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Where to stay in South of France (countryside)

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
3 posts
5 reviews
Where to stay in South of France (countryside)


My boyfriend and I (both 30 years old) are driving from Paris to Barcelona in late October. We are looking for a small, charming town to stay in while passing through South of France. Not too busy. Not too far east or west as we do not want to go too far out of the way since we need to make it to Barcelona. We will have 2 nights to stay wherever we decide to stop.

I like the ocean and coastal towns but it seems they (i.e. Monaco) may be too far out of the way and too crowded.

We are looking for something quaint or in the countryside, maybe with a nice museum some restaurants. We are not necessarily interested in touristy attractions or historical sight-seeing.

I have done a lot of research and there is a lot to choose from yet nothing seems to fit the bill. Thanks in advance for your help.


Level Contributor
1,317 posts
17 reviews
1. Re: Where to stay in South of France (countryside)

Pezenas is very handy for the A75 down from the North, and is near the A9 which takes you to Spain.

It's a pretty town with lots of restaurants and shops. It does have quite a few visitors in summer, but won't do in October. It's small, but has some lovely medieval buildings and craft shops. Definitely worth a couple of days stay en route. It is in fairly flat countryside, as it is on the coastal plain, but there are lots of old villages and vineyards around.

Somewhere bigger, but lovely, is Nimes. It's a small city really, but, again, is handy for motorways going north-south and east-west. Lots of lovely buildings, proper shopping and Roman remains. A few museums and art galleries too.

North of Nimes is Uzes, which I have only driven through, but it's a small town, with (as everywhere does) lots of lovely buildings and a decent number of restaurants and bars. The advantage of Uzes over the other two is that the surrounding countryside is probably prettier, but it is further from the motorways.

Be aware that the drive from Paris is a long one - the times they give on Google maps are pretty accurate, but they don't allow for stops and traffic problems.

England, United...
Level Contributor
4,083 posts
22 reviews
2. Re: Where to stay in South of France (countryside)

I liked Uzes a lot (mentioned by macfarrag). Very characterful town and small enough to walk around and have facilities. The fabulous Pont du Gard is nearby.

Or you could try Millau. Town not as pretty as Uzes. But truly amazing bridge in rough countryside, and nearby is the mysterious Couvertoirade village.

Two days in any location is very little inded, and don't underestimate the driving involved for your journey. Also anywhere that's 'quaint' will be a tourist attraction, but late October you should be ok as regards crowds despite some school holidays. Have a great time!

Tampa, Florida
Level Contributor
38,184 posts
11 reviews
3. Re: Where to stay in South of France (countryside)

add 25% to the estimated drive times -- the automated mapping sites have no way to accommodate for rest stops, traffic, construction, and weather.

Paris to Nimes is about 7 hours of pretty straight motorway driving, with little to no time to stop and look or have a wander.

Nimes to Barcelona is then another 5 hours or so...which pretty much destroys your two days on the highway.

Paris straight through to Barcelona is 9-1/2 hours according to ViaMichelin...which means 11-12 hours in "real time" -- which still takes a big bite out of two days.

san francisco
Level Contributor
228 posts
32 reviews
4. Re: Where to stay in South of France (countryside)

Have you considered taking the TGV to the south of France for your two nights, much easier and quicker, you can pick up a car then.

Monaco is definitely in the other direction from Spain.

I would choose Avignon to take the train to and stay there or one of the many charming small towns close by.

I know you said a small town but I love Toulouse, which is on the way to Spain and I think two days would be great, lots of good restaurants, it's a college town and has a young vibe.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
26,066 posts
61 reviews
5. Re: Where to stay in South of France (countryside)

Do you intend to return to France with the rental car. If not, have a look at the prices for one way travel into another country. They are usually prohibitive. You may need to arrange to change rental cars near the border or to do some by train.

Bradford, Yorkshire
Level Contributor
575 posts
49 reviews
6. Re: Where to stay in South of France (countryside)

Almost exactly half way on the autoroute is St Flour. This a typical french town, not too large but enough to see and do, it is different as the old centre stands on top of a huge block of rock which elevates it above the surrounding area.

1.5 hrs west is Le Puy, an easy day trip, which is a town with unique features. It has extinct volcano cones in the town. On one is a perched church. On another is a hollow metal statue, made from cannon captured in the Crimean war, with a spiral staircase so you can climb to the top inside it, seeing great views. Not to mention the narrow old commercial streets and the cathedral.

15 mins south of St Flour are a few hotels at the head of a large man-made lake, one of which is above the valley and adjacent to the Viaduc de Garabit with the only full length view of this and a picturesque view across the lake. The viaduc was built by Gustav Eiffel (bit like the Eiffel Tower laid on its side) and is illuminated as the sun goes down, a memorable sight.


5 mins from Le Puy centre is Hotel Le Brivas, modern, but with a very good value restaurant with one of the best (mainly regional) cheese selections I have tried.


New York City, New...
Level Contributor
3 posts
5 reviews
7. Re: Where to stay in South of France (countryside)

Thank you everyone for all of the help. We have looked into the car situation and we understand the expense. My boyfriend does not seem to care. I will bring it up again tonight and see if he still feels strongly about driving. If so I think I like the idea of St. Flour or Toulouse the best because they seem to be more direct. St. Flour looks great, this seems perfect for me. Nimes and Uzes seem too far east/out of the way, no?

New York City, New...
Level Contributor
3 posts
5 reviews
8. Re: Where to stay in South of France (countryside)

Millau seems cool too. And WOW that bridge would be incredible to see.

Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
26,066 posts
61 reviews
9. Re: Where to stay in South of France (countryside)

That bridge is indeed incredible. We have stayed twice at Creissels just to see it and drive under and over it.


10. Re: Where to stay in South of France (countryside)

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