exploring the south of france – la garde freinet

by Sharon Santoni


The south of France is known for its beautiful landscapes, easy access to the sea, glittering nightlife and charming mix of bling with old fashioned quiet villages.     Whenever I return to the south, either for work or with family, I love to settle back into the southern mood, enjoy the warmth of the sunshine, take my time to drink a coffee on the terrace of a small café and of course shop the local markets.

If you come to the Cote d’Azur or to neighbouring Provence as an occasional visitor it can be confusing to know where to head for, in particular if you want to avoid the crowds.  Today I’m taking you to a little hilltop town called La Garde Freinet.  A place I love to pop into as I drive to visit friends, or as a meeting point for dinner.  I thought you’d like to know some favourite spots.

La Garde Freinet is less than an hour from the coast, up a windy road that leads you into hills covered in rich deep green chestnut tree forests.   There are villas to rent near to the town, individual houses nestled discreetly between the trees , and only a short drive into the village centre.

chair mending on the market

My favorite day in La Garde Freinet is on Wednesday for the weekly market.   Not many vendors, but among the local fruit and vegetable producers there is also someone selling hats, or baskets or even offering to mend your broken chairs!

antique china for sale

Coffee is best enjoyed when combined with a little people watching, and that is on the Place Vieille where there is a lovely mix of clothes stores, antique stores;  art galleries and cafés with their terraces spilling out onto the street.

outisde brocante store in la garde freinet

On the rue St Jacques there is a fun little store called Pure Design selling a mix of French and Scandinavian home decor, and on the Place du Marché (which confusingly is not where the market takes place) there is a cute little brocante store too.

street in southern france

This town is made for enjoying at a slower pace, for taking your time and forgetting your to-do list …. my kind of living.


Victoria Castura Boylan August 28, 2018 - 2:16 pm

I could live there!

sharon santoni August 28, 2018 - 3:26 pm

That’s my favorite phrase of the year Vicky 🙂


Taste of France August 28, 2018 - 2:43 pm

It looks adorable. There are so many lovely spots all across the south of France where life is rich and time stands still.

Suzanne August 28, 2018 - 2:43 pm


I have been following your blog for years, and I enjoy it immensely. This morning, I was looking for archived posts, but cannot find any. We are traveling again to France, and I was hoping to refer back to some of the amazing travel blogs that you have written. Thank you.

Sharon Santoni August 28, 2018 - 4:09 pm

Dear Suzanne, Thank you so much for following. If you go to the top of the page, you’ll find the posts in “Blog” either by section, or you can see all posts. There is also a new section called “Travel Guide” where we have categorized blog posts that are hopefully helpful for those traveling to France. I hope you have a wonderful trip. Xx Sharon

Victoria Savu August 28, 2018 - 3:17 pm

Glad you got to slow down in such a beautiful place. I am retired but so busy I can’t wait for our trip to the beaches of North Carolina so I can slow down. Presently looking for antique stores and small towns to shop in when we are there. Just think we are all chose to the fun, busy and crazy Holiday season. Love Victoria

Sharon Santoni August 28, 2018 - 4:10 pm

Wishing you a lovely time. x Sharon

Myrna August 28, 2018 - 6:02 pm

It was so wonderful meeting you at Chateau Sonoma. I must tell you, once again, how much I love your book, My French Country Home. It takes me away…absolutely lovely! It is a treasure. We continue our hunt for our “Napa Chateau”…
Enjoy your upcoming Fall season!

Sharon Santoni August 29, 2018 - 5:30 pm

Dear Myrna, Thank you. I’m so glad you enjoy it. All the best to you 🙂 kindly Sharon

Chicatanyage August 30, 2018 - 12:06 pm

I know it well as we have an apartment in Grimaud. It is a charmig village. The chestnut festival in the Autumn is great fun.

Sharon Santoni August 31, 2018 - 10:43 am

I would imagine so! Just another reason to return 🙂 Sharon

Jane Eaton September 1, 2018 - 11:28 am

Morning Sharon,
Having followed you for many years and found great inspiration from your blogs and videos I’m delighted to see you have featured La Garde Freinet where we have a beautiful old French Bastide.
It’s thanks to you that we visited Chatou in the Spring which we thoroughly enjoyed. We met up with an Instagram friend who was exhibiting at the Foire (la_bourgogne de Nathalie). Since then we have become great friends, calling in for lunch in her charming Medieval town house in Auxerre and she and her husband have stayed with us in La Garde-Freinet when she gave me your book as a gift! Such a delight, I’ve enjoyed it immensely.
I thought I would say a huge thank you for being a great inspiration and as a result bringing friends together!
We live in the UK but spend as much time in France as we can, travelling around searching for treasures at the Brocante markets and selling our finds at The Country Brocante Fairs both in Midhurst and Daylesford and other select events around the country.
We are selling our beautiful house in France as we wish to downsize as maintaining two properties can be somewhat exhausting! We’ll certainly look to stay in La Garde Freinet as we love it so much but selling seems to be proving difficult! Surprising when you have so many people commenting how much they would like to live there!
I look forward to seeing your next adventures and hope one day to meet you!
With very best wishes Jane Eaton (cachepot_ltd) x

Penelope March 27, 2021 - 9:00 pm

I live here.. We have the best of everything…cafe life.. nightlife…forest walks….so much history and we are only 20 minutes to the beach..What’s not to love..


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