5 Stunning Experiential Guesthouses In The South Of France

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Views of the French Riviera in Nice

Text by Andy Pilc; Photos by Jessica Festa. This post originally appeared on Jessie on a Journey.

“Do you want to splurge and stay in a castle? It’s $128 per night.”

This is what I’d asked Jessie when researching AirBnBs for our two-week trip through the South of France. I was using the word “splurge” because there were plenty of options for France hotels and guesthouses for under $50; however, to stay the night in a gorgeous castle for what some hostel dorms cost in NYC seemed like an incredible deal.

And it was.

Travelers like us visit the South of France from around the globe to appreciate its beautiful beaches, adventure-filled national parks, endless fields of lavender and cabernet, and the unique personalities of the many towns, villages, communes and cities. The best way to explore this part of the country is by car, as you can drive with a destination mind but make numerous discoveries worth exploring along the way.

The accommodation you choose can really enhance your experience. We found that among our France highlights — having dinner in a local home through BonAppetour, wandering small medieval villages like Eze and Moustiers Sainte-Marie, cycling through olive groves and lavender fields from Aix-en-Provence, kayaking the intensely green waters of the Verdon Gorge — the places we stayed really immersed us in our destination. Many of these France hotels and homestays also provided a unique twist, whether it be a castle infused with offbeat art or a quiet horse farm where we stargazed and conversed with our host over homemade lemon wine.

To help you plan an epic South of France trip with equally epic accommodations, here were our five favorite stays.

Tip: We booked most of our South of France accommodation on AirBnB. If it’s your first time using the site use this link to save $35 on your booking!

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This was all ours during our stay at the Hotel Monsigny

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Enjoying the amenities at the Hotel Monsigny In Nice

1. The Hotel Monsigny, Nice

The highlight: Your very own field-sized terrace!

Nice is a coastal Mediterranean city offering everything from beautiful beaches to great restaurants (look for the “Cuisine Nissarde” labeled eateries for traditional Nice dishes) to neighborhoods perfect for wandering without a plan. This was easy to do from Hotel Monsigny, which had the tramway right out front, though within 15 minutes on foot we could be sunning on the Promenade, exploring historic Old Town or partying on Rue Bonaparte in the Harbor Area.

We had a Superior Balcony room, and in addition to our king bed the room sported a front room with bunk beds (a great choice for families), a marble bathroom with open shower, and our own private terrace with a table for morning coffee and a faux-grass lawn for evening stargazing and wine sipping.

There’s also a street-level restaurant with indoor/outdoor seating and 7th-floor rooftop lounge with craft cocktails and a Jacuzzi.

Rates for the lowest class room range from $65 to $201 USD per night. For the Superior Balcony room we had it’s about $128 to $419 USD per night.

Wondering where to stay in the South of #France? Check out these #unique accommodations! #travel Click To Tweet
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Having fun with night photography at the horse farm. I used a GorillaPod to mount my NikonD5100. Settings: a 25-second exposure with a f/2.8 and an ISO of 1600.

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Taking a break from life at a quiet horse farm

2. A Quiet Horse Farm, Moissac-Bellevue

The Highlight: Premium stargazing in a remote woodland location!

You won’t have to drive far from the coast to find yourself enveloped in France’s mountain and forest landscapes. At Verdon Gorge travelers can rent boats to explore the glassy blue-green river that carved the surrounding landscapes over millions of years. For this adventure we based in Moissac-Bellevue, where nature-lover Laure rents out cabins and tepees that make up the quaint village setup on her house farm. After her two dogs greeted us upon arrival, Laure invited us to sample her homemade lemon wine and Provencal “navette” biscuits before showing us to our cozy one-room cabin. Jessie and I spent the evening watching countless stars come into view then slowly rotate overhead while sipping wine on our cabin’s front porch. In the morning Laure served hot coffee and 10+ varieties of homemade preserves, helping us fuel up for our upcoming kayaking adventure through Verdon (about 20 minutes away).

Booking a stay at the horse farm through AirBnB cost us $58 USD per night. 

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Good morning from our castle in Hyères!

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Getting funky in a gorgeous Hyères castle

3. An Art Collector’s Castle, Hyères

The Highlight: Luxury meets quirky in this gorgeous castle full of offbeat artwork!

