It’s not really a secret that the South of France is one of my all-time favorite destinations in the world.

In particular, Antibes, a charming coastal town with 16th-century ramparts, fabulous locals, and the legit best gelato I’ve ever tasted in the world, which you’ll find at Gelateria del Porto.

I’ve been going to the Cote d’Azur every summer for at least a few weeks, lately longer, for almost a decade.

And I’ve been in love with Antibes since that first visit in 2017.

In fact, when I became a digital nomad, it was my first stop on my 2021 European tour.

I’d always had a dream to either live or retire there, so it felt like destiny getting to spend all of August 2021 living in a small penthouse in the Old Town.

As fate would have it, I then met my now ex on the beach that summer in Antibes, giving me the perfect excuse to continue my infatuation with the Cote d’Azur.

I spent the rest of 2021 and part of 2022 going between the USA and France trying to make long distance work.

The relationship didn’t survive, but I’m so thankful that my obsession with the South of France is stronger than ever.

I think it’s safe to say I’m more than an expert on the Cote d’Azur with all the situations and seasons I’ve encountered there over the years.

So get ready to get hyped about going to my favorite place in Europe, and maybe even the world, the French Riviera.

Takes notes, because I’m going to tell you exactly what to wear in the South of France to fit in with the locals, while still feeling both comfortable and fabulous!

Understanding the South of France’s Climate

Seasonal Changes in Weather

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Summer: In the summer, you can expect hot and sunny weather with temperatures soaring above 30°C (86°F).

It’s the perfect time to wear airy and flowy dresses made of lightweight fabrics such as linen, cotton, or silk.

Oh, and absolutely pack all your bikinis!

Spring: During Spring (March, April, and May) in the French Riviera, the weather is pleasant, with temperatures averaging around 15°C (59°F) and cool breezes from the sea.

During this time, lighter layers, like a cardigan or sweater, would be appropriate.

I like to bring flowy dresses and layer sweaters over them.

Fall: As autumn arrives (September, October, and November), temperatures in the South of France are cooling down, making it a comfortable time for sightseeing.

This is an ideal time for wearing cozy layers like a light jacket or long-sleeved tops.

Normally, if it’s September, I pack more with summer in mind, meaning I include a couple of dresses, shorts, and bikinis.

When it’s October and November, I bring more warm options like jeans, boots, and jackets.

Winter: This (December, January, and February) introduces cooler temperatures, requiring visitors to wear warmer clothing like jackets, coats, and sweaters.

With the mild weather, the temperature usually remains above freezing, but it’s always a good idea to bring a warm jacket and sweaters to stay cozy.

Creating a Capsule Wardrobe for South of France

Packing List for Women

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  • Linen and cotton garments: Opt for light and breathable fabrics like linen and cotton to stay comfortable in the warm weather.
  • Color palette: Focus on natural, neutral colors such as white, beige, and light pastels. A touch of color from a statement accessory is also a great way to add some flair to an outfit.
  • Loose-fitting clothes: Flowy dresses, wide-leg pants, and loose tops will keep you cool and comfortable while remaining stylish. Just remember to keep proportions so it’s chic and not sloppy.
  • Classic pieces: Timeless items like a well-fitted blazer, tailored trousers, and strappy sandals will elevate your look.
  • Ruffles and lace: Incorporate feminine and romantic accents such as ruffles and lace, bothare staples of Riviera style.

South of France Packing List for Women

  • Linen, silk, or cotton dresses (at least 3)
  • Light blouse or top (2-3)
  • Athletic Outfit (1-2)
  • Classic Shorts (1-2 pairs)
  • Swimsuits (3-4)
  • Tailored trousers or wide-leg pants (1-2)
  • Classic blazer (1)
  • Strappy sandals (1 pair)
  • Practical sandals like Birkenstocks (1 pair)
  • Sneakers (1 pair)
  • Stylish accessories (sunglasses, hat, and statement jewelry)
  • Nippies
  • Tote Bag
  • Bras
  • Panties
  • Pajamas
  • Beach Towel/Blanket

Packing List for Men

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  • Natural fabrics: Go for breathable and lightweight materials such as linen and cotton.
  • A muted color palette: Stick to classic colors like white, cream, navy, and beige, with occasional pops of color.
  • Tailored and loose-fitting clothes: Combine tailored shorts or pants with light, airy shirts for a polished but comfortable look.
  • Timeless pieces: Include simple, classic items like a crisp white shirt, a navy blazer, and neutral-colored chinos. These stylish basics can be dressed up or down depending on where you’re heading.

French Riviera Packing List For Men:

  • Light cotton or linen shirts (3-4)
  • Tailored shorts or chinos (2-3)
  • Athletic Outfit (1-2)
  • White T-Shirt (1)
  • Navy blazer (1)
  • Swimsuit (3-4)
  • White sneakers, or loafers (1 pair)
  • Sandals (1 pair)
  • Versatile accessories (sunglasses, a hat, and a stylish belt)
  • Pajamas
  • Underwear
  • Beach Towel/Blanket

French Attire Basics

Key Colors in French Fashion

Ally Antibes October 2023 Rainy Day in Old Town with Croissant

In French fashion, the color palette often includes monochromatic colors, particularly black, white, and navy blue.

