nice as we stay right across the street from the sparkling Mediterranean! We would love to have you join us!

  2. Catherine Thomson

    I’m loving this connection during a very difficult time in our lives. I was lucky enough to embrace travel through bus tours and river cruises as soon as I retired 7 years ago! Now I can dream of voyages to come through these pages…

  3. Colleen

    In my mid fifties I travelled to most of these places. Sometimes with friends, sometimes solo. I can think of no other place as charming as Provence. I still, in my seventies, try to get there every year. Unfortunately due to Covid we just cancelled our trip for this May.

  4. Gocek

    Had the luxury to sail south of France and Nice was one of the locations we spent some time visiting. Great memories!

  5. Min jsum

    Such a wonderful country with majestic beauty that I have never seen before. love this place


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