Summering in the South of France

By Tyler Martin

When we think of France, what comes to mind? The iconic Eiffel Tower? The Louvre? Rows of colorful macaroons at a famous boulangerie? Walks along the Seine River? Yes, Paris is incredible and I, too, was enchanted by the twinkle of the Eiffel Tower at night, but France has so much more to offer. The art, history, cuisine and of course, the fashion has captivated my heart during my summer in the South of France. I spent six weeks in Aix-en-Provence with SMU-in-France taking a fashion media course and a French gastronomy and culture course. My immersion in French culture and learning how to stay away from the tourist traps, allowed me to experience the best of the country. Here are my top highlights from my travels thus far:

Lavender Fields

Provence is synonymous with lavender production, so visiting a lavender field was at the top of my summer bucket list. We found our perfect field of purple just ten minutes from the center city of Aix and it was the perfect way to spend my afternoon. Standing in the rows of lavender fields made for the absolute perfect Instagram shot, straight out of a Pinterest inspiration board. After many photos, we found a spot to sit and take in the beautiful view. The whole experience was so zen; of course I grabbed a pure lavender essential oil as a fragrant keepsake.


Being in the heart of the Rhône valley has allowed me to explore so many different foods through various tastings. We’ve visited vineyards, fromageries, patisseries, and so many more unique places, some of which definitely pushed me out of my culinary comfort zone! Visiting local vineyards was definitely a highlight, where I learned more about Provence making rose, a specialty of Provence. Of course, the views are totally picturesque and straight out of a French film.

Beach Clubs

You can’t visit the South of France in the summer and not go to a beach club! On a weekend trip to Cannes, we visited one of the many beach club destinations lined up on the coast of the Mediterranean. There is something for everyone with all of the beach clubs having a different feel. If you want to have a relaxing afternoon or party hard, your experience will still include the best sun and brightest blue water. A relaxed, chill beach club was perfect halfway through an action-packed trip.


Yes, the markets are everything you have ever imagined and a mandatory visit for locals and visitors to learn about the gastronomy of this region. Provence is so much more than wine and lavender; just walk through a market and see for yourself. The produce market is open everyday and I pass it every morning on my way to class without fail. Every morning, there are a variety of tasty fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as vendors who sell fish, cheese, flowers, honey, soaps and more. The sellers at the market are more than willing to let you sample and it’s so fascinating to talk and learn more about the local products. My go-to ritual is grabbing a little carton of fresh fruit from the produce market to share with friends during our break between classes.

Style in the South of France

The style in the South of France varies based on what city you’re in, but all of the locals are dressed effortlessly chic. In Aix, the vibe is a lot more laid back. Lots of shorts, knit short-sleeve tops, long skirts, sandals and neutral bags. In Cannes, with its famously elegant Film festival, the style is more elevated, especially at night. But during the day, it’s fun colors and prints, matching sets, all types of swimwear and big sunglasses. What I’ve learned is that when in doubt, keep it simple and play up your outfits with accessories. The common thread in effortless style, both in the South of France and in the states, seems to be great basics and an element of je ne sais quoi.

Next stop, French Riviera… stay tuned.

All photos by Tyler Martin

Tyler Martin

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