Artists also flocked here, leaving a rich legacy of artistic treasures in its museums, galleries and chapels.Inland, olive groves give way to mountains and gorges – and even a ski slope or two.Best reached by boat from Cassis, the Calanques are wonderfully unspoilt, with crystal clear inlets and not an ice-cream kiosk in sight.
St-Tropez epitomises Riviera glitz, but head into the Var’s mountainous hinterland and you’re immersed in a different world, with glorious scenery stretching as far as the eye can see.
The South’s mighty tourism industry was born on these shores, and the glamour of the belle époque lingers on in Cannes’s plush palace hotels, Nice’s palm-lined promenade and the private villas of Cap Ferrat.
Inland Provence is similarly hard to separate from its idealised image, shaped by everyone from Van Gogh to Peter Mayle.
Its name alone is enough to conjure up a series of painterly vignettes: fields of lavender and tangled vineyards stretching under a cloudless sky; games of pétanque on plane tree-shaded squares; and tumbledown, mimosa-clad stone mas, enticing stressed urbanites with their promise of rural bliss.
White sand beaches and turquoise waters fringe the island of Porquerolles a car-free paradise that feels a world away from the Riviera crowds.
If you don’t mind sharing your stretch of sand, St-Tropez’s famous plage de Pampelonne is lined with toned, tanned bodies and bling-filled beach clubs.In St-Paul-de-Vence, the fortunate few staying at the Colombe d’Or (pl du Général de Gaulle, .80.02, can admire works by the likes of Picasso, Matisse and Braque – left here in lieu of payment by former clients; fortunately, the Fondation Maeght (Monté des Trious, .81.63, – which has some 9,000 items in its collection – is open to everyone.Chapels also appealed to the modern masters: don’t miss Matisse’s Chapelle du Rosaire (466 av Henri Matisse, Vence, .21.10) – Matisse designed the chapel by a way of thanks to a Dominican nun, sister Jacques-Marie who cared for him when he had cancer; Cocteau’s Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-Jérusalem (av Nicolai, La Tour de Mare, Frejus & Roquuebrune-sur-Argens, .27.06) and the Chapelle de St-Pierre-des-Pêcheurs (quai Courbet, Basse Corniche, .09.70), or Picasso’s La Guerre et la Paix in the Musée National Picasso (pl de la Liberation, Cannes, .16.05).By Elizabeth Winding The South of France is a heady mix of Roman remains and Modernist masterpieces, busy beaches and unspoilt coves, exquisite restaurants and tourist traps.Here, we provide an overview of what each region has to offer, and the best places to head if you're a lover of art, wine, beachlife, wildlife-watching, celebrity-spotting or hiking.With the ‘discovery’ of the Côte d’Azur in the 1920s, the South’s mighty tourist industry was set in motion – and a powerful myth was born.