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We spent a week in August staying in this small town in south-eastern France, not by deliberate choice but because one of the only remaining available holiday villas we could find happened to be here.

We had driven here from home in Southampton, spending the first week of our holiday in the west of the region and then driving here to Saint-Cézaire-sur-Siagne for the second.

We had no idea, until we arrived here, what a great choice of region to stay in this would be.

The closer you stay to the coast across the Cote d’Azur region, the higher the holiday accommodation prices get, so staying very close to Cannes, Antibes or the other coastal resorts was out of the question for us.

Saint-Cézaire-sur-Siagne is about 40-minutes’ drive from Cannes – far enough away that the accommodation costs were lower, but close enough to be able to head there and also to the beaches of Antibes, Nice, Frejus, Saint Raphael and others for day trips.

The beach at nearby Cannes

In fact from some points on the road that runs between Grasse and Saint-Cézaire-sur-Siagne you can see over the hillside to Cannes and the sea beyond, so it’s literally within sight, but far enough away for holiday rental prices to be reasonable.

Also, in the height of summer, the big name towns in this region like Cannes, Nice, St Tropez and so on get pretty busy, with a lot of traffic and tourists. Being able to leave that behind at the end of a day and head back to the peace and quiet of a more rural location like St Cezaire gives you the best of both worlds.

The town of Saint-Cézaire-sur-Siagne itself is a fantastic place to stay. It’s a small, old style French market town that feels like it’s from a completely different era.

On the outskirts of the town is a quiet residential area with houses and holiday rental properties. There’s quite a lot of English ex-pats living around here and it’s easy to see why they might have chosen to leave England for somewhere like this, with the convenience of Nice airport about an hour away – or indeed England being within driving distance via the Eurotunnel or Dover car ferries.

The holiday villa we stayed in just outside the town

Head in to the actual town centre itself and you’ll find narrow cobbled streets lined with old buildings, pavement cafes and bars, restaurants and small independent shops – exactly how you would imagine an old rural French town to be.

People sit in the sun enjoying their coffee or wine; wandering round the local street markets and just peacefully whiling away the long, warm summer days.

Walk through the town and you come to a viewpoint that overlooks some of the most stunning and dramatic countryside scenery in the region – particularly beautiful at sunset.

The views from the town over the surrounding hillsides

In the evenings the town comes to life with visitors and locals amassing in the square, eating in the outdoor restaurants that surround a large boules pitch (is that the right word, I don’t know!?) which seems is the place to be for the locals, particularly on a Friday evening.

A couple of the restaurants in the town are incredible, particularly ‘Le Spot’, at which we had some of the best food we’ve ever eaten – and in such a perfect location right in the centre of the town next to the boules.

We were surprised on one evening when we came in to the town for dinner to find the streets lined with flags and bunting and row after row of tables lining the main street, next to a stage that had been put up the day before. Turned out it was some kind of annual festival, which they have every August, and all the locals were out, eating and drinking in the streets, followed by a band of French musicians on the stage, for which they all got up and were dancing late in to the night.

We sat watching from a nearby restaurant, loving the way the way everyone from the town seemed to know each other and got along together in such a relaxed and friendly way. It’s hard to imagine such a scene of community spirit in many towns like this in England and it really just added to the overall charm of the whole place.

We found Saint-Cézaire-sur-Siagne to be a perfect part of the South of France for a family holiday. We were able to experience exactly the right mixture of excitement and glamour on easy day-trips to Monaco, Cannes and Nice, whilst also enjoying coming back here to the peace and tranquility of the beautiful rural location.

The town had all the amenities we could possibly need, including a decent sized supermarket alongside the smaller independent shops, bakeries and so on. There are plenty of places to eat out – restaurants, bars, cafes, all within easy walking distance of the residential areas.

If for any reason you need more commercial shopping, the larger town of Grasse is only about 10-minutes’ drive away.

Nearby Lac de Saint Cassien

One of the dominant features of the area, just down the hillside from St Cezaire, is the huge Lac de Saint-Cassien – an enormous and picturesque blue lake set among the surrounding hillsides. All around the lake are small ‘beach’ areas, including places to simply sit by the waterside and others at which you can hire kayaks or boats.

One very popular attraction on the lake is the inflatable aqua park, which we visited twice and which gave the kids hours of fun.

And it’s all within just an hour’s drive from Nice airport.

On our two week trip to the South of France we visited many different places, spanning the entire Cote d’Azur region from St Tropez in the west to Monaco in the east – and Saint-Cézaire-sur-Siagne felt like the location that had the best mixture of everything, with the right balance of reasonable costs too.

Much of the Cote d’Azur is inhabited by the world’s super-rich, but staying in a spot like Saint-Cézaire-sur-Siagne means you can enjoy experiencing all those places, but without needing to be one of the super-rich yourself! It’s a brilliant place in its own right, with easy access to all the other attractions of the region.

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