These neutral shades create a minimalist yet chic look.

Incorporating a pop of color with accessories, such as a vibrant hat or a colorful bag, can add a personal touch to the classic French style.

Classic French Wardrobe

Ally Antibes France Sunrise Aug 2023

Building a classic French wardrobe starts with investing in staple pieces.

Lightweight fabric like linen is popular due to its breathability and comfort in the Mediterranean climate.

Must-have clothing items include:

  • Tops: well-tailored collared-shirts, blouses, and light cardigans.
  • Bottoms: jeans, trousers, and skirts (both midi and mini lengths).
  • Layers: jackets, scarves, and cardigan sweaters for mild weather.
  • Dresses: simple, timeless designs like A-line or shift dresses in solid colors or fresh stripes.
  • Accessories: a practical tote bag and a wide-brimmed hat for sun protection and a stylish touch.

What to Wear in the South of France

Ally Cannes France July 2017 2

The French Riviera exudes elegance and sophistication. To fit in, opt for lightweight pieces like dresses and linen shirts.

In this area, flats and wedges are popular for their comfort and style when walking on cobblestone streets.

Oh, and don’t forget to pack a chic swimsuit for lazing by the beach or the pool, along with a fashionable cover-up.

And, always have a jacket or cardigan within reach, as evenings by the water can become cooler.

Special Occasion Outfits

Golden Gate Bridge Vintage Postcard1

Going to a special event in the South of France calls for a chic yet comfortable ensemble.

When picking an outfit, a flowy maxi dress made of lightweight fabrics, like cotton, linen, or silk, is the perfect choice in most cases.

These fabrics not only look elegant but also help to keep you cool in the warm Mediterranean climate.

For dinner parties or upscale outings, opt for tailored pieces that give a sophisticated flair, such as a well-fitted linen shirt or a crisp blazer with a relaxed fit.

Pair them with wide-leg pants or a skirt, creating an ensemble that is both stylish and comfortable.

Don’t shy away from incorporating lace, which adds a touch of femininity and luxury to your outfit.

A lace dress or lace-trimmed top can be a stunning choice for an evening by the coast or a romantic dinner date.

Ally in Monte Carlo Monaco Casino Aug 2023

Accessorize with elegant jewelry or statement-making clutches that complement the overall look.

Seek inspiration from the glamour of the French Riviera.

I like to draw my inspiration from the grand film scene in the area.

So I gravitate toward a color palette of pinks, yellows, whites, golds, black, and red.

Others prefer to embrace the colorful vibe of the South.

If you’re one of those, opt for bold colors and fun prints that deviate from the more muted tones typically worn in Paris or Provence.

Beachwear Essentials

Protective Beach Gear

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When packing for the South of France, it’s essential to bring some beach gear.

To shield yourself from the sun, consider packing a hat or a wide-brimmed floppy hat.

I always bring a stylish bikini that’s provides both comfort and elegant.

Plus, at least one sexier little bikini to catch some rays in.

Oh, and always pack at least one classic whole piece suit, even if you don’t think you’ll need it.

I’ve learned the hard way, that it’s always smart to have one elegant option in case you get invited somewhere with a more conservative group.

And obviously, bring a beach cover-up. I always pack a lightweight sundress or a flowy wrap to toss on to head to the beach.

Totes and Bags for the Beach

Ally at le plage in Antibes France Oct. 2023

You’ll absolutely want to bring a chic beach bag.

I always use my Longchamp tote bag, but if I was going to be really indulgent, I’d get one of those cute straw baskets that are popular in the South of France.

Either way, make sure it’s a roomy basket bag or tote that can hold your essentials like sunscreen, sunglasses, and a good book.

Oh, and always pack or plan to buy a beach blanket. I always just buy a new one on the beach in Antibes every year (people sell them).

Then I travel with it for the rest of the summer and use it for other beaches, picnics, and even sometimes as a scarf or travel blanket in a pinch!

Footwear for All Scenarios

Choosing the Right Footwear for Exploring

Ally Gare de Nice French Riviera Train Station

When visiting the South of France, it’s important to choose comfortable footwear for multiple situations.

I always bring one stylish yet practical pair of espadrilles and at least one pair of flat sandals, like Birkenstocks, for daytime exploration, as they provide ease of movement and a chic look.

Oh, and absolutely bring a pair of sneakers. Trust me, with all the walking some of these little towns include, you’ll be happy you have them!

Navigating Cobblestone Streets

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Cobblestone streets are super common in the Riviera, meaning it’s essential to choose shoes that offer stability and comfort.

Espadrilles are an excellent option for navigating cobblestone streets, as they are easy to walk in and widely popular in the region.

Flat sandals and low-heeled wedges can also be great choices.

I normally go straight to a classic black sandal or Birkenstock most days.

