My mum used to have a Jazz.
I never drove it as far as the south of France, but I did Devon - Sussex - Cardiff - Birmingham - Sussex in it in a couple of days and it was comfortable and quite nippy for an under powered little town run around.
However, the chief thing with it was the amount of space in there. I did 4 hours sat in the back once, at 6 foot tall, with plenty of room. And the boot had room for my parents Flatcoated Retriever (Roughly 50 kilos of dog). You can get 3 bikes and 3 people in but then it gets really sluggish.
She now has a 1.4 TSI Mk7 Golf. Much better on the move, less practical inside. Still able to carry a big dog.
TL:DR - They aren't as bad as all that. Very practical. Would prefer big autobahn sled for France trip. Civic/Focus/Golf/Leon/A3 would all be better.