If you’re planning on visiting Port Crux or Porquerolles islands, this eight-room accommodation in historic Hyères is a must for lodging. The mid-nineteenth century castle guesthouse fuses medieval elements of the surrounding city with funky modern art. Nicolas, the owner, greeted us enthusiastically from the terrace that overlooks Hyères all the way to the sea, shouting “Welcome New York!” before giving us the grand tour. His art collection reflects his love of street art (he even has coffee table books on his favorite muralists), creative cultural nods (like colorful Day of the Dead busts on tables) and the beautifully eccentric (think feather boas, disco balls, LEGOs and mannequins).

Outside I pointed to one piece I recognized as belonging to street artist Invader. Nicolas smirked as he explained how he acquired the roughly 5′ by 7″ piece: “Invader made the piece in a local part of town, so I bought the building, took the wall down, and brought it here.”

You won’t walk two feet without finding art pieces, whether in the living room, near the outdoor pool or while taking in the view from the terrace. In the morning, refuel with fruit, bread, jam and fresh-squeeze juice.

Booking a stay at this artsy castle through AirBnB cost us $128 per night, though check out all Nicolas’ listings as he has different rooms (though all around around the same price). 

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The view from our farmhouse stay in Marseille

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Exploring Marseille’s slower side at the Le Mas des Gorguettes

4. The Family-Run ‘Le Mas de Gorguetts’ Farmhouse, Marseille

The Highlight: Enjoying true countryside living — complete with gorgeous terrace views — right outside a big city!

Just outside of Marseille, down a curvy and sometimes-mayyyyyyybe-12-feet-wide two-way road, is the picturesque Le Mas de Gorguetts. After successfully making it down the aforementioned path we came to large iron gates, which opened up to reveal a sprawling property full of forest and hiking tails. We drove done a symmetrical tree-lined path, eventually coming to the lovely nineteenth-century country farmhouse. Pascaline and her family offer guests the better part of the large residence, which includes a fully stocked private kitchen, your own bathroom, and a large bedroom on the second floor, just up the grand marble staircase.

The property’s location is perfect for a night in on vacation. Head to the local supermarket to pick up “France’s holy trinity” (bread, cheese and wine) for an al fresco terrace picnic while watching the sunset over Marseille.

Booking this farmhouse on AirBnB cost us $139 per night. 

From homestay farmhouses to giant #castles, here's where to stay in the South of #France! #ttot Click To Tweet
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A delicious homemade breakfast taken al fresco at L’epicerie B&B

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Out of all of our stays L’epicerie B&B had the best breakfast and totally won us over with the in-room Jacuzzi

5. The Family-Run L’epicerie B&B, Aix-en-Provence

The Highlight: The homemade breakfast eaten in the beautiful backyard and the giant Jacuzzi in our Cannelle Suite!

The classically Provençal city of Aix-en-Provence is a must when traveling the South of France, with our time there enhanced by a stay at L’epicerie B&B. Located just steps away from the restaurant-packed Cardeurs Square (Place des Cardeurs), we were easily able to visit eateries (including Confiserie du Roy René where we learned to make calissons!), historic churches, the 100+ city fountains and mansions, and the famed Caumont Centre d’Art on foot.

The front door of the guesthouse is plain with just a small paper tacked on the front door identifying the establishment. There are currently five rooms, but by the year’s end the bed and breakfast will feature two second-floor suites to expand their restaurant operation. Our room, the Cannelle Suite, had two rooms in addition to a large bathroom with a deep Jacuzzi tub. The water jets and mood lighting make for a romantic evening after food, drinks and often live music in the nearby square. In the morning there’s complimentary breakfast in the garden patio, with eats like vegetable quiche, sweet tapioca pudding and bread with spreads. It was great dining local while chatting with the owners over morning coffee.

Rates for L’epicerie range from about $125 to $160 USD per night + local taxes for 1-2 people including breakfast. Additional guests in the suites cost about $34 USD. 

What are your favorite South of France hotels and guesthouses? Please share in the comments below!

Recommended:

How To Make Calissons Like A Provence Pastry Chef [Blog Inspiration]

The French Way: Aspects of Behavior, Attitudes, and Customs of the French [Great Reads]

Clever Travel Companion Pickpocket-Proof Garments [Travel Safety]

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Jessica Festa

Jessica Festa is the editor of Epicure & Culture as well as Jessie on a Journey. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia, agritouring through Tuscany, and volunteering in Ghana.

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