It is best to avoid wearing high heels or footwear with narrow soles, as they can be a receipt for twisting an ankle on the cobblestone.

Instead, opt for shoes with wider soles, like sneakers, or in the colder months boots.

Always have at least one functional pair of sneakers handy in case you decide to do a hike or visit an older town, like Eze, which involves a lot of walking and steps.

Head, Face, and Neck Protection and Accessories

Ally Monte Carlo Monaco French Riviera Bvlgari

When visiting the South of France, it’s crucial to protect your head, face, and neck from the sun.

Start by applying a high SPF sunscreen to these areas before heading out for the day. This will help shield your skin from harmful UV rays.

For added protection, invest in a good pair of sunglasses that provide UV protection.

Besides making you look chic, they’ll keep your eyes comfortable and safe from sun damage.

Also, if you really want to dial up the drama, wearing a wide-brimmed straw hat to shield your face, ears, and neck from the sun is the ultimate move.

Remember that the skin on your face and neck is delicate, so it’s essential to keep it covered to avoid wrinkles down the line.

A lightweight scarf is also another versatile accessory in the Riviera that it’s easy to pack.

Drape it over your shoulders or wrap it around your neck for added protection against the sun, and dust or wind.

Be especially mindful of your ears, as they can be susceptible to sunburn.

Oh, and don’t neglect your neck area, as we often expose it to the sun and are prone to burns.

Apply sunscreen, wear your straw hat, and use a scarf when necessary to keep your neck protected.

Essential Accessories for a Trip to the South of France

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When packing, include a few essential accessories to embrace French Riviera style and ensure a comfortable and fashionable experience.

A lightweight linen shirt is a must-have for versatile layering in the warm climate of the Côte d’Azur.

Another essential addition to your wardrobe is a beautiful straw tote bag or basket bag, perfect for carrying all of your essentials.

I’ve been lusting after these bags for years, but never am flying directly to the States afterward to bring it home.

I imagine it would be the perfect accessory for exploring open-air markets and making a statement on beach days alike.

To complete your French Riviera look, opt for a pair of black sandals that provide elegance without sacrificing comfort.

These shoes will elevate your outfit while also making it easy to explore the charming towns and breathtaking sites throughout the Riviera.

FAQs

What to pack for South of France?

Ally Menton June 2022 2

go to the French Riviera multiple times a year, and no matter what the season, I always pack the following:

  • Longchamp Tote
  • Pashmina
  • Sunscreen
  • Romantic Dress
  • Ballet Flats
  • S’well Bottle
Longchamp Le Pliage Travel Bag

This tote bag is my absolute go-to anytime I travel. It's perfect as a personal item when flying, and works great as a tote bag while exploring!

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What to wear in South of France in September?

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In September, the weather in the South of France cools down slightly from the summer highs.

I always find it most apparent after the sun has gone down—so you’ll absolutely want to bring a jacket!

Packing a few light layers and some light sweaters or jackets for cooler evenings should keep you in shape.

What to wear at French beaches?

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French beaches are absolutely way more body positive compared to the ones in the US.

I love how everyone rocks their cutest little bikini or swimsuit on the beaches here.

Some women even go topless, and it’s not a big deal.

I highly encourage you to wear your sexiest suit to the beach, or at least bring it in your suitcase to wear after an after glass or two or rose.

Either way, bring a lightweight coverup to wear to and from the beach.

If you’re planning on hitting up a beach club, check their house rules ahead of time to make sure you pack appropriately!

What to wear in South of France in July?

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July is easily one of the hottest months in the South of France.

You should prioritize light, breathable fabrics like cotton, linen, and silk.

I always pack lots of flowy dresses, skirts, and light tops.

And obviously, tons and tons of bikinis!

Oh, and don’t forget to pack a hat and sunglasses to protect yourself from the sun. Trust me, you’ll be happy you have them!

What to wear in South of France in November?

Ally in Antibes Oct. 2023 Sezane Dress

Considering that November is a cooler month, it’s smart to opt for breathable fabrics that you can easily layer.

I normally pack a few lightweight turtlenecks, sweater dresses, and a couple sweaters, along with a coat, scarf, and boots.

Never underestimate how cold it can be along the Mediterranean when the wind hits just right.

Is it OK to wear jeans in France?

Ally Fort Carre Antibes France French Riviera 2

Yes, they actually can be a popular choice, especially when tossed on with a nice shirt.

Final Thoughts

Ally Antibes Oct. 2023 Sunset Sezanne Dress Photo by Seb

Well I’m already trying to come up with a reason to get back to France before next summer.

Writing this has me missing the not so distant days of summer, and even autumn in the South of France.

It was only a little over a month ago I was in Antibes last—the second week of October and I managed to catch the last two proper beach days of the summer (locals all agreed it was late this year).

I couldn’t believe my luck, because it was also the final weekend the gelato shop was open for the season, and I even got in a sunset photoshoot and one final motorcycle ride along the coast before the cold came.

Now, all I want is to fast forward a few months so I can start planning what to wear to the South of France next summer!

 

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